Another good list on all things Arduino can be found at freeduino.org
While browsing other peoples blogs I found Joel Ewy’s cool blog on reimaging a Tandy / Radio Shack Color Computer 3 onto a single chip / FPGA.
After a couple of years away from doing my own PCB designs the number of great open source electronics projects out there such as the Uzebox and Arduino projects have inspired me to start building my own boards again. So whilst refreshing my PCB skills I found a couple of articles that might interest others:
EasyPC from NumberOne Systems was and still is my PCB design package of choice but the Eagle PCB design package from Cadsoft looks to be many peoples favourite package – especially the free (but limited) package. So here are a couple of tutorials for Eagle as well:
A new bigger Arduino has been spotted in the wild.
The Arduino Mega is the new larger brother of the Arduino Duemilanove microcontroller board. Instead of being based on a 28-pin Atmel ATmega168 or ATmega368 the Mega is based on the larger 100-pin ATmega1280 device.
The Arduino Mega board has 54 digital input/output pins (of which 14 can be used as PWM outputs), 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header, and a reset button.
The Mega is compatible with most shields designed for the Arduino however a few differences to note from Atmega1280 and ATmega386 are:
My Arduino Mega arrived last Saturday 28th March from http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk. This was a pretty quick service from Coolcomponents as the Mega was only announced on Thursday 26th March.
The additional I/O will be very useful, as will the larger available board area => bigger shields but the Arduino Mega still have the problem of available coast area for I/O connectors.
You don’t need a Wii, PS3 or Xbox to have a great gaming experience. If you really want to get to know the hardware of a video game console then build one of the many cool designs available on the web (or if you’re really cool design one yourself). Some are one chip designs, some are multichip almost computer like designs and the others somewhere in between. Most are powered by 8-bit micros, one or two have 16-bit micros and a few use 32-bit micros.
While Uzebox is one of my favourite homebrew games consoles, there are a number of other projects out there:
- www.belogic.com/uzebox Atmel AVR
- www.innovativedevice.com Atmel AVR + CPLD
- avga.prometheus4.com Atmel AVR
- www.multilabs.net FPGA + PIC?
- www.propgfx.co.uk Parallax Propeller
- www.retroleum.co.uk Zilog Z80 + FPGA
- tinyvga.com FPGA VGA controller and add your own micro
- www.xgamestation.com the Daddy of them all, but commercial only – SX28, Parallax Propeller, Microchip PIC and Atmel AVR
If you know of any others please add a comment and I’ll update this list over time.
The Arduino project is another AVR based project that’s caught my attention. Quoting from the Arduino site
“Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.”
Although the Arduino system and software has been around for a couple of more years it has really gained in popularity over the last year. Logging onto their Forum shows over 10,000 registered members.
The current basic design Duemilanove is based on a Atmel ATmega168 Microcontroller, clocked at 16Mhz with 16K Flash memory, 1KB SRAM and 512-bytes EEPROM for the ATmega168 or 32KB Flash memory, 2KB SRAM and 1KB EEPROM for the ATmega328 variety. The 2.1″ x 2.6″ (51mm x 73mm) PCB has 14 Digital I/O Pins (of which 6 provide PWM output and others can provide UART, SPI or I2C functions) and 6 Analog Input Pins.
For me, Arduino invokes the spirit of the 1970’s where the early computer hackers, pioneers and developers shared their knowledge for the greater good of the computing community (who knows could we see a new Bill Gates emerging – OK perhaps not as rich).
The Uzebox project, by Alec “Uze” B is a minimalist open sourced 8-bit game console.The Uzebox design contains only two chips: an ATmega644 and an AD725 RGB-to-NTSC converter and is designed to be easy and fun to build and program by any hobbyists.
To showcase Uzeboxs power have a look at Alec’s fully functional Tetris clone named “AVR Megatris”.