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Re: Bare-metal RaspeberryPi

Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:38 am

This may sound like a nutty idea, but please let me explain.

I run programming and electronics workshops for children and adults. I've worked with folks from 6yo to over 80yo. I currently use Arduino's. As an example, a significant fraction of adults who attended DEV8D came to my Arduino workshops last year, and this. They were all experienced programmers. The feedback was extremely positive. People really did enjoy writing programs to exert physical control on the world, even if only to blink a LED or buzz.

School children seem to enjoy it even more. There seem to be few opportunities for them to do something practical, especially something that is a bit crazy or unpredictable. Hence making a whining buzzer, or robot opens up a whole new world of programming experiences for them.

One of the things that seems to be attractive is 'bare-metal' control. I know I like it, and I don't think I am projecting that onto other people. Modern operating systems and applications seem to have disconnected programmers and programs from the hardware. Arduino has almost none of that, and I think people enjoy it that way. When folks want to, they can read all the source code for the libraries they commonly use, and understand it (in principle) with a bit of help in a few hours.

I'd like to use RaspberryPi as an embedded development board with a breakout board as discussed in this thread. I might prefer to use it with no software other than a loader and some basic hardware libraries. I realise I might need two, one for hosting and one as the embedded board :) At only £25, and a few £ for a breakout board that is fine with me. That is cheaper than an Arduino Mega.

So, has anyone done any experiments using RaspberryPi as a 'raw' piece of hardware, like an Arduino or Maple? Are all the device driver sources available, and do folks think they are practical starting points for building device support libraries (I realise it won't be "simples")?

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Re: Bare-metal RaspeberryPi

Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:51 am

At least I find this a cool idea if a future model has a bus connector so you can click-on an I/O board with digital and analog ports that can interact with the physical world (i.e. measure outdoor temperature). That makes it much more attractive for the kids than "just" programming itself.

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Re: Bare-metal RaspeberryPi

Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:37 am

We just have to wait to see what gets selected and built, before us hackers get to work on adding our toys to this wonderful idea and effort.

I hope the GPIO pins are made available to a somewhat standard and sturdy set of connectors. From that connector we can play with our toys and ideas.

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Re: Bare-metal RaspeberryPi

Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:53 am

I must admit, only 16 GPIO's, and more importantly, no PWM, is restrictive for the sorts of things I am interested in, but with no OS to get in the way, it should be feasible to do PWM in software.

Once the OS is out of the way, things like software defined radio should become practical for that CPU, ignoring the DSP.

It is a shame we are switching off analogue terrestrial TV because it might be feasible to decode the broadcast TV signal with very little hardware. Maybe the BBC can retain an analogue channel for hackers to practice on?-)

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Re: Bare-metal RaspeberryPi

Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:18 am

It would be nice to see a RasPi device similar to the Maple Mini.
That could be plugged into a breadboard for experimentation.
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Re: Bare-metal RaspeberryPi

Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:46 am

Most DVD players still have RF out, so you don't need BBC to provide the analogue TV signal. The idea of software-decoding of UHF TV is interesting. It just so happens I have a need for just this. Once a year I have to provide feeds to a dozen or so TVs, from brand new back to vintage 1980, and the only common interface has been UHF Pal. Now if you can do software decoding in a RasPi, all I need is a dozen of them, battery powered, ... I need them NOW!!!

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