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A ForthBoard ? (a stupid idea - abandoned) — Parallax Forums

A ForthBoard ? (a stupid idea - abandoned)

MaciekMaciek Posts: 466
edited 2021-09-03 13:12 in ForthSpace

As a casual forth user on a few microcontroller platforms (no PC forth for me, sorry) I am haunted by this, possibly stupid, idea of having one ForthBoard always at hand, ready to be used.

Why ?
Because I often enough find myself to not have that one board I need at the particular moment readily available and this kind of puts me off.

I do actually have sort of such a board that hosts a P1 with Tachyon and an STM32F042 nucleo board with Mecrisp Stellaris, just because I happened to need a usb>serial converter for my P1 board ( a nucleo board has that by default), so I combined them both on a same protoboard. But that is kind of bulky and not so much convenient I/O wise (no room for enough I/Os on that proto board).

I am also a big fan of a stm8eforth on stm8 micros so I'd like to have that too. And, of course, the P2 running TAQOZ as the main and most prominent component.

I haven't thought of the details yet but maybe, if approached right, such a monster board could be actually brought to life at some point ?

Sounds stupid enough so it has some appeal for me.

EDIT, pictures added with an "upgraded" nucleo board to stml432

Comments

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 17,955
    edited 2021-08-14 04:54

    @Maciek said:
    As a casual forth user on a few microcontroller platforms (no PC forth for me, sorry) I am haunted by this, possibly stupid, idea of having one ForthBoard always at hand, ready to be used.

    Why ?
    Because I often enough find myself to not have that one board I need at the particular moment readily available and this kind of puts me off.

    I do actually have sort of such a board that hosts a P1 with Tachyon and an STM32F042 nucleo board with Mecrisp Stellaris, just because I happened to need a usb>serial converter for my P1 board ( a nucleo board has that by default), so I combined them both on a same protoboard. But that is kind of bulky and not so much convenient I/O wise (no room for enough I/Os on that proto board).

    I am also a big fan of a stm8eforth on stm8 micros so I'd like to have that too. And, of course, the P2 running TAQOZ as the main and most prominent component.

    I haven't thought of the details yet but maybe, if approached right, such a monster board could be actually brought to life at some point ?

    Sounds stupid enough so it has some appeal for me.

    My RetroBlade2 board can standalone and of course run Forth.

    It has two uUSB connectors that with one/two short conversion cable(s) of uUSB to USB Female (~$1.50 on fleabay) can connect to a USB Keyboard and/or USB Mouse using garry's USB keyboard/mouse driver.
    It also has a VGA connector obviously for a VGA screen.
    There is a uSD socket for microSD Card, and optionally comes with Flash (you don't always need Flash if you have an SD card) with linkable boot pullup.

    And for the serial TTL connection, there is a header for the USB-Serial CP2102 6pin USB-A for ~$1.50 on fleabay (the transistor reset circuit is onboard and solder linkable).

    On the edges are standard single row 0.1" connectors giving easy access to P00-15 on one side of the pcb and P32-47 on the other - great for inserting into breadboards.

    It is totally built for standalone operation by design.

    Oh, and it also runs Z80/CPM2.2 by emulation too.

    https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/172262/clusos-retroblade2-single-chip-computer-first-orders-paid-and-shipped-taking-new-orders-payment#latest

    https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/172556/clusos-retroblade2-your-board-s-have-arrived-so-what-to-do-next#latest

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,813

    @Maciek said:
    I haven't thought of the details yet but maybe, if approached right, such a monster board could be actually brought to life at some point ?

    I'm unclear on exactly what parts you intend on this 'monster board' ?
    P2 & P1 & STM32F042 & stm8eforth are all mentioned - did you mean all of those ?

  • @jmg said:

    @Maciek said:
    I haven't thought of the details yet but maybe, if approached right, such a monster board could be actually brought to life at some point ?

    I'm unclear on exactly what parts you intend on this 'monster board' ?
    P2 & P1 & STM32F042 & stm8eforth are all mentioned - did you mean all of those ?

    Yes, your assumption is correct. That's the whole idea to have different forths on the same board, that can run natively on their respected hardware. And a few copies of that board would be nice to have too: one at home, one at work and a third one at my remote location.

    It shouldn't be all that impossible after all.
    I could certainly use the same usb power, the same clock chip with independent clock settings for each of the micros, even the same usb/uart solution, provided it would be a multi channel one. Pair that with a few tact switches, a few leds, and maybe a simple and not too big SPI display and SD card slot connected in a way so they (the last two items) could be used for any of the micros and a handful of I/Os, carefully selected from each of the micros and off I go.
    Like I said, I haven't given this idea a serious enough thought yet but that moment is coming. Unless wise heads here talk me out of this, possibly stupid, idea now.

