Super Monday: Makers and Hardware Hacking

May 28, 2012

Wow, May’s been a busy, busy month for me. My day time job has taken me off to foreign climates for most of it, while what little time I’ve had home has been spent messing around with the Raspberry Pi.

Returning to the end of the April, a number of us from the Maker Space were asked to given a short talk at the Super Monday group. I haven’t done any public speaking since my University days, so I was very nervous about it.

  • Cay Green give us a great talk on the history of 3D Printing and how hobbyists are lowering the entry cost
  • Ed Bisdee gave a talk, in his usual energetic style, about how easy the Arduino is get electronic projects up and running
  • I give a talk about the hardware hackability of the Raspberry Pi and
  • Nigel Hope introduced us the BeagleBone, a powerful and opensource development board.

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. Videos from the night are here:

and Stuart Holmes wrote a nice review of the talks:

C64 v Raspberry Pi face-off

April 20, 2012

At Wednesday’s Open Session at our Maker Space, Jon was giving a Commodore 64 an MOT and I had a Raspberry Pi on show.

By the end of the session, the C64 was sorted and we had gotten VICE a C64 emulator working on the RPi. So we had a good old fashion face off between them.

Pictures here:

C64 v Raspberry Pi face-offC64 v Raspberry Pi face-offC64 v Raspberry Pi face-off

New website:

April 4, 2012

Exciting news, well for me anyway. I was getting frustrated not been able to store my project design files on this blog so I’ve started a new website:

It’s still early days but I’m planning on putting all my project design files there and perhaps a wiki as well to support them better.

32-bit Arduino

September 19, 2011

At last the Arduino team have announced an official 32-bit ARM board.

The specs look pretty standard for a ARM Cortex-M3 but they’re nice specs none the less.

The uC is a SAM3U processor from Atmel with the following specs:

  • Speed: 96MHz
  • Program Memory: 256Kb Flash
  • Data Memory: 52Kb SRAM
  • Digital I/O: 5 SPI buses, 2 I2C interfaces, 5 UARTS
  • Analog I/O: 16ch 12-bit Analog Inputs.

Not sure of the PCB package size but it looks like a 100 or 144 pin TQFP.

I’m not sure if the SAM3U uC is 5V tolerant, which could be a problem for some 5V only shields.

On the whole the 32-bit Arduino looks like a winner, now lets hope the 32-bit Arduino software is as good as the hardware.

Arduino Due

Raspberry Pi – An ARM Linux box for $25

August 30, 2011

I’ve been a fan David Braben work since his (and Ian Bell’s) awesome Elite video game from the 80’s.

It was with great interested when I read about his latest hardware venture “Raspberry Pi” – An ARM Linux box for $25.

The specs for the Raspberry Pi are impressive

  • credit-card-sized
  • Broadcom BCM2835 application processor
  • Ethernet interface using LAN9512 at the $35 price point
  • 128MB of RAM at the $25 price point
  • 256MB of RAM at the $35 price point


The first alpha PCB’s are back and they have successfully managed to get Linux working on them, with their latest blog entries showing the boards running a port of Quake 3.

With shipping quoted for the end of 2011, I know what I want for Christmas this year 🙂



September 2, 2009

The guys (and girls) at Liquidware (of Illuminato Arduino fame) have announced the Illuminato X Machina a small ARM based Arduino like platform that can be interconnected to other X-Machinade to form a cool networked computing cluster.


Each small square board has its own ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller giving each board its own processor, program memory, data memory and I/O. Each board can also interconnected to other Illuminato+X+Machina boards on one or more of its four sides.

This idea of parallelism and closely coupled processor interconnection reminds me of the Transputer from the eighties. The concept of the Transputer lives on in the recently founded (in 2005) Xmos and their multi-threaded multi-core processor with integrated interconnection switches.