Fast programming, increased functionality, at the same price as its predecessor, the PICkit™ 3.

The MPLAB PICkit 4 now has Programmer-to-Go functionality for 8-bit and 32-bit PIC MCUs. The firmware update comes with MPLAB X IDE v5.25. More to come!

This is the new PICkit 3 from Microchip. If you want an official programmer from Microchip, this is it! The PICkit 3 allows debugging and programming of PIC and dsPIC microcontrollers using the powerful graphical user interface of the MPLAB Integrated Development Environment (IDE). The MPLAB PICkit 3 is connected to a PC using a full speed USB interface and can be connected to the target via an Microchip debug (RJ-11) connector (compatible with MPLAB ICD 2/ 3 and MPLAB REAL ICE). The connector uses two device I/O pins and the reset line to implement in-circuit debugging and In-Circuit Serial Programming. miniUSB cable included.

  • USB (Full speed 12 Mbits/s interface to host PC)
  • Real-time execution
  • MPLAB IDE compatible (free copy included)
  • Built-in over-voltage/short circuit monitor
  • Firmware upgradeable from PC/web download
  • Fully enclosed
  • Supports low voltage to 2.0 volts (2.0v to 6.0v range)
  • Diagnostic LEDs (power, busy, error)
  • Read/write program and data memory of microcontroller
  • Erase of program memory space with verification
  • Freeze-peripherals at breakpoint

MPLAB PICkit 3 Product Help and Resources

PIC-Based Serial Enabled Character LCD Hookup Guide

May 29, 2018

The PIC-based serial enabled character LCD backpack is a simple and cost effective solution for interfacing to character Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) based on the HD44780 controller. The backpack simplifies the number of wires needed and allows your project to display all kinds of text and numbers.

Core Skill: Programming

If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.

3 Programming

Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • Member #196891 / about 13 years ago / 3

    Please could you sell Pickit2 !!??. I prefer that one because it works better and it's cheaper. Pleaseeee.....
    Thank you.

    • AHiggins / about 13 years ago / 2

      Agreed the PicKit2 was so much better.

      • Sleepwalker3 / about 13 years ago * / 1

        Better in what way? I'm tossing up whether to get a Pickit3 or an ICD3, but I'm not sure if the ICD3 is worth the extra $. I do want to do PIC32 as well as possibly PIC18, Pic24 and DSPic, including debugging, so I don't think PicKit 2 will do it, or will it?

        • MagiccMan / about 12 years ago / 2

          I like the PICkit2, and I've used it to program a few different PIC24s.

        • whitnasty / about 12 years ago / 1

          If you are programming / debugging larger PIC's, I would suggest going with the ICD3, however it is about 4 times more expensive. I have both and I use them both equally for different projects, I like the PICkit3 as a programmer to go, but for debugging and programming large pics with a lot of code the ICD3 is much much faster. If you are not using it for production though and arent loading huge code, I would probably say go with the PICkit 3.

  • MrAureliusR / about 11 years ago / 2

    For all of you having problems: Step 1: throw the PicKit in the trash. Step 2: buy an AVR Dragon and any ATtiny or ATmega device Step 3: breathe a huge sigh of relief when everything JUST WORKS! And you no longer have to try and figure out which of the 10 billion PICs you need. Just grab an ATtiny84 or ATmega32 and be on your way to coding.

    • Or if you need enough RAM to process something tiny (but bigger than a Mega) get a ChipKIT uC32...

  • Member #459145 / about 11 years ago / 2

    One of the many annoying things about the PIC KIT III (compared to the PIC KIT II) is that it requires target power to operate.

    But, I have a fix, which requires just a diode and a wire.

    Connect the anode of the diode to C9, on the end closest to U7. Connect the cathode to J4, pin 2.

    Voila! Now the computer powers the target (just as the PIC KIT II did) and the PIC KIT III no longer annoys you with that one hassle.


  • Member #234653 / about 12 years ago / 2

    The Pickit 3 is total trash. Its integrated into MPLAB and mine didn't come with standalone software like the pickit 2. Some features from Pickit 2 are lost in the Pickit 3. MPLAB needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.

  • scharkalvin / about 12 years ago / 2

    Pickit2 will program most (if not all) PIC12/16/18 parts you might want to use (also many serial memories). It might even be able to work in debug mode with some of them. It works with mplab under windows and mplab-x under windows and Linux. There is also a command line programmer utility for Linux and a few GUI wrappers.

    Pickit3 on the other hand will program just about ANYTHING Microchip makes, and work in debug mode with most. It is supported under mplab and mplabx under windows, and (maybe) mplab-x under Linux. There ISN'T any stand alone command line utility for Linux (yet?).

    Clones of both of these are available from various sources (of varying reputation!).

    If you only need to program basic PIC 12/16/18 parts you can be quite happy with the cheaper Pickit2, or an even cheaper clone. I'm using a Pickit2 clone purchased in kit form on ebay, and I'm quite happy with it. I'm using pk2cmd and the dwarf IDE (a small python program) on Linux. Mplab runs under wine on Linux to assemble code, but it can't access USB programmers (yet) as wine does not emulate USB hardware.

