Out of interest – ATMega driven PAL displays

Over the past couple of weeks, some of our members have been experimenting with smaller, lower level hardware. As is common for us at GUMake and increasingly, the engineering department, it’s all based around Atmel AVR micro-controllers. The ATMega-328P in this case.

As an exhibition of the more interesting by-products of investigating new solutions to the harder problems GUMake deals with daily, we’ve been displaying Camerons’ excellent example of minimalist hardware by driving an Apple-II display with a composite signal generated by a single chip.

ATMegas have a predisposition for low power, low complexity and simple deployments. In this case, the ATMega-328P only needs an external 16MHz clock and a couple resistors. The base software is provided by the Arduino TVOut library, which can be found here. An ATMega-328 is a micro-controller produced by Atmel, effectively a complete computer contained within a single package – also called a System On Chip (SOC). While only an 8-bit design, with what sounds like a vanishingly small 2K of RAM and 32K of storage, and no default input/output devices like what most of us are used to, this 16MhZ chip still provides a surprisingly functional amount of resources.

Programmed in C, and compatible with the wealth of libraries written for the Arduino ecosystem, we can very quickly spin up functional demonstrations, which we use to test new ideas quickly and painlessly.

GUMake at freshers, with some 3D printing and an Apple-II display driven by a single ATMega-328P
GUMake at freshers, with some 3D printing and an Apple-II display driven by a single ATMega-328P

If you missed us at freshers, we’ll be around for one last day on Thursday, the 15th September in the James Watt South building for a few hours around lunch talking to our new Engineering students.

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