I posted mostly the same questions to sci.electronics and exactly the same questions to c.a.e.piclist, but received no reply after several days, so I'm posting it here in the hopes that people here will be more able to help:
I'm new to electronics in that I've never actually built anything before (I know the basic theory/forumals though, and have drawn up schematics, etc, but I've never actually built anything), and recently I have become interested in electronics as it applies to microcontrollers.
I'm fairly certain I'll have no problems with the microcontrollers themselves(the PIC12F675, PIC16F877A, and PIC18LF4539 for now) since I've done assembly programming on several platforms before and the data sheets from microchip seem to be very complete with respect to programming. However, the electronics part is giving me some problems.
I want to do many random projects, but I'd like to work toward making an NES-level game by both assembling the hardware and programming the software myself. I don't mind using several PICs as 'dedicated cpus', since I know things like sound processing and video processing might be difficult to do in the middle of such a 'processor intensive'(for PICs) game's code.
My primary problem is that I don't have any parts at all since I've just become interested in electronics. I do have the extreme basics - some assorted resistors, LEDs, a multimeter, and some wire. I need some help figuring out what other components I'll need to do general tinkering with PIC-based circuits.
I know I'll need a PIC programmer, but I'd rather not buy one of the $100+ programmers. I do want one that works on multiple chips, so I'm thinking about the $13 "Serial Port Programmer - Socketed" fromIs that a good choice for a