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Forum Index : Microcontroller and PC projects : PicoMite: Why?

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Grogster

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Posted: 07:14am 25 Jan 2022
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I seem to recall - as have others - that Peter really hated the PicoMite module back in the day when it was suggested as a candidate for a MMBASIC port, due mainly to what he stated were serious limitations at the silicon level.

Now we have a wonderful PicoMite port, but Peter has never really addressed how he came to change his mind.  We know that he did not like the RP2040 chip at the time, but he has obviously come to like it, or at least ACCEPT it and work with it.

I seem to recall Peter mentioning his dislike for the IDE, but that was obviously overcome.

So - Peter - what made you change your mind on this module and chip, and how come you went from 'This is a dog' to the current non-VGA and VGA versions we have now?
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Tinine
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Posted: 05:03pm 26 Jan 2022
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I suspect that it was because the trend was for faster MMBasic devices and the Pico, probably a retrograde step? Dunno but the value for money is hard to beat.

Craig
 
hitsware2

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Posted: 06:21pm 26 Jan 2022
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  Tinine said  I suspect that it was because the trend was for faster MMBasic devices and the Pico, probably a retrograde step? Dunno but the value for money is hard to beat.

Craig

The Pico being slower than ?
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Mixtel90

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Posted: 06:44pm 26 Jan 2022
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MMite eXtreme, Armmite F4 (unless you overclock the PicoMite), Armmite H7, CMM2, MMB4L and now MMB for Windows - but who cares at that price?  :)
Mick

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Grogster

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Posted: 10:56pm 26 Jan 2022
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Yes, the price-point is practically impossible to beat, and the Pico module seems widely available in contrast to the discrete chips at the moment, so that's another reason to use the PM - availability!

I would still love to hear from Peter as to what changed his mind, as the PM is an excellent little device, but he was really against the chip when it(the module) was first suggested by someone for a MMBASIC port.  I'm just curious about what actually changed his mind on this.  Was it simply the low cost making it an attractive option?  Was it that he did further research and actually changed his mind on the RP2040 chip itself?  It would just be nice to know.

I expect that Peter has seen and read this thread by now, so come on Peter - spill the beans.  
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thwill

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Posted: 11:46pm 26 Jan 2022
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@Grogster, assuming my halucinations are under control I believe Peter already answered this question, unfortunately I can't find the link.

Since he doesn't seem inclined to answer it again I'll try to dredge his answer up from my memory:

IIRC he still thinks the RP2040 is a dog, but he had been working on an MMBasic port to the ESP32 (or a.n.other microcontroller) that was supposed to be programmed over the web (much like Annex BASIC I guess) rather than have the standard console. The web part was being developed by somebody else who dropped out though lack of time and that left Peter with a half-complete MMBasic port he didn't know what to do with. Apparently there are sufficient similarities between the architecture / memory-model of the ESP32 (or whatever) and the RP2040 that he decided to reuse what he had done for the former and go forward with the PicoMite.

Best wishes,

Tom
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Grogster

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Posted: 09:53pm 27 Jan 2022
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Useful information, thanks!
Did not read that, probably cos I was uninterested in the port to the ESP32, or I simply did not recall reading that.  Interesting.
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Cyber

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Posted: 05:07am 28 Jan 2022
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Thank you, thwill!

I tjonk I found it: https://www.thebackshed.com/forum/ViewTopic.php?TID=14198&PID=176090
 
Grogster

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Posted: 12:24am 29 Jan 2022
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Excellent, thank you both, and special thanks to Cyber for finding peter's post.
I had not seen that thread at all.  I must have missed it somehow.
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Phil23
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Posted: 09:15pm 18 Feb 2022
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Interesting,

I've ended up on this thread after looking on RicTech for a Display/IO interface type board.....

Is there any mention of a Pi Zero Backpack rehash?
 
Mixtel90

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Posted: 09:23pm 18 Feb 2022
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It's not going to happen, Phil. Not unless someone other than Peter takes it on anyway.
Mick

Zilog Inside! nascom.info for Nascom & Gemini
Preliminary MMBasic docs
 
Grogster

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Posted: 02:59am 19 Feb 2022
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I had made a start on a PCB for the PicoMite to support both EastRising and standard parallel TFT's, but then work resumed for the year, and I have been too busy to get back to it.  I really must do that....

