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the problem with usb pic programmers is that they need a special chip that has to be used to decode the signals from the USB port. most of the time because of the compecity of the chip and the fact that it is a SMT IC it is not generally done by the average person. if you are after a Usb pic programmer than i recommend that you get a kit with the IC pre-soldered on. if you want to get a kit than i can recommend that you get it from here. they are the cheapest place you will find them from and they have a very fast delivery. i have previously ordered from here and i can tell you they are excellent kits.
As long as this has been resurrected, I was just about to ask about the same thing, I have a pickit 2 clone (a junebug) but I was thinking of making some spares that are just cheap programmers for my friends, and maybe a spare for me in case mine breaks. A google search turns up dozens of 18f2550 and 4550 based pickit 2 clones. Some look decent and some don't. So I was going to ask for recommendations of a plan to follow.
That's a good one but you can make one with just the charge pump part all transistors no fet's that works just as good with haft the parts . Ive made a bunch of them the best one that I came up with 22 parts and woks like a charm for 5 volt chips
There not much to it Vpp feed back Vdd feed back and a charge pump all you need to program 5 volt chips
You can program the 3.3 chips if you cut the usb power and use a 3.3 volt supply
You could make one with 4 2n7000 and one 2n3906 a Scottish diode six caps 11 resistors and L1 and program all the pic chips you want