Picking a new microcontroller

I have started a new project for a new client to go along with the other projects I have started recently.  As it is for a client, I can’t go too in depth what the project is or what it is for.  However, I can cover some basics.  After going back and forth with the client we came up with a viable specification for the prototype functionality.  Because Solutions Cubed is an official Microchip Consultant, we specify Microchip microcontrollers whenever possible.  We’ve used them in hundreds of designs over the last eighteen years, so we are comfortable with their design environment and development tools.

However, there is a problem using Microchip now – they have way too many controllers to keep track of.  When I first started using them, they had something on the order of 10 microcontrollers on offer.  The PIC16C71 (note:  not even a flash part; we had to use a UV eraser to reuse the part) had just come out.  It was easy to figure out what to use as there were not many choices.  Now it is not so easy.  But Microchip has good tool to help find the correct controller to use:  their MCU Product Selector.

For the new design, we needed the following:  LCD driving, capacitive touch sensing, and a real time clock.  If possible, USB was desired.  The picture below shows the results.  Note that the “USB” is greyed out.  It turns out that if you do LCD driving, you can’t have USB;  they are mutually exclusive.  That is a bummer.  However, Microchip makes 20 controllers that meet the criteria specified.  I picked one of the controllers listed below.  Now its time for the schematic capture and PCB layout.


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