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Microchip, Element14 expand chipKIT platform

19 Sep 2013

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Microchip Technology said the chipKIT Pi Expansion Board is part of the expansion of the Arduino-compatible chipKIT platform ecosystem. The new product expands on the free chipKIT Multiplatform IDE (MPIDE) to allow users to create, compile and program Arduino sketch-based chipKIT applications within the Raspberry Pi operating system. The chipKIT MPIDE is open source and compatible with the Arduino programming language and development environment. These tools are based on Microchip's 32bit PIC32 microcontrollers (MCUs) in prototyping-friendly, low-pin count SPDIP packages, which were previously only available with 8bit MCUs for the Arduino community.

The Raspberry Pi is considered as one of the easiest and most affordable computers on which to program. Element14's chipKIT Pi Expansion Board will enable the development of 3.3V Arduino-compatible applications for the Raspberry Pi using a 32bit MCU in a prototyping-friendly package. Because the Raspberry Pi's processor is a 3.3V chip, its digital I/O and communications (I2C, UART, SPI) pins require 3.3V. Existing prototyping-friendly Arduino boards, which are all based on 5V 8bit MCUs, require users to create or purchase additional components to translate the voltages. The chipKIT Pi can interface directly to the Raspberry Pi I/O Expansion header without any additional components, reducing both cost and design complexity.

In addition to being 3.3V compatible, the chipKIT Pi is also an Arduino-compatible board that brings a 32bit MCU in a prototyping-friendly package to Raspberry Pi users. Previously, hobbyists, academics, makers, and professionals who wanted to develop Arduino applications for the Raspberry Pi using prototyping-friendly, through-hole packages were forced to use boards based on 8bit MCUs. The chipKIT Pi's 32bit PIC32 MCU is in an SPDIP package, which will allow non-experienced users to swap out the pre-populated PIC32 with a new one without having to replace the entire board.

The PIC32's performance, memory and integrated peripherals allow users to create applications with greater functionality, including touch sensing, audio processing, and advanced control. Additionally, users can take advantage of the PIC32's Peripheral Pin Select feature, which provides the flexibility to re-map certain peripheral I/O pins to suit their applications. The chipKIT Pi board and the Raspberry Pi-compatible version of the MPIDE software further enable users to tap into the large repository of available Arduino tutorials, reference materials, curriculum and more, to create a diverse array of designs.

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