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

Paul Antoine pma-la at milleng.com.au
Mon Aug 6 15:48:47 WST 2007

Ah yes, and to contribute further to dragging this back on-topic (a 
little at least) is to mention that I run all my Windoze development 
tools under Ubuntu+Crossover.  Microchip's MPLAB IDE and the ExpressPCB 
Schematic/PCB software all run fine under Crossover.

I've even managed to find two open source tools that run natively under 
Linux (gasp!)  Pikdev allows me to program the bootloader, and fsusb 
lets me download the my programs to the PIC over USB via the bootloader.

Actually it was the maturity of Wine/Crossover and the Ubuntu desktop 
that allowed me to run all this software which finally pushed me over 
the edge to using Linux as my primary interface to the digital world. 
It's only 25 years since I first used Unix... and finally it's all I use :-)

Further to the "once-upon-a-time" subtext: choice of a CPU vs glue logic 
used to be about 10's or 100's of $$s... now use of a PIC is *cheaper* 
than said glue logic, even more so when you count the cost of the square 
mm of PCB saved. One therefore has now to find a *very* good excuse to 
use a 74159 :-)


Brad Campbell wrote:
> 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 somewhere)
> 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.
> Brad

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