    • Demolishun / about 12 years ago / 1

      Thanks, this helped me decide to get one today. I need it for the PIC32 chips.

  • Member #161223 / about 13 years ago / 2

    I have spent HOURS trying to get the development software that comes with this thing to work. The hardware seems to be fine, but the tutorials reference files that don't exist. I am at a complete loss, despite the fact that I've developed embedded systems professionally for two decades. Microchip clearly didn't waste any time play testing their documentation. When they say it comes with tutorials, they mean that you can search for quite a while to find them, and then they are inaccurate.

    • Tacroy / about 13 years ago / 1

      Huh, I had no trouble getting this to work with a breadboard using the tutorials at Gooligum Electronics (as recommended by the PIC forums here on Sparkfun), and that's for PICkit 2 with the PIC Starter Kit.
      The only weird thing is that this comes with a poster that seems to claim that the pin numbering on the PICkit is in some really odd order, when in reality they're in numerical order.

  • rsp: The Pickit3 target connector is the standard Microchip 6-pin 0.1" inline header. To use the RJ-11 target connector requires an adapter (Sparkfun SKU BOB-00193 and a RJ-11 cable will do the trick).
    Thanks a bunch for the helpful information! I added the part to the related items.

  • The Pickit3 (and the ICD3) are great products; they must be if Sparkfun can sell them for more than the MSRP. There are also several Pickit3 bundles that include various demonstration/training boards available directly from Microchip, Mouser, Digikey, etc. All are very high quality and highly recommended.
    The Pickit3 target connector is the standard Microchip 6-pin 0.1" inline header. To use the RJ-11 target connector requires an adapter (Sparkfun SKU BOB-00193 and a RJ-11 cable will do the trick).

  • Member #488879 / about 11 years ago / 1

    MrAureliusR is correct.

    Don’t buy it get any other development system from any other manufacture. I've used microchip stuff in the past and it always was a “trick” to get it to install and work. Many years later I decide to plop down more money and get a newer system and it’s the same story many years later. Let’s count the offences together. 1 Won’t install off the CD on 3 different machines. Download the software from the website. 2 Need an account from the website to download the “free software” that I bought. 3 You need inaccurate documents that reference different products that don’t explain all the hardware you’ll need to get it working. 4 Serious driver issues. I got a broken PCB mill from the 1.44 floppy days in less time I repaired the cutting head installed all software and got 3.1/win 95 setup working with a usb to serial adaptor sold on spark fun in less time than it takes to get anything off the Pikit3.

    Pros red case looks cool Cons this thing is landfill when people get a lower cost knockoff to work with less effort something is wrong with your product.

  • Shannon2 / about 13 years ago / 1

    So I mucked up my SF bus pirate boot loader.
    Assuming of course this is the right piece of kit to un-brick the thing in the first place. Do I purchase one of these and un-brick the PB. Or, just get a new one?
    I'm assuming I can toss the IDE on a Windows box and push the hex file out without learning too much. Correct?

  • duderu / about 14 years ago / 1

    Yep, I have had problems programming some of the older 5v chips with the Pickit3. This was through a laptop and I'll bet the USB port was not powerful enough so spend the extra $5 and get a powered USB hub for piece of mind.

    • davr / about 13 years ago / 1

      Hmm, I dunno, somehow I suspect a PIC programmer that many people reported issues is more likely to be violating the USB standard than a laptop USB port.

  • Jonathan Bruneau / about 14 years ago / 1

    I first purchased a Pickit3 from Mouser before Sparkfun was carrying them, and it never worked. After much debugging and contacting Microchip, it turns out that there ?was? an issue with the Pickit3 that made it malfunction on certain computers (which happened to be mine). I wasn't the only one experiencing issues: the Microchip forums are riddled with customers having similar problems, and solutions range from plugging the Pickit3 to a self powered USB hub to reprogramming it using a working Pickit2.
    I don't know if the issues I experienced with the Pickit3 have since been resolved, as I purchased mine a while ago, but I have in the meantime invested in an ICD3 and never had problems since.

  • JamesHagerman / about 14 years ago / 1

    It's nice to finally see a Pickit for sale! Personally, I think the pickit's can't be beat compatibility wise. It's also nice to have them integrated right into the IDE's. Though now I might need to upgrade from the pickit2 to the pickit3 so I can get inline debugging on some of the PIC32's...
    Thank you!

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5

Based on 4 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

Works A-OK With My Mac

No issues using this with my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina and MPLAB X.

great for startup.

used this for academia (PIC development). Installs easily and lots of documentation that you really only need to reference as you employ it under more complex situations (so for startup -- plug 'n play). Haven't used it as a debugger yet. Only annoying thing is that I can't put it in some sort of high-z/passive mode after programming, so lots of times I have to remove it after burning application. Ie. program ICSP lines are mux'd with IO. I also like the programmer tool and easy recognition/integration with Microchips IDE environment. I'm looking forward to also using it as a debugger in the future.

Works Well

I have been programing PIC's before install. I have been modifying my circuits with the PICkit so I can make changes latter. Quite affordable for what it does.

Worked fine but software was a little dense

It did what I needed it to do. I had a little trouble figuring out the software to drive this device, but once I did, uploading new code was a snap.