ChipKIT Ethernet and Basic IO board Review - MicrochipFollow article
Some eight months ago I had a play with the chipKIT MAX32. At the time I was not over impressed by lack of full Arduino compatibility but since then Digilent have now released the Ethernet board. As well as this I also have one of the Basic IO boards so decided it was time to dust off my chipKIT MAX and see if I could be inspired.!?
Both boards come in the same way as the main board, small folded cardboard box and bit of anti-static to protect the pins. I decided I would use both boards at once and placed the Ethernet board on first as its the largest, then the Basic IO board. It was then I noticed the first issue. The pins on the Basic IO board, the connectors, can come into contact with the top of the RJ45 Ethernet connector. This would short the pins out so I had to trim the legs and make certain I did not press down on the top Basic IO board! Simple thing that needs checking guys-!
The Basic IO boards come with lots of features on it including; 256Kbit I2C EEPROM, 128x32 pixel OLED graphic display, I2C temperature sensor, 4 open drain FET drivers, Analog potentiometer, 4 push buttons & 4 slide switches, 8 discrete LEDs.
Having given them a quick test, things like the buttons and LEDs all worked as expected and I personally felt they were gap fillers. I mean this is the sort of stuff you can buy the bits for and add very easy to a chipKIT or Arduino. However I guess its nice to have this altogether in one place. However I think the idea of this board is to bring lots of basic stuff together in one place. I feel this is a real basic design but would be grate if you have lots of different things you want to try. Or if you like messing about then this is a good thing to have. However the overall thing that stands out is the OLED display. This may be tiny my is real easy to use and display basic information on. This in my view was the best bit of the kit as I hate using big LCDs and only getting limited use out of it.
The Ethernet boards however has more to offer. It is unfortunate however that most of the core features are already on the chipKIT board in the micro - what I mean is when you look at the devices on the Ethernet board you may wonder why you have paid so much for a bunch of connectors.!? So on board you will find; SMSC LAN8720 10/100 Ethernet PHY, RJ45 connector with integral magnetics, USB Device and Host Connectors, Two MCP2551 CAN Transceivers, Two 12-pin header connectors for CAN, Two I2C daisy chain connectors, 256Kbit I2C EEPROM, 32.768 Khz Oscillator.
The USB host worked as expected however I could not test out the CAN connections as I have nothing to connect them too - does anyone? Anyway I guess the really draw for the Ethernet board is that you can use it as a web server or client. So loading up the Demo I was impressed it worked so easy and was easy to understand in the code.
In all I have been impressed with the boards and how easy it was to get going and working. May still consider mbed for size as these boards are big over all for the function you get these days. Having said that I will consider sticking them in a box for a project I have in mind.
The only real drawback I found in all was support. Once the extra libraries where downloaded I did not find clear instructions as to how to put them in the IDE folder and how to access them. Also feel a little more direction on the examples would be good other than just finding them and playing around with them to see how they work. Other than that I was happy with what Digilent have done.
Paul (aka monpjc)