chipKIT Sketch: Mini Polyphonic Sampling Synth

In our hands-on review of the Digilent chipKIT Uno32, we posed the question of what the lasting appeal might be for a 32-bit Arduino work-alike. We felt it needed some novel applications exploiting its special features…not just the same old Arduino sketches with MOAR BITS. After the fractal demo, we’ve hit upon something unique and fun…

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Portable SID plays chiptunes

[Markus] on the DangerousPrototypes forum came up with a great little SID player.

The SID was (is?) the awesome sound generation chip inside the Commodore 64, and along with Game Boys and NESs laid the foundation for the chiptune scene. We’re happy to finally see a small SID player that doesn’t resort to SID emulation or a relatively huge MIDIbox.

The SID player itself is a shield on a CUI32 PIC dev board. The PIC32 emulates the 6510 and 6526 CPU and CIA chips found in the Commodore 64. A small USB memory stick stores the High Voltage SID Collection and the file system is navigated with an OLED screen. [Markus] says that the player draws 370 mA, so he runs it off a small wall wart. Still, we’re wondering if it’s possible to run this off of an SD card with a SwinSID so power draw can be reduced and a fully portable SID player can be realized.

We’ve got a touch of nostalgia for chiptune and demoscene music right now, so we’re going to listen to some [Nelly Furtado] [Janne Suni] right now, but you can check out the video demo [Markus] posted after the break.
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chipKIT Uno32: first impressions and benchmarks

Following Maker Faire, we’ve had a few days to poke around with Digilent’s 32-bit Arduino-compatible chipKIT boards and compiler. We have some initial performance figures to report, along with impressions of the hardware and software.

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BAMF2011: chipKIT is Arduino to the power of 32

If you’ve been hungry for more power for your microcontroller projects, but reluctant to dump your investment in Arduino shields or the libraries and community knowledge that go with them all, Digilent has you covered. Their new chipKIT boards are built around the Microchip PIC32 MCU…a powerful 32-bit chip that until recently was left out of the cross-platform scene. A majority of code and quite a number of Arduino shields will work “out of the box” with the chipKIT, and the familiar development tools are available for all three major operating systems: Windows, Mac and Linux.

We first mentioned these a couple weeks ago, but the software was unavailable at the time. Seeing the development tools in action was quite unexpected…

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chipKIT Max32, an Arduino Mega upgrade with a PIC32 under the hood

For those of you who are looking to put some power behind your Arduino shields,  Digilent just released their chipKIT Max32 prototyping platform. The board  features a Pic 32 microcontroller, USB programmer and all the things you would typically expect from a development board.

The PIC32MX795F512 is a  32-bit MIPS processor core running at 80Mhz, 512KB flash memory and packs 128KB of SRAM data memory. Digilent also mentions utilizing the Pic’s built in USB 2 controller, 10/100 Ethernet and dual CAN controllers, but these will require shields specific to the chipKIT Max32. The board is also fully compatible with Arduino IDE and libraries as well as MPLAB  and the PICKit3 in-system programmer/debugger.

With a price point just below the Arduino Mega 2560 this looks like a great resource for anyone looking to upgrade their Arduino webserver, or just embarrass their Arduino Arduino shield. Maybe it’ll just spawn some interesting gameduino upgrades. It can certainly cut down on extraneous Arduino usage. Either way we’ll be on the lookout to see what this performance bump can bring to table!

Third time’s a charm – 512 LED cube kicks it up a notch with RGB LEDs


In the comments section of our 512-LED cube post from the other day, several people suggested that to take the project up a notch, building a similar cube using RGB LEDS was the next logical step. It seems that Hack-a-Day reader [vespine] was way ahead of the curve, as he sent us the build details of his 8x8x8 RGB cube shortly after the other story was published.

His cube, which was finished earlier this year, uses 512 10mm RGB LEDs, arranged on top of a simple elevated stand. The stand conceals all of the circuitry he uses to control the cube, the centerpiece of which is a PIC32 MCU. A dozen TLC5940 16-channel PWM drivers are used alongside the PIC in order to adjust the color output of the LEDs, each of which can be addressed and colored individually.

The end result is just about as amazing as you would imagine. He has created several quick demonstration animations, which you can view in the video below. Be sure to stop by his site to see all of his build details – there’s quite a lot there.

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Try as you might, Scooty won’t fall over

Scooty is a balancing robot based around a PIC32. The project is the first iteration in a long road toward a ridable version. The video after the break shows some incredible promise. Scooty is pitted against a large rubber ball. The two roll into each other but Scooty maintains balance thanks to that powerful processor, an inertial sensor, and a range finder.

Scooty versus a ball isn’t really fair to the ball. We’d like to see Scooty versus the ball balancing robot.

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