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View Full Version : New Chameleon product complete and need some coders to explore possibilities



AndreL
07-21-2009, 05:25 PM
We have been working on two new Arduino like products called the Chameleons. We are going to put them for pre-sale in a couple weeks and have them back from manufacturing in 5-6 weeks. In the meantime, we wanted to give the opportunity for a few really hard core Propeller programmers to get their hands on the systems and develop some open source stuff for them for launch.

The systems are based on a dual processor design where the primary processor is an AVR or PIC processor running C/C++ for the most part. The AVR/PIC sends commands to the Prop over a high speed SPI bus and a virtual SPI interface receives the commands and then issues them to various drivers running on the Prop on its cores. Thus, for people familiar with Arduino programming, you add a couple lines of code and you can draw text, or make sound, or read the keyboard, etc. since the Prop does all the heavy lifting and from the AVR/PIC acts like a media server.

I have designed drivers, example code, and its all working perfectly, so I thought I would give out a taste to some very special few that are interested. That said, if you want get a demo unit and code on it, all work will be open source and you will upload to our Wiki at some point is the idea.

For coders to be considered you should be a master Propeller programmer, or at least dangerous :) And have worked with either the AVR or PIC processors and have a good understanding of them since you will be coding in C/C++ on the AVR/PIC side to control the Prop and write applications. Thus, your demos might be totally AVR/PIC side, OR you might decide to develop crazy drivers on the Prop side for the AVR/PIC to serve to.

In any case, the idea of the product was to be a massively powerful Arduino like product, but use the Propeller as the secret sauce and let it do what it does best which is media control and heavy lifting while using a C/C++ powered client CPU (AVR/PIC) to do the application control. All the while trying to keep the board Arduino like in design (I/O for example) so that users could jump ship from Arduino land to Chameleon country, and all the while use a product that leverages the Propeller.

If you're interested, PM me here, ask questions publicly, or email me at ceo@nurve.net. I will pick 2-3 AVR guys and 2-3 PIC guys, but everyone has to be a Prop guy :) Applicants should be easy to contact, and have a lot of time to actually do something, the prototype kits are $500 each and not cheap, so this isn't for newbies or people that want to play around, its for people that really think they can deliver some cool stuff, and "get" the design from my description and see the potential of this.

Attached is a pic of an early prototype, the final versions have a break away prototyping area to right and the little debug switch is of course not there :)

Thanks,

Andre' LaMothe
Nurve Networks LLC

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
07-21-2009, 10:43 PM
Andre',

It looks like you've used an SMT DB15 connector that DigiKey carries. I've had my eye on that for some time (assuming it's the same one), due to the minimal footprint. Apparently the front flange extends below board level, though, which means there has to be a routered slot for it if the boards are panelized. Are you using this connector in the production units? How have you decided to accommodate the flange? Are you satisfied with it's ruggedness vis-a-vis inserting and removing plugs without pulling up the foil?

Thanks,
-Phil

Cluso99
07-21-2009, 11:25 PM
Probably thole 151-1117-ND

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Links to other interesting threads:

· Home of the MultiBladeProps: TriBladeProp (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=786418), RamBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=810753), TwinBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=806697),·SixBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=780033), website (http://bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)
· Single Board Computer:·3 Propeller ICs·and a·TriBladeProp board (ZiCog Z80 Emulator) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=790917)
· Prop Tools under Development or Completed (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=753439)
· Emulators: Micros eg Altair, and Terminals eg VT100 (Index (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=778427)) ZiCog (Z80), MoCog (6809)
· Search the Propeller forums (via Google) (http://search.parallax.com/search?site=parallax&client=parallax&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=parallax&proxycustom=<HOME/>&ie=&oe=&lr=)
My cruising website is: ·www.bluemagic.biz (http://www.bluemagic.biz)·· MultiBladeProp is: www.bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm (http://www.bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)

FredBlais
07-22-2009, 12:02 AM
Someone has an idea of how much will cost the final unit?

Bill Henning
07-22-2009, 12:07 AM
Cool board Andre, the Ardurino folks will go nuts over it.

Well done!


