Monday, June 11, 2012

New DaisyLink Modules built with the new Open DaisyLink Project

DaisyLink is one of the powerful features of .NET Gadgeteer. It allows for multi-module chaining to one mainboard socket. The on-board microcontroller running the module allows the module to take load off the mainboard's microcontroller so they can run in real-time. This requires some engineering on the software and hardware, which GHI is releasing as open-source.

The Open DaisyLink Project includes everything a developer needs to build DaisyLink modules. Not only does it cover the hardware design and software drivers, it also includes mainboard drivers for loading the software on modules. Currently, we use NXP's Cortex-M0. The LPC11xx series is available in a DIP package, costs about $1 and has a built-in bootloader that GHI’s drivers use to re-program the chip without the need for any programmers.

While using GCC is possible, the software is provided as a Keil MDK project. This professional tool is free for projects under 32KB (so basically it's free with these chips). This allows for easier debugging if using an optional JTAG and also offers better code optimization.

We are demoing the open-source project though three new module offers:
  1.     ParallelCNC: It's a parallel port that connects to stepper motor controller boards.
  2.     LED Matrix: 8x8 LEDs which can be chained using DaisyLink to create larger displays.
  3.     DL40: A tiny board in DIP40 format to prototype DaisyLink modules or enable the mainboard with real-time requirements.

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