Arduino with a… PIC?

Before the Arduino took over the hobby market (well, at least the 8-bit segment of it), most hackers used PIC processors. They were cheap, easy to program, had a good toolchain, and were at the heart of the Basic Stamp, which was the gateway drug for many microcontroller developers.

[AXR AMR] has been working with the Pinguino, an Arduino processor based on a PIC (granted, an 18F PIC, although you can also use a 32-bit device, too). He shows you how to build a compatible circuit on a breadboard with about a dozen parts. The PIC has built-in USB. Once you flash the right bootloader, you don’t need anything other than a USB cable to program. You can see a video of this below.

You will need a programmer to get the initial bootloader, but there’s plenty of cheap options for that. The IDE is available for Windows, Linux, and the Mac. Of course, you might wonder why you would use a PIC device instead of the more traditional Arduino devices. The answer is: it depends. Every chip has its own set of plusses and minuses from power consumption to I/O devices, to availability and price. These chips might suit you, and they might not. That’s your call.  Of course, the difference between Microchip and Atmel has gotten less lately, too.

We’ve covered Pinguino before with a dedicated board. If you never played with a Basic Stamp, you might enjoy learning more about it. If you’re looking for more power than a PIC 18F can handle, you might consider the Fubarino, a PIC32 board you can use with the Arduino IDE.

Continue reading “Arduino with a… PIC?”

Meet the Pinguino – a completely open PIC-based dev platform

pinguino

[Phillip Torrone] from Make recently sat down with [Jean-Pierre Mandon] and [Tsvetan Usunov], creators of the Pinguino, to hear more about their product. While the name might not sound familiar, we’re pretty sure you’ll be seeing more of this development platform as time goes on.

Essentially created by makers for makers, the Pinguino is a 32-bit PIC based Arduino-compatible prototyping platform, much like Microchip’s chipKIT. The Pinguino boasts 100% Arduino compatibility just as the chipKIT, though their tool chain has been built from scratch, meaning it is completely open source. The Pinguino even include an on-board microSD slot and a built-in Li-Po charger – two huge features that make this a solid chipKit competitor.

Phil discusses the history of the Pinguino with the pair, diving into technical differences between the two platforms, as well as where they plan on taking the platform in the future. It’s certainly an interesting read for anyone interested in open software and hardware that has been considering giving the chipKIT a try.