Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chameleon AVR 8-Bit System

The Chameleon design is based on the concept of using the AVR 328P as the MASTER (client) and the Propeller Multicore Processor as the media SLAVE (server). This is accomplished thru a SPI interface from the AVR to the Propeller (see images to right). The AVR sends "commands" to the Propeller chip via the SPI interface and a set of drivers on the Propeller (see images to right) parse, execute, and dispatch the messages to the various media objects running on the Propeller's multiple cores. Thus, printing characters on the NTSC screen from the AVR's point of view is as simple as sending 3 bytes thru the hardware SPI interface, the Propeller does all the rest with the supplied drivers.

If you're a AVR enthusiast, Arduino programmer, Propeller programmer, or just someone that needs a very capable application board to solve problems and solve them fast, the Chameleon is the perfect tool. You can use as little or as much of the system as you wish due to the design of the sub-systems. You can use it as an AVR system, Propeller multicore system, or tie the processors together, its up to you.

Included with the package is the Chameleon itself as well as a 150+ page electronic manual on DVD that outlines how the Chameleon works with examples of using the media processing abilities. Also, the manual illustrates the hardware design, using AVRStudio, the Arduino IDE, Propeller IDE, software installation, the API, and how to write your own drivers if you wish. But, best of all, you can get started immediately with the
Chameleon and use the included API and program the AVR directly with AVRStudio or the Arduino IDE.

The Chameleon also comes pre-loaded with the Arduino bootloader, thus you can use the Arduino tool to program the Chameleon over the USB port without an AVR compatible ISP (in system programmer). However, we recommend that you purchase a AVR ISP MKII programmer (or similar), so you can use AVRStudio as well as re-burn the FLASH bootloader if you wish to do so (or if its damaged accidentally).

The Propeller is programmed with a simple serial protocol right over the USB serial port, so no additional hardware is required.

The Chameleon AVR 8-Bit has a full arsenal of I/O devices and features including:
• Runs Atmel AVR 328P applications, Arduino applications as well as Parallax Propeller applications.
• Atmel MEGA AVR 328P 8-bit processor with 32K FLASH / 2K SRAM running at 16 MIPS (pre-loaded
with Arduino bootloader).
• Parallax Propeller Multicore 32-bit processor with 8 cores running at 20 MIPS per core for 160 MIPS
of processing power!
• 1 MByte SPI FLASH memory.
• 64 Kbyte EEPROM (for Propeller processor boot program storage).
• 500mA max power 3.3/5V dual supplies (power by USB or external 9V DC supply with hot swapping).
• Mini USB port with USB to serial UART (FTDI chip), used for programming the Propeller, AVR in
Arduino mode as well as serial comms.
• VGA output with 2x2x2 RGB.
• Composite video output for NTSC/PAL video.
• Atmel 6-pin ISP programming port for direct access to AVR (programmer not included).
• PS/2 keyboard/mouse port.
• I/O headers exporting digital, analog input inputs and power (rough compatibility with Arduino I/O
• Exported SPI, Serial and I2C buses.
• Removable XTALs for overclocking.