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The Microchip Explorer 16 Board provides a low cost development platform for the 16-bit line of microcontrollers and DSPs from Microchip.

The board includes four header jumpers arranged in a way that they can accept a 100-pin plug-in module (PIM) with different PIC24 and dsPIC33 parts, a 25LC256 Serial EEPROM, a 16x2 character LCD module, a RS232 serial interface, some user pushbutton and LEDs.

For this particular project I decided to go with the Microchip Ethernet PICtail Plus board featuring the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller.
This project will show you how to run the modified version of the latest Microchip TCP/IP stack on the Explorer 16 Board.

Microchip's Explorer 16
[Click Image to Enlarge]
Design considerations

Explorer 16 modifications

Unless you choose to use a different network interface card or Ethernet controller than the Ethernet PICTail Plus, there are not required extra connections or circuit changes to the Explorer 16.

Be aware that there are two different versions of the Ethernet PICTail cards, the best option for this project is the "Plus" version since its card edge connector matches exactly with the upper portion of the expansion slot on the Explorer 16, by just inserting the Ethernet PICTail Plus on the expansion slot all needed signals and power are connected to the board.

Microcontroller selection & external memory

There are several 100-pin Plug-In Modules (PIM) available from Microchip, for this project I used a PIM with a dsPIC33FJ256GP710 and a PIM with a PIC24HJ256G610, both chips running at 40 MIPS.

Both chips have plenty of program memory and RAM for this project.

As mentioned before the board includes a 25LC256 Serial EEPROM that will be used for storing configuration information and HTTP server documents.

Microcontroller Clock Frequency

For both the dsPIC33FJ256GP710 and PIC24HJ256G610 we'll set the clock frequency at 80MHz which provides the maximum 40 MIPS.


The Explorer 16 User's Guide includes detailed schematics for the board on Appendix A, and a detailed schematic for the Ethernet PICTail plus is available on the product page.

There are links below pointing to the latest version of these document from Microchip.

Getting the board up and running

Compiling the firmware is not a huge or complicated task, it requires few software tools available for download from Microchip's website at no cost, and obviously the TCP/IP stack source code distribution and a PIC programmer. For this project I used Microchip's MPLAB ICD2 as a programmer.

With the latest modified version of the Microchip TCP/IP Stack v3.75, the process is quite simple.

This new version adds two macro definitions, EXP16_DSPIC33 for the Explorer 16 with the dsPIC33FJ256GP710 PIM and EXP16_PIC24HJ for the Explorer 16 with the PIC24HJ256G610 PIM.

The software distribution includes also two MPLAB IDE project files EXP16_DSPIC33.mcp and EXP16_PIC24H.mcp, load the appropriate project into MPLAB IDE, it project has already the correct processor selected.

Verify that the settings on the config.h and exp16_dspic33.h or exp16_pic24h.h files apply to your project or modify them accordingly (both files are located in the include subdirectory of the main src directory).

For additional details check the README.TXT file included in the software distribution.

For a detailed explanation about how to build Microchip's TCP/IP stack
for this or similar projects Click Here.

Schematics & Firmware source Code

Explorer 16 User's Guide  
Microchip Ethernet PICTail Plus product page  
Building the Microchip TCP/IP Stack for this project  

Datasheets for relevant parts used in this project

Microchip's dsPIC33FJ256GP710 16-bit Digital Signal Controller Datasheet  
Microchip's PIC24HJ256GP610 16-bit Microcontroller Datasheet  
Microchip's ENC28J60 Ethernet Controller Datasheet (Version A)  
Microchip's ENC28J60 Ethernet Controller Datasheet (Version B - Latest)  
Microchip's ENC28J60 Silicon Errata Rev.B1  
Microchip's ENC28J60 Silicon Errata Rev.B4  
Microchip's ENC28J60 Silicon Errata Rev.B5  
Microchip's 25LC256 Serial EEPROM Datasheet  

Useful Links

TCP/IP Stack Source code and useful software tools

Microchip's TCP/IP Stack v3.02  
Microchip's TCP/IP Stack v3.60  
Microchip's TCP/IP Stack v3.75  
Microchip's TCP/IP Stack v4.02  
Microchip's TCP/IP Latest Version  
Microchip's MPLAB Integrated Development Environment  
Microchip's MPLAB C30 Compiler  
Wireshark (formerly Ethereal) Network Protocol Analyzer  
CoffeCup HTML Editor 2007  

Additional Resources

Brush Electronics Ethernet Boot Loader  
Microchip TCP/IP Stack Application Note (AN833)  
Microchip Users Forum - TCP/IP-Ethernet  

    ©2006-2009, Jorge Amodio, All rights reserved

Last Update: Jan 28, 2008