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Review: MiktroElektronika EasyPIC v7 Development Board

This PIC development board provides an easy way to program and debug 8-bit PIC micros. It can be used with C, Pascal and BASIC programming languages. The EasyPIC has pushbuttons, LEDs, USB ports and various other devices on-board while a variety of add-on modules such as LCDs, memory cards and network interfaces can plugged in for easy prototyping.

By Nicholas Vinen

THIS PRODUCT is a large, solid PCB (265 x 220 x 2.5mm) populated with a variety of DIP sockets and other components including pushbuttons, headers, a power supply and a USB PIC programmer/debugger. Its purpose is to make building, programming and debugging prototype gear based around an 8-bit PIC microcontroller quick and as simple as possible.

It supports virtually all of the 8-bit PIC microcontrollers including the PIC10, PIC12, PIC16 and PIC18(F/LF/K) series. It is supplied with a 40-pin PIC18F45K22 but you can plug in whichever micro you prefer; it’s just a matter of flipping a few DIP switches and swapping a couple of shorting blocks to connect the micro to your PC and begin working with it.

Besides the convenience of all the pin headers, pre-wired buttons, LEDs and ease of adding accessories, one of the great advantages of the EasyPIC is the way it ties in with MikroElektronika’s other hardware and software products, including the included MikroICD in-circuit programmer/debugger (supplied) and their suite of compilers which includes C, Pascal and BASIC. The compiler, debugger and programmer all work together in an integrated development environment (IDE).

There are a large variety of accessory boards available too. It has a number of on-board peripherals, including RS-232 and USB UARTs (universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter), an I2C EEPROM, a 4-digit 7-segment LED display and piezo buzzer. But there is also provision for alphanumeric and graphic LCDs with an optional touch-screen interface, SD memory card, Ethernet networking, a stepper motor driver, a real time clock and more. These add-on boards simply plug in and sample software is provided to interface with them.

Some of these add-on boards plug into the PORT headers which connect directly to eight of the micro’s pins (and also have power supply connections) while others plug into one of the two “MikroBUS” headers which provide a standardised way to connect peripherals to a variety of micros. More on the ports later.

Mounting holes are provided at the corners so you can fit spacers or feet. As you can see from the photo, everything is clearly labelled on the white silk-screened overlay. The board is laid out neatly so you can find the header/button/LED you want without having to scan around and pretty much all the pin connections are configured using DIP switches or jumper shunts.

All in all, it’s a well-thought-out piece of kit and considering what you get, the price is quite reasonable (more on that later).

Click for larger image
This photo shows some of the many accessory boards which can be plugged into the EasyPIC v7. Clockwise from top left are a 16x2 alphanumeric LCD, MMC/SD memory card board, Ethernet interface board, stepper motor driver, real-time clock, 3-axis accelerometer and a USB-to-serial converter board. Three are connected to the EasyPIC via short ribbon cables while the rest plug straight into one of the on-board headers.

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