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16 Jul 2015


by Leo Kelion @ bbc.com:

The BBC has revealed the final design of the Micro Bit, a pocket-sized computer set to be given to about one million UK-based children in October.

The device – which features a programmable array of red LED lights – includes two buttons and a built-in motion sensor that were not included in a prototype shown off in March.

But another change means the product no longer has a slot for a thin battery.

That may compromise its appeal as a wearable device.

An add-on power pack, fitted with AA batteries, will be needed to use it as a standalone product.

The BBC’s director general Tony Hall said the device should help tackle the fact children were leaving school knowing how to use computers but not how to program them.

BBC Micro Bit computer’s final design revealed – [Link]

7 Jul 2015

This circuit is designed for dedicated graphic display applications. It shows the basic configuration of personal computer hardware and functions. It is a generic type of a processing unit that handles display and improves image quality. It also manages data transfer from flash drives and other serial devices such as computer mouse and keyboard.

The design is comprised of different parts that serve different functions. The PX1011B-EL1 device is a high-performance, low-power, single-lane PCI Express electrical PHYsical layer (PHY) that handles the protocol and signaling between FPGA and Motherboard. The FPGAs or field-programmable gate arrays serves as the main processors of this designed circuit. It is configured to process data at very fast rate and control bidirectional data buses including I/Os for the display. It has memory interfaces that handle the SRAM, DRAM, and Flash memory. It also has accelerator functions that handle displays and other monitoring applications and fixed peripherals that handle GIGe, USB, CAN, I2C, SD, UART and GPIO. The Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) device is a memory component that is used as a cache memory of FPGA. The Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) stores bits of data in separate capacitor within an integrated circuit. It also serves as the main memory element so that the FPGA’s work will be lessened. The PTN36242L is a dual port SuperSpeed USB 3.0 redriver IC that enhances signal quality by performing receive equalization on the deteriorated input signal followed by transmit de-emphasis maximizing system link performance. The USB microcontroller is a programmable interface chip that is used to integrate USB 2.0 port. The USB 2.0 is provided for longer cable length applications. The PCA24S08A is Electrically Erasable and Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM), which allow you to reprogram the VID/PID for the USB device Identification.

The CBTL06122AHF device is a six-channel (‘HEX’) multiplexer for display port and PCI express Gen2 applications and provides four differential channels capable of switching and multiplexing applications. The PTN3361B device is a high-speed level shifter which converts four lanes of low-swing AC-coupled differential input signals to DVI v1.0 and HDMI v1.3a compliant open-drain current-steering differential output signals, up to 1.65 Gbit/s per lane and it is connected to a HEX multiplexer. The design is practically excellent since it considers the components’ cost. It can be used for commercial applications and as a reference for CPU development. It is also suitable for data management applications such as accounting or inventory.

Supercomputing Video Card for Personal Computer – [Link]

23 May 2015

What’s inside the a 1987 vintage Sharp X68000 personal computer / gaming system from Japan?
Sold exclusively in Japan from 1987 to 1993 this 10MHz 68000 based boasted graphics capability superior to the Amiga and Atari ST. The powerful graphics enabled pixel-perfect ports of clasic games arcade games, and the machine was highly sought after by gamers. Running a custom operating system called Human68K, it even had 3D goggle support.

EEVblog #746 – Sharp X68000 Retro Computer Teardown – [Link]

11 May 2015


C.H.I.P. is a computer. It’s tiny and easy to use.

C.H.I.P. does computer things. Work in LibreOffice and save your documents to C.H.I.P.’s onboard storage. Surf the web and check your email over wifi. Play games with a bluetooth controller. With dozens of applications and tools preinstalled, C.H.I.P. is ready to do computer things the moment you power it on.

C.H.I.P. is a computer for students, teachers, grandparents, children, artists, makers, hackers, and inventors. Everyone really. C.H.I.P. is a great way to add a computer to your life and the perfect way to power your computer based projects.

