Before the Arduino, there were not a lot of easy to get started with options for people looking to get into embedded electronics. Many of the projects you would find at the time were based on PIC microcontrollers and needed special hardware programmers and sometimes expensive software. Despite this, the PIC had and still has, a huge community behind it. Now with a collection of boards under the name chipKIT, the PIC world is meeting the Arduino world. One of the most full featured of the offerings is the Digilant Wi-Fire board.
As you can guess by the name, the Wi-Fire board has built in Wi-Fi thanks to the inclusion of a Microchip MRF24WG0MA WiFi module but the goodies don’t stop there. The PIC32MZ processor provides 43 I/O pins and 12 Analog inputs. There is a Micro SD card slot for additional storage, 4 user accessible LEDs, 2 push buttons, and a potentiometer all built on the board making prototyping basic functionality easy. If that wasn’t enough to peak your interest, there are two built in USB OTG ports, one with a full size A port and the other with a micro B.
The Wi-Fire supports multiple IDEs for developing software but for many the easiest to get started with will be the Arduino IDE. You can add a single line to your Arduino IDE’s preferences and then add all of the chipKIT boards using the built in board manager. Once setup the Wi-Fire can be programmed like any other Arduino.
While the chipKIT wiki provides pinouts and other docs for the Wi-Fire, I think more board specific examples showing how to use some of the on board tools would be helpful. Info on how to use the USB host or Wi-Fi is a bit sparse. This points out one of the dangers of moving away from popular Arduino hardware. Without a large community behind new boards, it can be difficult to find examples to help guide you through your projects.
|chipKIT Wi-FIRE||The chipKIT Project|
|Clock Speed:||200 MHz|
|I/O Pins (Digital):||43|
|I/O Pins (Analog):||12|
|Memory:||2MB Flash, 512K RAM|