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Author Topic: Anyone Seen The Maple?  (Read 13852 times)
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Hi Everyone!
The Maple ARM board (http://leaflabs.com/devices/maple/) looks like it really packs some punch. I'm considering buying it, still trying to think of a specific application where it beats the arduino. But for the price, why not?!
Anyone tried it out yet?

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It does look very nice and quite the step up in performance over the 8 bit AVR mega chips. However it's forum is still pretty new and there does seem to be a lot of additions/corrections ongoing. Maybe not quite ready for inexperianced users? I think I will keep a look out to see if it grows to critical mass of users. Nice price for the performance increase. Lots of toys built in and 12 bit A/D is also nice.

I'm sure the jump to 32 bit processors for hobbyist is not long in the future, I hope the Arduino team keeps pace.  smiley-wink

Lefty
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It seems to be just as fit for new users as the Arduino...given that its programming environment is the same, form factor is the same, and setup is similar. The major limit really seems to be their constraint to the arduino form factor...their upcoming "Maple Native" looks very interesting. I do look forward to the 32 bit arduino future...maybe with an atmel ARM?
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I have been following this Maple ARM / Arduino form factor printed circuit board for one year.
They started with revison 1 on the Maple ($40) and now their latest release is revison 3 ($50)
It took them a long time to realize that increasing the speed to 72 MHZ causes a lot of noise on the board.
They finally switched from a 2 layer board to a 4 layer board to reduce the noise and crosstalk between I/O.

The lesson learned is that anyone can put a new CPU chip on a board but by increasing the CPU speed, then special design considerations will have to be made.  You won't find the noise problems until thoroughly testing the board with software. I have to hand it to the MIT present and past students, which created the Maple, on how thorough they were on testing and debugging their board. It took them over one year and three revisions!
Maybe a person needs a degree from MIT to build an ARM microcontroller board! ;D ;D ;D   

Even though the Maple is Arduino compatible, the porting of the Arduino libraries will have to be completed before I make my purchase. (See below) Otherwise, it is a excellent high speed Arduino/ARM platform.


Arduino Library Porting Status
Library Ported?
  
Wiring              Not yet  In progress <------------  >smiley-sad
Ethernet           Not yet  Planned  
EEPROM           No       The Maple doesn't have EEPROM; use flash instead. This library could be emulated?  
Ethernet           Not yet  Planned  
Firmata            Not yet  Planned  
Matrix              Not yet  
SoftwareSerial  Not yet  Planned  
Sprite              Not yet  
LiquidCrystal    Not yet  Planned  
Stepper           Not yet  Planned  
 8-) 8-) 8-)

BTW ... I spoke too soon - the Maple has been put on hold due to software concerns  :'(
« Last Edit: May 31, 2010, 08:29:20 pm by ArduinoAndy » Logged

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Andy,

Thanks for the update. I sent them an email a few days back and yet to receive a reply smiley-sad  Perhaps they are overloaded.

Any thoughts on the Primer2 from STM? I ended up ordering one.

pracas
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This is definitely the way of the future. It seems like the gap between hobbyists and professionals is slowly closing. Soon every man in the street will be able to do what tradionally only an Electronic Engineer can do, but only the EE will know how it works under the hood.  :-/

But somehow I think the Arduino type 8bit solutions will always have a place, because ARM Cortex is a waste of power for many of the simpler applications that the Arduino is aimed at.

However boards like the Maple will definitely enable the hobbyist to explore advanced projects. Which could be a good and a bad thing.

