I thought this would be a perfect time to begin this web site as I begin another hobby project. The concept of my new hobby project is to design a low cost controller board capable of Ethernet (IP) connectivity that can act as a hardware interface to a central computer.
The controller board will be based on the Zilog EZ80 CPU with built in Ethernet MAC support. The EZ80 is flexible enough to control most modern SPI and I2C bus devices and addresses up to 16 megabytes of memory. The EZ80's built in Ethernet MAC support will allow for an IP stack to support communications over Ethernet to any computer with an Ethernet adapter.
In short the ideal controller would; start-up, connect to the "main" computer over a standard Ethernet network, download an application and data, then act as a remote interface to some specialized hardware. At the same time the controller board needs an interactive mode allowing for the testing and exercising of any hardware connected to the controller.
I always enjoy combining the old with the new in my hobby projects. For this project I would like to use the old CPM80 2.2 operating system as my boot loader / monitor program. The newer Zilog EZ80 is binary compatible with the old Z80 CPU. With a bit of work it should be possible to use the old CPM operating system on the new hardware. The CPM operating system would allow the interactive aspect of the controller board without a lot of memory or complexity. Check out the MIC80 section of the site for more information
Finding a modern day use for this hand coded operating system from the past fits well with my personal theme of mixing the old with the new.
If you would like to learn more about CPM2.2 or want to learn to program the Zilog Z80 CPU check out the Z80Emu program. Z80Emu is a Windows based program to emulate a Z80 based computer system including serial I/O, terminal display, and printer plus much more.
If you need a basic serial terminal device either to act as a dumb terminal or a color ANSI text terminal check out the PropTerm project. PropTerm is based on the Parallax Propeller proto board. A standard VGA display (800x600 or 640x480) and PS2 keyboard are used for the terminal display and keyboard.
Recently I started the Squish Play project and added a section to the site. Squish Play is a Windows service that emulates a Logitech SqueezeBox audio player. The display/remote interface is provided by a Parallax Propeller chip connected to some simple hardware. I call the remote/display project Squish Remote. The Squish Remote project emulates the 320x32 pixel LCD display found on the SqueezeBox player. The display is shown on a standard TV. The Squish Remote also relays IR remote codes to the Squish play service.
The latest project to be added to the site is the MV4th16 project. MV4th is a Forth interpreter for the Parallax Propeller chip I cobbled together using ideas from many embedded Forth programs. MV4th is based primarily on Camel Forth, eForth, Z80Forth, and the ANS Forth documentation circa 1993-1995. The MV4th16 demo project in the first release is configured to use the 64K I2C eeprom upper 32K of space as the block device. The console device is implemented as a two wire async serial port using the same pins as the Prop Plug. The MV4th16 Forth interpreter compiles using the Parallax Propeller Chip IDE. For more information checkout the MV4th16 project section of this site.