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Microboard Updates

I'm in the middle of relocating the Lab to larger premises so things are going to be very quiet on the site (even more so than usual) for the next week or so. This post is just a quick update on the Microboard form factor.

I've been focusing on the ATmega version of the board (aka the Babyduino Mk2) - this lets me play around with the hardware while using known good software and the Arduino IDE to do some basic testing.

Microboard Adaptors

Space was in short supply at the time and my desk was getting far too messy so I built a small IO adaptor that the Microboard can be docked into rather than running cables to a bunch of smaller docks, this was inspired partially by the Clixx.IO MicroDock by David Lyon and the I/O Carrier Card for the MicroZed FPGA board we are using at work.

The image to the right shows the assembled boards (including a simple 3.3V/5.0V regulator, an adaptor for the LPC1114 chip and some other parts). I'm getting a lot better at the toner transfer technique for home made boards (as well as getting better at laying out single layer PCBs).

Production Stages

The board with the red and yellow push buttons on it is a Clixx TwinTab board for an experiment I'm trying - reading a 5 button keypad through a single analog input pin, ideal for smaller chips like an 8 pin ATtiny (if I can get it working reliably). Another item in the long queue of pending projects I have.

The final result looks like the image to the right. In this photo I'm actually using the LPC1114 based Microboard (the next one to be debugged and tested) just to test the chip adaptor I made for it.

Together at Last

The carrier board is a much nicer solution than a bunch of cables connected to multiple small docks - far neater and it takes up a lot less space. Unfortunately everything is now boxed up ready for moving so it will be a week or more before I get to continue work on it.

The Microboard system is intended to be a complete prototyping system for a range of MCUs - bringing the simplicity of Arduino to more processor families. The hardware side of things (the MCU board form factor, Clixx.IO as a standard peripheral interface and now the carrier board for simple prototyping) is pretty much finalised, the next big step is a common library to access all of that functionality that will work across chips from the small PIC16 series up to 32 bit ARM and MIPS processors. That is going to be challenge.