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View Full Version : Working on a terminal board for Quickstart: Comments?



Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
03-15-2012, 01:51 AM
We've got four new modules for the Quickstart (http://www.gadgetgangster.com/news.html) arriving at Gadget Gangster sometime next week..

I've started working on a new Quickstart Terminal board.

One of the features I felt was lacking in the original Terminal board was the ability to pull I/O lines up or down on the board side. I've included this ability in this edition. This will make implementing Quickstart in digital switch situations easy.

This is RevA, and I'm not completely happy with the layout yet.. It's open for comment or suggestions.

90585

OBC

cavelamb
03-15-2012, 02:54 AM
Ok, but why stretch Vin across the board?

Tubular
03-15-2012, 05:19 AM
OBC,

Why not line up your voltage rails 0.1" and 0.2" above the uppermost P0..15 holes, so its possible to connect servos or other 3 pin standard devices (P0-positive-gnd) ?

If you look on your smorgasboard you'll see several other boards doing this (the I/O Dreamkit, my PPLCI board)

There is no problem still having the 0.2" spaced terminals down further like you already have, this is just for the uppermost P0..15 holes.

Is there a 5v input too?

Also, if that's a date code we're up to MMXii (or perhaps its been 1000 years in the making)

cheers
tubular

JohnGay
03-15-2012, 04:34 PM
I'd prefer the board going the other way, leaving access to the touchpads and the reset switch on the QuickStart board. You could put a pair of standoffs on the top corners to hold the board level when it's plugged in.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
03-15-2012, 04:43 PM
@cavelamb: Not sure how that would work in the current design..

@Tubular: yes, that is part of what was bothering me! Just couldn't put my finger on it.

@JohnGay: You've got me thinking! How about a board that mounts in the center like the QuickPlayer (http://www.gadgetgangster.com/news/46-builder-news/528-coming-soon-quick-player.html)? This would allow me to add terminal headers all the way around. It would also leave the Touchbuttons, LEDs, etc open and reachable.

OBC

TylerSkyler
03-15-2012, 05:18 PM
I really like some of the "Sheilds" that you guys make for the GadgetGangstar USB platform. I was looking at getting one(I have a quickstart now). And I wanted to know If there is plans of bring some of your other "Sheilds" to the quickstart? What is going to be the main module that you make these products for(quickstart or USB module)?

Thanks,

Tyler

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
03-15-2012, 05:48 PM
@Tyler,

Actually, we are looking to support three platforms.. Propeller Platform, Quickstart, and then a smaller form factor. The "modules" or "shields" which are available for Propeller Platform are being re-designed for use with Quickstart, so you'll have the choice. Currently there are four platforms in production (should arrive here for shipping sometime next week.) A Protoplus clone (Quickproto), A El'Jugador clone with Wii (QuickPlayer), a Servo/Sensor board, and a board for the Touchscreen. Details on those are here (http://www.gadgetgangster.com/news.html).

My gripe with the QS was it's unfriendly header compared to the Propeller Platform. Hopefully we've found some good ways to bring into more hobby friendliness into the Quickstart. (Our fault was in not working on this sooner.) Bottom line for me, it's all about empowering folks to do cool things with the Propeller.

We've also got some neat ideas for Propeller Platform in the works, and some wirelesss stuff, but that's under wraps for now.. ;)

OBC

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
03-20-2012, 05:14 PM
Here's RevB of the Quick Terminal board..

Reduced terminal headers for cleaner design.
Straightened up pull up/down section.
Squared away VIN power system.

90828

psst.. Nick will announce it officially later, but the other new QS stuff starts arriving for shipping in the morning!

OBC

cavelamb
03-20-2012, 07:34 PM
A bit of feedback and evaluation - from a satisfied customer:

I have three Propeller boards so far:
A Protoboard USB, a QuickStart, and a Gangster Gadget Propeller USB Platform.

Each board has it's strengths and weaknesses.

The Protoboard makes a great little "computer" with the video connector block installed.
If one wants to do computer-like stuff, this is the board!
All the cable connectors are located along one end, making a neat container possible.
Although I mounted my SD card socket (Ucontroller.com) across the back of the connector block
(exits to the side) it could just as well have been brought out on the cable end between the connector
block and USB connector. Then everything would be accessible from the cable end.

But the expansion connectors arranged in a tiny square in the center of the board are less than handy.
And the reset switch is buried inside there too.

All those holes for on-board prototyping sure looked exciting at first.
But the layout in the center of the board eats up a huge amount of space, leaving little room for actual circuitry.
Those holes are expensive too!

I've been dreaming of a layout where the circuitry was moved to the connector block end of the board,
a dual row expansion connector along side that, and the prototyping area open for business.
An added advantage of such a layout would be that one could implement a "back plane" arrangement
in the prototyping area for expansion cards to plug in on edge... A "motherboard" arrangement and a
selection of plug-in toys might be a comfortable market niche. (* see conclusions)

The Quickstart board is really great as a starter board with the on-board touch pads and LEDs,
and USB power source. It's possible for newbies to get something up and running with no circuit
building experience required. The large EEPROM adds considerable flexibility for apps.

An external battery set up is simple as well and it has run forever on 4 AA cells.
But the battery connector took some thought and construction skill. I eventually settled on a 2 pin
90 degree header soldered to the battery wires. That makes it obvious which way the connector goes
and easy to get it connected correctly (I haven't smoke checked it by plugging the battery in backwards)

A minor downside is that hanging a large expansion board on the single connector might be an
eventual reliability issue - mechanically. Too much potential for leverage and wobble...
And there is nothing on the other side of the board where a few pins could be added to provide mechanical
support.

The reset switch is located near the processor in the center of the board.
It might be reachable with a shield installed - depending on the shield and wiring.

This is the board I've been recommending to people as a solid starting point for getting into
Propellers. It's simply the best bang for the buck for new users.

Jeff: Which way do you see the wires coming off of the connection shield?
Back over the expansion connector so stay clear of the touchpads and LEDS?
Also, since you have room, would you consider a version that had a transistor and LED for the
connectors? Blinky lights and simple debugging?

Gangster Gadget Platform
For building custom shields, I like this one best of all.
The wide spaced pin headers provide mechanical support and by using female wire-wrap socket strips
on the the shields, boards could be piggy-backed several layers high. Might be something useful there,
although I've not gone above a single layer so far.

The 64k EEPROM and on-board SD card socket add considerable value and flexibility.


A note on reset buttons:
There is a suggestion for an remote reset button in the Cookbook, but it would be quite a challenge to
implement on any of the USB boards that I have seen..
A useful addition to all of the boards would be a 2 pin header site for external reset.


Conclusion:
One thing that the Ardino has going for it that the Propeller does not is a standard arrangement for
shields. There is no question if any selected shield will fit the host Ardino board.

For the Propeller community, I suspect that means that anything offered as a shield product will be
limited to one particular host board and/or that several different shields will be needed to cover the
major players.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to consider when making up a commercial offering.


For what it's worth...

Richard Lamb

schill
03-20-2012, 07:50 PM
I like the idea of having rows spaced so that 0.1in-spaced servo compatible connectors can be used. These can be used for various sensors and other things. Toward that end, I'd want to see the order the same as servos: signal, +V, GND.

Also, I wouldn't mind if it were easy to connect the +V trace to any voltage - this can be done with some simple jumpers and/or easy to cut and jump traces.

Some of these ideas were covered here:

http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?131893-Propeller-Platform-mini-breakout-boards

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
03-20-2012, 09:04 PM
@Richard & Schill: Thank you! I'm going to chew on this for a while...

OBC