RoadTest: EasyPIC Fusion v7
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
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?: ARM corte-M3 based development platforms.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: No real issues, I accidentally started to install MikroC for PIC then realized I needed for PIC 32, but that's not really a problem.
Unboxing and setup
The EasyPIC Fusion V7 comes in a box designed to fit on a bookshelf, which is a small detail, but I find it convenient since I use many development boards. It includes a license dongle. I started as most users would by plugging in the license dongle and inserting the included DVD. The DVD is well thought out it opens exactly what a user would be looking for laid out under the full name and a picture of the board. Namely, the installation files, drivers, and documentation including schematics of the board, the user manual and the guide to the included mikroProg Suite for PIC, followed by the manuals for the individual MCUs you can plug into the development board. I really appreciate this because these are the exact same things I would normally gather in a folder for a development board I was planning to work with, but usually from many different places on the discs and websites associated with the board. A little further down you’ll find the included compilers; I started by installing MikroC for Pic 32. Installation went without issue, and when I started the compiler it showed up as being registered to the dongle, just as it should.
The board has many USB ports. I plugged into the mikroProg port, and switched the board on. Immediately the color touch screen comes on and gives you an option to run demos. The board itself is very sturdy, like a high quality PC motherboard, and I would say it’s well laid out. I’m not going to list everything on this board, but I’ll just say, if there is something you commonly have to hook up to develop for a microcontroller, it’s on this board, it even includes headers for digital temperature sensors, a CAN bus header, audio jacks, a USB host port, and SD card slot, and an EasyTFT, which is a nice color LCD screen. It also pulls out all the ports to pin headers along with dip switches and buttons for testing input and LEDs to test output.
I’m very happy with the way the software installed, identified the board and was able to compile for it without a single adjustment. I know that seems like what you would expect, but as anyone who has used development boards before knows, this is often not the case. Within minutes of plugging in my EasyPIC PRO v7 and installing the MikroC for Pic 32 I had compiled a demo and uploaded it with no issues. Reviewing features of Mikro C itself may be beyond the scope of this review, since the demo kit is what we are looking at here, but I’ll say it’s a very clean and full featured implementation of C, and the software is easy to navigate when doing tasks like picking out the microcontroller you are using.
Most importantly to implementation the documentation is excellent. The included schematics are easy to read, and when I go to move from development board to product I always find that to be crucial. For example, I was just trying out the temperature sensor feature and found that the manual includes a clear diagram of how to plug in the sensor, all the relevant usage information such as its temperature range, and settings to use to interface with it. In fact there is a clear well laid out page with a diagram and a concise usage explanation for each of the included modules, the flash memory, audio I/O controller, the touch panel controller, ect. I didn’t just go through and click mostly 10s for this to be lazy, I am truly impressed with the ease of use.
I also tried out using the mikroProg ICD for other chips off board, since this is something I often need to do. The programming port is included and I was able to read and reprogram a PIC18F2550 with no trouble at all. The programming suite includes a nice interface for reading a writing programs to any of the supported microcontrollers. It’s what you would expect with the normal read, write, clear buttons and a drop down to select your chip, but it’s clean and well laid out, like the rest of this development kit.
The EasyPIC Fusion V7 is full featured, compatible with a wide array of microcontrollers and both the software and the development board feel very well thought out and polished. I can’t really think of something more I would expect from it, having tested it with both the newest 32 bit PIC mcu I have available (PIC32MX795F) and some older ones (18F1320, 18F2550 and even 12F629) without any issues on either the development environment or hardware programming end. As with any new development platform, there are not a lot of demonstrations out there for specific applications, but MikroElectronica has provided a full set for all of the features on the board, and the rest is up to the particulars of what you are trying to accomplish and common C programming standards. As an automation engineer I’m more of an expert in control theory and artificial intelligence than in programming or electronics, but it made these microcontrollers accessible to me.