Prototyping Blog page 7

The Create System







The Create is a combined home computer/ FPGA design workstation. It is totally silent. The system consists of a portable 'Create' unit, a base station, and the Lynx ES challenge computer.

This is the Create. Within it there is:

a modified Chameleon PIC System with dsPIC33FJ processor (16-bit + DSP). Parallax Propeller (8 32-bit Processors) (~32K RAM), 4MB Flash, USB I/O, 64K EEPROM. The Chameleon has been 'industrified' by adding a connector for power/reset/I/O and also removing some passive components. The Prop/PIC USB selector switch has been shifted to the 'in-between' position which connects neither - a new external switch has been parallel-fitted along with an external PIC ISP header connection. The Status LED and resistor to the Aural input on the TV socket have been removed and wires added for external connections to P25 and P15 (actually I crunched the middle out of them rather than removal).

An SD CARD reader

An Altera Cyclone II FPGA

An Alliance 3V 5 12K x 8 SRAM

A PSU designed and built by my 12yr old niece.

Connections for JTAG/JTAG AS/TV/VGA/Keyboard/Audio/USB (Propeller and PIC serial comms)/PIC ISP/SD CARD/Analog Digital Panel I/O/9V power.

Software: at present the FPGA can update the video memory in the propeller over a clocked 8-bit wide connection. The Propeller video appears as an overlay on top of the FPGA video data. The data is at present supplied by a NIOS II processor running in the FPGA. This will be converted into counters in the next iteration. Plan of action is to put the T80 core in and get a simple Spectrum running before tackling the Lynx.

This is the base unit. Within it there is:

A Raspberry PI Minicomputer 512MB RAM 1GHz 32-bit

An Altera Cyclone III FPGA

8MB SDRAM (for the Cyclone)

A Cray-like chimneystack expansion to hold hot retro processors.

A solar powered keyboard nightlight

Connections for Ethernet/USBx2/HDMI/Audio/TV/VGA(Cyclone)/5V power

The Lynx ES (Extra Special) is a modified Lynx 128 built from a NOS PCB. The machine has been extended with a Parallax Propeller video output, 768K SRAM and various other updates. See the previous blog pages for full details. At present a blank PCB is in the pictures as the real one is still being worked on.

The following are several pictures of the build of the Create unit as requested by John.

The Create 'DreamKit' portable programming kit - useful for the forest!

Here for another reason - PIC 16F84 Digitised PAL.

My thanks to Les Anderson for supporting this project.

...As usual, any comments welcome ....