My chum Mike Hibbett is a senior software engineer and a columnist for the electronics and computing hobbyist magazine Everyday Practical Electronics in the UK.
Mike has a passion for developing highly reliable products, so I was very interested to hear about his Kickstarter campaign for a low-power, low-cost (LPLC) PIC18 development board.
As you are certainly aware, there are a plethora of microcontroller development boards available on the market, so why did Mike feel moved to create yet one more? "None of them quite hit the spot for me," he says on his Kickstarter page. "They were either too small, too power hungry, too expensive, or just too limiting." None had the "Goldilocks" combination of features and capabilities.
Mike wants to build circuits that run off a couple of coin cells for months or AA batteries for years. In the case of cost, he wants something affordable enough that he can deploy a new board in each project and not have to reuse a board from another project just because he can't afford an additional unit.
He also wants "lots of code space" and the ability to use "a proper, professional development environment. I write complex code, so I expect a decent debugger" Last, but certainly not least, he likes to make tiny projects. "Some of my stuff ends up in portable applications and even magic tricks."
The end result is the board shown above. This little beauty is based on a Microchip PIC18F27J13 processor, which is small yet powerful. The PIC18F is quite a powerful processor for its size and cost; it runs at 48 MHz, can process 12 million instructions per second, and provides 128KB of Flash program storage. Its architecture is designed to facilitate being programmed in C.
Though the LPLC board itself is tiny, it still offers access to more than 20 I/O pins that can be used to implement myriad cool projects. Consider the following example.
The above image shows an LPLC prototype board implementing a simple, battery-powered, single-channel oscilloscope driving an equally low-cost color LCD display -- all implemented on a standard breadboard.
From Mike's Kickstarter project page, I see that there are only six days to go. If you are interested in laying your hands on one of these little LPLC beauties, now is the time to do so.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting