Tag Archives: chipKIT

chipKIT Tutorial 4: Interfacing a character LCD

Liquid Crystal Displays(LCDs ) are a very popular output device for displaying graphical and alphanumeric data in microcontroller based systems. They can also provide an interactive input interface to the users. The most common type of LCD controller used by hobbyists is the Hitachi 44780, which provides a relatively simple interface between a processor and an LCD. The purpose of this tutorial is to describe how to interface Hitachi 44780–based LCDs with the chipKIT Uno32 board to display alphanumeric information.

Interfacing an Hitachi 44780 based character LCD

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A brief introduction to the chipKIT platform

In order to understand the chipKIT platform, it is important to talk about Arduino first. Arduino is an easy-to-use and powerful open source environment for developing microcontroller based applications. It has gained huge amount of popularity in past few years, specially among hobbyists. Arduino has been a wonderful tool, introducing many people to the world of embedded electronics with little or no prior knowledge of electronics. The standard Arduino development boards are based on 8-bit Atmel AVR processors which are pre-programmed with a serial bootloader, and thus simplifies the uploading of user programs to the on-chip flash memory without the need of any external programmer. Because of its low cost, easy-to-use software development environment (open-source C/C++ like programming platform), rich set of libraries, and tons of resources available online, Arduino has become a common choice for electronics hobbyists these days. Hundreds of plug-in application boards, called Arduino shields, are also commercially available to extend the functional capabilities of the Arduino board. The simplicity and the open source nature of Arduino and its shields allow students, hobbyists, and even artists to do many creative things.

Inspired from the growing influence of Arduino, Microchip and Digilent, in 2011, introduced a new and much powerful form of Arduino platform, called chipKIT, which is based on 32-bit PIC processors. The chipKIT platform consists of two development boards (chipKIT UNO32 and chipKIT MAX32), and an open-source software development tool, which is basically a modified version of the Arduino IDE, and is called MPIDE (Multi-Platform Integrated Development Environment).

Arduino Uno chipKIT Uno32

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Tutorial series on chipKIT programming and interfacing

chipKIT is an open source embedded development environment based on the popular Arduino platform. The major difference between the two platforms is the type of processor used in their hardware. The Arduino development boards are based on 8-bit Atmel microcontrollers which run at maximum clock speed of 16 MHz . On the other hand, the chipKIT hardware uses powerful 32-bit PIC processors running at 80 MHz clock, and thus provides improved performance over the traditional Arduino boards. I have started this new tutorial series on chipKIT, and I believe they will be helpful for beginners to start using this platform for their own embedded projects and designs. Because I am also new to the Arduino and chipKIT world, I would really appreciate your opinions, comments and suggestions regarding these tutorials.

chipKIT programming and interfacing

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