Getting Started

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This page will help you with initial configuration and testing of your NESI board.


What Else You Need

Clicking on an image will take you to a site where you can buy the corresponding part. (Note: This is not the only place available to buy these parts but are recommended brands).

Soldering Iron

In order to place the remaining through-hole components on your NESI Board each team will need a soldering iron. If you do not have one, we recommend purchasing a Hakko soldering iron. Hakko has a high quality entry level soldering iron at very affordable price. Once you have your soldering iron you will need to watch the videos on how to correctly solder components and how to take care of your iron.


Along with a soldering iron each team will need to purchase some solder, this is essential to place your components on the NESI Board. When choosing your solder take note of a few main characteristics. First, your solder should NOT be lead-free, leaded solder provides a much nicer joint and is more durable over time. Second, your solder must also have a rosin core, this allows for easier soldering and is better on your iron.


Each team will need a PICkit programmer in order to successfully download code onto their NESI Board. The NESI board is compatible with either the PICkit 2, or PICkit 3.

USB Type B Cable

The most essential component of each NESI Board is the ability to power your system. This is done using a USB to type B cable. The USB end will be plugged directly into your computer and the type B end will be connected to the NESI Board. We recommend getting a cable that can retract but any USB to type B cable will work just fine.

Soldering Techniques

Each team will be required to solder various through hole components to their NESI Board. To do this you will need to know the main steps of how to properly solder. First, the Basic Soldering Equipment video will teach you about all the equipment you should understand how to use when soldering. Once you have a good understanding of the tools you will be using you can watch the Basic Soldering Techniques video so you can learn how to properly solder. To develop good engineering practices you will also need to watch the How to Clean Circuit Boards video. To find more information on soldering you can visit, remember, you will not need to do any surface mount soldering on your NESI Board.

Initial Board Test

Once your team has received your NESI Board you will need to do an initial functionality test. The Initial Board Test video will walk you through all the necessary steps. We highly recommend watching the video at least once and making sure everyone on your team clearly understands which components you will need before you solder anything to your board. As stated in the video, every team will at least need to solder the programming header, USB connector and power switch. You may need to solder some of the remaining through hole components, but which ones you need will be based of each individual experiment.

(Note: The location for the blue LED's on your board is designated with a small B next to each pad. Also, the blue LED's are always the top LED holes when holding the board with the correct orientation.)

Initial Board Test

Configuring The Software Development Environment

In order to program your NESI Board each team will need to download and install a software development environment that includes MPLAB X and the MPLAB X16 Compiler. The necessary steps to complete this task are explained for you in the Software Development Environment video.

(Note: Download the newest version of MPLAB X, they release new versions periodically and remove the old versions from their website.)

Software Development Environment

MPLab X Project Test

Once you have completed your initial board test and have fully downloaded your software development environment you are now ready to move to loading a project into MPLAB X. During this process you will be downloading the NESI Board Student Test zip file, uploading it to MPLAB X and compiling it to make sure you have the capability to program your NESI Board. Each step is clearly defined for you in the Software Development Environment Test video. Again, we recommend watching the video in its entirety before doing any of the step, this way you will have a clear understanding of what is happening and what you will be doing next.

(Note: Make sure your PICkit programmer is attached to your NESI Board and has the correct orientation. It is also important to make sure your board is turned on or you will not be able to program to it.)

Software Environment Test

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