AndreL said...
We have been working on two new Arduino like products called the Chameleons. We are going to put them for pre-sale in a couple weeks and have them back from manufacturing in 5-6 weeks. In the meantime, we wanted to give the opportunity for a few really hard core Propeller programmers to get their hands on the systems and develop some open source stuff for them for launch.

The systems are based on a dual processor design where the primary processor is an AVR or PIC processor running C/C++ for the most part. The AVR/PIC sends commands to the Prop over a high speed SPI bus and a virtual SPI interface receives the commands and then issues them to various drivers running on the Prop on its cores. Thus, for people familiar with Arduino programming, you add a couple lines of code and you can draw text, or make sound, or read the keyboard, etc. since the Prop does all the heavy lifting and from the AVR/PIC acts like a media server.

I have designed drivers, example code, and its all working perfectly, so I thought I would give out a taste to some very special few that are interested. That said, if you want get a demo unit and code on it, all work will be open source and you will upload to our Wiki at some point is the idea.

For coders to be considered you should be a master Propeller programmer, or at least dangerous :) And have worked with either the AVR or PIC processors and have a good understanding of them since you will be coding in C/C++ on the AVR/PIC side to control the Prop and write applications. Thus, your demos might be totally AVR/PIC side, OR you might decide to develop crazy drivers on the Prop side for the AVR/PIC to serve to.

In any case, the idea of the product was to be a massively powerful Arduino like product, but use the Propeller as the secret sauce and let it do what it does best which is media control and heavy lifting while using a C/C++ powered client CPU (AVR/PIC) to do the application control. All the while trying to keep the board Arduino like in design (I/O for example) so that users could jump ship from Arduino land to Chameleon country, and all the while use a product that leverages the Propeller.

If you're interested, PM me here, ask questions publicly, or email me at ceo@nurve.net. I will pick 2-3 AVR guys and 2-3 PIC guys, but everyone has to be a Prop guy :) Applicants should be easy to contact, and have a lot of time to actually do something, the prototype kits are $500 each and not cheap, so this isn't for newbies or people that want to play around, its for people that really think they can deliver some cool stuff, and "get" the design from my description and see the potential of this.

Attached is a pic of an early prototype, the final versions have a break away prototyping area to right and the little debug switch is of course not there :)

Thanks,

Andre' LaMothe
Nurve Networks LLC

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www.mikronauts.com (http://www.mikronauts.com) - my site 6.250MHz custom Crystals for running Propellers at 100MHz (http://mikronauts.com/products/mikronauts-625mhz-crystal/)
Las (http://mikronauts.com/products/las-largos-lmm-assembler/) - Large model assembler for the Propeller Largos (http://mikronauts.com/products/largos/) - a feature full nano operating system for the Propeller
Morpheus & Mem+ (http://mikronauts.com/products/morpheus/) Advanced dual Propeller SBC with XMM and 256 Color VGA
Please use mikronauts _at_ gmail _dot_ com to contact me off-forum, my PM is almost totally full

Kye
07-22-2009, 01:00 AM
You should make it into a shield for the ardurino. Then people could just buy it and upgrade their own platform easily.

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Nyamekye,

AndreL
07-22-2009, 03:54 AM
@ Nyamekye - The arduino shields are used on the Chameleon, not the other way around, why make a super product a shield for the same AVR processor? @phil - And about the VGA connector, its great, works fine.

AndreL
07-22-2009, 03:58 AM
Opps, sorry didn't see the other question. Price with be $49-59.

Andre'

Mike Green
07-22-2009, 03:58 AM
Andre,
Have you looked at Hanno's Spinner programming system? It's very Arduino-like. You might have a conversation with him about including support for the Prop <=> AVR/PIC communications

AndreL
07-22-2009, 04:38 AM
Yes, but I don't remember it :) I will definitely take a look at that. The AVR version supports the arduino tool, but the PIC versions doesn't, so one of the important things is to find someone that feels like porting the arduino toolchain to PIC, this consists of porting the Java tool, not much there, then using an off the shelf C/C++ compiler like the hi-tech C, then copying the API. What I have learned is that if you want people to really embrace stuff you have to use C/C++, so that's why this is a perfect fusion of the prop. Customers USE the product to solve problems and do NOT have to program the prop anymore, they can use standard C and then slave the Prop to do what it does best. Then others that are interested in the Prop can write drivers for that side of the design, etc. so ZERO learning curve, if you know C, you are working with the prop in mins and don't even know it.

