USB Comms Adapter

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Lostgallifreyan
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by Lostgallifreyan »

amenjet wrote: Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:44 pm I think it's been demonstrated that there's no will to do anything quickly and we're going to have to go down the route of mechanical extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere and storage thereof. But even that isn't going to happen until things get worse
That may be so but I was thinking of how big things come from smaller ones ('butterfly effect', and more obviously: seeds.) Also, we need ways to reduce demand, not clear up after the fact, else we'll be chasing this debacle forever, and maybe fail forever in the end. So what COULD we do, without waiting? I put up a 1KW solar array with 12 KWh of 12V storage, but it's not a big deal, it only changes my bills a bit.. Messing with Organisers is far more likely to start making a difference for more people if the results are what they want.

The one really big bit of Organiser-related posting in recent times was someone who had used one to do web browsing. I looked into it enough to know that the Organiser's role was very minimal. It was almost as if the person doing it had got an Organiser in on the act so he could demonstrate it as if it were a more important thing. It got demonstrated at some festival, and was all over Google, etc...

With things built into Psion Organiser adapters for the top slot, the act of an Organiser would be FAR from merely peripheral at best, it would be fundamental. If some geezer can go viral for what amounts almost to a bit of stage magic, slight of hand, imagine how much further you (or Olivier Gossuin) might go. :)

Small hardware things in adapters amount to hardware 'apps' for the Organiser, and could be extremely influential, so might trigger a great deal of change. That would beat waiting till stuff gets so bad that big firms have to start risky gambits like mass CO2 capture.

Three things make this look like a gambit you might be able to do, reasons as follows:

1. You've demonstrated skills and devices that suggest you're virtually there already! :)
2. While the world panics over lack of new IC's you might be able to do great things with IC's others have 'deprecated' and ignored.
3. 'Apps' built as hardware extensions beat the hell out of software as a way to earn, I imagine. No software piracy with those...

I did see the rest, I just wanted to reply to this point specifically, first.
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Lostgallifreyan
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by Lostgallifreyan »

amenjet wrote: Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:44 pm
I mentioned that audio and radio devices might be built into adapters, controlled by software on the Organiser. Some devices may even be built into packs, though getting adequate power and signals might be a big limitation on using that format!
Power is definitely a problem for packs, the top slot not so much. I have hardware for both that can be attached to arbitrary items.
That might be a big part of a development like the one I mentioned. My own efforts were fairly crude, mostly attempts to link GPS modules and control stuff by avoding the need for the RS232 level conversions because they are only helpful when needing voltage to overcome losses in long cables.

Bear in mind that specific applications might not be at all obvious to the large number of people not familiar with making small devices, so some of the most generic might count for something, like a DAC or ADC whose routings can be edited by signals from an Organiser, and maybe attenuation. The result being a tiny audio mixer, or an audio recorder like those journalists use. That's an arbitrary thing I just came up with but it might sell surprisingly well if it beats the usual large and expensive ways often needed to do the same thing, because most things that need one have it added into the larger design, and small dedicated audio mixers with remote control are actually rare, and the main reason few people use them is they can't get one to use. I've no doubt they'd get used if they were easy to find. Most people aren't after studio gear for domestic use, so there is a market there...

The Organiser is a very rugged control system which can spare a buyer the need for expensive specialist designs. The Chinese were great at figuring out adapters to minimise costs of connecting stuff, the 'West' has been amazingly bad at it! The one general firm that seems to buck that trend is StarTech, and their devices were expensive, but can sometimes be found cheap on Ebay with a bit of good fortune, and it's worth it because StarTech stuff usually works well where cheap Chinese variants sometimes don't. Most of it still comes from China because they knew there was a huge hobbyist market for it, and did what no-one else had done.

No-one's taken this to full consumer level, as far as I know, ever. The current combination of severe crises might just be enough to make that happen. Anyone making a device that gets noticed might do well out of it. Organisers may (for some time yet) save the need to make new hardware for the control system.

I was assuming writing something, perhaps after an IDE so it is easier to do....
I never got on well with IDE's. I found the idea like trying to corrale a larger thing into a space too confining for it, so it all became a bit overwhelming for me. I settled for TextPad, some macros, some RegExp search/replace rules, and syntax highlighting, and batch files to run compilers and such.. I always thought that the idea of writing a new IDE for anything might be reinventing a large and complex wheel. Plugging a few more dedicated, existing tools was what I liked to do. It's similar to that point earlier about adapters... Making small tools at need is easier than making big ones whose subsequent purposes may be a lot harder to see.
EDIT:
Who, or what, is Amenjet? He sounds like he might have either designed a pyramid in Giza, or been buried under one. Or both... Are you a fan of Iron Maiden? 'Powerslave' comes to mind. :) I like playing that on a bass..
'amenjet' is just the first letters of my first and last name {amen) and 'jet' comes from the fact that my surname is Breton (or Cornish or Welsh) for black rock, which specifically was used for the semi precious stone jet. So, no, not Maiden.
Ok. :) I did come up with 'Karreg du' (Cornish for black rock) after a quick search, that exists in similar forms in most Celtic lands, but doesn't seem to fit the letters of 'amenjet'. This could get like Radio 4's 'Round Britain Quiz', which I was utterly useless at following. Not my style of game for one thing... I used to live in Cornwall once, but even that didn't help me this time..

