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I'm new to embedded programming and looking for advise on a couple things:

I'm developing two "projects." One is based on Microchip's dsPIC33 series of micros and the 2nd project involves Freescale iMX515 processor much like the pandaboard.org system. I may purchase a pandaboard to get up and running quickly.

So with my two projects based on the above core components, I was considering this board by MikroElektronika:

http://www.mikroe.com/eng/products/view/669/uni-ds6-development-system/

  1. And was looking to hear feedback from anyone who may have purchased this to do some simple POC(Proof Of Concept) type work.

My 2nd question: 2. With the Linux on iMX, I plan to make use of Freescales ATK, LTIB, and GCC to build up the software but for the dsPIC, what C compilers do you use? I understand Microchip has one that installs with MPLAB IDE but I'm not sure how full featured it is yet. MikroElektronika offers a full IDE & C compiler that looks/seems impressive from reading about it but I'm interested in any feedback from those of you in the trenches with it. Particularly, I'm looking for anyone who has experience with both compilers (Microchip and MikroElektronika) to give me some advise.

Thanks....

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    \$\begingroup\$ You'll get some good answers here but I recommend that you also consider joining the PICList ( join here ) where you'll find a good range of PIC experienced people. (Membership required by spam free and can leave any time).Also expertise on a wider range of questions than are allowed to be asked in this forum). Membership of PICList is complementary to Stack Exchange and belonging to both is valuable. (I and a number of others here belong to both). \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    Oct 2 '11 at 7:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ This should really be two separate questions \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul R
    Oct 2 '11 at 9:13
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I spent quite a while analyzing MicroElektronika's boards, since they happen to be from my hometown and are the only ones selling any serious development boards here.

My general impression is that they spent some energy trying to lock-in their buyers and make them spend money on some of their other products too. For example a lot of their development boards only have their own programmers which don't work with industry standard tools and instead ME's software needs to be used. Recently, they added pins for standard programmers on some of their boards, but from what I can see, the mikroBoards for UNI-DS aren't one of them, so that could be a problem if you want to seamlessly use other IDEs. You can always use their programmer to burn a hex file made by some other compiler.

Another interesting thing are their IDEs. They do look nice and have some interesting libraries, but on the other hand, they aren't that standard so some effort may be needed to port existing programs to them or from them. There's a nice chapter about that in the manual for the IDE, so you can get the gory details there. The features are definitely nice for someone who doesn't want to spend time on things such as making custom characters for LCDs, porting images for use on graphical displays, driving seven segment displays and so on. The commenting system also seems interesting to me, since you can say put pinout images directly into the same window where code is or put links to websites and so on. In my opinion, it would be best to just download the IDE, if you haven't already, and make a few test programs to see how well it fits your needs and then compare it to MPLAB. The free version should work with programs smaller than 2kB. Unfortunately I can't provide more specific information on how good the compiler is, since I'm still considering if I should buy one of their boards.

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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, I wound up going with Microchip's Explorer 16 board and ICD3 simply because your comments made really good sense to me and because my project is using a Microchip micro, this seems like a better fit for the long term life cycle of my project. Thank you for the informative comment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric M
    Oct 30 '11 at 1:15

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