Development without MPIDE or MPLAB

It is possible to create pure C / assembly code for chipKIT boards without MPIDE or MPLAB.


Newlib-based chipKIT compiler Example minimal application (contains Makefile, linker scripts, startup code, trivial C app)

Uploading to board

See “Using avrdude from Linux console” section in avrdude and the chipkit article. Example minimal application above has uploading with avrdude integrated into Makefile.


Debugging with ejtagproxy and GDB.
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embedXcode: Use MPIDE with Apple Xcode


The MPIDE is great and provides plug-and-play and instant gratification but, sometimes, complex sketches require a more powerful IDE. Also, some niceties are welcomed, as syntax colouring, line numbering, function highlighting, code-sense, template with parameters for a function, check-as-you-type, click-to-error, tool-tip texts, object browser, self documentation, version management, repository management, code snippets, Git repository management and even debugging…

I’m using Xcode because I own a MacBook. Xcode is flexible enough to deliver code-sense with just being provided the paths of the source libraries. And the main benefit is faster development.

Modular Set of Makefiles

The paradigm is that a sketch consists on a standard C++ code, and thus processed accordingly. embedXcode requires the prior installation of the IDEs like MPIDE, as they include everything, including tool-chain, framework and utilities. embedXcode relies on a modular set of makefiles, which can be used with other IDEs. I use Xcode because I own a MacBook, but I tested the set of makefiles successfully with NetBeans. As at today, embedXcode supports the most popular Processing-based Wiring-derived Arduino-like platforms: chipKIT MPIDE, Arduino (23 + 1.0 + 1.5), Digistark, DFRobot BLuno, LaunchPad (MSP430, FR5739 and Stellaris LM4F), LeafLabs Maple, Microduino, Teensy 3 and Wiring.

Easy Installation

  • Install MPIDE normally and run it once
  • Double-click on the embedXcode installation package to install the template
  • Launch Xcode

Dedicated Website and Forum Thread

The dedicated website includes:

Also check the MPIDE on Xcode thread on the chipKIT forum.

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Programming Microchip starter kits from MPIDE

Running on Microchip Starter Kits

MPIDE has been expanded explicitly to support all of the Microchip starter kits such as:
  • PIC32 Starter Kit
  • PIC32 USB Starter Kit
  • PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kit
  • Explorer 16 Starter Kit
Currently for all of these boards you will need some sort of USB to serial adapter. For all but the Exp-16 I use an FTDI cable that breaks out to pins. I connect those to pins on the expansion board for uart1. The PIC32 USB Starter Kit and PIC32 Ethernet Starter Kits are also compatible with the USB PIC32 bootloader. The Explorer-16 has an on-board DB-9 RS-232 connector. This is connected to UART2. The bootloader is configured to use UART2 for the Explorer-16 and the Serial ports for Arduino are remapped so that Serial.print goes to uart2 and Serial1.print goes to uart1. This is all done automatically so the user does not have to worry about it at all. In order to install the bootloader on any of these boards, you have to have one of the Microchip compatible programmers such as the MPLAB ICD 3 or PICkit 3. Ideally you should download MPLAB X IDE from microchip ( and use that to compile and burn the bootloader. The bootloader source and pre-compiled hex files are all on github. (

Using other PIC32 boards

As far as using MPIDE with other boards, the answer is YES, it should work with ANY PIC32 there is. The only limit might be it won’t work on chips smaller than 32K, And that’s because it hasn’t been tried on anything smaller. To get it to work on other boards, a few things have be be done.
  • First, the bootloader has to be burned onto the target board. The source is on github and MPLAB is used to compile and burn the bootloader. The multi-platform MPLAB-X was used on a Mac, but other versions should work as well.
  • If you using a chip that has not already been added to avrdude.conf, that has to be done.
  • You need to add a new entry to boards.txt and then you will be able to program the board directly from MPIDE.
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USB Bootloader