Andre'

Hanno
07-22-2009, 05:14 AM
Hi Andre',
Looks like another great product! Very exciting to couple the Propeller with the open source popularity of Arduino. I'm a wee bit busy right now with PropScope, Spinner, the book and ViewPort- but would be interested in adding support for Chameleon into Spinner (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=819680).
Hanno

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Download (http://mydancebot.com) a free trial of ViewPort- the premier visual debugger for the Propeller
Includes full debugger, simulated instruments, fuzzy logic, and OpenCV for computer vision. Now a Parallax Product!

AndreL
07-22-2009, 06:35 AM
That sounds good, email me at ceo@nurve.net when you have time to talk about the Chameleon stuff and spinner, I will check the link out now...

Andre'

Chris Micro
07-22-2009, 12:39 PM
AndreL said...
The systems are based on a dual processor design where the primary processor is an AVR or PIC processor running C/C++ for the most part.


I don't know, why it reminds me on my Propellurino (http://www.hobby-roboter.de/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=72)

Here is the video video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89M5rvolGGU)

and the contruction kit construction kit (http://www.e-robotix.de/epages/61660837.sf/de_DE/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61660837/Products/Prop1)

Post Edited (Chris Micro) : 7/22/2009 4:45:17 AM GMT

AndreL
07-22-2009, 01:33 PM
Looks like a shield for the arduino?

Andre'

Mike Huselton
07-22-2009, 01:48 PM
Andre',

Killer - concept, architecture, packaging. You will be extremely successful with this offering.
Parallax sells the chips and Arduino people finally have a very powerful processor with almost no learning curve.

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JMH

AndreL
07-22-2009, 02:11 PM
Thanks -- that's what I was thinking :) How the idea came about was I obviously had played with the Prop building the HYDRA, and had made countless projects with the AVR and PIC which are so easy to work with in C/C++. But, I was like how to put these things together to take advantage of them both, so I thought why not do a dual system, use the prop to do all these crazy media things, and both the AVR and PIC to control. I would have thrown in an ARM version (still might), but didn't have time. Then I when I was describing the system to a friend, he said, sounds like the Arduino, which I hadn't played with, I looked it up, and I was like there is NO arduino, its just software really and an AVR chip -- but, the secret sauce is that people can code on Mac, Windows and Linuz, and that's why the ardunio is so popular, it hides the GCC C/C++ compiler under the java tool, so I looked at my I/O and tried to make it as compatible as possible with the shields (although the Chameleons have different header locations), and the AVR version of course runs the Ardunio software and the PIC version, fingers crossed, someone will port the Ardunio tool to the pic platform.

That said, I love playing with these, its like so cool to not THINK about video, audio, VGA, etc. you just write some code like this:

SPI_Prop_Print_String( DEVICE_NTSC, tokens[ 2 ] );
SPI_Prop_Send_Cmd( GFX_CMD_NTSC_PRINTCHAR, 0x0D, 0x00);


And my SPI interface sends the commands to the Prop and it does its stuff. And of course, users can write better Prop drivers, change default objects, and do whatever. So I am really excited and hope that the Chameleon is the killer app the Prop has been looking for to really sell units of the chip.

And last, but not least we have written a BASIC (David Betz) that works on both systems now it will support all the cool prop stuff, so people can code in BASIC as well, and that's just a C based compiler that generates the VM code, so that is PORTABLE to linux, mac, and windows, so our BASIC compiler will be available as open source under some license, so people can port it to anything they wish. Then you jsut need a text editor and serial terminal to download to the Chameleon, so that's our own "Arduino" like tool chain, but uses BASIC instead of C/C++.

Oh yes, and there is one other really cool surprise -- but, I will show everyone later :)

Andre'

jazzed
07-22-2009, 03:17 PM
There is of course a special place for the weaker AVRs in arduino, but wouldn't something bigger than an ATmega168PA be a more appropriate partner for Propeller? This keeps popping in my head every time I run into a Propeller memory limit. There is an arduino-mega board after all. Not trying to be critical ....

