Free (…as in ‘free beer’) ARM kit

NXP holds a lot of market share for their ARM based solutions as it is. That’s why we were a little surprised when we found a link on their website announcing that they were giving away free LPCXpresso development boards, based on their Cortex-M0 line.

Catches? Unfortunately there are a few to get the board shipped and running. In order to do so, you must…

  • register with a corporate email address
    …the promo is targeted at engineers
  • use the crippled IDE supplied with the board
    …due to hard to find (non-existent?) documentation for the integrated LPC-Link
  • upload an original video of the physical destruction of a competing board to the NXP website

While killing your Arduino may not sound like the most fun, some qualified readers may be interested in moving up to 32-bits for a price that is hard to beat.

SmartLCD makes video for microcontrollers easy

[Rossum] developed a host board that makes it easy to drive a TFT screen using an inexpensive microcontroller. He’s looked around at a bunch of LCD’s that are easy to get your hands on and decided that the iPod Nano 2G screens are the right balance of performance (176×132 TFT) and low cost ($1-$5). They’re not particularly difficult to talk to, but with 22 pins they’re a bit hardware hungry.

He takes us through the signal sniffing he used to figure out the communications process. From there he harness the power of an ARM Cortex M0 processor, which he’s worked with in the past, to drive the screen. His implementation results in a driver board called the SmartLCD that takes care of the screen’s parallel protocol, power, and backlight. From there it’s just four connections and you can use a small¬†microcontroller like the Arduino seen above with ease. See what it can do after the break.

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Gaming system for less than three bucks

[Rossum's] latest project just hit and as usual, he doesn’t disappoint. Using an ARM cortex M0 he built a gaming system for less than $3 in parts. The M0 is a bit underpowered for this but at $1 it can’t be beat in price. He worked some video generation voodoo to get the signal he wanted but also mentions that upgrading to a bit more expensive chip like the Cortex M3 would solve this problem. The other part of the gaming system is an analog stick (again for about $1) that is the only input for the system.

Can’t say that you remember hearing about [Rossum] before? Go back and check out his Wikipedia reader, AVR media player, and AVR iPod touch killer.

Build your own Wikipedia reader

One part inexpensive uC, one part touch-screen, one part Internet knowledge-base all come together to make up this Wikipedia reader. It functions in a very similar way to commercial versions by parsing XML dumps from the popular website to an SD card for use on the device. This is not limited to Wikipedia, but could just as easily be an e-reader. [Rossum] developed the package using an NXP ARM Cortex M0 model LCP1114 microcontroller. They cost just a couple of bucks but pack a 50 MHz punch with 32 KB of program memory and 8 KB of SRAM. If the nanotouch and the AVR iPhone concept didn’t convince you that [Rossum] knows what he’s doing, the video after the break of this newest creation will seal the deal.

[Read more...]

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