The PIC32-avrdude-bootloader communicates over either a serial port (UART) or the USB port (on those pic32 chips that support USB.)  It can be built for either serial or USB communication with the PC. The bootloader communicates with the avrdude executable on the PC side of the connection. The following boards have been tested using the PIC32-avrdude-bootloader:
  • Microchip PIC32 USB starter kit
  • Microchip PIC32 Ethernet starter kit
  • UBW32 – MX460
  • UBW32 – MX795
  • Fubarino SD
  • Fubarino Mini
In order to use this bootloader, you can either download the full source from github, or just pick and choose the HEX file that is right for your board. There are three bootloaders that have been created for chipKIT and chipKIT compatible boards:
  • PIC32-avrdude-bootloader – This new bootloader for MPIDE/chipKIT PIC32 boards is buildable for all currently available  chipKIT boards (UNO32, MAX32, uC32) as well as other PIC32 based boards like the UBW32 and Fubarino boards.
  • pic32-Arduino-USB-Bootloader-original – This is the original version of the bootloader that works only if compiled with the C32 v1.xx version due to changes in the way that newer version of C32/XC32 handles the linker scripts files.
  • pic32-Arduino-Bootloader – This is the older original version of the bootloader which supports only Digilent uno and mega pic32 boards.This bootloader is compatible with v5.8 of avrdude.
  • For Digilent pic32 boards, it is highly recommended to download the Digilent official bootloader from the Digilent website at
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Running StickOS BASIC on a chipKIT board

Have you ever wished you could examine and manipulate the pins and peripherals of your MCU *interactively*, while it was live and connected to your embedded circuit, rather than using just “reset and run” debugging? If so, StickOS BASIC may be for you! With StickOS BASIC, you can log in to your MCU using nothing but a terminal emulator, and then take full control of the MCU from a command-line, just as if you had an In-Circuit Emulator. StickOS can run either in “slave” mode, tethered to and controlled by a host computer as a glorified intelligent I/O port, or it can run in “master” mode, programmed in BASIC, interactively debugged, and even configured to autorun its BASIC program autonomously. In StickOS BASIC, it is trivial to examine and manipulate I/O pins. I/O pins can be configured for digital input or output, analog input or output, servo output, or frequency output. Once a pin is configured, it can be bound to a BASIC variable, and from then on, examining or manipulating the pin is as simple as examining or manipulating the bound variable. For example, to configure pin 3 for servo output, bind it to the variable “motor1”, and then set it up for a 1ms (1000us) PWM pulse width is as easy as (interactively, at the command-line, or in a program):
    > dim motor1 as pin 3 for servo output
    > let motor1=1000
    > _
In StickOS BASIC, it is equally trivial to use timers, UARTs, advanced I2C or SPI peripherals, as well as HD44780-compatible LCDs and simple scanned keypads. And most importantly, it can all be done interactively — no more guessing what your MCU is up to! The StickOS debugger supports command-line program interruption, breakpoints, assertions, watchpoints, live variable (and pin) manipulation and examination, execution tracing and single-stepping, sampling profiling, and even edit-and-continue! When you’re ready to move up, you can then port your BASIC program to C using the MPLAB X StickOS Skeleton project, and take advantage of all the same pin/peripheral configuration, flash manipulation, etc., used by StickOS BASIC. A detailed introduction to StickOS on the chipKIT boards is here: An overview of the StickOS BASIC language features is in the Quick Reference guide, here: More information and downloads for the chipKIT boards are available here:
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Using USB

The PIC32MX3xx series parts do not have a USB controller. The other PIC32 series (i.e. PIC32MX4xx/5xx/6xx/7xx) all have a USB controller. The Uno32 uses a PIC32MX320F128H and therefore does not have a USB controller. The Uno32 and Max32 have standard FTDI serial to USB interface chips (FT232R) to keep consistent with the Arduino way of interfacing. However, it is also nice to be able to use the built in USB port. Many other PIC32 boards have this USB port brought out to a standard connector such as the Microchip USB Starter Kit and the Digilent Cerebot 32MX4 and Cerebot 32MX7. The latest version of HardwareSerial.cpp now supports the first serial port (Serial.begin(), Serial.print() etc) can be reconfigured to use the USB port instead. In order to take full advantage of this, first you have to program the board with the USB bootloader, then use the appropriate board setting in the BOARDS menu. If you are using a custom board in the boards file you can just add the following to your board description: custom_pic32.compiler.define=-D_USE_USB_FOR_SERIAL_ When using the USB for Serial, UART1 becomes Serial0 Serial1 etc, are still there normal configurations Serial.begin(baudrate); //The baudrate is ignored, when doing real USB, there is no baudrate. Receive is interrupt driven and behaves EXACTLY like regular Serial. NO CODE CHANGES REQUIRED. If you want to see how this is done, look at HardwareSerial.h and HardwareSerial.cpp, the actual usb code is in HardwareSerial_cdcacm.c and HardwareSerial_usb.c. The USB code was written by Rich T ( More documentation will be provided on how to do this soon. (Created 7/3/2011)
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Header Files

