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 [ 11 posts ] 
 Which direction do you think I should go? 
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Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
I'm trying to make a decision as to which direction to go. I am inspired by Commodore and I want to build an SBC. I could easily use ARM's STM line of ARM chips with LCDs but it seems a little advanced and adding RAM would probably require me to make a surface mount board with an I2C serial eprom which isn't a problem. I also thought of buying Diptrace so that I could make and sell little boards that may be unrelated to what I'm doing because I would like to start a company some day.

I also thought of working on one of the following but I thought I would just throw it out there since I can't do all three:

Uzebox (It is actually a kit):
http://belogic.com/uzebox/index.asp
http://www.adafruit.com/category/129_30

Minimig:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimig
http://www.acube-systems.biz/index.php? ... ware&pid=3

NCS-EB50 Complete Kit w/W65C816S CPU
http://www.apatco.com/shop/index.php?productID=674

I would like to repurpose the Gameduino but I may move to a system like this:

http://www.4dsystems.com.au/prod.php?id=149

I would like to hook one of these up to a microcontroller and the other device I am looking at is a Tiny Embedded "DOS micro-DRIVE" Module.

Tiny Embedded "DOS micro-DRIVE" Module:
http://www.4dsystems.com.au/prod.php?id=22

I thought I would get some input.


Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:26 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1789
My advice would be first to consider your budget, and then to consider which of the finished projects would make you feel the greatest sense of accomplishment. Then proceed: buy the kit, and build it, and try to finish.

It's easy to spend months or years doing nothing because there are too many choices, or because you started several projects in parallel.

Cheers
ed


Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:41 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:43 am
Posts: 189
BigEd wrote:
It's easy to spend months or years doing nothing because there are too many choices, or because you started several projects in parallel.
I agree. (Although this has never happened to me, of course!) <cough, cough> ;)

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:32 pm WWW

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
BigEd wrote:
My advice would be first to consider your budget, and then to consider which of the finished projects would make you feel the greatest sense of accomplishment. Then proceed: buy the kit, and build it, and try to finish.

It's easy to spend months or years doing nothing because there are too many choices, or because you started several projects in parallel.

Cheers
ed


I've finished all of my kits except one which I just found in a box and I could put both new projects in less than two months.

I want to buy Diptrace which is like Eagle Cad. I don't want to pay more than the 500 pin version so I'm hoping it is enough for a single board computer but I can always upgrade next year for $200.

How I feel is the Minimig has an SD card but not a hard drive and that the operating system is a dated system and because Commodore is dead and some programming information is hard to find. In that sense, I feel it is a closed system although I'm sure it would be a lot of fun. The Minimig does have an RS232 port so any hard drive would have to make use of it.

The Uzebox looks fun but It is essential to know C. I think everyone would agree that unless you know Linux and or C today, you are pretty much limited in all of the more modern systems unless you know how to program them in assembly.

The Apatco computer looks like a fun way to learn building a 6502 computer. The positive thing is that I would learn a little about how it works and my question is whether it would give me enough of an understanding how other processors work or not. I'm also afraid that it is a little dated no matter how good it is.

I'm also wondering if a 180 MHZ Arm board is too advanced for me to learn on but I have to learn "C" or machine language and I haven't seen a lot of free compilers yet that don't have restrictions or strings attached. I also realize that I would have to use a circuit board cad program like Diptrace and practice a little surface mount soldering because in order to connect Eproms to ARM, through the hole soldering can only handle about 50 MHZ. This equipment is what I'm talking about:

http://andybrown.me.uk/wk/

And this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Definitive-Guide- ... 185617963X

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_ ... Caps%2C178


Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:19 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1789
Hi Chuck
Can you say a bit more about the 180MHz ARM idea? It's not clear which link to follow. As you may know, I followed Chris Baird in making a project on the 168MHz STM32F4 Discovery board, which is nice and cheap. See http://forum.6502.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2177

We were both able to program in C using free tools which had no limits imposed. (My project is mostly assembly level but there's a little C too.)

Cheers
Ed


Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:56 am

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
I want to use the F4 for a single board computer.

I already have several ARM boards including their latest and greatest F4 board and I have the Jtag programming cable. I have to get the ST Link.

I've collected a PS2 to breadboard adapter for keyboard and mouse.
I have a phono to breadboard adapter.
I have a SD card to breadboard adapter but the development boards have one except for the F4 and I don't really have a good development for the F4..

I saw an example of how to add AT24C32/64 Eprom support in order to add more memory but I may use a surface mount chip.

The F4 board works with four or more TFT Touch Screen Displays and it works with the iPhone LCD if you can get a connector or make your own. The Nokia screens have been hacked to work with the F4.

Until I decide to get VGA working on it, the LCDs would work nicely instead for writing an operating system for a SBC.


Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:39 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1789
Do you have a link to this 180MHz F4 board please?


Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:49 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
It is this one:

http://www.st.com/web/catalog/tools/FM1 ... r=70032480

Anyone can see what it does at:

http://andybrown.me.uk/wk/2012/03/31/stm32f4discovery/
http://andybrown.me.uk/wk/2013/03/30/stm32plus-2-1-0/
http://andybrown.me.uk/wk/2013/02/10/stm32plus-2-0-0/

In fact, the older videos on the above site are just a scaled down version of this processor.

I have some of the M0 chips in dip form. You can program it with a USB dongle or FTDI chip and it runs BASIC:

http://www.nxp.com/products/microcontro ... 4FN28.html

http://www.coridium.us/prod-specs1.html

Instructions:

http://www.coridium.us/ARMhelp/index.ht ... inout.html

Here are other ways to get involved:

http://www.micromouseonline.com/2013/02 ... z2KzAC21rj

http://www.cs.indiana.edu/~geobrown/book.pdf


Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:06 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1789
Ah, that's exactly what I have! (It's 168MHz, not 180MHz)


Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:39 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:54 pm
Posts: 1789
Hi Chuck
you mentioned elsewhere that the STM32F4DISCOVERY dev board (168MHz ARM) needs STLink or JTAG to be programmed. But I'm pretty sure I've been using mine purely over the USB connection. As it's USB-powered, this is very convenient.

It should be possible to debug using gdb but I had mixed success with that. It may be that for debugging in the ST-approved fashion you need some other cable.

Cheers
Ed


Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:42 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:33 am
Posts: 165
BigEd wrote:
Hi Chuck
you mentioned elsewhere that the STM32F4DISCOVERY dev board (168MHz ARM) needs STLink or JTAG to be programmed. But I'm pretty sure I've been using mine purely over the USB connection. As it's USB-powered, this is very convenient.

It should be possible to debug using gdb but I had mixed success with that. It may be that for debugging in the ST-approved fashion you need some other cable.

Cheers
Ed


STLink is Discovery's proprietary cable and I haven't used it yet.

People have a set way of doing things and the one person who advised me said that hardware debuggers always come with a JTAG cable and he advised me to get one and I did. I'm guessing you need the JTAG cable for hardware debugging and I don't know how well hardware debugging would be with USB.

I've never debugged anything yet.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:51 am
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