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SAM D21 Curiosity Nano Evaluation Kit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 9
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 8
TotalScore: 57 / 60
  • RoadTest: SAM D21 Curiosity Nano Evaluation Kit
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Arduino Nano, STM32L series Nucleo boards, Teensy 3.x, Arduino MKR x0x0
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Setting up the toolchain. This can be a big problem for a beginner, which is why Arduino still dominates this section of the market. Nevertheless, the documentation is really good and I did not face many issues.

  • Detailed Review:

    Getting started with the Development environment with MPLab

    After a long and eager wait, I finally received my Curiosity Nano Evaluation Kit along with the cute little Click boards yesterday. Thanks to danzima for co-ordinating the logistics and the entire team at element14 and Microchip for giving me this opportunity.

    The SAMD21 chip has always been a personal favourite and I have read quite a lot about this. I am really excited to try out some cool stuff with it. Talking about specifications, the Nano board is powered by a 32bit ARM Cortex M0+ SAMD21G17D processor from Atmel. It has a whooping 48 GPIO pins and is breadboard friendly. The form factor is similar to an Arduino nano board and the red colour of the PCB gives it a sleek appearance. It offers one user LED and a reset button.

    For programming this beast, the first step is to install the MPLAB X IDE. I will walk you through the installation.

    Step 1: Head over to the Microchip website and search MPLAB X IDE

    Step 2: On that page head over to the Downloads section and select your operating system(Windows in my case)

    Step 3: AFter the download is over, run the installer and agree to the terms and conditions. By default, all types of MCU support is installed

    Step 4: Click OK when prompted to install drivers for the software

    Step 5: Open up the IDE through the desktop icon

    Step 6: An error will pop up. Don`t worry. Head over to the Tools in the application tray at the top left and then click on Plugin Downloads from the dropdown menu

    Step 7: In the available plugins section check the MPLAB Harmony and MPLAB Code Configurator for GUI programming support

    You will find all plugins here

    Step 8: Press on install and go for a stroll outside

    Step 9: Close the IDE and on a browser search for MPLAB XC COde compiler

    Step 10: Click on the first link and in the downloads tab install the compiler for your OS

    Step 11: Run the installation file(You will be prompted to buy a licence but I guess for us hobbyists a free licence would do)

    Step 12: Reopen the IDE. No errors this time.

    Step 13: Enjoy. Your IDE is all set now. Get an example program from the website and run it

     

     

    For an ice-breaker, I uploaded the LED blink example code available on the website and there goes my little friend.

    It works like a charm.

     

    **edit - On the recomendation of some community members I am posting a walkthrough of the MPLAB X IDE

    MPLAB Startup Screen

    Here is how the startup screen of the IDE looks like.

    On the IDE, Go to File and then to the Open Projects tab to open an existing project.

    This is how an example application opened on the IDE looks like

    Created projects have the extension .X as shown in the example project here

    To get started with any project, firstly go to Tools and then Plugin Manager.

    The essential things to install are MPLAB Harmony, a GUI based programmer and the plugins as mentioned earlier.

     

    In a future update to this blog, I will explore more of the MPLAB X IDE and do something more creative with the board

    In the meantime, I will solder the base board and the cute little Click boards.

    Till then, stay safe and stay tuned.

     

    I have managed to assemble the base board to accommodate the Curiosity Nano, but for some reason, the form factor just wasn`t compatible.

    I literally had to bend the headers by a large angle and use electrical tape to hold it in place!!!

    The click boards are working just fine and I have verified that with my Azure Development board.

    This is all for now. More on my home automation project coming in a few days.

    Stay Tuned and stay safe.

     

     

    ** As promised I am back with my final project on the Curiosity Nano SAMD21 Evaluation kit.

    Initially, I must admit that the complication of the MPLAB X IDE did intimidate me but I did not lose hope and figured out a good application for the Click boards.

    In this home automation project I established communication between my smartphone and the Bluetooth click and used the relay click to control an LED lamp. The video demonstrates my roadtest.


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