Header files listed in alphabetical order. Files are denoted as either (AVR) or (PIC32) specific, if they apply to both platforms they are marked as (AVR|PIC32). For headers that are marked (AVR|PIC32) they can be either “generic” or “ported”. Generic files will work on either platform without modification where ported files are different for AVR or PIC32.

avr/interrupt.h (AVR)

avr/io.h (AVR)

avr/progmem.h (AVR)

avr/pgmspace.h (AVR)

Tools to access program space of the AVR processor, not needed on PIC32, but some macros can be used in its place to make AVR code run on a PIC32. <source>
  1. if defined(__PIC32MX__)
   // neither PROGMEM or PSTR are needed for PIC32, just define them as null
   #define PROGMEM
   #define PSTR(s) (s)
   #define pgm_read_byte(x)	        (*((char *)x))
   #define pgm_read_byte_near(x)	(*((char *)x))
   #define pgm_read_byte_far(x)	(*((char *)x))
   #define pgm_read_word(x)    	(*((short *)x))
   #define pgm_read_word_near(x)	(*((short *)x))
   #define pgm_read_workd_far(x)	(*((short *)x))

   #define	prog_void	 const void
   #define	prog_char	 const char
   #define	prog_uchar	 const unsigned char
   #define	prog_int8_t	 const int8_t
   #define	prog_uint8_t	const uint8_t
   #define	prog_int16_t	const int16_t
   #define	prog_uint16_t	const uint16_t
   #define	prog_int32_t	const int32_t
   #define	prog_uint32_t	const uint32_t
   #define	prog_int64_t	const int64_t
   #define	prog_uint64_t	const uint64_t
  1. else
  2. include <avr/pgmspace.h>
  3. endif


The start of all good programming sessions.





plib.h (PIC32)

Contains type definitions for PIC32 registers.


Servo.h (?)

SPI.h (AVR|PIC32) ported

Library to provide SPI communications.

stdint.h (AVR|PIC32) ported


wire.h (?)

wiring.h (?)

WProgram.h (?)

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About PIC32 Interrupt Vectors

