[plug] [OT] Companies in Perth that can flash BIOS chips

Brad Campbell brad at wasp.net.au
Mon Aug 6 15:18:43 WST 2007

Paul Antoine wrote:
> Brad wrote:
>> On the topic of 'lectronicy things. If any of you are into 
>> microcontroller tinkering I highly recommend checking out the 
>> (relatively new) "Parallax Propeller".
> Looked at that briefly... it certainly has a strong following.

Kinda like Steve Gibson ;)

I tend to believe in the right tool for the right job, but when it's rapid prototyping and not cost 
sensitive, 8 parallel processors of 20MIPS each makes for a log of bang per chip.

> In my recent microcontroller tinkering I settled on the PIC 18F2550/4450 
> series with USB capability.  I've now built my first USB peripheral :-)

Nothing like that feeling the first time you turn it on and it works :)

> Been having lots of fun writing C for it too... and with the USB 
> bootloader my compile/flash/test cycle is about 15 seconds.  Beats the 
> hell out of erasing and reprogramming EPROMs from the bad ol' days!!!

Yeah, I recall doing that a "few" years ago. 1st thing I did with my very first HC11 board was 
modify it to run flash. I've not programmed an EPROM in probably 15 years now (whew).

I've never really used any form of high level language on micros though. I'm just stuck in the 
assembler rut I guess.

> Oh, and for those of the "printf school of debugging", being able to 
> send status info up the USB to the PC to monitor the often whacky 
> outcomes of embedded bugs is fantastic! Again it beats blinking LEDs 
> etc. from the bad ol' days :-)

Or in the case of the propeller, 3 io pins and 3 resistors to give you full colour text/graphics TV 
output. Now *that* makes debugging a snap! (That or 8 pins and 6 resistors for full VGA)

I looked at the PIC's recently too, but my first application (that dragged me back into electronics 
after a 4 year break) is an octal uart that can do 8 channels of full duplex at 230400 baud 
simultaneously. I just could not get the memory bandwidth from the PIC's, though I've had to use an 
FTDI USB FIFO to get the data to and from the PC quick enough in this case anyway.

Still got my Picstart+ sitting idle in front of me on the desk though :) (and some '877s in a drawer 

I'm just blown away by the capabilities of the silicon these days. Years ago it was all about 
counting cycles, micro optimisations and tweaks. Now it's about trying to come up with projects 
complex enough to justify the fun of counting cycles, micro optimisations and tweaks!

OBLC : The Parallax IDE does not play well with WINE, but runs very well (including flawless USB to 
the hardware) under Virtualbox.

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability
to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable
for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

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