To avoid feature creep, I think several levels of dev-board would be a good idea. This page will describe my ideas for a level one board, I will add pages for additional boards as ideas arise.
Level one dev-board:Getting to know the PIC
The concepts conveyed by this board should seem overly simple.
This board could introduce:
Burning a firmware (with ICSP)
Turning a LED on and off
PWM (a LED)
The 16F628(a) would be a great chip for this board. Its the successor to the famous 18f84, for which there are 100s of project examples on the web.
The 16F628a has a lot of great stuff not in the 84: hardware PWM, UART, internal OSC, etc. Its cheaper too!
Circuit wise (my laundry list of stuff):
A max202 and caps, serial connector.
A few resistors and LEDs (on some pins and PWM)
A few screw terminals - I think some pins, like the PWM, should have both a LED and a screw terminal. The LED can be removed if something external is driven.
Decoupling cap, MCLR resistor & ICSP diode.
I'm against putting a programmer on the board. Perhaps a small (socketless) JDM2 ICSP programmer can be designed for the project. These are often unreliable for beginners, but they can work great. I still haul them out when I need to see what went wrong with the ICD2.
The attached files are for a stripped down dev-board I made for a LED PWM chip from TI. This was the first 'real' electronics project I designed myself using datasheets. This is just an example and starting point, obviously its niether finished nor a very advanced use of Eagle...