PIC32-based Maximite color microcomputer

    To date, the Maximite project is my favorite in the field of needlework microcomputers. Having collected its original black-and-white version , I later launched RetroBSD on it , then even my own Radio-86RK emulator . What captivates the project is the completeness. Structurally, Maximite is simple, the PIC32 does almost all the work. But Maximite is not just an idea in the form of a diagram. For Maximite, a board, case and, in fact, firmware - MMBasic, an advanced BASIC dialect that provides access to the entire periphery, which Maximite has, is impressive. In a short interview, the author and developer of Maximite, Jeff Graham, explained why he actually had to finish the project for such a finished look.

    Recently, the author released a new, color version, and this review is dedicated to her.

    So, the possibilities of color Maximite (new and improved features are marked with an asterisk):
    • PS / 2 keyboard
    • VGA video signal (480x432 or 240x216), eight colors (*)
    • black and white composite video signal
    • stereo sound generation (*)
    • real time clock with independent battery (*)
    • 20 independent I / O pins
    • connector for connecting to Arduino (*)
    • SD card (up to 32GB)
    • USB connection for file transfer or terminal
    • interfaces RS232, I2C, SPI, 1-wire
    • dual channel PWM (*)
    • USB firmware upgrade option
    • USB powered
    • BASIC Font System
    • sprite commands in BASIC for programming games (*)

    Built-in BASIC allows you to maximize the use of all these features. You can even create timer interrupt handlers in the form of routines.

    Of course, I purchased the Maximite color designer, like last time from Altronics .

    All the elements with legs, so that, apparently, amateurs in soldering, like me, it was easier. Only one capacitor (C10) is there planar and rather small. Although the spots were already with tin under it, I had to fiddle with soldering, so as not to short-circuit.


    For comparison, the old and new Maximite.

    Here's what you can do with BASIC flowers.

    And this, though not in color, is, nevertheless, a classic.

    According to the author, the ability to generate a color video signal required the 100-foot PIC32 model, where there are three SPI channels. It is clear that in this case it is necessary to “drive” three times as much data, and since the crystal frequency remains the same, 80 MHz, objectively, the color firmware works a little slower than the original black and white. Therefore, for the new Maximite there is an option for pure black and white firmware, in which all new peripheral features are similarly added, and which works in speed similarly to the previous, black and white Maximite.

    The constructor from Altronics, like last time, is of excellent quality.

    Generally recommend.

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