CHIP – The World’s First Nine Dollar Computer – [Link]

17 Apr 2015


by Nancy Owano @ phys.org:

Michigan Micro Mote (M3) is the world’s smallest computer. How small? It’s about the size of a grain of rice. A University of Michigan’s March report can tell you that the team behind the computer have come up with a fully autonomous system that can act as a smart sensing system. “To be ‘complete,’ a computer system must have an input of data, the ability to process that data – meaning process and store it, make decisions about what to do next – and ultimately, the ability to output the data,” said David Blaauw, one of the faculty members who achieved the Michigan Micro Mote.

Hey, watch where you’re flicking. That’s a computer – [Link]

8 Apr 2015


by Juan J. Martínez:

This is my first serious attempt to learn electronics. DAN64 is my first project and it has been a discovery process during 3 months of my free time. I had to learn a lot of things I didn’t know much about, from basic electronics to the details of the AVRs -and specifically the ATmega328-, and a whole world of things in between such as signalling, protocols, interfaces, modulation and demodulation, SDKs, EDA software, prototyping, PCB fabrication, etc.

I’m certain that in this project I’m doing many stupid things and I’m sure my approach to solving some of the problems is not the best, but in my discharge I can only say: it works! (to some extent at least).

I got lots of gotcha! moments, ups and downs where I though I couldn’t finish the project because perhaps what I was trying to achieve was just impossible.

So this is not about perfection but about good enough for me and about the learning process and having fun.

DAN64 – an AVR based 8-bit microcomputer – [Link]

2 Dec 2014


by jmacarthur @ github.com:

The Zeta is a minimal Z80 toggle-switch computer. It has a Zilog Z80 microprocessor, 256 bytes of RAM and the only interface is the front panel which directly sets and reads the address and data buses.

At the moment, there is only one real source file in this repository, an Inkscape-produced SVG which contains the stripboard layout and lasercut paths along with the image for the box top. In the future I’ll try to add a KiCad circuit diagram. This file doesn’t preview well in github because there are some very thin and zero-width lines – turn on outline mode (View -> Display mode -> Outline) in Inkscape to view it.

The Zeta minimal Z80 toggle-switch computer – [Link]

9 Nov 2014


by bigmessowires.com:

My 68K breadboard computer is alive! It’s always a thrill when a pile of random chips does something recognizably computer-ish for the first time. Blinking some LEDs in sequence is great; running BASIC is super extra great. I’m excited.

This simple breadboard machine is a prototype of the 68000 single board computer I plan to build next. By testing the key design ideas in a breadboard prototype, I hope to uncover any lurking design problems while they’re still easy to find and fix. Once the design is committed to a PCB with lots of tiny surface-mount components, it will be much more difficult to make changes. Even probing specific signals to observe what’s happening may be difficult. The breadboard is a much more forgiving place to experiment and learn.

Breadboarding the 68K – [Link]

30 Oct 2014


by aehparta @ tldr.fi:

My lifetime project: building an 8-bit computer using Z80 CPU. This week I had a bad flu and could not do anything useful so I decided to dig up my old plans for this project. I first re-designed many things, like power, CPU-board, IO-board and so on (my old plans were around 10 to 15 years old). After some thought I realized: When I get even the CPU-board working, I want to display some stuff! So why not build the display adapter first. Plus I planned to build the adapter in a way that it can be used separately from the computer itself. Easy thing to start with.

Building a simple VGA-adapter for 8-bit self made computer – [Link]

29 Oct 2014


photo: strategicsourceror.com

photo: strategicsourceror.com

Its lifetime may not be quite over yet, but the humble television is facing some stiff competition from the computer, as the entertainment portal of choice. Widespread access to superfast broadband means that users are now able to stream films and television shows, download music and of course browse the net 24/7, from wherever they are in the home.

Around 94% of homes in America are now online, and the television is starting to lose its dominance as the most watched screen in the house.

Smart televisions may be the way forward for those looking for easy access to online services, but for many people the computer is the only, all-purpose entertainment device needed. Television networks have recognised that we are now becoming an online society, which is one of the reasons why so many shows are now also available via the net.

Print newspapers are in decline due to the implementation of online versions and of course, it’s becoming almost impossible to find those film rental stores thanks to film streaming! Desktop computers and even laptops are quickly becoming the only device you need for every form of home entertainment. Read the rest of this entry »





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