Even More Emulated Microcomputers: 8080 on a Stellaris Launchpad

[Steeeve] just sent us his work on emulating a handful of 8080-based microcomputers on a Stellaris Launchpad, including the bare-metal to run Space Invaders. We know what you’re thinking: Is that all you folks are doing these days?!?!? There must be something in the water.

[Steeeve]’s build is based on the Launchpad with an external 64kB of SPI RAM, a nice little TFT display, and a built-in SD card for all of your storage needs. Add in an 8080 emulator and a keyboard and you’ve got a tiny microcomputer. (Is that redundant?)

What’s really neat about [Steeeve]’s project is that he’s cloned not just one target computer, but a whole bunch of computers including (GitHub links follow) the 8080-based UK101/Superboard, the CPM/80, and the machine that ran Space Invaders, as well as the 6502-based Commodore PET and Apple-1.  And as a bonus, you can save the state onto the built-in SD card so that you can hibernate the microcomputer and pick up right back where you left off at a later date. Snazzy.

He’s also built a library which provides an emulation framework if you want to build on this work yourself. And did we mention he can play Space Invaders? Bravo [Steeeve]!

Android Based Wireless ECG


The title of [Nuclearrambo’s] post says it all, “Android based wireless ECG monitoring (Temperature sensor and glucometer included).” Wow! What a project!

The project is built around the HC-06 bluetooth module and the Stellaris LaunchPad from TI, an inexpensive ARM developer kit. Building an ECG is a great way to learn about instrumentation amplifiers, a type of differential amplifier used for its extremely high common mode rejection ratio (CMRR). Please be sure to keep in mind that there are a myriad of safety issues and regulation concerns for medical device, and there is no doubt that an ECG is considered a medical device. Sadly, [Nuclearrambo’s] post does not include all of the code and design files you need to build the system, which is understandable considering this is a medical device. That being said, he provides a lot of information about building high-quality ECG instrumentation and the web interface.

It would be great if [Nuclearrambo] could post the Android application code and Stellaris LaunchPad code. Even with these omissions, this post is still worth reading. Designing medical devices requires a lot of know-how, but who knows, maybe your next project can save your life!

Wireless Marble Labyrinth uses TI dev hardware


There’s so much affordable dev hardware out there these days that you can do a lot without even touching a soldering iron. This is a prime example. Texas Instruments software Engineer [Jordan Wills] recently completed this wirelessly controlled marble labyrinth.

Marble mazes like this are a popular targets for electronic tinkering. We’ve seen smartphones used as the controller, and others that dispense chocolate candy. This time around [Jordan] stuck with the store-bought game to simplify the build. A coworker helped by swapping the two control knobs with servo motors. These interface with a Stellaris Launchpad that has a SensorHub booster pack (shield) and CC2533 radio transceiver module. The same hardware makes up the remote unit as well. This turns the remote into an air mouse by reading the gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer from the booster pack.

He doesn’t specifically mention it in his project log, but we think the magnetometer is used to sync orientation between the base unit and the user remote. Even though the board for the base unit is mounted at 90 degrees compared to how you hold the remote, you should still be able to adjust for the readings in code, right?

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Video player built from Stellaris Launchpad


We think it’s pretty impressive to see a Stellaris Launchpad playing back Video and Audio at the same time with a respectable frame rate. It must be a popular time of year for these projects because we just saw another video playback hack yesterday. But for this project [Vinod] had a lot less horsepower to work with.

He’s using a 320×240 display which we ourselves have tried out with this board. It’s plenty fast enough to push image data in parallel, but if you’re looking for full motion video and audio we would have told you tough luck. [Vinod’s] math shows that it is possible with a bit of file hacking. First off, since the source file is widescreen he gets away with only writing to a 320×140 set of pixels at 25 fps. The audio is pushed at 22,400 bytes per second. This leaves him very few cycles to actually do anything between frames. So he encoded the clip as a raw file, interlacing the video and audio information so that the file can be read as a single stream. From the demo after the break it looks and sounds fantastic!

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Turning the Stellaris Launchpad into a logic analyzer


If you have a Stellaris Launchpad sitting around, have a go at using it as a logic analyzer

The Stellaris logic analyzer is based upon this earlier build that took code from a SUMP comparable Arduino logic analyzer and ported it to the much faster and more capable Stellaris Launchpad with an ARM Cortex 4F processor.

This build turns the Launchpad into a 10 MHz, 8-channel logic analyzer with a 16 kB  buffer comparable with just about every piece of software thanks to the SUMP protocol. Even though the ARM chip in the Launchpad isn’t 5 Volt tolerant, only pins 0 and 1 on Port B are limited to 3.6 Volts. All the other pins on Port B are 5 Volt tolerant.

Not a bad piece of work to turn a Launchpad that has been sitting on your workbench into a useful tool.

Stellarino brings Wiring-style coding to the Stellaris Launchpad


[Sultan Qasim] wrote in to tell us about the work he’s been doing on the Stellarino library. It’s goal is to break down the coding barriers present for those looking to move from Arduino to ARM. This is accomplished by facilitating Wiring-stlye code for the Stellaris Launchpad ARM development board.

Right off the bat [Sultan] mentions that the interface is Wiring-like, but is not compatible with it. This means you can’t just plop your existing sketches into a C file and get them to work with the addition of a simple include file. But what it does do is provide access to the functions to which seasoned Arduino users have grown accustomed. You can see some examples above, including analogWrite(), digitalRead(), and a simple delay function.

We had a quick look at the library. It uses StellarisWare components which are stored in the ROM of the chip (these are all preceded by ‘ROM_’). The one thing missing is the UARTstudio library which apparently carries a license incompatible with GPL.

Stellaris Launchpad and booster packs used as frequency analyzer


[Jordan Wills] got tired of being limited to eight pixels of resolution and having jumper wires littering his work space. He set out to upgrade his Stellaris Launchpad frequency analyzer project using booster packs. You may remember the initial iteration of the project which used an 8×8 LED matrix to map audio spectrum. With this upgrade he’s really putting the power of that ARM chip to use.

His first improvement with this project was to spin his own audio input board. It has a standard headphone jack for input and a few passive components to shift the signals to rest nicely within the ADC measurement range. The shield has two double pin headers and a group of four stand offs to serve as legs. This way it plugs into the female headers on the bottom of the Launchpad and provides a stable base for the assembly.

The second portion of the setup is an LCD booster pack for the hardware. Kentec manufactures this 3.5″ 320×240 LCD (EB-LM4F120-L35) complete with a resistive overlay making it touch sensitive. The increase in resolution, and availability of different colors gave [Jordan] plenty to work on. Since this add-on is designed for the Launchpad and has a driver library already available he was able to focus on adapting the FFT output for display and adding in new features. Don’t miss seeing what he’s accomplished in the clip after the break.

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