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In a few months I should begin developing a power converter and I was told I should get used to dsPIC. The currently used model is "dsPIC30F6010" which is kind of "old" (compared to the newer dsPIC33E/F series at least).

I saw the quite cheap (~ 35$ on Digikey) "DM330013-2-ND" development board with integrated debugger supporting dsPIC33F (as well as PIC24F/H and PIC32), though I seem to have more difficulties finding a cheap one for dsPIC30. I don't know if there are many differences between the two from a code style/functionality point of view.

I don't know what other people do, but I thought it would've been a good idea to start using PICKIT3 directly instead of using the on-board debugger since I'll have to make my own PCB. This somewhat narrows down the possibilities.

For the dsPIC30F6010 Microchip suggests the "DM183021" but it's very expensive (~ 130$ on Digikey). Another suggested development board is the "DM300019-ND" (~ 80$ on Digikey) which may still be within reach of my wallet, though I'd have to buy an add-on "MA300013" (which is obsolete ...).

If PIC32 and dsPIC30F/dsPIC33F are (very) similar from a code style/functionality point of view I may use a PIC32 board with the PICKIT 3 debugger, just to get the feeling of it. Still, I couldn't find a good&cheap development board claiming to support PICKIT 3 programming or at least providing a header for it.

Does anyone know/use such a cheap (< 80$ if possible) development board? I don't really need many advanced features (such as Ethernet, CAN, ...), though I'd like to have I2C/SPI/ADC/GPIO on board.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If citing one MCU or development board would be considered shopping this site would've been shut dime a long time ago. How many posts contain references to AVR/PIC/MSP430/ARM? Close all those questions then ... \$\endgroup\$ – user51166 Dec 3 '12 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd say this question shows some research effort before asking, and isn't a straight shopping question. The answer(s) if any would also benefit future visitors looking for development tools for DsPIC parts. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Dec 3 '12 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is sort of localized: a lot of these boards might not be viable options, and recommendations might not be viable options, when someone comes along in a few months and finds this question. However, it seems like it could be a better question if the focus was shifted towards people's overall experience with the different features of different development boards... what features make debugging / prototyping easier, etc etc. After that, the board choice should become obvious - whatever board has the features you want at the cheapest price. \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Lawrence Dec 3 '12 at 22:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's somewhat of a shopping question but the OP did show research into the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Gustavo Litovsky Dec 3 '12 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd buy a couple of chips and design my own board, it's very easy. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Dec 3 '12 at 22:24
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The Explorer 16 module from Microchip is a good starting point if you intend to go into power conversion. You can get a buck-boost plug-in board (PICtail) and you can dive right into developing software to control them.

PIC32 is a different animal. Its MIPS-based and doesn't have the dedicated DSP engine that the dsPIC has.

Unless other constraints block you, don't limit yourself to Microchip though. Texas Instruments has two good solutions as well - the C2000 DSP and the UCD3138 digital power controller.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the TI C2000 Piccolo suggestion. They offer the Piccolo Launchpad, a dev board for US$17 including world-wide FedEx. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Dec 4 '12 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Explorer 16 module is relatively expensive. Since this is a university project for next year and in the power electronics department they only use dsPIC, therefore I don't think I really have a choice. I wanted to experience dsPIC or the likes a bit before starting this project. \$\endgroup\$ – user51166 Dec 4 '12 at 5:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnindoGhosh: thank you. Looks interesting for the price, especially if I would like to do something at home. \$\endgroup\$ – user51166 Dec 4 '12 at 5:28
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There is no need for a "development board". You're going to have to build and test your circuit sooner or later anyway, so debug the code using a RealIce, ICD3, etc, on the real circuit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The purpose here is to get familiar with dsPIC, not to simulate or create a real power circuit. The best I could do is doing something on one breadboard while taking measurements on the development board. I'll have to do my own PCB later on, but I would like to get a bit familiar with the software running on the microcontroller before actually having hardware and software problems at the same time. Is the ICD3 (DV164035) or RealIce (DV244005) significantly better than the PICKIT 3 to justify its price difference? \$\endgroup\$ – user51166 Dec 4 '12 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or would you rather use an MCU with a DIP socket on a breadboard + a programmer (PICKIT 3 or ICD3, the RealIce is far too expensive for me) and play with it in order to get familiar with the basics? \$\endgroup\$ – user51166 Dec 4 '12 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a lot to be said about a good breakout board that lets you change things quickly and easily as part of your sandbox. I think the $200 I spent on mine has paid for itself over and over in terms of hours saved. I'm at the point now where I just chuckle to myself about how silly I was being when I think about the time I spent hesitating about whether to buy it or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Sep 11 '13 at 20:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've had a hard time finding a PIC programmer with the pins struck out (does it exist?). I've made my own demo board with a ZIF socket, so I can test various MCU's. \$\endgroup\$ – Pål Thingbø May 23 '14 at 6:49
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My vote would be for the Microstick II with the Microstick Plus or the X2C+ Development Board. Both options are around $50 and it can support multiple devices.

These are more simplistic than the Explorer 16 module, and the example code from the microstick plus website is pretty good.

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