chipKIT PGM Programmer-Debugger
Debugging is key for identifying and fixing issues. Unfortunately, most of the Arduino-like boards only feature a very rudimentary way of debugging, using a serial console.
The programmer-debugger comes protected under a transparent plastic. The front has three LEDs for power, activity and status.
On the software side, there are multiple options.
MPLABX is the official IDE from Microchip, based on NetBeans and available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. MPLABX has a free version. The C++ compiler, also free, needs to be downloaded and installed separately.
The debugger is tightly integrated into the IDE. However, this IDE doesn't feature the Wiring-Arduino based framework.
To play with the Wiring-Arduino framework, the recommended IDE is MPIDE. Using MPIDE with the programmer-debugger is also possible, but with the need of selecting specific targets to compile.
The standard configuration for MPIDE relies on a boot-loader in ROM. This boot-loader works with the FTDI chip to upload the sketch from USB into flash and establish a serial connection.
The programmer operates in a different way, as it writes directly to the flash. As a consequence, the boot-loader is erased. Because the memory allocations are different, a specific target is required.
This is done by selecting a dedicated board, here chipKIT UNO32 — MPLAB Debug, instead of the standard chipKIT UNO32.
Check that MPIDE includes the pull request #459, which includes fixes for the chipKIT Uno32 board without boot-loader.
At USD27, the programmer-debugger is an affordable solution to ease the development of large projects.
It delivers its full potential with the MPLABX IDE from Microchip.