Microcontrollers for All!

CH32V003 £0.10p Microcontroller

The development of open-source standards for linking software to the physical construction of microcontrollers (Instruction Set Architectures or ISAs) has led to a new generation of ultra-cheap microcontrollers, which are increasingly popular among hobbyists and makers. One example of an open-source microcontroller architecture is RISC-V, which was developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley about 8 years ago.

One of the key advantages of RISC-V is that it is a royalty-free architecture, which means that manufacturers do not have to pay royalties to companies like Intel or Arm for using the architecture. This has led to a growing number of Chinese manufacturers using RISC-V in their microcontroller products, which has further driven down the cost of these devices.

RISC-V microcontrollers are ideal for hobbyists and makers who want to experiment with low-cost and relatively easy to program microcontrollers. However, one of the downsides of RISC-V is that there is not as much code already written for them compared to more established platforms like Arduino. This means that the learning curve for working with RISC-V can be steeper.

Despite this, the growing popularity of RISC-V is driving more developers and manufacturers to create libraries, tools, and resources for working with these microcontrollers, which will hopefully make them more accessible to people like me over time.

Get started with programming the WCH CH32V003 RISC-V microcontrollers, you will need to have a basic understanding of microcontroller programming concepts and a suitable development environment. WCH supplies an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for this series of chips called Mounriver IDE based on the open source Eclipse IDE. It uses their programmer and debugger – the WCH Link-E which is around £8 delivered.

Here is a link to my Github repository.

The playlist from my Youtube Channel on this subject.

A link to the Gerbers for my ch32v003 J4M6 breakout board. Also BOM here.