Rustic Engineering

My Mind working on…

Posts Tagged ‘Microchip

Microchip MicroStick review

with 2 comments

In 2010 year end, Microchip present to us the Microstick for dsPIC33F and PIC24H Development Board. The device is very portable, beauty, and Microchip list interesting features (from Microchip website):

  • Low Cost – Priced at $24.99 at Microchip Direct
  • Integrated USB programmer / debugger – No external debugger required
  • USB Powered – Ease of use, No external power required
  • Socketed dsPIC/PIC24 – Flexible, Easy device replacement
  • 0.025” Pin headers – Enables plug-in to Breadboard with room for jumper wires
  • Easy access to all device signals for probing
  • Small size – Smaller than a stick of gum at 20 x76mm – Easily Portable
  • On board debug LED, Utility LED and Reset Switch
  • Free demo code

I ordering one and I’m very confident because it’s the first way Microchip creates a breadboard friendly device (I really don’t like Explorer16 board’s kit and companion). I spec to use this device on rapid prototypes, tests, code optimizations, etc. Also other thing I want to do is know about dsPIC.

The package comes and here is the content:

MicroStick Kit

MicroStick detail (dsPIC on right side)


Very well documented, comes with printed schematics (great Microchip!). And other chip! a dsPIC33FJ64MC802. Again, point to Microchip.

I plug the device on my notebook (a Macbook Pro running Parallels Desktop) and easily upload some example codes (free demo code). Led blinks as a signal that board it’s ok. The debugger has a PIC18F67J50 control and a small ICSP header to upgrades (I think).

When I’ll gonna replace the original PIC on device (PIC24HJ64GP502) to one mine more powerful (PIC24HJ128GP502) the MPLAB won’t recognize the board yet. After some tests and explorations, the explanation comes from the MicroStick box: designed to work only with the two devices inside the box (dsPIC33FJ64MC802 and PIC24HJ64GP502). Wow… what? Why no use other devices? Why no support other PIC24H (or even PIC24F) and dsPIC on 28 DIP packages? All from the same Microchip?

Supported Parts, ONLY (from Microchip website)

Ok. That’s a lost point. Now, I’ll put the MicroStick on breadboard and wire up it to some device, maybe a LCD, or a triple-axis accelerometer. PORTA RA0, PORTA RA1, GND and +3V3… Where? Where is the +3V3 pin on headers to power external circuitry? Look at schematics again, and, there’s no +3V3 pin on headers to power external circuitry. The 28 pin PIC (+3V3) isn’t connected to 28 socket pin on bottom side.

Absence of +3V3 pin header

Because of that (and other things), I’m change my opinion about MicroStick. The device still great, very straight use, ideal for a School Lab, but with limitations. Some of them you need to know (most easy to fix):

  • Total absence of +3V3 pin on headers to power external circuitry on breadboard;
  • Don’t support other 28pin PIC24H and dsPIC devices;
  • Machine headers, DIP-28 socket 600MIL and breadboards don’t form a great team. They won’t attach firmly on breadboards. Maybe a two single-line header work’s well;
  • PGD(RB0) and PGC(RB1) program data lines don’t available on DIP-28 socket 600MIL;

But, aside these things, there’s great goals too, not easy to understand on a first view:

  • J3 header looks like a 6pin ICSP header, but actually not. It’s a 6pin header where only three pins it’s useful: USART RXD(4), TXD(5) and GND(1). Other pins rest unconnected. It’s match exactly the same cross position (RXD->TX and TXD->RX) to use it with common USB/RS232 breakout boards, like that, and with Bluetooth Mate Gold, both from SparkFun

J3 header pins (from MicroStick documentation)

J3 header compatibility with SparkFun Bluetooth/Serial module


J3 compatibility with SparkFun USB/RS232 converter

Well, that’s it. My review to help other users that need know more about this little evil until spend $24,99. I like it, really. And yours will see some project with it here. Maybe some fix to the limitations listed above.

Suggestion to Microchip: update the PIC18F67J50 firmware on MicroStick debugger (and MPLAB, off course) to support the others 28pin devices. Even PIC24F family. Please?

Good day.

Written by forrequi

January 31, 2011 at 15:47

OLED Display (SH1101A) and DS18B20 (with C18 example code for download)

with 12 comments

For who need SH1101A OLED driver, I’m posting here my code (written in Microchip C18, but easly to port to other platform) to help more people on get use this great OLED display. It’s not finished, yet, but it’s very useful.

Demo code running


The code has geometric draw functions to draw single pixel, lines, rectangles and circles with fill option. There’s  characters output functions too, with 8×6 pixel font.

The icons for Battery (animated), Bluetooth, WiFi, Sound (animated), etc are on the code too.

Some example of available functions are:

  • SetPixel(), GetPixel();
  • Line();
  • Bar();
  • Character output functions, PutROMString(), PutString();
  • PutImage();

In the code you’ll find a DS18B20 Dallas OneWire Digital Temperature sensor driver too. That’s a limited version (only work for one sensor in OneWire bus) but works great. You get a float reading plus a string with temperature value (in Celsius Degrees). More improvements coming soon.

Well, let’s go to download link:

DS18B20 with 12bit resolution!

If you have any trouble with that code, email-me or let me a comment.

Written by forrequi

November 26, 2010 at 01:03

Hand Soldering OLED – video

with 5 comments

Hi friends.

Some people ask me about how to do hand soldering on smaller parts, like on my OLED Display Board. It uses a “TAB” (tape automated bonding) or “COF” (chip on flex) style flex tail mated with a “COG” (chip on glass) display. Normally, TAB connector is soldered directly to corresponding pads on your PCB using a hot-bar soldering machine.

I don’t have that hot-bar soldering machine, so my hand’s can make the job. The first time I’ve done this soldering, I was a bit scare about damage the connector. My only tip is “don’t spend much time over the fragile contacts.

For help us, I’ve recorded my last OLED soldering. Maybe can help some people about SMD soldering (as some internet videos help me some years ago).

On YouTube:



Written by forrequi

November 11, 2010 at 16:55

Posted in electronic, LCD, OLED, pcb, projects

Tagged with , , , , , ,