Back when I worked for a major motor vehicle manufacturer, we often had projects that needed to be built for the factory floor’s production activities. That was how I got into using PIC microcontrollers. My first project was a key pad that opened a safe in which they stored CAM lifters (engine parts). This first project like so many ice breakers showed me that PICs were not just a theoretical piece of silicon. They were real life parts that could go the distance in a harsh environment.
I moved on into IT for a while, but I never lost that first love of watching an LED flash – which may seem simplistic. But it never ceases to get those coding ideas flowing especially if you are using a new device for the first time and the compiler does it’s thing right and the hello world snipped works first time.
Since the days of the PIC16F84 debut, the embedded world has really come to life with so many options to choose from. My first exposure to alternatives to PICs was the ATMEL AVR. A I day seminar and a dev kit later – I still went back to PICs. Yes I have a RASPBERRY PI and Arduinos on my workbench. Like all serious developers we have our favourite devices that we defend but we are not stupid enough to ignore the competition.
I can’t think of the last time I saw a PICF16F84 in a serious project and in conversation try and discuss core independent peripherals. Mostly the conversation veers onto the new PI with it’s QUAD cores.
16 BIT, I am still tinkering with that and the 32 BIT devices are I the same corner at the moment. I have them in my “just bought, will use soon” pile. I really hope to get there before I retire but time is not always on your side.
So why the DEVCC, blueBerry what was it….?
I would like to think that PIC Microcontroller have a strong defensible position, but sadly I think if too many of us embedded engineers start tinkering with new disparate toys: will the PIC hobbyist slowly slip away. I would have hoped that somewhere in the past the chaps who built that excellent open source tool chain for Arduino might have just rather put a PIC18F25K22 on the board instead. It persists however that everyone is happy with the ATMEL’s they use.
The blueBerry or DEVCC range of boards is my way of adding to the community of embedded tool chains – I often have code that starts on bigger devices and needs to migrate or vice versa. With this in mind, the DEVCC came into being. But hey, DEVCC is not a cool name so I have changed it to blueberry – it sounds better. Will it catch on . . .
You will notice on closer inspection that the DEVCC – V40, DEVCC – V18, DEVCC – V20 and the DEVCC – V28 all share the same layout. They are essentially a sliding development platform that allows you to move your code from one device to the next and have homogeneous hardware in place. Starting at the V18 board you add pins to the V20, V28 and finally the V40. Your project can starts small and migrate to bigger and better applications and solutions.
The form itself is still under evolution and therefore you may notice new features creeping in on the DEVCC – V28 and DEVCC – V 20. The Microprog Connector on the V20 and the Type A USB along with your Serial port pins. CTS, RTS etc.
True, the form is in flux at the moment. The new standard is the new board and the features in the DEVCC – V28 become the features in the next board as standard in so on. In other words, rather than a stale DEVBOARD it’s evolving. It’s getting better and you are getting a better dev board for your $24,99.
Have you bought one? To some extent I can understand if not. PIC compilers need to be paid for, and MPLAB needs a 2 day training course before it all fits into place. I can however guarantee that taking on the PIC as your mainstay brand of device is seldom disappointing if you don’t let the negative hype about PICs get to you.
MPLAB is a great product and the free compilers that go with it get the job done. If like me you paid for a Mikroe License, they are a great product. And their tool chain is excellent. If you are waiting for me to “product bash”, well lets be honest 95% perfect is a project deployed and a happy customer. The next version will iron out the kinks and you can get that nuance that you needed to work around out of your product. Building something successful takes belief, and PIC microchips have been and continue to sell more silicon that their competitors.
Join me in using the blueBerry as I push ahead building solutions, stacking shields and having fun along the way. If you have an Arduino or a PI hang onto it – u did pay for it. If you have a blueberry well lets get going and build projects, that is why PIC produces so much silicon, they have a winning product!