In the early days of the home computer era, many machines would natively boot into a BASIC interpreter. This was a great way to teach programming to the masses. However on most platforms the graphics routines were incredibly slow, and this greatly limited what could be achieved. In 2020 such limitations are a thing of the past, with the Color Maximite 2. (Video, embedded below.)
The Color Maximite 2 is a computer based around the STM32H743IIT6 microcontroller, packing a Cortex-M7 32-bit RISC core with the Chrom-ART graphics accelerator. Running at 480MHz it’s got plenty of grunt, allowing it to deliver vibrant graphics to the screen reminiscent of the very best of the 16-bit console era. The Maximite 2 combines this chip alongside a BASIC interpreter complete with efficient graphics routines. This allows for the development of games with fast and smooth movement, with plenty of huge sprites and detailed backgrounds.
[cTrix] does a great job of demonstrating the machine, designed by [Geoff Graham] and [Peter Mather]. Putting the computer through its paces with a series of demos, it shows off the impressive visual and audio capabilities of the hardware. It serves as an excellent spiritual successor to BlitzBASIC from back in the Amiga days. Particularly enjoyable is seeing a BASIC interpreter that adds syntax highlighting – making parsing the code far easier on the eyes!
We’d love to see this become an off-the-shelf kit, as it’s clear the platform has a lot to offer the retro hobbyist. It’s certainly come a long way from the original Maximite of nearly a decade ago. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Boot-To-BASIC Box Packs A Killer Graphics Engine”
[Kilian] sent in a link to a color version of a tiny educational computer. It’s called the Quantumite and it’s designed to be a throwback to the early 80s microcomputers we all grew up on.
The Quantumite is a clone of the Maximite, the tiny single board computer / BASIC interpreter designed by [Geoff Graham]. Both the Quantumite and Maximite are meant to be a throwback to the amazingly simple microcomputers of the early 80s, giving the 8-year-olds of today the simplicity of a BASIC compter most Hackaday readers had back in 1980s.
Both the Maximite and Quantumite are powered by the same 32-bit PIC microcontroller and have connections for a composite or VGA monitor, SD card, and PS/2 keyboard. Unlike the Maximite, the Quantumite can display 8 colors on its screen; a great addition that somehow seems even more retro than a monochrome display.
As far as getting the younglings to learn programming, we couldn’t think of a better tool than the ‘boot straight into a programming language’ Maximite. With a retro-impressive 3 bits of color, it’s sure to be a hit with the schoolchildren this computer is targeted at.
The Earth orbits the Sun every 365.256 days. Because this number isn’t a whole number, an extra day is tacked onto February every four years, unless the year is evenly divisible by 100, except in cases where the year is divisible by 400, or something like that. To commemorate this calendar hack, here’s some stuff that has rolled in over the last week or so.
[Brian] sent in this marble-based sequencer that sounds like someone is running MIDI into an Atari 2600. There are photoresistors in there somewhere, and it really reminds us of those thingamagoop robots.
[Mike] uses YouTube as his music library. While this is a perfectly acceptable way to listen to music, the user interface is terrible. To solve this problem, [Mike] is downloading videos from the command line, automagically converting them to MP3, and playing them over speakers. It works well with SSH, so we’ll call this a win.
Key card lock
[valenitn] just joined the MIT Media Lab, but something was terribly wrong with his keys – an ID card was required to get into the building, but a key was necessary to get into his office. He doesn’t need the key anymore, at least since he modded his office door. Check out the video.
Pop Tart Cat is everywhere
[skywodd] saw our writeup on the Maximite Basic computer and figured he could send in a project he’s been working on. He programmed his Maximite to sing the nyan cat song and then created a BASIC music player. Nice job, [skywodd].
Not sure if brilliant or insane
[Vikash] ran across a forum post where a user named [I Shooter] describes his setup to dual-boot Windows and Linux: [I Shooter] connected data cables to a pair of SATA hard drives, one loaded up with Windows, the other with Linux. The power cables are switched using relays so only one drive is powered at a time. [I Shooter] gets a ton of points for creativity, but there’s a reason this brute force hardware dual-boot setup isn’t more common. We wish there were pictures of this one.
Any self-identified geek that spent some time in the 80s will tell you how they used to type out programs into their ‘microcomputer’ with BASIC. It was a simpler time when a computer’s raison d’etre was simply being a BASIC interpreter. These days are long past us now; you can’t simply turn on a computer and have it load a BASIC prompt anymore. This is where [Geoff]’s Maximite single board computer comes in. It’s a tiny little box that whose only purpose is to play around with BASIC.
[Geoff]’s used a PIC32MX microcontroller with 128k of RAM for the CPU of his Maximite. Unlike an Apple ][ or TRS-80, the Maximite version of BASIC can do floating point arithmetic out of the box. To connect to the outside world, the Maximite has VGA or composite out to display the BASIC interepreter. A PS/2 keyboard port provides the input, and a USB port and SD card can be used to load and save programs from a PC.
The Maximite includes a 20-pin breakout for whatever IO you can imagine. This is duplicated on [Geoff]’s mini Maximite that is designed to be the retro throwback of an Arduino. We though those were called BASIC stamps, but if it gets kids programming, we’ll let it slide.