Parts & Tools
None of the designs on this site use parts that are particularly difficult to obtain. Vendors such as Digikey, Newark, and All-Electronics in the US, Maplin and Farnell in the UK, and Futurlec should be able to provide them. I have used all of these at various times with satisfactory results. Readers in other countries will have to identify suitable local vendors. Watch out for shipping costs, and beware customs duty and import tariffs if you have to get things shipped internationally.
In case you haven't realised it yet, you need a device programmer to program PIC microcontrollers. As an alternative, I may be able to provide a pre-programmed chip for a nominal charge. A quick Google search found many sites from which you can purchase relatively cheap programmers (<$100, some much less). A few examples from the US and the rest of the world are:
Several designs for home-made programmers are also available on the web. For example:
I haven't used any of the programmers found at the above URLs, which were picked at random, so cannot comment on their performance or suitability. Note that some come with software, some require a separate software license. If you want to go this route, it is worth checking around to see which one is most suitable for your current and future needs. Remember, you can always ask for help on the PICList.
My own programmer is a Galep-4 from Conitec, which is not cheap, at about $300, but it programs a whole variety of other devices in addition to most Microchip MCUs. Windows software is included in the purchase price, and is regularly updated to add new devices (currently about 2000 are supported). Unfortunately, Linux software does not appear to exist, but I have not asked. Disclaimer: I have no connection with Conitec other than as a satisfied customer.
All of the development software is available from Microchip.