September 20, 2020

Tr2W

Technical support

I’ve been a huge fan of the PIC32 series of microcontrollers since they launched several...

I’ve been a huge fan of the PIC32 series of microcontrollers since they launched several years ago. They brought together some of the best features of the PIC microcontrollers (pin remapping, great development environment) with the power and speed of the 32-bit MIPS M4K architecture. I’ve used the original PIC32MX series of chips extensively.

Almost 4 years ago, the low-power, low-cost variant of the PIC32MX was announced, called PIC32MM. They use the microMIPS architecture, and have much lower power consumption, as well as lower BOM cost per 1k chips. Of course, some performance is lost, but interestingly they added some peripherals that the low-end PIC32MX chips didn’t have —  a DAC, a Configurable Logic Cell (basically a single macrocell from a CPLD), as well as LIN and I2S support.

This tiny, well-made PIC32MM development board hits a perfect sweet spot for these microcontrollers. It breaks out a lot of pins. It’s breadboard-friendly, unlike most development boards from Microchip. It’s specifically designed to help develop USB applications on the PIC32MM, which is nice. The GitHub has a ton of examples for interfacing to this board with Python over USB. By default, it uses the HID profile for communication, but you can, of course, edit the firmware to use any USB profile you want.

It has some nice protection features, including overvoltage and overcurrent protection on the incoming USB power supply.

Programming is done with a PICKIT or MPLAB Snap, or any compatible programmer. Development can be done in MPLAB X or by using Makefiles that interface with the xc32 compiler.

This is a great little development board to kickstart your USB applications with the PIC32MM series! The board comes with the PIC32MM0256GPM028 but any of the QFN chips in that series will fit on the footprint. I have it on good authority that a “lite” version of this board is in the works, that will be even smaller and break out more GPIO, at a reduced cost. It will forgo the “nice to have” things like OVP and use a PTC instead of an active OCP circuit, but otherwise be quite similar.

It’s a well-designed and very neat board! Kudos to lophtware for an awesome product.

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