Product Review – Altera MAX V CPLD Development Board

max5-dev-kitThe guys over at Altera have been extremely generous and sent us a MAX V CPLD development kit as well as another item we’ll be writing about very soon. Let’s have a look at the board and some of it’s features.

As the name suggests, it’s based around the popular Altera MAX V CPLD chip, more specifically, it’s the 5M570ZF256C5N. The chip contains 570 logic elements, 440 macrocells and has 159 User IO pins. More information about the Max V family can he found here.

Click here to read more..

The post man has been!!!

Our friendly postman has just arrived and brought us some new toys. We’ve taken delivery of some little 5v & 3v breadboard power supplies and our new MSP430 development board. We’re still waiting for our Arduino Galileo though.

Here are some pics of our new toys.

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Microcontroller Shootout – Part 1

AllOk, here’s the start of something we’ve been planning for a while. We’ve rounded up as many development boards as we can find and we’re going to compare them. This guide won’t be a “which one is better” type of article, more of an introduction to the various platforms available.

At first we’ll just cover the installation of each of the platforms tool chains and how to blink a simple LED, noting how each one differs in ease of use, programming language used, price, etc.

Here is a list of the platforms we have available.

Parallax Propeller
Plain PIC
Plain AVR
Matrix ECIO28P
Raspberry Pi (Not technically a microcontroller but still uses GPIO)
STM32 Discovery
Altera Max II CPLD

If any of you guys would like us to include any other platforms, please feel free to make suggestions and we’ll see if we can get our hands on them.

Stay tuned as the first installment will be posted later today….

Running RISC OS on Raspberry Pi

RiscOSbootWhen I was at my junior school (I think they call it primary school now), we used Acorn BBCs. In fact, we used them in the infants too (mainly to play Granny’s Garden). One morning I arrived at school to find our teacher setting up a brand new computer… An Acorn Archimedes. We used these computers all through junior school and comp. Our school only had a couple of PCs and they were for using Encarta (you had to put the CD in a special little CD caddy).

Because we used the Acorns for so long, I got very used to RISC OS and loved it at the time. I now have my own Acorn A3000 computer although I’ve never managed to use it for one reason or another. I really must look into getting it running.

A3000  Anyway, here is a picture of my A3000 with my raspberry PI sat on top of it.

I’ve had my raspberry Pi for a long time and to be honest, most of the time it’s lived in a drawer. Steve uses his most days for tinkering with but mine’s been sadly neglected… Until now.

I downloaded the RISC OS image a while ago from the official raspberry pi site and it’s sat on my hard drive waiting for me to do something with it. The time is now!!

The installation was just as simple as any other OS install with the Pi. Download the image, run W32 DiskImager and pop the SD card into the Pi. While it’s booting you get a nice boot screen as the one shown above. Once it’s booted, it looks pretty much as it always did.


I’ve only had a few minutes hands-on time so far but I’m loving the nostalgia.

My plan now is to try and use RISC OS as much as possible and see how I can fit it into my daily tasks. I doubt I’ll be able to administer Windows 2012 servers from it but I’ll have a damn good go :)