The Other day I received a RoadTest Microchip Curiosity Board from Element14/Microchip.
The Board is quite a nice one :
Here is my first Impressions, review, and a Quickstart guide on using this nicely thought out board :
What it is : A development/demo board with built in Pickit Programmer.
This board is compatible with the Mplab Code Configurator by Microchip.
For a long time many hobbyists/professionals have struggled with the configuration of the
built-in peripherals in Microchip PIC Products (Jumping Between Datasheets, Appnotes,
Forums, Google Searches, etc, just to figure out that you forgot to set 1 little register for the
The Code Configurator is an easy click and fill in system that allows you to configure the PIC
and the peripherrals quickly and easily.
By using the Code Configurator, most of the peripheral setup is done by the software, so
you can concentrate on the Non-Boring parts of your coding.
The Curiosity system comes in a smart looking Red, Black and White Cardboard box.
In the box you have the Curiosity Board itself (in a Static Dissipative Grey Packet),
you also get some polystyrene packing peanuts (that have the same texture as cheese-puffs,
but no flavour).
Also included is a Warranty Registration Card, Important Information Sheet, and Curiosity
A quick glance at the board shows that it is a decent build, with decent white silkscreen, on
a red soldermask.
The PIC Microcontroller is a 20 Pin Dip (PIC16F1619) in a socket, which makes it easy to
swap out with another type, or to replace if you manage to destroy it somehow.
There are Female Headers that allow you access to each pin of the Microcontroller.
There is a Micro Bus Section of the board, a section for an optional bluetooth module, as
well as lots of other places for Input, Output, Etc.
You will also find a capacitive mTouch button, Potentiometer for the ADC, 7 LED’s or
status/debugging/whatever you want.
You also have a MCLR/Reset Pushbutton, and general purpose Pushbutton.
This board has a builtin 5v/3.3v supply (selectable using a jumper) that gets its power via a
USB port on the underside of the board.
The USB port also works to program and communicate with the board.
Also under the board is another PIC Microcontroller to handle the USB interface and
programming. It is basically a PICKIT on board!!! That already saves a lot of space and mess
on the desk. Normally you have your computer, USB Cable to Pickit Programmer, Cables and
Converters for the Programmer, which then connects to your Dev Board/Breadboard. Now
you just have the 1 Cable. How Neat.
The baord also comes 4 standoffs (1 at each corner), and also 3 rubber feet. Dont know
why they have had this double system, because sometimes the feet are standing on the
desk, other times the standoffs…
Anyway, lets plug this thing in, and see if it works.
The PIC comes preprogrammed with a demo program, so that you can see it working
So Plug in a Powerbank/Cellphone Charger or USB connection into the USB socket on the
board, and it comes to life.
Straight away you get a Power LED, as well as the 3v3 LED coming to life. The 16F1619 can
run from 1.8v up to 5.5v, so you do not have to worry if you have set the jumper to the
Pressing S1 Lights D4.
Pressing the mTouch section of the board causes D6 to light
Twiddle the Pot, and D7 changes brightness (using the ADC and PWM Peripherals)
I let my 4 year old son test that part, he loved it (after I promised him that it will not shock
Now that it is working, you will probably want to play a bit with it (which is easy with the
So far there are lots of Videos on Youtube on how to use the Code Configurator, but the
steps to get started are simple:
You need to have Mplab installed on your computer (with the Code Configurator Installed),
as well as a C Compiler, so this is how you do it:
Go to www.microchip.com (The files you need to download are approx 700MB, so do not
download them on a Metered Connection)
If you are downloading in South Africa, then with a standard 2Mbps ADSL Line, you are
looking at over an hour to download these 2 files.
Then under ‘Design Support’ you can download the Mplab X IDE
Then under ‘Design Support’ you download the ‘C Compiler’ eg XC8
Once the files are downloaded, Install MPLAB X IDE using the default settings.
Once the MPLAB X IDE install has finished, Untick the 3 Check Boxes, and click Finish
Then Run the XC8 Installer, again using the Default settings.
Then open up the MPLAB X IDE Icon on your desktop (The Big Red X).
Click ‘File’ ‘New Project’
Then click ‘Next’
From the Device List, Select (or type in) PIC16f1619, and click Next.
We are not using a Debug Header, so just click Next.
You will now be at the Tools Selection. Make sure your Curiosity Board is plugged in!
From the Microchip Starter Kits Section, select Curiosity, and Click Next
You will then select the XC8 Compiler, and Click Next.
Give your project a name, and Click Finish
Now click ‘Tools’ and ‘Plugins’ at the top.
Select the ‘Available Plugins’ Tab, and then tick the Checkbox next to MPLAB Code
Configurator, and click INSTALL.
Click Next, Accept the Terms (you are actually supposed to read them), and Click Install
After Installing, you will need to close off and reopen MPLAB X IDE.
Now there is something Important you need to do for the Curiosity Boards built in
Programmer, you must set LVP mode.
To Open the Code Configurator, click ‘Tools’ ‘Embedded’.
Click ‘MPLAB Code Configurator’, and you are good to go.
First get rid of the Overlay that says what is where.
Click ‘System’ on the top left.
Then in the window on the right, Expand the ‘CONFIG2’ section, and check the LVP Enable section.
Then lets do something with the LED’s,
so double click on GPIO on the left. It will then load the module to the top, under system.
Double click on it
Then on the right, click the padlocks in each column, This assigns the Pins to that Module
Then in the center, tick all the pins to make them outputs, Then mark every one as ‘Start High’
Click the Program button at the top (Paper, then Arrow, Pointing to the Chip.), It will ask you if it must make a main.c file, let it do that, and once it has done a firmware upgrade to the programmer on the curiosity board, it will upload your program, and all 4 RED led’s on your board should be on.
That shows that the PIC, Onboard Programmer, and Computer are all talking fine…
So time to search some of the Youtube Vids for the Curiosity Board by Microchip, and follow along, it is really that easy…