This is a dump of the interrupt vector from the Max32 (32MX795F512L) It gives you an idea what is available and what is already in use.
Arduino-32MX795F512L>V show interrupt Vectors
EBASE          =9D000000
IntCtl         =00000020
VectorSpacing  =00000001
+++ 0= 02 00---0B4017F0 jump 9D005FC0  _CORE_TIMER_VECTOR
+++ 1= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _CORE_SOFTWARE_0_VECTOR
+++ 2= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _CORE_SOFTWARE_1_VECTOR
+++ 3= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _EXTERNAL_0_VECTOR
+++ 4= 00 00---0B401E5A jump 9D007968  _TIMER_1_VECTOR
+++ 5= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _INPUT_CAPTURE_1_VECTOR
+++ 6= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _OUTPUT_COMPARE_1_VECTOR
+++ 7= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _EXTERNAL_1_VECTOR
+++ 8= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _TIMER_2_VECTOR
+++ 9= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _INPUT_CAPTURE_2_VECTOR
+++10= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _OUTPUT_COMPARE_2_VECTOR
+++11= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _EXTERNAL_2_VECTOR
+++12= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _TIMER_3_VECTOR
+++13= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _INPUT_CAPTURE_3_VECTOR
+++14= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _OUTPUT_COMPARE_3_VECTOR
+++15= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _EXTERNAL_3_VECTOR
+++16= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _TIMER_4_VECTOR
+++17= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _INPUT_CAPTURE_4_VECTOR
+++18= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _OUTPUT_COMPARE_4_VECTOR
+++19= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _EXTERNAL_4_VECTOR
+++20= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _TIMER_5_VECTOR
+++21= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _INPUT_CAPTURE_5_VECTOR
+++22= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _OUTPUT_COMPARE_5_VECTOR
+++23= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _SPI_1_VECTOR
+++24= 00 00---0B401B67 jump 9D006D9C  _I2C_3_VECTOR _UART_1A_VECTOR _UART_1_VECTOR _SPI_1A_VECTOR _I2C_1A_VECTOR _SPI_3_VECTOR
+++25= 01 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _I2C_1_VECTOR
+++26= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _CHANGE_NOTICE_VECTOR
+++27= 01 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _ADC_VECTOR
+++28= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _PMP_VECTOR
+++29= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _COMPARATOR_1_VECTOR
+++30= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _COMPARATOR_2_VECTOR
+++31= 00 00---0B401BDD jump 9D006F74  _UART_2A_VECTOR _I2C_2A_VECTOR _SPI_2_VECTOR _SPI_2A_VECTOR _I2C_4_VECTOR _UART_3_VECTOR
+++32= 00 00---0B401C53 jump 9D00714C  _UART_2_VECTOR _SPI_3A_VECTOR _I2C_3A_VECTOR _UART_3A_VECTOR _SPI_4_VECTOR _I2C_5_VECTOR
+++33= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _I2C_2_VECTOR
+++34= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _FAIL_SAFE_MONITOR_VECTOR
+++35= 01 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _RTCC_VECTOR
===36= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_0_VECTOR
===37= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_1_VECTOR
===38= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_2_VECTOR
===39= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_3_VECTOR
===40= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_4_VECTOR
===41= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_5_VECTOR
===42= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_6_VECTOR
===43= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _DMA_7_VECTOR
===44= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _FCE_VECTOR
===45= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _USB_1_VECTOR
===46= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _CAN_1_VECTOR
===47= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _CAN_2_VECTOR
===48= 00 00---FFFFFFFF unused         _ETH_VECTOR
===49= 00 00---0B401BA2 jump 9D006E88  _UART_4_VECTOR _UART_1B_VECTOR
===50= 00 00---0B401C18 jump 9D007060  _UART_6_VECTOR _UART_2B_VECTOR
===51= 00 00---0B401C8E jump 9D007238  _UART_5_VECTOR _UART_3B_VECTOR
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The MPIDE Compiler for PIC32

Note: Information in this post applies to MPIDE, which has been deprecated. The recommended IDE for chipKIT core is now Arduino IDE or UECIDE. MPIDE still offers support for legacy code. For more information about MPIDE, please visit the legacy Install Page.

This is a fork of the compiler from about October 2010. So it’s ahead of the Microchip MPLAB C32 v1.12 release, but behind the upcoming C32 v2.00 release. Basically it’s similar to C32 v1.12, but updated to GCC 4.5.1. Also, the default linker scripts are modified to work with the chipKIT bootloader. There are no optimization restrictions in this build, but it will likely be updated less often than the official MPLAB C32 compiler.

Source code:

MPIDE Compiler optimisation

Currently, MPIDE is configured to call the compiler with the -O2 optimization option. The -O2 set of optimization usually results in a nice balance between code size and speed. However, there are some instances where you want to sacrifice code size (use more FLASH memory) in order to get more speed. Luckily, Rick has introduced features in MPIDE that makes changing the default compiler options easy to change.

To change the optimization level:

1. Open the /hardware/pic32/platforms.txt file in your favorite text editor.
2. Find the lines beginning with pic32.compiler.c.flags and pic32.compiler.cpp.flags. 
   In those lines, you should see a compiler optimization option, -O0, -O1, -O2, -Os, or -O3.
3. Change the optimization level option to the desired level, as listed below.
4. Save platforms.txt
5. Restart MPIDE.
Optimization levels
-O0 - Disable optimizations
-O1 - Reduce code size and execution time, without performing any optimizations that take a 
      great deal of compilation time.
-O2 - Optimize even more. GCC performs nearly all supported optimizations that do not involve a 
      space-speed trade-off. As compared to -O1, this option increases both compilation time and 
      the performance of the generated code. (This is currently the default.)
-O3 - Optimize yet more. GCC optimizes for maximum performance at the expense of code size.
-Os - Optimize for size. -Os enables all -O2 optimizations that do not typically increase code size.
It also performs further optimizations designed to reduce code size.

For example:

If you really want aggressive performance for your sketch, you could also add the -funroll-loops option. Note that this option almost always increases code size but it may or may not increase performance.

For example:

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