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Forum Index : Microcontroller and PC projects : Introducing the Colour Maximite 2

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Geoffg

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Joined: 06/06/2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 2744
Posted: 09:57am 03 May 2020
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This is a preliminary announcement of the Colour Maximite 2 which is a modern take on the original Maximite series published over eight years ago.  It runs the latest version of MMBasic, uses a 32-bit ARM Cortex CPU running at up to 480MHz and does everything the original Maximite did plus a lot more at 10 times the speed and with 10 times the memory.  It is also low cost and easy to build.

It is the result of a six month project involving eight people on this forum lead by Peter Mather who did a huge effort including coming up with the original idea, porting MMBasic, writing the other parts of the firmware, designing the PCB and much more.  Others involved in the project are myself, Phil Boyce, Jim Hiley, Graeme Rixon, Robert Severson, Mauro Xavier and Martin Round.  

The Colour Maximite 2 will be published in the July issue of Silicon Chip magazine but we are making this announcement now so that members of this forum have the chance to get in early and hopefully help us find any remaining issues with the firmware and documentation.

The design is simple, it uses a motherboard which is a straight forward double sided PCB with mostly thru hole components that can be built in an hour.  The complex part is a plug in module manufactured by Waveshare  which costs just US$30 fully assembled.  It holds the 176-pin ARM Cortex-M7 32-bit RISC processor plus supporting components.  This design has the best of all worlds; it is low cost, easy to build but delivers enormous performance.



The features of the Colour Maximite 2 are too numerous to completely list here but these are some of the highlights:
- Extremely fast with 516KB of program memory and 5MB general purpose RAM.
- Rock solid VGA output with five resolutions from 800x600 pixels to 240x216 pixels with up to 16-bit colour (65536 colours).
- USB Keyboard (can be wireless with a USB dongle).
- Support for SD cards up to 128GB formatted in FAT16, FAT32 or exFAT.
- Extensive features for creating computer games.  These include multiple video planes, support for Blits and Sprites and full support for the Nunchuk a game controller.
- Stereo audio output can play WAV, FLAC and MP3 files, computer generated music (MOD format) and robot speech and sound effects.
- Twenty eight input/output pins with 12 capable of analog input.  Connector is compatible with Raspberry Pi Hats.
- Power is 5 volts at 170mA typical (ie, from an USB port or charger).

There are a number of alternative designs created by Peter and others in the development team including some fully assembled.  They will present them here in this thread but, in the meantime, these are the files related to the standard design:

Colour Maximite 2 User Manual:
http://geoffg.net/Downloads/Maximite/Colour_Maximite_2_User_Manual.pdf

Tutorial: Programming with the Colour Maximite 2:
http://geoffg.net/Downloads/Maximite/Programming_with_the_Colour_Maximite_2.pdf

Construction pack includes parts list, PCB design files, firmware, etc:
http://geoffg.net/Downloads/Maximite/CMM2_Construction_Pack.zip

So please jump in, build the Colour Maximite 2 and have some fun.


Geoff Graham - http://geoffg.net
 
robert.rozee
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Joined: 31/12/2012
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1639
Posted: 10:41am 03 May 2020
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hi geoff,
   i'd thought things had been suspiciously quiet!

looks like a neat design, and the low power consumption is good. but do i spy a full-sized USB B connector? my experience with these has always been extremely negative after any significant number of insert/unplug cycles, might i suggest having available a small adapter PCB to allow fitting a mini-USB instead?


cheers,
rob   :-)
 
Cyber

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Joined: 13/01/2019
Location: Ukraine
Posts: 60
Posted: 11:07am 03 May 2020
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Wow!! That's an amazing work done! Thank you for sharing!
 
WhiteWizzard
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Joined: 05/04/2013
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2790
Posted: 11:17am 03 May 2020
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Hi Robert,
The usage (insert/re-insert) on the usb will be minimal. Use it for power and that’s it really. There is a power switch so no need to remove usb lead to ‘power off’
Also used for console connection, but no need to remove for that purpose - plus the CMM2 is more suited to stand-alone rather than with a console app such as TT.
So I think the usb is fine - especially if you avoid ‘cheap no-name connectors’ from the likes of eBay!!
For everything Micromite visit micromite.org

Direct Email: whitewizzard@micromite.o
 
WhiteWizzard
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Posted: 11:22am 03 May 2020
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(Deleted due to double posting!)
Edited 2020-05-03 21:23 by WhiteWizzard
For everything Micromite visit micromite.org

Direct Email: whitewizzard@micromite.o
 
matherp
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Joined: 11/12/2012
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3878
Posted: 11:36am 03 May 2020
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If you want to see some of the graphics capabilities of the CMM2 you can see various demos on Youtube I used to share with the team.

Start here and then look for other videos on my channel
 
CircuitGizmos

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Joined: 08/09/2011
Location: United States
Posts: 1202
Posted: 11:48am 03 May 2020
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The CMM2 is available from CircuitGizmos here:

Color Maximite 2

I have to populate that page with my own text and graphics, but it has an image and enough text (credit to Geoff) to get by at the moment. Good enough for this announcement to the TBS group.

