A tale of two boards

May 24, 2011

Lately I’ve been keeping my eye on two recent developments from Xmos and Parallax.

The Xmos staff are developing a Stamp (40-pin DIP package PCB) like board for their XS1-L1-TQFP48.

Mean while Parallax to support their Semiconductor spin off have brought a new Quick Start board of their popular Propeller P8X32A multicore microcontroller.


Cheaper Sparkfun XMOS XS1-L1-64 Development Board

September 29, 2010

Sparkfun has announced a cheaper version of the XMOS XS1-L1-64 Development Board.

This cheaper revision does away with the FTDI USB based UART section of the board, which never really worked anyway. The IC footprints are still there so you can solder them yourself if you want.

$41.95 (£26.49)

You still need a XMOS XTAG2 Debug Adapter to program it and these cost $50.95 (£32.17).


Super VDP2 !?

August 29, 2010

I’m pleased to say our good friend Yvo is back. You may remember his brilliant VDP1 (Video Display Processor) video engine for the Xmos and his great Mario demo video. Yvo has said he’s working the specs for VDP2 and promises some great new features. In the meantime check out his VDP1 video engine on the Xcore Exchange.


Maker Faire @ Newcastle 2010

March 19, 2010

We had a great time at this years Maker Faire in Newcastle over the weekend of 13th and 14th March 2010.

My kids, who are almost teenagers, were dragging their heels as we left our parked car, totally sure they weren’t going to have a good time as we walked towards the Centre of Life.

Walking up the foot bridge to mezzanine level of the maker faire, you could hear the crackling of the musical tesla coil, then as you reached the mezzanine level you were hit by a wall of sound from the various gadgets and things beeping and booping, the musically exhibits being played and of course the Tesla coil. Their faces slowly changed as they realised there was fun stuff here and after a couple of nervous minutes getting their bearings off they went and for the rest of the day it was like trying to herd cats. :D

I don’t think I saw a single kid, young or old who wasn’t enjoying themselves.

I was finally able to meet up, put a face to a name, with Baggers, Coley, TonyF and Leon from the Parallax and Xmos forums. Leon was being provocative in wearing his Xmos t-shirt whilst on the Parallax Propeller stand with Baggers and Coley. Coley got his own back by having on display a Xmos XC-1 board with a “powered by propeller” label stuck over the Xmos chip. Good nature ribbing :)

I had a great chat with John Honniball about his UK101’s he was displaying (I wish I had one for my collection of retro computers ;) ) and his Arduino music synthesiser.

We met up with Jim and Kat from Sonodrome who were showing off their PSOC (pocket oscillator) and Tubby amps. On Sunday Jim help Sid build his own PSOC. He took it to school for a show and tell and his teacher and class loved it. His teacher was especially impressed that Haydn had soldered it all himself (with a little help).

Abs, not to be left out, spent the afternoon building a mignonette handheld LED game at the Maker table with a little help from me.

Leon has posted some pictures from the faire:

http://www.leonheller.com/Maker%20Faire%202010/

http://www.leonheller.com/MakerFaire%202010%20(2)/

Jim and Kat from sonodrome have also posted some pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonodrome/sets/72157623644925608/

and Jonathan Street has a nice write up here:

http://jonathanstreet.com/blog/newcastle-maker-faire-2010


XArduino – A 400-MIPS co-processor for Arduino

February 7, 2010

Recently I’ve been working on XArduino which is a XMOS XS1 L1 co-processor for the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.

The XArduino board provides Arduino applications with a 400 MIP’s multi-threaded 32-bit co-processor, as well as providing a VGA video output and PS/2 keyboard/mouse input for Arduino application.

It features a standard XTAG-2 to for programming and debugging. In addition the XTAG-2 interface will allow for XK-1 boards to access the VGA and PS/2 interfaces as well as way of connecting standard Arduino shields.

Note: This is a 3.3V-only board

The project is hosted at xcores.com/projects/xarduino

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License


X-DTV – Preliminary schematic and PCB v0.42

January 7, 2010

X-DTV is a project I’ve been working on with Yvo of xcores.org. The idea is to make a XS1-L1 64 based retro-minimalist homebrew game console similar in concept to the Uzebox and Zuzebox.

Like the X-One before it, X-DTV will use Yvo’s VDP video engine but instead of driving a VGA output it will drive a NTSC TV output. We hope to get PAL TV as well but the 35.46895MHz oscillators have proven difficult to get a hold off (If anyone know where we can get them off the shelve without a large MOQ then drop me a comment).

The X-DTV’s specification is:

  • XS1-L1 64 internally clocked to 400MHz with 64K RAM.
  • 5-bit R-2R Video DAC for driving NTSC
  • 2x NES or SNES D-PAD connectors
  • SD Card interface
  • Stereo PWM audio
  • XTAG-2 Interface
  • 2x 5-way XLINK for expansion

The latest (not quite complete) PCB is below:

A PDF of the schematic is here.


xcore.com

December 13, 2009

The xcore exchange has been launched. Reading the press release its says:

“this new site is to create a community of enthusiastic XMOS users with an entrepreneurial spirit. We want to encourage you to share designs and code as well as develop your ideas.” .

Sounds cool.


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