If Microchip keeps it up, pretty soon we’ll all be “talking” to PIC microcontrollers. This month’s subject matter is centered on Microchip’s new Curiosity development board. As we put the Curiosity board
through its paces, you will quickly discern that the real
magic lies in the automated software development that
has been mixed into MPLAB X.
Curiosity Automated the Cat
The Curiosity development board is not designed
around a single PIC. If your application calls for an eight-pin PIC, you can choose from the 12F752, the 12F151, or
the 12F1572. Need something bigger? Take your choice
from the 16F1455, the 16F1507, the 16F1619, or the
16F1708. I’ve only listed a few of the PIC possibilities.
There are currently 46 supported 12F and 16F PIC types,
including a couple of 18F devices.
Once you choose the PIC variant you want to work
with, you won’t have to go very far to find the tools you
will need to program and debug it. Forget having to chase
down a PIC programmer. The Curiosity development
board has its own. An onboard PIC24FJ256GB106 is
programmed to act as the Curiosity board’s resident
programmer/debugger. Power is not a problem, either.
The Curiosity dev board can be powered from its USB
portal, an external nine volt DC source, or an external
variable DC source. If you want to use the nine volt DC
source, be prepared to do a little bit of component
mounting and soldering.
Like all well-designed development boards, the
Curiosity board sports a user-accessible pot, LEDs, and a
pushbutton switch. There’s even an m Touch Button pad
laid into the board’s fiberglass. In the spirit of Io T (Internet
of Things), the Curiosity board also includes a set of pads
THE DESIGN CYCLE
Automagic with the
MPLAB Code Configurator
■ BY FRED EADY
54 December 2015
Do you recall the scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which Scotty is formulating
transparent aluminum to house a couple of whales on the “borrowed” Klingon Battle
Cruiser? After requesting access to a computer, Scotty is directed to a PC equipped with a
mouse and keyboard. Perplexed, Scotty tries to “talk” to the PC. When the computer doesn’t
respond, Bones hands Scotty the mouse. Scotty then attempts to use the mouse as a
microphone. The PC still doesn’t “answer.” The owner of the aluminum products business
tells Scotty to just use the keyboard. So, Scotty huffs, “Keyboard? How quaint.”
■ Photo 1. This is MikroElektronika’s version of an RN4020
module carrier complete with LEDs.
■ Photo 2. The Curiosity development board’s onboard
PIC programmer is populated on the opposite side of the
printed circuit board. I’ve plugged in the RN4020 click
board that you see mounted to the upper right.