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A simple Forth development board

forth

Forth is a very interesting programming language. It’s very flexible and is extremely efficient on low powered hardware, but unfortunately not very popular simply due to the fact that it’s not very popular. There were a few Forth-based microcomputers built in the 1980s, but these were largely unsuccessful.

[Leon] is a Forth aficionado and came up with his own Forth development board in the hopes of Forth making a comeback. It’s a very small and cheap board – only about $12 in parts – but it’s still extremely powerful and a fun platform for investigating Forth.

Compared to other programming languages found in 80s microcomputers, Forth is just weird. It’s a stack-based language, so instead of adding two numbers like 3 + 4, Forth uses postfix notation (or Reverse Polish Notation) so the same statement is expressed as 3 4 +. It’s a much more efficient way for computers to handle data, and some claim it’s more efficient for humans as well.

[Leon] created his own board able to be programmed in Forth, shown above, that uses an ATMega328 microcontroller. He’s using AmForth to put Forth on his system, but also extended the base AmForth install with his own floating point version. making this version of Forth at least as powerful as any 80s microcomputer or ATMega development board is today.

[Leon] put together a great demo of the capabilities of Forth and his dev board. You can check that out below.

[Read more...]

Turtles all the way down, 40 Propeller MCU skyscraper

Why bother interconnecting 40 Propeller microcontrollers one on top of the other? For the power that comes from parallel processing of course! [Humanoido] put the setup together for a total of 1280 ports, 640 counters, and more all running at 6.4 billion instructions per second for the low low price of 300-500$ by our count. The “skyscraper” even comes complete with software and schematics, promising developers the ability to expand or adapt for any venture. Why would we need such a setup in the first place? For any of the following: vision tracking/modification, artificial intelligence, advanced robotic control, or more.

Related: [Humanoido] loves putting MCUs together, check out one of his other creations the Basic Stamp supercomputer.

[Thanks Logan996]

Bluetooth bracelet hacked

[Jeffery] hacked the Bluetooth standard in order to use this bracelet as a custom display. He took up our challenge to hack the device when we first saw it back in February.

In order to display his own messaged he looked into how the HFP is implemented in the Bluetooth stack. The details are shared in his readme file but it goes something like this: The Bluez package needs to be compiled with a dummy backend that is not phone-specific and that will then allow external manipulation of the data being sent. This provides something of an API that a Python script can manipulate. His proof-of-concept allows for the script to be called with the message you want displayed as the command line argument. This should be simple enough to incorporate for just about any purpose that suits your fancy. Unfortunately, messing with the Bluetooth package in this way makes it impossible to use other devices with your phone, but that’s a hack for another day.

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