Need a controller that is more powerful than an Ardunio but smaller than a Raspberry Pi?

August 9, 2019

Like most makers my staple for controller boards has been a mix of Arduino Nano, Uno and Mega for small embedded type applications with modest computing capacity and memory and the Raspberry Pi Zero, 3’s and 4’s for bigger computer type applications with much more computing capacity and memory. But what if you want something in between? What other boards are out there?

There are two recent developments that have caught my eye.

First is the new Teensy 4.0 Development Board from PJRC. I’ve used Teensy boards and supported previous PJRC Kickstarter campaigns in the past and found them to be really good boards with good software and great support. The latest board from them shows a significant increase in computing capacity, program memory and data memory.

Here’s its specs.

Processor: NXP iMXRT1062, ARM Cortex-M7
Clock: 600 MHz
Memory: 1024K RAM, 2048K Flash
Storage: none
Sensing: 14 x ADC
Actuation: 31 x PWM
Connectivity: 3 x SPI, 3 x I2C, 7 x Serial, 2 x USB, 3 x CAN Bus, 2 x I2S, 1 x S/PDIF, 1 x SDIO
I/O: 40 x GPIO
Operating System: none

The other board that I’ve been watching is the GiantBoard from Groboards. They have just finished (8/09/2019) a successful crowd funding campaign on crowdsupply.

Their board is based on Adafruits Feather form factor and has the following spec:

Giant Board Specs:

Processor: Microchip SAMA5D2 ARM Cortex-A5 Processor
Clock: 500 MHz
Memory: 128 MB DDR2 RAM
Storage: microSD card
Sensing: 6 x 12-bit ADC
Actuation: 4 x 16-bit PWM
Connectivity: 1 x I2C, 1 x SPI, 1 x UART. 1 x USB
I/O: 20 x GPIO
Operating System: Linux kernel 4.14

Neither of the boards have native WIFI, BT or Ethernet. Nor do they have any native video capability.

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RC2014 enhanced prototype board now on Tindie

July 19, 2019

I’m please to announce that the enhanced prototype board/PCB for the RC2014 Bus I blogged about back in May is now on Tindie.

Also it’s schematic is here.


New Raspberry Pi 4

June 24, 2019

A bit out of the blue, comes a new Raspberry Pi. The 4th major revision of the popular SBC.

It’s spec looks very good. Faster processor, more RAM (choice of 1GB, 2GB or 4GB but at a price of more $$$), dual HDMI video, USB-C, Gigabit Ethernet, WIFI, Bluetooth 5.

Some things have changed on the new Pi. The connector positions have changed, so you’ll need a new enclosure and power is now provided by USB-C connector so you’ll need a suitable USB adapter or a new USB-C PSU. The dual HDMI are micro HDMI connectors instead of standard HDMI.

From earlier interviews with the Raspberry Pi foundation it wasn’t expected to be available until 2020 but it looks like Broadcom was able to get their latest SoC ready a good 6 to 9-months early.


No more Maker Faires ?

June 10, 2019

Very sad to read that TechCrunch reports financial troubles have forced Maker Media, the company that runs the Maker Faires and also the company behind Make magazine, is laying off its entire staff and stopping all operations.

This follows on from the sad news last year that Maker Faire UK had stopped.


RC2014 enhanced prototype board

May 30, 2019

If you’re into making I/O cards for the RC2014 than this enhanced prototype board might be of interest to you.

It features circuitry (see schematic) to for selectable decoding the I/O address and also gates to generate !IORD and !IOWR signals, as well as two spare OR gates.

The IC’s used are:

74LS32 Quad OR gate
74LS688 Octal (8-bit) magnitude comparator


Big Box of PCB’s

April 29, 2019

Earlier in the month I got big box of PCB’s for the most recent RC2014 boards I’ve been working on.

In amongst the PCB’s were a couple or three new designs. The first is an enhanced prototyping board. As well as lots of PCB pads for building stuff it also features some decoding logic to make your design a little easier. The other PCB was for a Z80 PIO digital input/output card and the final new PCB was for a minimal chip computer inspired by Grant Searle popular Z80 design but featuring an enhanced RC2014 bus (x3).


10-years of blogging

March 26, 2019

Wow, it is 10-years to the day, on this day back on 26th March 2009 that I first wrote not only my first blog entry but also started my first blog here.

This blog started as way to share some of the projects I was working on and also some of the techie things that interested me.

Much has changed in these last 10-years. We’ve seen the rise of the maker community. The establishment of the maker ecosystem. The adoption of cheap development platforms such as the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Beaglebone Black and many others as not only great educational devices but also serious tools.

So what have been the highlights?

Helping start Makerspace Northeast in Newcastle

Attending and meeting numerous makers at the various Maker Faires and maker events I visited and participated at.

Making many new friends through the maker communities.

Getting one of the very first Raspberry Pi’s back in April 2012 and then being persuaded to give one of the very first public talks about what a cool thing its was.

Spreading the maker idea and gospel via our own local eDay events.

I wonder where will the next 10-years take us?