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--Steve


Propalyzer: Propeller PC Logic Analyzer (http://www.brouhaha.com/~sdenson/Propalyzer)
http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788230 (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788230)

AndreL
07-22-2009, 03:57 PM
I am using the 328P, its the double memory version of the 168 used in the arduino, however, the new arduino PRO use the 328p, or one of them does, can't remember which one. But, anyway, the 328p is nice, 2K ram, 32K flash, so its got room. The 168 is just too small, but the 328p is just right, I was one of the first companies to get access to the 328p's, so I have known about them for a while and was planning on them. The PIC version is 16-bit, 40 mips (we can throttle it higher though), 16K ram and 128K flash. Plus, the Chameleons have a 1 megabyte FLASH memory on the SPI bus, so the Prop acts as spi target as well as the FLASH, so you can use it as a disk drive, or whatever, so that's nice. Bottom line is that on either system you can build an entire credit card sized computer on them, emulate things like the Apple 2, Sinclair, C64 (partially), etc. and have self hosted interpreters and compilers running on the AVR/PICs slaving the Prop --

Lastly, I could have used the AVR 644 like I did on the XGS units, or even the Xmega, but I wanted to keep it cheaper, and the PIC is 16-bit and the monster of the pair, so if you need more performance then the Pic is the way to go.

Also, one little tidbit, you can program either the Prop or the AVR/Prop over the same USB serial connection (a switch directs traffic) which is nice (of course the AVR/PIC has to have one of the bootloaders loaded), but its pretty sweet being able to just plug in a single USB cable (power the systems) and code.

I am really price sensitive on the Chameleons since I want to make them as cheap as possible. The arduinos really have nothing on them but the CPU, the chameleons have quite a bit of design and glue, so added cost to make it all happen, but we are going to take the approach that better to sell more units at a lower cost then few units at a higher cost -- So we are really going to shoot for $49-59 for the launch price on both systems.

Andre'

jazzed
07-22-2009, 04:52 PM
Ok, 32KB flash seems fair. Having a GNU tool chain of course makes it sweeter :) Nice detail on the USB connection.
I'm a long time C programmer, but AVR is new to me. So, I'll wait for the production boards :) Sounds like fun though.

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--Steve


Propalyzer: Propeller PC Logic Analyzer (http://www.brouhaha.com/~sdenson/Propalyzer)
http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788230 (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788230)

AndreL
07-22-2009, 05:32 PM
Both the AVR and PIC in C/C++ are very nice. The AVR uses the GCC compiler which is "ok", not the most state of the art compiler, but gets the job done and is more or less 100% compliant with modern C/C++. The pic mplab compiler is theirs and is very nice. Either way, its just like programming in DOS on a PC, flat memory, no weirdness and a lot fun. As for both processors is very nice as well, and mixing is very easy either inline or seperate routines. The nice thing is we are able to take almost any off the shelf C program and port it in mins to hours if its a STDIO kind of thing, then you connect up video, audio, and keyboard commands to the Prop and you are in business --

Andre'

ImageCraft
07-22-2009, 06:25 PM
Hey Steve, of course you can use ICCAVR instead of GCCAVR http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif We eat their lunches in terms of code size http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

jazzed
07-22-2009, 11:14 PM
ImageCraft said...
Hey Steve, of course you can use ICCAVR instead of GCCAVR http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif We eat their lunches in terms of code size http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

I've been very happy with many years of GNU development except for some silly warnings introduced in 1998. GNU is the industry standard C tool chain, and if you can do better, then kudos to you. GNU style make and C99 compliance are more important to me than some code size advantages barring a 25% or more reduction. I would try ICCAVR only if GNU AVR is some unforeseen disaster ... call me entrenched.

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--Steve


Propalyzer: Propeller PC Logic Analyzer (http://www.brouhaha.com/~sdenson/Propalyzer)
http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788230 (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788230)

RevAaron
07-25-2009, 03:59 AM
Looks great!

