Hackaday Prize Entry: The MultiSpork

If you’re working on a mobile project – a robot, something outside, or even your car – you don’t want to bring an oscilloscope, logic analyzer, signal generator, or any other piece of equipment that should stay on the bench. For his Hackaday Prize Entry, [Pierce Nichols] is working on the electronic equivalent of a Leatherman: something small and portable that also does just enough to get by in a pinch.

The MultiSpork, as [Pierce] calls his device, is a single WiFi enabled board that’s completely portable. With the addition of a $50 Android tablet, it’s very close to a complete electronics lab in a box.

The heart of the MultiSpork is a new chip from Maxim, the MAX 11300. This chip has 20 pins that can be used as a 12-bit ADC, a 12-bit DAC, or as GPIOs. it’s a logic analyzer, signal generator, oscilloscope, and a Bus Pirate in a single chip. As far as the rest of the board goes, [Pierce] is forgoing any notion of a hardware freeze and changing the Atmel microcontroller over to a TI CC3200 chip that will be coming out soon.

[Pierce] put together a short video describing the MultiSpork; you can check that out below.


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

15 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: The MultiSpork

    1. Just a 12-bit DAC with only 4-8 channels costs about as much as the MAX11300. Though I find it uncommon that I actually need more than 2 DAC channels.

      The MAX11300 reminds me a lot of the low pin count Microchip MCUs that include a crossbar, allowing connection of any internal peripheral to almost any pin. That feature is one of the big reasons I chose them over Atmel. Also why they’re used in Bus Pirate.

  1. The video was like watching a Penn & Teller Video, geeeeeesh, let the guy on the right get a word or two in. Might be a neat project, all vapour ware at the moment, but they need to pick a new name asap, if the project takes off, multispork is way to dorky to be marketable, even to electronic dorks.

  2. This is a cool idea — and I like to see people trying new things to see what works, but I wish they were using better silicon. The 20-channel reconfigurable I/O is neat, but I can’t think of many cases where a a dedicated 8-input logic analyzer / 4-channel scope / 2 channel AWG wouldn’t be sufficient. A fixed layout like that would be much lower cost than using that crazy-expensive Maxim part.

    That part can only do 400 ksps on the analog side, and I don’t think they’ll be able to get more than 1 MHz of digital I/O performance from a single channel, and that’s going to decrease dramatically as you add more channels.

    As a result, you end up with a scope that doesn’t even have half a megahertz of bandwidth, and a logic analyzer that can’t even sniff a low-speed 1 MHz SPI session, and would probably struggle to sniff i2C traffic, too.

    I understand that it’s small and inexpensive, but at that point, does this thing really have much usefulness? It’s like using a pocket knife to build a house.

    1. I think that’s the point: it’s touted as the Leatherman in your electronics toolbox. It’s true that you need proper and dedicated tools to build a large project like a house, a leatherman comes in handy when needing a quick screw turned or working on a smaller project (e.g. I would use a full power logic analyzer when reverse engineering seriously powerful asics, but if I’m at a friend’s place and he wants to know why his arduino isn’t responding to a serial chip, I could whip out this thing in a jiffy)

  3. So it is like a Digilent Analog Discovery but with wifi instead of usb…

    2-Channel Oscilloscope, 2-Channel Waveform Generator, 16-Channel Logic Analyzer, 16-Channel Digital Pattern Generator, ±5VDC Power Supplies, Spectrum Analyzer, Network Analyzer, Voltmeter, Digital I/O

    Tested and approved (? I don’t remember his conclusions ?) by Dave. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aymumu3mYl8

    1. Yeah, i am using the analog discovery for 99% of the time now, it covers a lot in such a small box. Sometimes I wish they made some app to run on a tablet, but then again, a laptop is portable as well.

      I find it hard to justify that MAX chip in there. Basically, the only thing it does better is that it has more than 2 DAC channels and those switches between inputs. Otherwise, jut the ATSAM3S4A could be a better tool: faster ADC, faster GPIO with DMA which can be a better logic analyzer. Plus, it has HW SPI, I2C etc.

    2. Interesting, looks like a sensible product. Too bad that unless you’re a US student it’s $279. Add S&H fees, add the customs ransom fee and you get figure bordering $400. For someone who’s empty handed and just starts building his new lab it would seem too expensive for a first investment, for someone who already has some equipment, it would probably be more economical to buy the missing pieces.

  4. Oh neat, I was actually just looking at a very similar part recently, had to dig the number back up AD5593R(I2C) or AD5592R(SPI) 8bits of the same fully configurable type logic/dac/adc but with 8 I/O only.

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