A Keyboard For Your FIGnition

[Carl] sent in his keyboard he made for his FIGnition microcomputer. At least now he has more than 8 buttons.

The FIGnition is a tiny little microcomputer that harkens back to the 8-bit days of yore. Designed to be an educational computer like the Altair or Heathkit (sans blinkenlights), the FIGnition gives its students ‘bare metal’ access to everything in the system. It’s powered by an ATMega168, a 4 Kb SRAM and an 8Mb Flash chip for storage. Unfortunately, the FIGnition only has 8 buttons to program Forth with, so [Carl]’s project is very much desired in the community.

To expand 8 buttons into an alpha-numeric keyboard, [Carl] came up with the solution of using two tact switches per character. The switches are of different button heights, so pressing a pair of buttons actuates the two buttons in order, which is natively interpreted by the FIGnition. It’s a perfect match for the chord-keys of the FIGnition.

Check out the video of [Carl]’s bundle of wires after the break.


13 thoughts on “A Keyboard For Your FIGnition

  1. Hi Pilotgeek,

    FIGnition uses Forth for speed and simplicity. 80s micros always had a built-in language and not much memory for firmware so they’d either implement BASIC and provide hooks to run native machine code; or (in a few cases) implement Forth as it was about 5-10x faster than Basic, similar to compilers of the day.

    Implementing Forth on FIGnition cuts down the size of the firmware so the extent that it supports in-situ development and gives FIGnition performance similar to machine code on an 8-bit micro. It’s also much faster to implement.

    Forth is a fairly odd-ball language (though oddly enough about as popular as Scratch), but its sheer simplicity and power meant that versions existed for EVERY micro in the early 80s and still make it appealing today. Hence the availability of AmForth, a great implementation of a standards compliant, classical, interactive Forth which compiles to internal Flash; even though conventional compilers generate more efficient code.

    -cheers form julz

  2. Hi thank you Hack a day for posting, and thank you all for your comments.

    I never used fourth before getting the FIGnition, but I find it easy to work with, I am having ‘stacks’ of fun!
    The keyboard works better than I had expected.

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