The Olimex PIC32-Pinguino micro Review

PIC32-PINGUINO
The Olimex PIC32-Pnguino with it's large DIP form factor

Specs:

  • Manufactured by Olimex
  • Price ~$25 USD
  • Pic32MX440F256H 32 bit Microchip MCU
  • 256K of Flash, 32K of RAM
  • Built in microSD slot
  • Operating at 80 Mhz
  • USB On-the-go
  • Geared for Pinguino IDE

First Thoughts:

I haven’t used this product very extensively yet so some shortcomings are awesome points may be missed. I have played with it for a couple of days though and read through most of the libraries and documentation. This product is from Olimex in Bulgaria and to be honest, I’m a bit of a fan of Olimex. Olimex has built some interesting devices such as the DuinoMite and you can really tell that these guys really like what they do. They spend the time and effort to make the boards as good as possible.

Anyways, some thoughts about this board. It’s a pretty neat little board for both prototyping and perhaps even fitting it in to a product. It has a small form factor and would happily fit into a larger board for use in a larger product. The built in microSD port and the USB otg interface allows for some neat things to be made. The pinguino IDE isn’t too bad either. The libraries are reasonably complete and the device works quite reliably with the software as I encountered no bugs or glitches and programs worked as expected.

Pros:

  • Small form factor
  • .1 dip pinout which is good for breadboarding
  • Good price for a 32 bit device like this
  • Well built
  • UEXT port for other Olimex peripherals is a nice choice
  • Fast!

Cons:

  • Uses small ICSP port which you must buy from Olimex. I know it’s done for size and not simply to sell a cable but it’s still a bit of a drag.
  • DIP width is too wide to fit on a single breadboard, you’ll need to use two breadboards and straddle it over them.
  • UEXT connector is taller than everything else on the board. Not a huge issue but most people won’t use the UEXT connector and the header could interfere inside an enclosure.
  • like with most 32 bit processors, the pins are not 5V. some of the pins may be 5V tolerant but this simply comes with the territory.

Final Thoughts:

I like the stuff that Olimex builds. They give a shit about what they make and it shows. This type of device is pretty good for almost anyone with a reasonable amount of skill wishing to prototype anything you would normally do with an Arduino. For the price, you can’t beat these guys. In order to get ahold of one you can go through Mouser or look at the Ebay distributor (olimexery). Olimex themselves seems to sell it but they don’t seem to have a slick store setup to do purchasing.

Wiring S Review

Since I have so many units for physical computing now, I figure it’s time to review some of them. Perhaps somebody will find the review useful for when they are searching around for opinions about certain products.

The Wiring S board from Rogue robotics

Specs:

  • Manufactured by Rogue Robotics
  • Price ~$27 USD
  • Uses an Atmega644p (surface mount)
  • 64Kb of Flash (double arduino uno)
  • 4Kb if SRAM (double the uno)
  • overall size (2″ x 3″ x .5″)
  • 16 Mhz
  • 7-12v input or USB
  • 2 hardware uarts
  • 1 hardware spi
  • FTDI USB to serial interface

First thoughts:

I started off trying a few common things such as accelerometers, switches, sd cards and various other things. Most of the basic stuff from a standard Arduino will work except the SD card will you to program it through the SPI library. The form factor has changed a bit from Arduino in that they have used standard 100mil spacing. Also, they have separated the headers in to groups of 8, you can access each of these as ports instead of straight pins. you could do this with the Arduino but the pins were not always contiguous. Also, using the 644 is great because you get two hardware UARTs. very nice! Other than the changes mentioned, it is pretty much the same as an arduino and the software looks and functions almost exactly the same as the standard Arduino IDE. It all has very good fit and finish and is reasonably priced and functional.

Pros:

  • Better pin locations, based on a grid of 100 mill unlike and Arduino which has one row of headers off by 50 mil.
  • Better pinout usage. Ports are aligned along the header and power,rst and aref are on their own separate header, much better.
  • Easier to reach reset button if a shield were on the board.
  • more flash and SRAM than standard UNO, double to be exact.
  • inch based form factor (exactly 2×3 inches)
  • provision for pins or terminal for direct power feed rather than barrel or usb
  • reasonable cost, not super cheap or expensive, comparable
  • Switchover jumper for usb power and external
  • Canadian Made!

Cons:

  • Used huge USB connector like Arduinos. Most others stay away from these since they’re huge and most people don’t like the large cords.
  • For the same reason that the header placing is good also makes it bad if you like to use shields for the Arduino
  • sd library isn’t implemented but that’s not a big deal
  • slightly larger for factor (as per area) than the Arduino but not by much.

In closing:

This product is great for anybody who uses the Arduino or is learning. It’s better in almost every waythan an UNO and is offered for a  reasonable price.

Pop by robotshop or roguerobotics if you’d like to pick one up