John Morris

Member Since: February 18, 2008

Country: United States

  • Hoping somebody else noticed that detail. NVRAM is so much easier to work with compared to eeprom. No write limits means you can just block read the thing on boot right into your variables and occasionally (meaning add a call to any of the routines that would change them) just dump the entire block back to the clock. No worries about wear leveling. I like easy.

  • I remember a very old project for the Tandy Color Computer to make a ‘camera’ where they had got their hands on a supply of ‘decapped’ dram chips. Focus an image onto the exposed die, write all the bits and time the decay, which would vary based on light intensity.

    Kinda lame since the array of bits had a few gaps, since it hadn’t been designed for that sort of use. But it was a ‘digital camera’ years before any consumer product.

  • Bottom line, stick to Free Software or you will eventually lose. The vendor will change focus, get acquired, etc. and the tool you need will either be dropped or suddenly mutate into something entirely different. Even if you are paying for it you have no real vote in the direction of it unless you are huge. No matter what happens to Free Software, the worst case scenario is you have to use the last version that works for you and you always have the option to maintain it yourself or organize a fork.

    Avoid the cloud, none of it is Free Software (if it is based on Free Software, install a local copy and avoid the trap) and again, the rules will suddenly change and you are hosed.

    These guidelines become more important the longer your project runs (initial design plus support) and the more time and energy you have to invest in learning the tool.

  • Yea, that comparison chart isn’t even wrong. It is so obviously fraudulent that they probably should update that part of it. Any AVR would be totally smoked by a 286 and demolished by a MC68000 series chip beyond a couple of carefully staged tests where the AVR has advantages like hardware multiply and DES/AES support. 640KB of ram might not be enough for anyone but it certainly beats the pants off of 8K, which is the most any AVR has in it. Even when you add in the flash, the most a normal AT MEGA can have is 512KB and you are doing PC style segmentation as soon as you go beyond 64K and it really gets annoying beyond 128K.

    Where the AVR wins is both performance per dollar and watt. Those are plenty good enough reasons to use it, no need to embellish the truth.

  • I’d suggest you buy a tablet. $60 gets a lot of tablet these days. Lots of ways to hook up any misc hardware via the USB port. In the end it will be a better screen, faster machine and more portable.

  • Really? It clearly has an rs232 interface internally and a USB converter bolted on to cope with the current lack of serial ports on modern PCs but in 2015 a new product with closed USB drivers? Really?

    In 2015 it should be mandatory for a new design to not only have a standard USB interface but to have a published format for the data on the wire.

    And since you are supposed to be selling to people who tinker, how about expose the TTL serial interface on a header to allow it to interface to a microcontroller or your existing USB to TTL Serial interfaces?

  • Good write up, just one nit. The Arduino’s choice of a second AVR in place of a FTDI chip has two additonal differences:

    1. The Arduino uses a second AVR and while it can be simply used as a serial converter it does have the programming connector exposed to reprogram it for more complicated uses. It could be made to appear as a USB Keyboard, USB Mouse, MIDI controller, Misc HID Device, Mass Storage, whatever you can imagine and get the binary stuffed into 16KBytes to do. There are even a couple of it’s GPIO pins exposed, opening the door to all manner of hare-brained schemes with multi-CPU designs.

    2. The Arduino doesn’t have the FTDI chip, something that didn’t matter when the RedBoard was designed but since their recent antics with DRM it might matter to some.

  • The ‘Arduino’ flavor of AVR development is based on cheap and little to no up front investment to begin. So serial (usually via usb to serial but still serial) is the name of the game. You can’t get at the onchip emulation capabilities Atmel includes that way. Go check the price difference between a USB/Serial adapter (or the fact most ‘Arduino’ products directly interface via USB) and one of Atmel’s ICE programming interfaces and you will understand. Arduino is for tinkerers, professionals write the check and use the pro tools.

  • Where does Apple sit in the supply chain? That is the problem here, FTDI is attacking the end users on a supply chain so long the people being hurt have no realistic way to know whether they are buying bootleg product. In many cases the end user doesn’t even know who FTDI is or that their product even has a USB to serial conversion chip in it.

  • The reason to drop FTDI like a hot potato is simple. They are a commodity chipmaker worried about cloning / counterfiting and trying to fight it by attacking the downstream end of their chain. They apparently have a reliable way to detect the clones but instead of publishing it they simply attacked. There is currently no way for an FTDI customer to even know if they or the upstream vendor even used bogus product other than rolling the dice and seeing if product they could have bought a long time ago is going to suddenly die.

    Imagine what happens if Sparkfun accidentally got a batch of boards with fakes. The unknown Chinese contract factory won’t suffer, the importer won’t suffer, SparkFun is going to be left holding the bag and will end up offering exchanges or refunds on products they sold, even stuff sold a year or more ago lest they get dragged into a PR nightmare.

    And that is the problem, the risk of using FTDI now rises greatly with the cost of the product it was integrated into. A cheap USB/Serial board isn’t bad, imagine the $100 + products they have been built into that might become bricks… and the final retailer is going to be getting the outraged customers and forced into dealing with the fallout.

No public wish lists :(