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-- Your friends at element14





The PIC18F26J50-EVK “Flowcode” board was developed by element14 and Microchip as a simple PIC18 based platform to evaluate the Flowcode 4 programming language. It was important to provide enough hardware peripherals that could be accessed within Flowcode to demonstrate the functionality of the program, so other than the PIC18 MCU you will also see a capacitive touch sensor on the upper left of the board defined as an area of copper, along with microswitches, a LED array and various header ports. The design process was relatively straightforward, with the biggest challenge coming from converting the board layout from the original program that it was designed with into EAGLE (from which it was manufactured).


The board was kept relatively open so that anyone using it could attach external sensors easily and address them using the software. Likewise, there are some larger i/o vias on the lower right of the board that are intended to be compatible with external modules called E-Blocks (manufactured by Matrix Multimedia, the authors of Flowcode).


On the lower left of the board, a Mini-USB connector has been used for delivering power and programming the MCU. You can see from the various annotations on the board that 3.3 V is used uniformly throughout to simplify the design. As a two layer board, the PIC18F26J50-EVK is a relatively simple layout – a good example of a basic project and one that you could replicate easily to build your own version of the board.


To help you understand the layout of the board better: when the board was designed, the team behind it were looking to make an educational tool, so that students who didn’t necessarily know how to program could almost think of the board as a “black box” and carry out their experiments by writing simple Flowcode programs to address either the hardware on the board, or whatever external sensors they might want to attach via the headers. For this reason, you can see that the dual inline space for the PIC18 is by far the most obvious feature, as the MCU contains an ADC and DAC that come in handy when reading from the sensors on the board and outputting their values to (for example) the LED array.