RoadTest: Microchip Curiosity Development Board
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?: Arduino UNO
What were the biggest problems encountered?: The USB MINI-B cable is the biggest hassle I have encountered, I don't own one and I had to loot it from my Digital Camera KIT.
I have got my MicroChip Curiosity Board on Dec-9 2015, took me a while to post a review, but I am sure it's within 60 days...
This is my first hands-on review with MicroChip products, and my first microcontroller from MicroChip.
The Curiosity Board
The Microchip Curiosity Board is the evaluation board for 8-bit PIC microcontrollers with low power voltage programming capability, The board is equipped with PIC16F1619 20pin DIP package, the board gives flexibility to evaluate range of low power voltage microcontrollers, even you can add 8, 16, 20 pin range to the board. The list of supported microcontrollers are found here 8-bit PIC® Microcontrollers - 8-bit Development Boards | Curiosity Development Board | Microchip Technology under "Supported Devices" tab. Memory, RAM, features of the microcontroller are depend on the MCU we are adding to the Curiosity Board, The on-board MCU features are found here PIC16F1619 - 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers
Powering the Curiosity Board
There are three ways to power-up Curiosity Board, by USB Mini-B connector on the backside of the board, through 9V connector footprint by adding the component and direct external regulated power supply.
You have to use Jumper J12 either on 3.3V (Left) or 5V (Right) to use USB Mini-B connector
Same goes for 9V connector, you have use the J12 jumper.
There is no need for using J12 jumper if you are going to power the board through TIP3 and TIP4, kinda of dangerous approach, if you are careless about regulated power then board will be smoked, because the TIP3 and TIP4 will power the entire board without using on-board power regulator.
Programming Curiosity Board
The Curiosity Board equips with on-Board programmer/debugger called PKOB, it uses low-voltage programming called LVP, so while coding we need to set the LVP bit to '1' otherwise the debugger won't program the targeted MCU, as well if you are placing MCUs that have already programmed through other debugger like PCKIT 3 won't work with PKOB debugger, because the PCKIT 3 have set the LVP bit as "0" you need to change that before using MCU with curiosity board, Fresh MCUs and LVP bit set as "1" will be the best partner of Curiosity Board.
Curiosity board features on-board LEDs, potentiometer, Capacitive touch button, push button, mikroBUS footprint, RN4020 Bluetooth module footprint.
MPLAB X IDE
We have to install MPLAB X IDE to code, the download and installation was smooth and after the installation it asks you to install compilers called XC8,XC16 and XC32, for Curiosity board I chose XC8 as the board uses 8-bit MCUs. Another recommendation from MICROCHIP is to install MPLAB Code Configurator add-on to MPLAB X, which is useful to setup your MCU in visual interface, like, setting internal or external clock, clock speed, LVP, pin configuration etc. It will generate code for you with header files of configuration, then you can add your code based on the configuration. Kind of easy, as well eliminate pin and MCU initial configuration through code.
Example Projects with Curiosity Board
Sample code from Mircochip...
My Original code to test 16x4 LCD display...
My original code to test on-board LEDs
My personal opinion is that I will use this board often, there will be inexpensive MCU which supported with Curiosity Board are available, I am going to create I2C/TWI interface to the LCD using PIC MCUs, maybe I will turn all my analog sensors into I2C capable with this PIC MCUs. So, 8-bit microcontrollers are still useful in many ways and this Curiosity Board is a add-on to your maker/inventor tools.