Debug chipKIT Sketches in MPLAB X IDE

Source Debugging in MPLAB X IDE
Source Debugging in MPLAB X IDE

Say goodbye to the Serial Monitor debugging with Serial.println()! Microchip has released a chipKIT Platform Sketch Importer for MPLAB X IDE in their latest version, v3.10. This importer is a plug-in that allows for source debugging of chipKIT sketches directly within MPLAB X IDE. This plug-in is installable via the MPLAB X plug-in portal under the Tools menu. The only other requirement is a separate install of the latest beta release of UECIDE–an alternative to MPIDE–since the desired sketch must first be created in UECIDE and built in that environment at least once. Subsequent builds and full source-debugging are then supported within MPLAB X IDE.

Hooray!!

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MPIDE vs MPLAB IDE

MPLAB X IDE Debugging Environment
MPLAB X IDE: In a debugging environment, you can put a breakpoint wherever you want to stop the code from running. On the bottom of the window, you can see the variable tab where you are able to create watch variables. If you create a watch variable, you can see the values change between each step.

If you’re like me, mixing up things that sound alike is not difficult to do. For example, I can easily mix up chipKIT and PICkit, especially if I’m tired and I’m not thinking well. MPIDE and MPLAB IDE are a close second; they just sound too much alike. So it’s not difficult to see that if the names mix you up and you don’t really know that much about either of them, you might wonder what distinguishes the two and why you’d want to use one over the other. For a quick summary of the differences between using MPIDE (Multi-Platform IDE) and MPLAB X IDE check out this MPIDE vs MPLAB IDE blogpost by Digilent.

However, I would like to preface that article with the following points. Since MPIDE was ported from the original Arduino IDE, and since Arduino was meant to be simple and easy to use, there wasn’t a whole lot of functionality built into the IDE from the beginning. It simply works as an editor allowing you to compile your code and program it to your target board (via the bootloader). Debugging was not built into Arduino IDE, but most people use “printf()” statements and the Serial Monitor to help debug their programs/sketches. Microchip’s MPLAB X IDE, however, has always been a debugging environment in addition to being an editor and integrating a compiler.

That being said, good luck not mixing them up now!

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Dr Duino Debugger is chipKIT Compatible


Congratulations to Guido Bonelli for his successful Dr Duino Kickstarter Project!

In this EETimes article, Max Maxfield says that chipKIT Uno32 is compatible with Dr. Duino, a very versatile shield whose purpose is to provide debugging capabilities. This little board is stackable, it comes with switches, LEDs, pots, and much more all conveniently accessible outside of the standard Arduino footprint (not hidden away underneath the stacks of shields), and its open cutout in the center provides access to the board attached below it.

Read more about this neat little board at the two links above and at drduino.com.

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