CHIPINO - FAQ
What does the name CHIPINO mean?
The name comes from an Italian fishing town in San Francisco, California. The fishermen were asked to "chip-in" from their daily catch to a community food bank. It was their way of giving back. The result was a chipino soup for everyone to share.
The CHIPINO module is based on the same concept. It's a common platform that can be programmed easily with the SimpleC library of C language functions. This makes it easy for users to "chip-in" and share their own code snippets and ideas for this great hardware platform.
Is CHIPINO Open Source?
Yes, all except the circuit board layout. The CHIPINO project is financed by the sale of the CHIPINO circuit boards and for every CHIPINO board sold, $1 is also donated to the American Cancer Society. It's the way the CHIPINO "chips-in" or gives back to the community. For this reason the CHIPINO board layout and name are not open sourced. It is open to adaptation and all the components and schematic are open sourced to allow someone to build on the CHIPINO. The real goal is to allow anyone willing to purchase CHIPINO boards to build a business model around this product. All we asked is you purchase the boards from us or one of our approved suppliers to use the CHIPINO name.
What Microchip PIC does it use?
The CHIPINO uses the PIC16F886-I/SP 28 pin microcontroller which has 14k bytes of memory, 368 bytes of RAM, 256 bytes of internal EEPROM, USART port, I2C/SPI port, 2-PWM ports, 11 ADC pins, 2-comparators, three timers and runs up to 20 Mhz. (Although the board can accept any 28 pin 16F or 18F Microchip microcontroller).
What hardware features does CHIPINO have?
The CHIPINO is very similar to Arduino. It has a 5v regulator and a 3.3v regulator. It runs from a 16 Mhz crystal. It has a reset button and a power on LED indicator. It can be powered from the ICSP connector or from an external power source such as wallwart or 9v battery. It has an on/off switch so the external power source can be shut off. The connection headers match the layout of the Arduino so shields can be shared between the two.
What can CHIPINO do?
A CHIPINO module can be made to monitor the environment by receiving input from sensors and control its surroundings by activating lights, motors, and other actuators. CHIPINO projects can be stand-alone or they can communicate with software running on a computer.
How do I build a CHIPINO?
The CHIPINO circuit board is what we offer here. It is designed for leaded components that are readily available from various electronic component suppliers. The design makes it easy to create a kit based on the board and the recommended parts list is included with the board. You can also buy the fully assembled module and starter packages from howtronics.com or any official CHIPINO resellers. (Parties interested in selling the CHIPINO are required to purchase the boards from us).
How do I create programs for CHIPINO?
CHIPINO works with the MPLAB IDE from Microchip. It's free to download and also includes a version of the HI-TECH C compiler that installs when you install the MPLAB. This version of compiler is only limited to one optimization level. Other than that you have full use of the compiler and all the memory in the CHIPINO. The compiler also is NOT time limited. With this setup you can write your programs, simulate them prior to programming the CHIPINO, debug code while running on the CHIPINO, and compile + program the CHIPINO with one click. The CHIPINO also works with MPLABX XC8 Compiler, PBP3 BASIC Compiler and any other compiler that supports the PIC16F886.
What language do I program the CHIPINO with?
With a focus on helping beginner's get started, the CHIPINO is packaged with the SimpleC library for the Free version of the HI-TECH C compiler. The SimpleC library was developed by Chuck Hellebuyck for Volume 3 of his book series "Beginner's Guide to Embedded C Programming " to make C programming easier to use. He's "chipped-in" and allowed us to include it with the CHIPINO. SimpleC allows new users to use C language in a similar way to the Arduino C language.Howtronics.com also includes the Student version of the PBP3 BASIC compiler from microEngineering Labs in all the CHIPINO Deluxe Starter Packages which makes programming the CHIPINO even easier for begineers, hobbyists and professionals.
How do I program CHIPINO ?
The CHIPINO is programmed via In-Circuit Serial Programming (ICSP). The PICkit 2 programmer is a low cost option that can program, debug and also power the CHIPINO. This makes the CHIPINO module less expensive and easier to build by eliminating any FTDI USB surface mount chip and allows you to use blank PIC16F886-I/SP chips rather than a custom bootloader chip. The PICkit 2 runs straight from MPLAB but can also run from the PICkit 2 standalone application software that has built-in UART Terminal and Logic Analyzer tools. These are great for developing with the CHIPINO.
Can I use my own development tools?
Absolutely. The CHIPINO is not a closed system. It can also be programmed using your choice of free or purchased compilers in assembly, BASIC, embedded C or any other software language developed for Microchip PICs. This allows you to use your choice of compiler to develop whatever your imagination can create. The module software can be written using various free Integrated Development Environments (IDE) and programmed with any programmer that supports Microchip PICs and ICSP.
Can I use a different Microchip PIC?
Yes, any 28 pin PIC16F or PIC18F with matching pinout to the 16F886 (which is 99% of them) can be used. You can even use the HI-TECH compiler for any of these other parts but the SimpleC library is limited to the 16F886 at this time.
Who do we contact about becoming a reseller?
Send an email to sales at howtronics dot com.