CY8CKIT-044 PSoC® 4 M-Series Pioneer Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: CY8CKIT-044 PSoC® 4 M-Series Pioneer Kit

Author: rwgast

Creation date:

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?: Any arm core boards, cplds, and less expensive PSoC kits

What were the biggest problems encountered?: None so far..

Detailed Review:

First off I would like to say this is only my second Road Test, I have also reviewed an stm32 dev board, http://www.element14.com/community/roadTestReviews/1348 most of the time I sign up for gear test that have I have a slim chance of winning because of of kit availability to entrant ratio! I am mostly in to analog stuff and stuck on the micros I use. The PSoC has caught my eye though. I have purchased kits like these in the past:

 

These kits are awful for beginners because of the boot loader system, basically you would have to purchase a Miniprog3 programmer for 90 bucks to really get going with them! They use a serial boot loader instead of the Pioneer style PSoC5 on board programmer which is a much easier system for the newb! Usually serial bootloaders tend to make things easy right? Think Arduino, Parallax, Embed etc.... but cypress really blew these cheap 4 dollar kits.

 

Anyways I'm excited to review the PSoC4 board I'm hoping it will be my next go to chip! I have experience in the IDE and let me tell you it is super easy to drag a hardware block (originally written in VHDL) straight in to your project, such as a counter, watch dog timer, quadrature decoder etc. You can also drop in analog comparators, opamps etc... not sure if these are spice models or how that works yet but I will let you know once I really get down and dirty!

 

The one thing I want to do is use the hardware blocks to decode my robots wheel encoders which are something like 1024 steps per wheel revaluation if I remember right, its been a while! Here you can see the home made wheel encoder:

 

 

and here is the bot in it's current state running two atmega328's and one parallax propeller plus tons of other chips:

 

2015-07-31%2008.48.12.jpg

 

So like I said my main goal will to get some code working LEDs flashing and then get the hardware blocks for quad decoders spitting out wheel data over a serial terminal for you all to see! After that I would like to experiment with some SDR stuff or maybe Volt Nutting !

 

So far the kit looks great I took some pictures of what was in the box etc:

 

This is the bundle Element14 was kind enough to send:

 

This is what you see when you open the box:

 

Here is the Docs and Mircum uc/Probe License included, This software is expensive and awesomely useful, not sure if this license only works with cypress yet:

Next we Have the bottom of the PCB, VERY WELL DESIGNED lots of nice silk screen A++++, sorry my 16mp camera didn't get a good shot:

And lastly full contents of kit:

 

So for now this will be it but as I get going I will be updating this Road Test with examples or blog posts of example code etc! Got to get the daughter down and the bot charging! I havent worked on it in about a year Ive been so in to EMC testing and SDR development. But Im taking a Job in the cell industry that requires me to travel for months at a time so I have to get on some of this stuff real soon! I plan on taking a porta lab for the hotel but I want to get this guy out of the way and hopefully road test the Tek MSO I signed up for!

 

I know I have all 10s at the top but if this board works like the 4 dollar kits with out the PITA boot loader I think it deserves all tens, cypress has so much good documentation on there site im also learning the FX-2 USB chips with 8051 core that are used in the Salee units and there online docs have been plenty sufficient, along with the docs on how to use an HDL to create custom PSoC blocks. Although I am not an HDL guy I hope the PSoC is a step to get me going in that direction! I can truly say if cypress made library's for the arm core that were EMBed or Arduino compatible I think these PSoC chips would take over the hobbyist market with in a year or two kind of like the ESP2886 chip is doing but on a much grander scale! I just got one of those ESP wifi boards too maybe all use it with the Pioneer kit ! Good things coming soon.

 

Ok sorry for the delay sometimes life keeps a single dad busy, so I dont have a real camera, I do however have an LG G4 with a 16mp camera it's pictures are better than almost any point ant shoot, I rigged this up this morning to do videos (excuse the picture quality it was taken with a horrible phone)

PHOTO_20150919_093000.jpg

 

Now I just need to find some software that will do video screen captures and maybe has mic support if you know of any free windows software like that let me know. My next steps for this board are to show all the demo applications, and before I get heavy in to the digital side I would like to test the DAC/ADC stuff. Around the time my daughter was born I had wanted to make a digitally controlled active load, then Arachnid labs came out with this http://www.arachnidlabs.com/reload-pro/ which was pretty close to what I envisioned. The difference is he used a PSoC for while I had planed to use a 24 bit ADC and 16 bit DAC along with a propeller chip. I have since started working on a kit which take electrical measurements with a set of kelvin clips. Im interested to see exactly what kind of resolution and accuracy a PSoC chip would accomplish for precision analog projects, vs high end dedicated chips. So after I get all the initial this is the demo code stuff done im going to have a go at testing the analog fabric with my junky old PC Scope. Ill be looking for ripple noise etc. While I have used PSoC creator I will have to actually sit down and learn how to hook the drag and drop parts to the code. As I said I want to test the quad encoders too, this is my favorite part but I have alot probing around wires to do on my bot before that happens.

 

Ok so I spent some time browsing the manual and some of the demo projects are pretty neat, originally just interested in the chip but this board has a bunch of really cool features, the getting started manual is located at http://www.cypress.com/file/157906/download, and here is a block diagram of the boards features

 

I have ran the stock demo and video'ed it, I want to run some of the other premade demos too, especially the one using uc/Probe since this is part of the package and an it is cost more than the board!

 

Just updating as I go PSoC Creator now makes you register fore a keil liscence (free) and getting the free one month liscence in to uc/Probe was not intuitive at all. Basically setting up the tools is quite easy compared to building a special toolchain on Linux, but its been sort of a pain in the butt... only so many times one person wants to fill out forms with there address etc..

Anonymous
  • Take your time. No pressure. Life can be a *** sometimes, we all go through problems. I hope you're nearing the end of the tunnel.

  • Sorry about that, Lifes been in the way, lots of personal stuff between me and my daughters mom we've just been doing alot of therapy and trying to get a house together after a 6 month split. I have all kinds of stuff laying around I havent touched Ive actually purchased 40,000 count dmm's etc.

     

    Enough personal life sob story. I own an LG 4 with 16mp camera and I want to get some videos shot and posted Im trying to fit it on a mini tripod.... I fully plan to have some kind of an up date today at least showing the demo program and the PSoC enviorement, BTW does anyone know of good free software that can do something like a screenshot but video instead?

  • Got the board. Waiting for your updates.