    @Cluso99 - I'm well aware of your fine RetroBlade2 board and I'd certainly like to have one but as we have already discussed, the shipping costs from Australia to Europe are not helping these days, unless you could have some small stock here in the EU. I could even volunteer to keep it for you if that's reasonable. Or maybe ErNa is in a much better position to do that. I don't really know.

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 17,955

    @Maciek,
    Sorry, but I don’t like your chances of getting anyone to design that monster board. The reason is that we tend to concentrate on a particular set of chips. Even putting a P1 and P2 on a single board doesn’t make any sense to me - There just wouldn’t be enough volume to cover the costs.

    Your best chance is to obtain one of each and mount them on a board (the poly boards used as kitchen cutting boards are useful here). Then just connect them up as you wish. If they fit nicely, then perhaps you/me/someone else might just lay up a pcb to join them.

  • @Cluso99 ,
    Absolutely!
    There will be zero commercial demand for such a board and I am fully aware of that. And even if there was, there would be plenty of contradicting requests as to what should be covered and what should not. I'm neither prepared nor willing to carry out such an involving project. I was just thinking to build it for myself. Sort of like @Wuerfel_21 did - a single board, custom made for a single user.

    I do not expect anybody do any work on this and possibly even I myself will abandon the idea.
    What you suggested is already in progress hence my post here. But the resulting board is big and not very pretty. I'd rather not show it to anybody at work :).

  • ErNaErNa Posts: 1,650

    The success of bill the gates is based on the fact, he offered something plug and play and didn't allow to change it. In contrast to CP/M, where everybody first had to configure the plugs and everybody did it differently. Are we going to do the same mistake? Or insisting to do?
    We have a common goal: bringing the idea of the P2 to success. And to reach this goal we have to focus on the basics: have a controller, have some software, develop reusable object and click them together.
    We are living in great times:
    There are different boards available. At different price levels. We will never beat the RasPi in price, but in freedom and performance. P2 is OUR processor. ManAtWork presented KISS, now we have KISS0000 and KISS0001 available in quantities thanks to a good offer of Parallax's Ken and there is TAQOZ.
    The KISS.board are just cheap and if the first batch is sold and some activity is on the way, we may find a way to produce the P2D2 and companions to have another common platform.
    But the main goal must be to create the linkable Apps needed to fullfil everydays work, a watch, a watchdog, a timer for medication (yes, we are mostly in the ages) a shutter controller (against heat or flooding), ....
    Konnex will possibly develop in the direction to connect the Apps, it there is net access even over WAN. ..
    It depends on us and on to focus on collaboration. It's no longer about the individual that create great things. It's about Team Building!

  • @ErNa,
    I have read your post twice and I take two lessons from it. Thank you for both of them.
    However, I have some difficulties in arbitrary judgement if an idea is aligned with common interest or not without first sharing it.

    According to the second lesson I take from your post above I therefore officially declare this idea of mine as selfish, stupid and not aligned with the common interest hence abandoned.

    I will not post any further ideas or comments I might have, that I do not consider as serving common good, whatever that is.

  • ErNaErNa Posts: 1,650

    Take it easy, Maciek. It's just my two cents. My advice mostly doesn't fit my own actions. That's freedom. But I allow others to learn from my faults for free ;-) So keep going your way always, but stay close enough to the mainstream to have a change to gain success in finding the right people to follow you abroad.

  • I'm perfectly fine, ErNa, no worries. That's what this forum is about - to exchange thoughts, ideas, ways of doing things or paths to avoid. That is its core value.

    What you said has made me look at this idea from the different perspective and, to be honest, I can still see a common value to be gained. There are aspect to this stupid monster board project idea that could be of some universal value like, for example, finding out if it is better to use a single USB>serial converter and a P2 as a multi serial hub to talk to the boards/micros, having all serial ports open all at once, or maybe use a USB hub and a few individual USB> serial converters. Both solutions should work but which to use and why. That sort of things.
    I think it could also be useful to determine if it's feasible to use a sophisticated microcontroller like the P2 to carry out some simple, mundane tasks, like controlling shades, fans or a water heater in a particular environment when you could have a direct and immediate comparison with the said monster board.

    Maybe I will continue with this project quietly and secretly and only share what I have learnt. I don't know. Haven't decided yet.

  • yetiyeti Posts: 789

    I like the idea of having a Forth zoo, but having the chips in individual cages (each chip on own boards) looks more flexible to me.

  • @yeti,
    that's just brilliant ! Your "chips in individual cages" sealed the deal.