This was for the PicoMite though, not the PiZero build, as I believe that has officially been abandoned in terms of code development.  PCB's for the PiZero backpack still exist and can be had from my website if you are after those.
(2nd from the bottom in the products section, Pi-Cromite PCB.)

This is a preview image of where I got to with the PicoMite backpack idea:





...not very far, as you can see!  
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thwill

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Posted: 08:11am 19 Feb 2022
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  Mixtel90 said  It's not going to happen, Phil. Not unless someone other than Peter takes it on anyway.


Hey Mick, does Peter pay you commission everytime you say this?

I am optimistic that an MMB4L powered replacement for the PiCromite is on the cards. The current alphas run on the Pi and @lizby has GPIO working at least two different ways on his private build. Sure we might encounter compatibility issues akin to those that caused Peter to "give up", but on the other hand our approach is different and we may be more tenacious and more prepared to put up with the "slings and arrows".

At the moment I will admit things are a bit slow; @lizby is working on his tan and building a new shed whilst I've been under the weather, and raising young children, and holding down a real job, and doing some maintenance on an earlier project. But hopefully development will pick up again soon.

Best wishes,

Tom
Edited 2022-02-19 18:35 by thwill
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Mixtel90

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Posted: 09:34am 19 Feb 2022
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hehe  :)

I know I keep on about this, but porting MMBasic to a platform with moving goalposts seems pointless. Porting it to linux or windows, where the hardware can be handled by an underlying OS, is fine providing you stick within the rules of that OS.

I too am optimistic about seeing MMBasic fully ported to linux boxen. I strongly suspect that it'll happen eventually. :)

IMHO:
Versions running bare metal on Raspberry Pi hardware in particular are another thing entirely though. It's not just Peter that's been driven half crazy by the RPi. Have a look for the attempts to get BBC Basic to run bare metal on one. You have to face it, The Raspberry Pi boards are all designed to run linux and nothing else. They aren't interested in anything else.
Mick

Zilog Inside! nascom.info for Nascom & Gemini
Preliminary MMBasic docs
 
robert.rozee
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Posted: 09:51am 19 Feb 2022
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  Mixtel90 said  [...] The Raspberry Pi boards are all designed to run linux and nothing else [...]


not entirely, but getting another O/S that is completely new/alien is certainly a major job, and not for the faint hearted.

but we are luck, there is this new accessory you can get for JUST A FEW DOLLARS. it connects to the USB port of a RPi, Windows, or Linux box, and provides a whole load of I/O lines and onboard peripherals far more diverse than the host has:

- 26 multifunction GPIO pins, including 3 analog inputs;
- 2 x UART, 2 x SPI controllers, 2 x I2C controllers, 16 x PWM channels;
- 8 x Programmable I/O (PIO) state machines for creating other, custom peripherals.

this new accessory can be programmed in C, or python, or MMbasic itself, so as to act as I/O expander for an MMbasic interpreter running on the host windows/linux/raspbian computer.

can you guess what this new accessory, costing just a few dollars, is called?


cheers,
rob   ;-)
Edited 2022-02-19 19:53 by robert.rozee
 
thwill

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Posted: 10:19am 19 Feb 2022
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I'm going to ignore Rob's comment, it's perfectly true, but just muddies the debate further .

  Mixtel90 said  I know I keep on about this, but porting MMBasic to a platform with moving goalposts seems pointless. Porting it to linux or windows, where the hardware can be handled by an underlying OS, is fine providing you stick within the rules of that OS.


Call me naive if you like but if you treat the Pi as just another ARM Linux box all be it with GPIO then I don't consider it to be any more in motion than any other Linux distribution. Peter's "mistake" is apocraphally (I've never seen him confirm this assertion and I'm disinclined to pick through the source of a moribund MMBasic port) that he implemented the GPIO support too close to the metal. There is an active effort to provide standard user level device driver access to the GPIO on the Pi (and all the other Linux SBCs, and presumably GPIO expanders for desktops), @lizby has an alpha of this running with MMB4L on a PiZ.