I sell the CMM2 assembled/tested instead of a kit of parts. The one difference is that there is a jumper instead of the power switch (jumper wire can be replaced). The Waveshare module is included as part of this.
Micromites and Maximites! - Beginning Maximite
 
JohnS
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Joined: 18/11/2011
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2155
Posted: 12:20pm 03 May 2020
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Nice!

What's it like running Life?

John
 
hitsware2

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Joined: 03/08/2019
Location: United States
Posts: 225
Posted: 12:48pm 03 May 2020
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Just out of curiosity ...
Why VGA instead of HDMI ?
http://www.hitswares.com/
 
Gizmo

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Joined: 05/06/2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 4817
Posted: 12:48pm 03 May 2020
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Very cool  

Glenn
People say 2020 is a terrible year, with the bush fires, COVID 19, and riots. But I see it as the year we woke up to ourselves.

JAQ Software
 
Geoffg

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Joined: 06/06/2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 2744
Posted: 12:56pm 03 May 2020
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The VGA signal is generated by a dedicated graphics processor built into the STM32 chip (called the Chrom-ART graphic accelerator).  This generates precise VGA signal timings and results in a steady image with very clear characters on the screen.  HDMI cannot be generated by the Chrom-ART graphic accelerator so we would need to add an expensive and complex chip which in the end would cost a lot more than a cheap VGA to HDMI converter.

If an HDMI output is required we recommended that an inexpensive VGA to HDMI converter be used.  These cost about US$10 on eBay and will also encode the audio from the computer.  As an example, the Colour Maximite 2 was successfully tested with this device:  https://tinyurl.com/w5woobe.  

Geoff
Geoff Graham - http://geoffg.net
 
Chopperp

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Joined: 03/01/2018
Location: Australia
Posts: 747
Posted: 01:01pm 03 May 2020
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Great stuff guys.

I assume from reading the manuals etc that the number of I/O's available are limited to whats on the external connector.

Brian
ChopperP
 
Geoffg

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Posts: 2744
Posted: 01:04pm 03 May 2020
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Yes - it is not an embedded controller like the Micromite, more a general purpose computer with I/O capability.
Geoff Graham - http://geoffg.net
 
Chopperp

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Joined: 03/01/2018
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Posted: 01:09pm 03 May 2020
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OK

Thanks Geoff

BTW, I was due to fly to Perth (from QLD) later this week to visit family, but obviously that's not happening...
ChopperP
 
WhiteWizzard
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Joined: 05/04/2013
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2790
Posted: 01:33pm 03 May 2020
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For anyone wanting more GPIO signals, then you may use readily available Raspberry Pi HATs that offer this functionality. For example, I2C port expander HATs.
But the real fun with the CMM2 is as a stand-alone computer similar to those back in the 80s. With just a 5v USB PSU, a USB keyboard, and a VGA screen (and large TVs are perfect for this), then you will be able to have a LOT of fun with this beast!
Edited 2020-05-03 23:34 by WhiteWizzard
For everything Micromite visit micromite.org

Direct Email: whitewizzard@micromite.o
 
Geoffg

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Posted: 01:46pm 03 May 2020
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  JohnS said  What's it like running Life?

With the pause set to zero it runs at about half the speed of the DOS version (with VGA output, not Tera Term).
Not bad!

Geoff
Geoff Graham - http://geoffg.net
 
Poppy

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Joined: 25/07/2019
Location: Germany
Posts: 364
Posted: 03:23pm 03 May 2020
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Now that is really great, already thought the CMM itself was finally dead.

Looking at the Chip´s-VGA-Demos this even reminds me more of the old Amiga than the C64!

   

I know what I will do next, after this pandemic implications get some more relaxed!  


Great Job done, a perfect next step for MMBASIC!


Andre ... such a GURU?
 
hitsware2

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Joined: 03/08/2019
Location: United States
Posts: 225
Posted: 05:05pm 03 May 2020
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A separate P.C. is needed to load the interpreter ?
http://www.hitswares.com/
 
matherp
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Joined: 11/12/2012
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Posts: 3878
Posted: 05:13pm 03 May 2020
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  Quote  A separate P.C. is needed to load the interpreter ?


It has got to come from somewhere  

Any device with a USB port that has software that supports DFU will work (this is what STM use). Alternatively you can of course program the chip using a ST-LINK programmer but again you will need some sort of host computer
 
WhiteWizzard
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Posts: 2790
Posted: 05:16pm 03 May 2020
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  hitsware2 said  A separate P.C. is needed to load the interpreter ?

If you buy ‘raw components’ to build a unit, then yes - STM Cube program required to load Firmware file to the STM chip. STM Cube is free to download, as is the MMBASIC file.
No need for PC when using CMM2.
Hope that answers your question.
For everything Micromite visit micromite.org

Direct Email: whitewizzard@micromite.o
 
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