Amicus18 is an embedded system platform based on a simple open hardware design for a single-board microcontroller, with embedded I/O support and a standard programming language. The (free) programming language is a version of Crownhill’s Proton BASIC, any PIC® microcontroller language can be used with the Amicus18 hardware.
The goal of the Amicus18 project is to make tools available that are easily accessable at low-cost whilst being flexible and easy-to-use for professionals, hobbyists and new comers to the field of electronics and programing.
Amicus18 can be used to develop stand-alone interactive objects or it can be connected to a host computer. The Amicus18 board carries the microcontroller, some digital and analogue I/O lines, and a USB interface to the host (Personal Computer).
The host is used for both programming the board, and run-time interaction. Host interfacing is simple, since the host software may be written in a variety of languages. A popular language is Visual BASIC, but other languages that can access the virtual serial connection are Processing, Max/MSP, Pure Data, SuperCollider, ActionScript, Java, Delphi, and of course C++.
An Amicus18 board consists of an 8-bit Microchip PIC®
microcontroller with complementary components to facilitate programming and incorporation into other circuits. The board includes both 5-volt and 3-volt linear regulators and a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, thus allowing 16-mips (Million Instructions Per second) operation. The Amicus18's microcontroller is also pre-programmed with a bootloader that simplifies uploading of programs to the on-chip flash memory. Compared to other devices that typically need an external chip programmer, Amicus18 can be programmed via a USB cable that also serves as a means of power and communication to the board.
The Amicus18 board exposes all of the microcontroller's I/O pins for use by other circuits, two of which can produce PWM signals, nine can be used as analogue inputs, and there are several built in peripherals such as SPI, I2C and USART. These pins are available on the top of the board, via female 2.5mm (0.1 inch) headers. Several plug-in application boards known as "shields" are also available.
A bit more detail
The Amicus18 hardware is based upon the concept of the world famous Arduino board, however, the Amicus18 board uses a Microchip PIC®
micro microcontroller instead of an Atmel AVR type. Though the circuit is different - The Amicus has exactly the same dimensions as the Arduino, and all Arduino shields will physically fit on the Amicus18 board. It is important to note that the Amicus is NOT a copy of the Arduino, it just looks similar and is phisically compatible with arduino shields. You cannot run 'Arduino' programmes directly on an Amicus!
The microcontroller used on the Amicus18 is the Microchip PIC18F25K20, which has 32768 bytes of flash memory, 1536 bytes of RAM, and operates at 64MHz, which equates to 16 MIPS (Million Instructions per Second).
There are nine 10-bit ADC (Analogue to Digital Converter) inputs, and two 10-bit PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) outputs, as well as two comparators, a USART (Universal Synchronous Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter), SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface), I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit), and four timers, each with various internal operations attached to them.
Each of the microcontroller’s I/O lines are brought out for use with external devices such as LEDs, Servos, Potentiometers, LCDs etc…
Communication with the Amicus18 board is through a USB interface, which presents itself as a standard serial port on the PC. The microcontroller can be programmed directly through this port so there is no need for a dedicated device programmer, however, if the need arises, there is an ICSP (In Circuit Serial Programming) interface suitable for all programmers, but tailored for the Microchip PICKIT
Power can be supplied to the board either via the USB port, or an external 9 Volt DC source. When powered from the USB port, a maximum of 500mA (milliAmp) may be drawn, and the USB port is protected by a resetable fuse. When powered via a 9V source, a maximum of 800mA may be drawn.
The microcontroller is a 3.3 Volts type, however, there is also a 5 Volt supply always available.
The Amicus18 board is extremely easy to use, in fact, no previous microcontroller experience is required in order to get your first project up and running, as you’ll find out!