  Quote  I too am optimistic about seeing MMBasic fully ported to linux boxen. I strongly suspect that it'll happen eventually. :)


Fingers crossed.

  Quote  Versions running bare metal on Raspberry Pi hardware in particular are another thing entirely though. It's not just Peter that's been driven half crazy by the RPi. Have a look for the attempts to get BBC Basic to run bare metal on one.


I agree, and wish that discussions of it would not keep cropping up as hijacks to other threads. Of the few (vocal) members of TBS who might have the skills none of them are interested, end of.

  Quote  You have to face it, The Raspberry Pi boards are all designed to run linux and nothing else. They aren't interested in anything else.


They run RiscOS 5 quite nicely ... though having played with it recently, RiscOS is quite an "experience" for someone used to Windows and Linux because it forked so early (late 80's) from what we now view as the mainline of UI desktop development.

Best wishes,

Tom
Edited 2022-02-19 20:22 by thwill
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thwill

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Posted: 10:21am 19 Feb 2022
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  robert.rozee said  can you guess what this new accessory, costing just a few dollars, is called?


In keeping with the antipodean lineage of TBS I'm going to go with "Bruce".

Best wishes,

Tom
Edited 2022-02-19 20:21 by thwill
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JohnS
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Posted: 10:30am 19 Feb 2022
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  thwill said  They run RiscOS 5 quite nicely

Someone must have been able & willing to put in the effort.  We've no such (as you know, just posting for those late to this who've not for some reason read the many earlier posts about this).

John
 
Mixtel90

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Posted: 10:41am 19 Feb 2022
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It can be done. Anything that the hardware is capable of can be done.
Write it and they will come.
Maybe. If there's a demand. :)

Have you been looking at my SSD1963 backpack design, Rob?  :)
PicoMite with:
. Parallel interface display
. PS/2 keyboard socket
. MicroSD or standard SD socket (not both at once)
. Reset button
. RTC
. RS485 port with termination options
. Local I2C bus for co-processors
. Linear regulator
Micromite co-processor with 17 I/O (10 of which can be analogue)
Second PicoMite co-processor with:
. Three user-definable protected analogue ports
. Two 0-20mA output ports
. Piezo sounder
. Connection for a RF module
. 8 I/O
. 5V I2C port for further expansion
. Can be split from main PCB to run independently

All three processors can run completely independently.
Piggy-back mounting on rear of 5" display.

Software to drive this beauty is completely up to the user. lol

(preliminary PCBs are currently in the post from JLCPCB. :) )
Mick

Zilog Inside! nascom.info for Nascom & Gemini
Preliminary MMBasic docs
 
robert.rozee
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Posted: 12:34pm 19 Feb 2022
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  thwill said  
  robert.rozee said  can you guess what this new accessory, costing just a few dollars, is called?


In keeping with the antipodean lineage of TBS I'm going to go with "Bruce".

Best wishes,

Tom


right first time, the name is indeed... Bruce

but, in all seriousness, a PICO (RP2040) tethered to a PC makes for an excellent I/O expander. with just a little firmware running at the PICO end, a copy of MMbasic (be it MMB4W, MMB4L, or MMB4R) can offload all peripheral access to the PICO. Geoff pioneered this approach with the MX150 version of MMbasic, see the example in Appendix B at the end of the Micromite User Manual Ver 4.5D. in later versions (have checked 5.05.02, 5.05.05) the example code seems to have been omitted.

the first version of 'ascii ICSP' hardware was implemented using an MX150 running MMbasic that was tethered to a host PC. the next (public release) version replaced the MX150/MMbasic with an arduino nano, which was then later superseded by a 16F1455 running a port of the arduino code created by Peter. these were all effectively a cheap bit of hardware attached to a USB port and acting as an I/O expander.

as a general purpose I/O expander, the PICO is: cheap, obtainable, disposable and replaceable.


cheers,
rob   :-)
Edited 2022-02-19 22:35 by robert.rozee
 
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