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MikroElektronika Development Tools Review

Discussion in 'Product & Service Reviews' started by Val Gretchev, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. Val Gretchev

    Val Gretchev Member Forum Supporter

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    Several months ago I decided to try some development tools from MikroElectronika. I bought the following hardware/software components:

    $99.00 mikromedia for Stellaris M3 board with
    - 320 x 240 TFT color display and touch screen
    - Stereo MP3 Codec chip
    - Battery charger
    - microSD memory card socket
    - 8M bit serial flash memory chip
    - Accelerometer chip
    - USB mini-B connector

    $10.35 microSD card

    $2.00 plastic pen stylus

    $13.90 Li-Polymer battery

    $99.00 Visual TFT (graphical development tool)

    $299.00 microC PRO for ARM (compiler)

    $49.00 microProg (programmer)

    Straight out of the box I was able to load and run the demo programs that came on a disk. I decided to give the product a better workout by writing a fairly large and complicated application. You can download the complete project at http://www.libstock.com/projects/view/382/traffic-flow-recorder-tfr

    Almost immediately I discovered a bug in sprint library and reported it to the MikroElektronika team. They will fix it in the next release of microC some time by the end of the year. In the meantime, they suggested a workaround which also failed in some circumstances.

    On the whole, the hardware seems to be solid and the mix of peripherals on the board can go a long way in satisfying many projects. Building a board like this in small quantities from scratch would run much higher than the $99 price tag.
    The documentation including schematics is quite good and there is a wealth of information on their website.

    I chose the ARM micro board but they make the same thing with a PIC32.

    The VS1053 Midi Audio Codec chip does a great job as an iPod playback. I wish they had connected the microphone input pins to an external jack. That would make it possible to use this board for a Universal Language Translator. One output channel would be used to feed back the speaker’s voice out of phase to try to mute it. The other channel would provide the translated output.
     
  2. Mr RB

    Mr RB Well-Known Member

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    Hi Val, any reason you chose the Stellaris ARM board and not the STM ARM board?

    I've been trying to decide between thw two.

    Also you should mention the $99 price for the board must have been a bundled discount (with the compiler), as the board itself is normally $169.

    I too like the MikroE dev boards, and have a few of them. :)
     
  3. hexreader

    hexreader Member

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    Mikromedia boards are $99. The bigger dev boards are $169.

    I chose STM32 as there is an M4 mikromedia board and the dev board has a STM32F407 MCU option (at extra cost)

    I assume that M4 at 168MHz is faster than the fastest Stellaris option, but I might be fooling myself.

    Agree that ME dev boards are great.
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. Val Gretchev

    Val Gretchev Member Forum Supporter

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    The Stellaris mikromedia board is bundled with a USB cable and software examples only. The compiler was extra purchase.

    I have trouble navigating the STMicroelectronics web site to get information. The Stellaris chip is made by TI and I guess my North American loyalty was involved in my decision making process. The mikromedia for STM32 M4 was not available at the time. I might buy that one next time.
     
  6. Mr RB

    Mr RB Well-Known Member

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    Thanks hexreader that was my mistake, I missed that it was a little Mikromedia board, and assumed it was a full size dev board.

    Thanks Val for answering the question. Originally I liked the look of the TI chips but then felt not so sure about the "hardware in software" philosophy. I like to have control of my own software and not have ROM already full of the manufacturer's math code. Also reading lately the STM chips seems to be lower power consumption for similar speeds which will matter to me, and another plus for STM is that ebay is now showing a number of very cheap ready-made ARM boards with STM chips. It's not a rush for me so I'll keep watching and waiting. :)
     

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