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AVR as demo platform

category: general [glöplog]
Craft is a very nice example of what can be done on modern micro controllers for a few € a piece. I think this is a very interesting platform because it is extremely cheap, easily obtainable and allows hardware banging like it was done back in the golden home computer/console age. Think of it as a VCS2600 on steroids.

It would be interesting to have some kind of standardized platform for this kind of demos, so demos can be exchanged in actual binary form and not everybody has to start from scratch. It would also allow less hardware inclined people to create something. What I would propose is to use the "craft" platform, as it basically represents the minimum for a demo. Parts are less than 10€ in total. Linus has outlined it here.

What is your opinion on this? Maybe somebody could come up with a PCB design for it. There are companies that do production runs for very little money (like www.olimex.com)
added on the 2008-03-30 17:06:15 by Calexico Calexico
Btw, there is already something like this commercially available: http://www.xgamestation.com/ But it is quite expensive and does not really meet the criteria of a minimal approach. It is also PIC based, as everybody knows PIC is the Atari of the MCU scene :)
added on the 2008-03-30 17:08:30 by Calexico Calexico
there's heaps of standardized oldchool platforms like that out there. nobody wants a modern oldschool platform.
added on the 2008-03-30 17:30:34 by Oswald Oswald
well it would be cool to have vga-out on some of the oldschool platforms. (In general, good quality analog components)
added on the 2008-03-30 17:36:50 by _-_-__ _-_-__
i disagree, and i like the idea; especially if one could buy such a board (without having to solder about) for some super low amount.
added on the 2008-03-30 17:37:57 by skrebbel skrebbel

It actually is a modern platform, just the way of coding demos is oldschool style. That is the point.

Mad C64 coding skillz on your resume won't get you very far, while MCU programming is something very useful.
added on the 2008-03-30 17:38:39 by Calexico Calexico
(Just looking at it from some real world angle. Just let me know if your university offers C64 coding as an elective and allows you to earn credits.)
added on the 2008-03-30 17:39:49 by Calexico Calexico
I also thought Craft was cool and considered obtaining the hardware to be able to muck around a bit with something similar, however while the cost of the components themselves are low, you still need to build the damn thing, and also I guess you would need a programming interface to the PC to get any software on it, etc. So probably more money/trouble than it is worth.
added on the 2008-03-30 17:40:55 by Sdw Sdw
the resume argument sucks, though. or the elective argument. we do demos for fun.

also, a university that gives credits for coding a demo sucks. go elsewhere.
added on the 2008-03-30 17:41:22 by skrebbel skrebbel
skrebbel, I agree. It is just that there are way more MCU enthusiasts out there than oldschool democoders. And that is for a reason. So why not show these guys that their platform can also be used for more flashy stuff?
added on the 2008-03-30 17:43:33 by Calexico Calexico
Come to think of it - as Oswald suggests there are plenty of oldschool platforms already available. One problem though is that there is still quite a lot of 'startup cost' if you want to have something and be able to transfer code from PC to it.
Even the very common C64 costs quite a bit if you want to develop.
You either buy:
* C64 + 1541 drive + PC-transfer cable
or perhaps
* C64 + MMC64

A new 'oldschool' platform that would be ready to code for (everything included) for like 20 euros or so would be kind of cool.
added on the 2008-03-30 17:52:18 by Sdw Sdw
isnt that what's calexico is suggesting?
added on the 2008-03-30 17:57:30 by skrebbel skrebbel
why not get a cheap FPGA and make some hardware effects and stuff?
added on the 2008-03-30 19:04:19 by spookysys spookysys
aren't fpga more expensive
added on the 2008-03-30 19:16:11 by _-_-__ _-_-__
why not get a cheap FPGA and make some hardware effects

I took an FPGA course as part of my CompE degree. Verilog and VHDL will drive you _mad_.
I <3 <3 <3 Craft, just beyond words, but making more copies of it is the wrong way to go.
Far better to just write something for the GBA. All your devkit is free and you can run it in no$gba like commercial devs (that I've heard of.) A used GBA will run you $40. Where the hell is Grog? He should be ranting here.
added on the 2008-03-30 19:26:03 by GbND GbND
A used GBA will run you $40.

Yeah, but don't you need a special flashcart etc. to actually get your code to run on the GBA? Don't know how much those cost nowadays, but back when I looked into it a bit, getting up and running on the GBA cost quite a bit.

added on the 2008-03-30 19:29:17 by Sdw Sdw
GBA is a pain in the ass to capture.. Or to hook up to anything else than its LCD. That's my major bitch about the DS/GBA platform.
added on the 2008-03-30 19:34:41 by _-_-__ _-_-__
FPGAs are a completely different animal. And expensive.

GBA? Way too advanced, we need raw metal!
added on the 2008-03-30 20:31:02 by Calexico Calexico
don't you need a special flashcart...

GBA is a pain in the ass to capture..

The very very good gba emulators will obviate your need for a flashcart. The panamerican demoparties (at least) are cool with running gba demos in VisualBoyAdvance or no$gba or whatever, and you can always point a camera at the screen. Plus you can debug with them.

Flashcarts have gotten very cheap. They cost a LOT 5 years ago, but they're at the same price as a GBA game now.
TotalGBA has basic ones for 15e:
M3 makes the CF things, which are sold all over and cost more:

added on the 2008-03-30 20:35:16 by GbND GbND
I don't think emulators are an acceptable platforms for watching demos, unless they are specifically targetted as such. (Like UAE unofficially became ;)

Especially I'm pretty sure they are still not up to the task for GBA, and there's always the doubt of not watching the real thing.
added on the 2008-03-30 21:03:10 by _-_-__ _-_-__
GBA is a pain in the ass to capture..

just get the Gameboy Player for Game Cube, then you can capture a regular PAL/NTSC video signal :)
added on the 2008-03-30 22:46:13 by bartman bartman
You don't need a flashcart to make small demos on GBA. You can use a multiboot cable for small (256k) productions and you can make one of those yourself.
added on the 2008-03-30 22:49:42 by Claw Claw
Especially I'm pretty sure they are still not up to the task for GBA

Actually, the GBA emus have been full-framerate since 2004 and there are very, very few hardware-level tricks that aren't emulated perfectly. Go take a look at them before you say things like this! : D

I brought my GBA with me to Pil2004 to pass around the crowd while showing the emulated demo off on the projector.
added on the 2008-03-30 23:21:29 by GbND GbND
In any case it's as remote as can be to work on a software platform than to work on and with hardware as I imagine the motivation of a microcontroller enthusiast would be.
added on the 2008-03-30 23:38:04 by _-_-__ _-_-__


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