At work, we'd been thinking about implementing a control system on an MCU board of one kind or another- like the Arduino Mega. To drive a panel, we found ourselves looking at the Ybox2. After playing with the hardware, I've been totally after the idea of a marriage of an AVR and Propeller- the Propeller for our display and heavy lifting, and one or more AVRs as dedicated I/O co-processors over I2C or SPI. This was the conclusion I came to... and then I saw this! Pretty close to what we had been thinking of.

I think a stand-alone board is great, especially considering that it can take Arduino Shields. Hadn't noticed that at first. I also think a Propeller shield for the Arduino is a great idea, whether or not you guys are the ones who make it. Great if you're adding adding a second, third or forth output system to your Chameleon project, or video or sound to an Arduino project.

While I'm fantasizing about a heterogeneous stack of MCUs, I may as well wish for a PIC32 module at the top (78 pins of I/O) or a solid bus system with dedicated pins for I2C or SPI and a good set of libraries for the supported CPUs for inter-board chatter...

:)

RobertM
08-04-2009, 08:42 PM
Andre.

"Oh yes, and there is one other really cool surprise -- but, I will show everyone later :)"

Is time for tell us about this?

Thanks.

Chad Page
08-04-2009, 11:35 PM
I think for system emulation one'd need a RAM chip as well. Ideally at least 64K RAM, and a microSD slot to hold every ROM/disk imaginable ;)

The 6502's actually quite elegant - I'm working on a logic-based emulator that should come out to ~400-500 lines of (admittedly dense) C code, so that'd fit in an AVR - but couldn't do useful emulation because of the 1-2K of RAM.

edit: an "ARM & Hammer Propeller" board would be great, too.

Post Edited (Chad Page) : 8/4/2009 3:41:26 PM GMT

AndreL
08-05-2009, 04:13 AM
The PIC version has more memory and has enough for emulation etc. 128 FLASH and 8K RAM, plus there is a 1MEG flash on board that you can use to emulate a drive or you could just plug in a SD card into expansion headers, power it and use that. But, the idea of these are industrial control, wearable computing, etc. basically arduino's on crack.

Andre'

Ale
08-05-2009, 04:13 AM
RevAaron:

You should have a look at Chris Propellurino. A prop and an AVR.

For other marriages see my sig. Next version will definitely have a ColdFire or maybe an AVR32. I got both already. As soon as I get some high-resolution graphics working.

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Visit some of my articles at Propeller Wiki:
MATH on the propeller propeller.wikispaces.com/MATH (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/MATH)
pPropQL: propeller.wikispaces.com/pPropQL (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/pPropQL)
pPropQL020: propeller.wikispaces.com/pPropQL020 (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/pPropQL020)
OMU for the pPropQL/020 propeller.wikispaces.com/OMU (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/OMU)

RevAaron
08-06-2009, 03:07 AM
Oooh- I'd be interested in the AVR32 wedding. As soon as I find a new job, I'm so getting an AVR32 NGW-100 to play with. :)

Though, with what I have on hand... the marriage I'd perform would be between my PIC32-based UBW32 and some sort of Prop shield. Rather, a prop undercarriage, because I already soldered on headers for breadboarding the PIC32. Against at Atmega, the PIC32 has a lot to recommend it- 32KB on-chip SRAM, 512KB flash, and 80 pins available for I/O. Not to derail the thread into some sort of pissing MCUs contest between non-Props...

HollyMinkowski
08-08-2009, 08:46 AM
I'm using an Atmega644p on a board with the Prop.
It is a good pairing!

Ole Man Earl
08-09-2009, 02:58 AM
Love it ! Now to combine the ArduPilot with my AutoProp8 with OSD,. WOW, that would make a great FPV,OSD,Waypoint capable autopilot !
Sign me up for one.
Earl

hover1
08-25-2009, 03:52 AM
Earl,

I miss your postings. Any updates on the AutoProp8 project?

Regards,

Jim


Ole Man Earl said...
Love it ! Now to combine the ArduPilot with my AutoProp8 with OSD,. WOW, that would make a great FPV,OSD,Waypoint capable autopilot !
Sign me up for one.
Earl