Debug Headers

Debugging applications on PIC® MCU requires the use of several dedicated MCU resources. Among the resource required for debugging are:

  1. Two dedicated I/O pins to connect to the debugger.
  2. Dedicated On-board debug circuitry built into the MCU.

On small pin-count MCUs all I/O pins may be needed for the application leaving no pins available for debugging. In addition, since debugging is only done in the development phase and not in production it may be economically unfeasible for smaller MCUs to have comprehensive dedicated debug circuitry on devices used in mass production.

Debug Headers

Debug Headers enable debugging on MCU which do not have on-board debug circuitry. Many of these debug-limited MCUs come in low pin count packages. Debug headers contain a special version of the target chip which includes both the debug circuitry and dedicated debugging pins. By placing the Debug Header on the Target hardware an engineer will be able to use a standard Microchip programmer/debugger to debug the application code.


When debug headers are in use the target board "sees" the original target MCU will all the I/O available, the debugger "sees" a target chip with the additional dedicated I/O pins for debugging.


The Project Properties Window informs you if a Debug Header is required for running a debug session with the chosen MCU.


Emulation Extension Packs.

Extension packs provide enhanced debugging options for MCUs. Like Debug Headers, an emulation pack replaces the target MCU with a special version of the MCU. This new MCU performs as the original MCU but includes enhanced debugging features. Many of the MCUs with emulator pack options already have debug circuitry capable of basic debugging on-chip. For a full description of emulator packs please visit Emulator Extension Pack Overview Page.

20th Annual
Microchip MASTERs Conference 2016
Register now - Deadline: July 29

JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort-Phoenix, AZ

© 2016 Microchip Technology, Inc.
Information contained on this site regarding device applications and the like is provided only for your convenience and may be superseded by updates. It is your responsibility to ensure that your application meets with your specifications. MICROCHIP MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, WRITTEN OR ORAL, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, RELATED TO THE INFORMATION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ITS CONDITION, QUALITY, PERFORMANCE, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR PURPOSE. Microchip disclaims all liability arising from this information and its use. Use of Microchip devices in life support and/or safety applications is entirely at the buyer's risk, and the buyer agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Microchip from any and all damages, claims, suits, or expenses resulting from such use. No licenses are conveyed, implicitly or otherwise, under any Microchip intellectual property rights.