Jon Titus, Contributing Technical Editor of Design News, has taken an in-depth look at the Flowcode 4 software from UK-based Matrix Multimedia simplifies programming tasks by substituting drag-and-drop flow-chart elements for C-language code statements. This approach works well and can get engineers, teachers and students off to a quick start with microcontrollers, explains Titus.
So far, Matrix Multimedia offers Multiprogrammer boards for MCUs in the Microchip PIC and dsPIC families, and in the Atmel AVR and ARM AT91SAM7S families. The company also supplies a large variety of E-Blocks hardware modules that attach to the MCU boards. “I enjoyed working with the Flowcode 4 software and PIC-based hardware the company provided. This software and add-on hardware allows people to create useful microcontroller programs and devices without forcing them to learn C-language syntax; at least to start. They can do productive work right away.”
Titus explains that the Flowcode software installed easily from a CD-ROM, and Matrix Multimedia responded quickly by e-mail with an installation code that let me run the Professional version of the software. “The accompanying PIC Multiprogrammer board took more time than expected to figure out because the board's power connector doesn't indicate either the necessary voltage or polarity. I discovered that polarity doesn't matter and the board needs 13.5V from the power cube, which a voltage-output selector switch let me choose. People should not have to dig deeply for this type of basic setup information. They want to start quickly without fear of blowing out the programmer board with an incorrect voltage or polarity.”
For much more on how to use the kit read: Coding tool goes with the flow.