RoadTest: Cypress PSoC4 Pioneer kit
Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:
What were the biggest problems encountered?:
This is a review of the PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit from Cypress, which is a small kit for for evaluating the functionality of the new PSoC 4 SOC and easy prototyping without having to build a custom board from the ground up.
In the box
The kit consists of the board with the PSoC 4200 family processor along with an USB cable, some jumper wires and a quick start guide. The quick start guide directs you to the homepage of Cypress for more documenattion about the PSoC 4 and download of development software for this kit.
Above: The kit un-opened
Above: The contents of the kit. Less is more, the board, USB cable and a short description on how and where to get mere information about the kit.
The board looks like a lot like other development boards with Cortex M processors and this PSoC board comes with the same features such as power from the USB connector which also is used for downloading and debugging, so no need for an expensive JTAG programmer for development. GPIOs are routed out to the edge of the board and are compatible with Arduino which means that Arduino shields can be attached to this board. Furthermore a RGB LED and a push button are located on the board and can be used when developing projects along with the cap sense slider.
Above: The board with the Arduino campatible expasion ports which also allows for easy access to the GPIOs.
The MCU implements the Cortex M0 core and a whole lot of peripherals (in Cypress terms called components) that can be initialized and used when needed. The usage of the peripherals is flexible when it comes to how they can be routed to the GPIO where the PSoC4 allows for any GPIO to any peripheral routing. The Cortex M0 core is a videly used core by different manufactures which allows for easy migration to this MCU if already existing codebase i present from other projects. This also means that anyone familiar with the Cortex M series can jump right into development and get started.
The development tool used for programming the board is the PSoC Creator tool. This tool has to be downloaded from the cypress homepage and is available when a free registration has been performed and no license is needed for the tool. The PSoC Creator Tool also includes the toolchain for developing software for the ARM core in the PSoC4 so no additional software needs to be downloaded for developing software of the ARM core, it just works out-of-the box.
The PSoC Creator Tool works in two ways. One that is like the any typical IDE where you would type in you source code, perform debugging etc. and then a schematic editor where you would add the peripherals that you need in you design such as ADC, PWM and Timer, which is the typical peripherals that you find in any MCU but also digital and analogue peripherals such as gates, opamps and comparators. Initialization of each added module is done from a GUI by right-clicking on the component on the schematic and when done, the associated c-code for the component is added to your source code. This indeed an easy way of getting something up and running in no-time and allows for rapid prototyping.
A good way of getting started is to read a couple documents, namely the “PSoC 4 pioneer kit guide” and the “Getting started with PSoC 4” – AN79953. The former is a comprehensive guide to the kit describing software installation, kit operation (programming and debugging), hardware and a few example projects. The latter is a short introduction to some of the peripherals of the PSoC4 and describes a simple example. These two documents are definitely worth reading if new to the PSoC architecture and gives a good basic introduction to the kit and the architecture of the PSoC.
I tried some of the build in projects in the PSoC Creator tool to get familiar with the kit and the PSoC creator tool. I used some time with the “ADC with Differential Preamplifier Example Project” and added functionality for further testing and the flexible peripheral architecture does indeed allow for fast development of new functionality. This project indeed shows the benefits of integrated analoge peripherals on the SOC which means that only a few external resistors are needed to implement a differential amplifier, this is indeed an easy way of getting something up and running quick without the need to add a lot of add on circuitry outside the MCU.
Above: The board running with UART reading of sampled input voltages. The scope is attached for viewing the UART communication.
Above: Close up of the board running with UART reading of sampled input voltages.
Even though I come from an 8 bit world (Microchip PIC and Atmel Mega) the PSoC architecture is easy to get into and understand and the flexible peripheral architecture is easy to setup and allows for rapid proto-typing and development. The usage of the kit will for DIY people be of great value because of the easiness of using the peripheral components on the PSoC and the compatibility of Arduino modules. Along with all the documentation available at the cypress homepage this kit is easy to get into and start developing with.
The main conclusion is that the price tag of 25$ makes it a great DIY and rapid proto typing board with the availability of attaching existing Arduino shields for adding further functionality and by that perspective it’s worth the money.