(And this game of quote/unquote has caught me like the grip of said iron maiden... You have no idea how many little edits I had to do to make that work.. :)
amenjet
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by amenjet »

OK,

So I have now found what I hope is the last problem with my USB adapter. I have to spin the PCB again and was wondering if there was any merit in changing the layout of the PCB to accommodate a socket for the ROM chip. It's a 256K ROM so you can fit 8 32K images in there. At the moment there's solder jumpers on the PCB to select which of the 8 images will be booted. You could leave the USB components off the PCB, program the chip with a useful image and be able to run it from the top slot. I have four PCBs where the USB signals are inverted so they would be perfect as ROM only PCBs.

Or is this a silly idea?

Also, would there be any merit in adding the 12 pin connector that the original comms line PCB had? That would allow it to be wired up as a barcode reader, or cardreader adapter. If I added some more signals then it could also be a bluetooth adapter, but I'd have to add more circuitry to handle the power issues of the BT module. Would it be better to have a dedicated bluetooth adapter PCB?

Any views?

Andrew
NickKostelidis
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by NickKostelidis »

Yeah, I think a bluetooth only adapter will be a better idea after all.
MartinP
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by MartinP »

Andrew,
I like the multipurpose board, so my vote is for putting everything on there, to begin with. I think header-pin jumpers would be preferable to solder ones to select ROM addressing. I have a few questions:
What hardware would users need to re-program the ROM?
Could you combine hardware selection with a RP2040 virtual-ROM to select between virtual-ROM and serial? Would that help with the RP2040 approach?
I guess there are power consumption and component price differences between RP2040 and ROM, but could you elaborate on that?

Martin P
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xchris
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by xchris »

I watched the latest "USB comms" video on YT and I noticed Andrew's comment about the "short" header, mate you can find on ebay loooong headers :
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/392215205418

(they may need to be trimmed a bit)
amenjet
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by amenjet »

xchris wrote: Fri Sep 16, 2022 11:56 am I watched the latest "USB comms" video on YT and I noticed Andrew's comment about the "short" header, mate you can find on ebay loooong headers :
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/392215205418

(they may need to be trimmed a bit)
That's why I like fora, I spent ages looking for that sort of thing. They are expensive though...
Andrew
amenjet
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by amenjet »

MartinP wrote: Fri Sep 16, 2022 9:23 am Andrew,
I like the multipurpose board, so my vote is for putting everything on there, to begin with. I think header-pin jumpers would be preferable to solder ones to select ROM addressing. I have a few questions:
What hardware would users need to re-program the ROM?
Could you combine hardware selection with a RP2040 virtual-ROM to select between virtual-ROM and serial? Would that help with the RP2040 approach?
I guess there are power consumption and component price differences between RP2040 and ROM, but could you elaborate on that?

Martin P
Hmm, I sent the artwork off earlier today. Not a problem though, as PCBs aren't massively expensive. i could easily make a multipurpose board, which could have pin headers which allow you to plug in any serial-to-X device you like. the comms link code will run with anything that has a serial part. Did you have any particular applications in mind.

The RP2040 is actually very cheap, about 90p. There are other support components it needs, though, like crystal and flash ROM. The real problem is that it needs power all the time as it's boot up time is quite long compared to a ROM chip. That's the problem with the SD card datapack. The top slot does have a battery supply, though, so maybe something could be done with that. That's a drain on the battery all of the time, though. Power supply is a problem with a bluetooth adapter too, unfortunately.

I looked at pin headers but they were very big. It might be possible to do a board with them, maybe.

Andrew
NickKostelidis
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by NickKostelidis »

I just thought of something that I think will be useful for making the adapter. I use several usb to serial adapters. Some of them work only in Windows XP and Windows 7.
Some others work with all OS except Windows 11.
So Andrew I think that you have to choose a chip that works with all the operating systems (including Windows 11).
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xchris
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Re: USB Comms Adapter

Post by xchris »

@Nikos, mate this is a general issue with all of those, even sometimes on Linux (devs dropped support for things like eg IRDA)
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