Tag Archives: freeio

Donut USB Interface Development Board

The first of the promised USB development boards has been released. The Donut Board is designed to be an easily expandable board on which to breadboard USB interfaces, in order to ease the development of USB-based devices. The Donut board is based on the Freescale (formerly Motorola) MC68HC908JB8 microcontroller, which has an integrated USB interface, and into which custom built firmware can be downloaded in order to customize the USB interface to user needs. GNU/Linux-based software to control the USB interface from the PC end of the USB link is also under development, based on the great articles by Greg Kroah-Hartman, published during 2004 in Linux Journal.

Site Changes and Other News

Marty has finally completed the course of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and once again feels well enough to do development, both of new hardware and also of the FreeIO.org website itself. Site updates are necessary, as links have changed and web standards have evolved. New web development is being done using the nvu tools, which make good clean html which passes the current correctness tests. You may be assured that there will continue to be no flash, java, javascript, or cookies here. Some old pages will remain unchanged for a while, as there is no pressing reason to revisit them for now. The hardware/firmware/software development is far too interesting to spend too much time in html development!

One more minor thing is worth mentioning. We have had such abysmal problems with web hosts, that we are how hosting this site internally. It is being served off of an old Sun Ultra-5 running GNU/Linux and Apache, using a business DSL line. Any slowdown you may see is due to DSL bandwidth limiting, as the old 270 MHz Sun running apache/linux can completely fill a 100x faster pipe serving static pages like this.

Slow Progress – Marty Has Cancer

Things have slowed here, not due to a lack of interest, but rather because Marty has spent much of 2004 fighting off an early stage of pancreatic cancer. Earlier this year the surgeons at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) Hospital performed a Whipple procedure, from which he has pretty much recovered, and now he is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy simultaneously. Once that is complete, more chemtherapy alone is highly probable. Until he recovers, there will likely be little posted here.

FreeIO.org Major Changes

The focus of this site will transition to strictly I/O projects. Due to the parts costs and logistics involved in developing processor boards, the Toast board will be the last one of those. The next projects will not interface directly to computer internals. The ISA bus is dead, the PCI bus is changing, and choosing any of these limits the target platform to a system which uses them. Thus the next series of projects will interface to something far more common, that being the USB interface. The next series of projects will be small boards to test and develop the USB interface tools required to build larger boards. The intent is to develop a standard drop-in USB interface that I can build upon.

Toast ColdFire Controller Board Developments

Several developers are working with the FreeIO.org Toast board. The big problem is the difficulty and expense involved with hand building the boards from parts built in small quantities. There are still plans to design a PC/104 form factor version of the Toast board, although this will not be done until there a consensus that the electronic design is completely correct.