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3.9 out of 5 stars
123 PIC Microcontroller Experiments for the Evil Genius
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on March 6, 2014
I just finished a review of "Programming Robot Controllers" by the same author and my comments for this book are very similar for "123...". The book is twice as large as its older twin (8 1/2"x 11" for "123..." as compared to 6"x 8" for "Programming...") and thus suffers twice as much from the same problems as "Programming...". When it comes to a "how to" book for programming micro-controllers, this book falls far short. "123" is supposed to be the follow-up to "Programming...". However, Predko starts in at some of the basics. The first thing that strikes you is the rambling verbiage that goes on-and-on-and-on to the extent that, when it comes time for understanding the nuts-and-bolts, they get lost in the unnecessary commentary.

After trying to get into the meat of this book, I had to give up. I compared the layout of both books, supposedly quasi-technical how-to books - and supposedly a text for high-school students - that is supposed to make the link between the datasheet and the practical, to another kind of technical how-to book. I used my MS Access how-to books as a comparison.

The first thing that strikes you is the lack of word-smithing that wasn't done by the author and the editors. Having rambled on-and-on in "Programming...", Predko does it twice as much in "123..." The rambling detracts from the nuts and bolts of the subject to the extent that you miss the meat-and-potatoes with all of the extra verbiage. The number of pages could very easily be reduced by a third with some good, tight, technical writing.

The use of 2 columns on the 8 1/2"x 11" page, along with the small 10 pitch print, and the lack of lots of white space between the lines makes it very difficult to read. I compare this to my MS Access book which is in 11 or 12 pitch with an equivalent half-line spacing between lines. It's the white-space between lines makes the print readable.

Concurrent with trying to read this book, I followed some YouTube videos and other webpages so as to understand PICs. In introducing some of the basic concepts of PICs, I got more out of watching Elia R's introductory videos than from the comparable chapters in this book. If you are trying to follow along with the software steps, screen shots in black-and-white are unreadable. Compare this with the AllAboutEE videos on some of the PIC experiments

This book is not a novel. It's supposed to be a how-to book with the objective of being able to understand and program PICs by the end of the read. It should also be a handy-dandy reference book when you get into doing other projects. For that, a good index at the back of the book should be a great help. While the index is a bit better, it is still minimalist,

To really understand PIC concepts, programming and the flow of data, you need good examples of the written software. While "Programming..." had a DVD which included the software examples, "123..." doesn't. Instead, the programming examples suffer from those 2-column pages making it very difficult to read and understand. Photographs in black and white are very poor and, in some cases, a bit out of focus.

"123 PIC Microcontroller Experiments for the Evil Genius" is supposed to have been written with the idea of using it as a textbook for high-school students. It falls far short, even as a textbook for an old geyser like me. Predko's editors didn't do him any favours by releasing this book without a major rewrite to make it more readable and understandable. If both books were given a good rewrite, you might have a decent text book
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on September 3, 2017
Excellent reference demonstrating the ins-and-outs of PICs by an author who really knows his stuff.
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on October 31, 2012
Yes I happy with the 123 PIC Microcontroller Experiments for the Evil Genius book and the information within. I have also purchased another book to go with this book.
I will be using the material to help improve my knowledge of PIC programming. Only draw back is the delivery of the book took 16 days to arrive a little long.
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on February 18, 2016
No 1
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on April 10, 2010
This book covers a huge number of topics, it teaches you the C programming language, the PIC assembly language, introduces you to the PIC micro-controller, and shows how to program PICs to use LEDs, servo motors, infrared sensors, light sensors, etc. If you digest the information in the book and do every experiment, you WILL know how to use micro-controllers. All the development software is free. You'll need a PC (not a Mac), and a Microchip PicKit1 development board (about $40). You will also need to purchase extra parts for some experiments. Mike Predco has a clear writing style. His coverage of topics is thorough and I rarely needed to look elsewhere to clarify a point. I did some of the experiments and now use the book as a resource. It's great.
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on June 5, 2007
IMPORTANT: In order to complete the projects in this book, you will need to purchase a PICKit 1 Starter Kit (Microchip Part Number: DV164101, Cost: 36.00 USD) plus some additional electronic components for the more advanced projects. The book states that the PICkit 1 Starter Kit contains TWO microcontrollers: the 8-pin PIC12F675 and 14-pin PIC16F684. However, the PICKit 1 no longer includes the PIC16F684 and you must purchase it separately (Microchip Part Number: PIC16F684-I/P, Cost: $1.39 USD). Make sure to order a PIC16F684 when you purchase your PICKit 1 or else you will pay through the nose for shipping. (Shipping to Canada from the Microchip website ([...]) is 13.00 USD plus a 5.00 USD handling charge for orders under $25). ALSO, if you use a university email address when registering an account on Microchip's website, you will save 25% off of development tools (that means you will save 9.00 USD off the PICKit 1!) Your discount should be automatically applied when you check out.

My PICKit 1 has not arrived yet, but I read through several of the experiments and was quite impressed. If you want to start programming and customizing PIC microcontrollers quickly and easily following a hands-on approach, this book is for you. Despite its title, this book will not give you any "evil" projects that you can use to play pranks on your sister or brother. It will, however, teach you how to use LCD displays and interface the microcontroller with sensors to detect sound and light (viable and infra-red), speakers, keypads, ultrasonic distance sensors, motors and other components. Not to mention, it will teach you how to program PIC microcontrollers using both C and assembly language (no previous programming experience required). I think this book would be excellent for hobbyists and students pursuing self study projects.

UPDATE: I received my Pickit 1 started kit today and I was surprised to find that it *did* include a PIC16F684 microcontroller. Before writing the above review, I had emailed a sales representative at Microchip who told me that the PIC16F684 was *not* included (it is also not listed in the kit's contents).
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on October 26, 2009
I bought the book, and a Pickit1 as a way to get back into microcontrollers after several years' absence, and I've had this book for over a year now.

Despite the lame, lame title and the conceit of having 123 'experiments' (... it doesn't), this book is actually a very useful primer for 8-bit PIC microcontrollers. It has about equal focus on using C and assembler, and the range of provided 'experiments' actually provide a very good cross-section of common, useful applications of small microcontrollers, including A/D, comparators, timers and PLL. About the only basic topic it doesn't cover is interrupts.

I especially liked the fact that the book is entirely based on the Pickit1 evaluation board ([...])and the two PICs provided in the kit (16F684, 12F675). This inexpensive evaluation board is both a USB programmer and modest evaluation framework. The book completely covers how to get started with this board and MicroChip's free MPLAB IDE and the (also free) PICC Lite C compiler.

Even though the author often moves the programmed PIC over to a solderless breadboard to build and run a project, I found I could also test many of the projects by simply running the PIC in place on the Pickit1, and connecting to PIC's I/O through the Pickit1's expansion connector. (By changing some port assignments, and making a couple of hardware mods, I've checked out alot of projects directly on the Pickit1)

The combination of this book and the Pickit1 is a low-cost, low-hassle, no-excuses way to get started with modern PIC 8-bit microcontrollers. Or to get reacquainted with them, as I did. In my opinion, a beginner will get much more positive experience from this combination than struggling with the many in-print beginners books and articles that still use the venerable, under-equipped (and obsolete) PIC16F84, a separate power source, and some form of hand-rolled serial programmer.

I've now moved up to the Pickit2 programmer, and my copy of this book is dog-eared and marked up, but I still go back to it frequently. One of my best purchases.
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