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So what’s a CHIPINO?

The CHIPINOOk, let’s talk a little CHIPINO.  What the heck is this thing you ask?  According to the developer over at Brockway Engineering it’s …

…an electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, students, technicians, engineers and anyone else interested in creating interactive gadgets.

Well, that’s pretty cool but you probably want a little more detail than that.  The CHIPINO is an option to consider if you’re interested in what the Arduino can do but you’re more of a PIC person.  The Arduino is built on the Atmel microcontroller while the CHIPINO is built around a Microchip PIC.  It comes with a 28 lead PDIP PIC16F886 onboard but you can change that out for other 28 lead 8bit PIC.  The CHIPINO has the pins brought out to the edge of the board in an Arudino style arrangement.  In fact, you can even use Arduino sheilds on the CHIPINO.

Let’s talk about some of the features on board.  The CHIPINO comes with a 16Mhz crystal which means you can run the PIC in HS mode at 16Mhz.

CHIPINO Crystal

The power supply is regulated and you can run both 5Volt and 3 Volt parts.  That’s a pretty cool feature because now you can use a Microchips part like the PIC18F24K20 in your CHIPINO.  You’ll have to move the jumper if you want to switch between 5V and 3V.  Small price to pay for such flexibility.

CHIPINO Jumper 3V/5V

I comes with an external reset.  To use this, make sure that you configure your device properly.

CHIPINO External Reset

It can except external power via a standard 2.1mm barrel conntector.  You’re likely to have one of these around if you have any experience with programming pics.  If you don’t, they’re easy to find.

CHIPINO Barrel Connector

I has power and ground easily accessible in case your going to use the entire module in a project and need to power devices that don’t need to be switched on and off by the micro.

 CHIPINO Power and Ground Rails

The CHIPINO has provisions for added a UART/LOGIC Tool as well as an LED indicator that lights when the device is powered.  You can also see in the photo below that it uses a 6 pin programming header.  This header is compatible with all sorts of PIC programmers.

CHIPINO UART/LOGIC Tool Access

The absolute coolest thing about the CHIPINO is that is uses In Circuit Serial Programming.  That means you can use a wide variety of programmers to program it.  Programmers like the PICKit x, ICDx, and the Real Ice.  Also, you can use a wide variety of GUI’s to develop you code like MBLAB, PICBasic, Great Cow Basic, Flowcode, etc, etc. 

When you have your CHIPINO programmed, you also have the option of removing the chip and dropping it into your own circuit because the chip is programmed.  It’s not a bootloader setup so the chip can be used outside of it’s CHIPINO board.  For me, that’s the real bonus of using this platform.

Well, there you go.  Hopefully you now know more about the CHIPINO than when you started reading this piece.  Don’t forget that RawMicro is an authorized reseller and you can get your own CHIPINO in our store fully assembled or as a kit.  Personally, I bought my first as a kit and i recommend that route.  Just something cool about putting your own board together.  It helps you can familiar with the hardware and it only takes maybe 20 – 30 minutes. 

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