    Instead of going to great lengths to make that monster board I just found a very suitable box for all of my individual Forth boards and cables.
    I don't like the idea of connecting the peripherals each time when I switch the boards very much but will see how it goes. For now it's the box. At least one of my original idea objective will be met and that is having any of the boards handy at all times. If it proves to be a passable solution I'll just make another two boxed sets for my other locations and keep them there.

  • ErNaErNa Posts: 1,650
    edited 2021-08-15 18:49

    If I think about my requirements I'm fine with the KISS boards as long as I want create SW. But if I want the board to do something useful I need to connect to the real world. So It might be nice to have a board that can drive some relais, read higher voltage input, condition an analog value both in and out... So we should have some cheap peripheral board that can stack together like the quickstart board. ? One of my goals is home automation for dummies

  • yetiyeti Posts: 789

    Different MCUs have different amounts of IO pins, so one design of stackable PCS won't fit them all.

    Giving some pin groups (SPI. I2C. serial, pure GPIO, ...) standardised connectors on all these boards will at least keep the add-ons interchangeable.

  • MaciekMaciek Posts: 466
    edited 2021-08-15 20:03

    @ErNa said:
    ...So It might be nice to have a board that can drive some relays, read higher voltage input, condition an analog value both in and out... So we should have some cheap peripheral board that can stack together like the quickstart board...

    This is really an interesting direction my stupid idea led to :).

    I think it definitely deserves a separate thread. Definitely.

    I have some vague idea of a board or two that could fit the bill but it all depends on what you really want to do with it (what peripherals will be connected to it, what voltages and currents are involved) as the part selection will need to take that into account. Maybe some physical isolation of the KISS board will be required to protect it and the computer that it connects to when developing.

    For me the home automation is about three main aspects:
    1. user experience (how easy it is to operate/interact with the system)
    2. reliability
    3. security

    While the #1 seems to be rather not very picky, dependent on the user, the #2 and #3 are critical and non trivial to say the least . It's also about various sensors placed in the right places in the house/apartment/garage/garden/gate/fence.

    Home automation for dummies ? - that's going to be a real challenge, imho. But if we start small with some basic home automation projects ...who knows. And that could have huge educational value as well, both in terms of improving programming skills and general home automation topics.

    BTW, with the KISS board it is super easy and super flexible to connect things to it.
    The most generic board I envision that could be useful is to have an adapter board that could directly connect to the KISS board at one end and that would have maybe two or even four mikroBUS compatible sockets for various Mikroe modules. These modules aren't exactly cheep at all but are plenty and easily obtainable.

  • msrobotsmsrobots Posts: 3,459

    Isn't the click board adapter the new go to way of Parallax for Adapter boards?

    Mike

  • MaciekMaciek Posts: 466
    edited 2021-08-15 20:10

    @msrobots , yes. It seems so. You beat me to it while I was editing :). Tbh, these click modules are awfully expensive for what they offer. That is my view. Very convenient but expensive. Mostly and sadly a no go for me.

  • msrobotsmsrobots Posts: 3,459

    Yeah, I agree, but as @yeti said a standard connector would help a lot, and what we have now on eval boards, Jonny Mac and some others providing the eval headers makes sense to adopt for own boards as well, even if not using the click board adapter and click boards.

    Mike

  • I am sure I saw it somewhere in this thread the KISS board has the same pinout as the P2-eval. Haven't really compared the actual schematics but will do to confirm. I do not own a P2-eval nor do I plan to buy one.

  • MaciekMaciek Posts: 466
    edited 2021-08-19 09:38

    Pictures added to the first post of my mini monster forth board with an "upgraded" nucleo board to stml432 that is home to Tachyon and Mecrisp Stellaris.
    I do not plan to make any further developments in that direction. The box solution ( a few forth capable boards in a single box) works well so far.

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 17,955

    @Maciek said:
    Pictures added to the first post of my mini monster forth board with an "upgraded" nucleo board to stml432 that is home to Tachyon and Mecrisp Stellaris.
    I do not plan to make any further developments in that direction. The box solution ( a few forth capable boards in a single box) works well so far.

    Much better.
    For next time, you can get the little watch cylindrical xtals that work well though you may have just had the xtal you used on hand.
    Suggestion2: If you intend doing lots of wiring then get some kynar wire - it's much finer and the covering doesn't melt so easily when soldering. BTW you will need to be careful stripping unless you get a tool - the cheap one that has a v groove in the middle.

  • though you may have just had the xtal you used on hand

    Yes, that was the case. With wires as well.
    I usually search my waste bin first and try to use what I already have. If not in the bin - I look around ...I think you know the drill. I only buy stuff I really need and which I do not already have. Saves time, money and stimulates creativity :).

  • Just to give you an idea of how stupid this whole thing is, I have added a third picture to the first post in a hope that it'll be enough to discourage you from attempting the equivalently stupid achievement.
    It works though.

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