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Yep i see one. It is just lying in front of me waiting for a hammer which will crash this fine little board.
But before starting my report i must really say that it was not a big bang with this board. After ordering, the board arrived here in Germany after 2 days. Wow what support i thought. I installed all the IDE and all the drivers. You have to install 2 drivers. One for the Dfu protocol and one for the serial communications. Worked good. I compiled the BLINK sketch. Okay. I tried to upload the prog. Bang. First trouble the uploader could not find the Maple. I reinstalled the serial driver and tried again. It worked. The highly complicated Blink programm was working. What a joy. I changed the parameter of the delay value and uploaded it several times to see if it works. Each time i tried to upload something i had to repeat it atleast 3 to 4 times before success. Okay i thought i had to live with that. So i tried the next sketch out of the sample directory "communication". It was the ASCIITable sketch. Compiling was okay and in a good time. But then the upload. Horrible. I tried for at least 8 times to avoid the failure "MAPLE not found. Altough everything was there. Then during the next uploading the board stopped all work an since that time it cannot be detected as a USB Device fron Win XP. It is just lightning the bootloader LED and then you have a complete break. Reinstalling of the bootloader with orignal STM32 serial Flash Loader doesn't show any reaction. Either the implemented software for the Dfu and serial part are that worse or the whole system is in  a undeveloped state and really not in a distribution state. Maybe it is for Hackers who love hacking the system but not for me.
My wife has "verboten" me to crash the board. Se told me to be patient and give it a last try. And if that doesn't work she told me to nail it to the same graveyard board where all the other ARM board are are buried and doing a wonderful job as Artwork. (Armite, USBizi Dev Sys, Fez Domino are already on the Plate and i suppose the Cortino and XDuino will follow as soon as i get hold of them. I is really a wonderful Artwork in my office.  8-)
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A blowtorch works better than a nail.  ;D ;D ;D
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BTW ... To save you some German Marks or Euros on the ARM junk out there here are some pointers:

Armite        - Basic programming without floating point.

Fez Domino - Excellent board for SD, USB hosting but not for simple tasks. Be prepared to write drivers even
                    for simple tasks like turning on LEDS. Netframework was created by Microsoft. <--- Look out.

Cortino       - Nice looking board, for your wall, but be prepared to write low level C programs for it - that
                    is if you can purchase this board.
 
Xduino        - Support is AWOL and you cannot build libraries for it.

Mbed          - Good ARM stamp but you can only use their online compiler.

Maple         - Work in progress - one year and counting. If the elite engineering college in this country
                    (MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology) cannot produce graduates who can make an ARM  
                    board work after one year then who can? I would bet they will prevail over the other ARM junk in the
                    market.  
 8-) 8-) 8-)    
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 07:14:33 pm by ArduinoAndy » Logged

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Could it be that a ARM based system will never be as good a begineers platform as the Arduino AVR platform? It seems that system software is the only thing holding it back, is the ARM tool chain just too complex for a simple IDE for typical Arduino users?

I think the Arduinos success has proved their is a pretty good market targeting begineers out here. Or is it still too small a market for a ARM board designer to target?

Lefty

« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 07:15:12 pm by retrolefty » Logged

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Olimex - The European board producer summed up the ARM with this statement:

PLUS:
Very fast: most ARM7 cores run at 60Mhz and ARM9 cores run at 150Mhz+ providing more power than old 386 Intel processors.
Low power: ARM7 cores need only approx 0.5-1mA per Mhz
Great range of peripherials: ADC, DAC, USB, SPI, UART, I2C, CAN, Ethernet, SDRAM.
Lot of internal Flash: 32KB-1MB, Lot of internal RAM: 4-256KB.

MINUS:
too complex to beginners, definitely this one should be not your 'first steps in microcontrollers' smiley-wink
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Quote
MINUS:
too complex to beginners, definitely this one should be not your 'first steps in microcontrollers'

Sounds like a good challenge and opportunity for someone wishing to become rich and famous.  smiley-wink Surely the Arduino success showed that with a little abstraction magic (pin numbering) and behind the back magic (auto function prototyping, etc) there is a pot of gold awaiting someone.

Lefty
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 07:29:29 pm by retrolefty » Logged

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If it was so simple - why is there all the ARM junk out there?

When you increase the microcontroller speed from 16 MHZ to 72 MHZ strange things happens. You definately need
a hardware debugger connected to the ARM to troubleshoot and to sort the problems out.

Software, which is simple to use, is the key. The problem is that the ARM processor is so complex that even
the MIT boys are having fits.

Apple, which uses ARMS in their ipods, iphones, ipads seem to have very little problems ... hmmm
Their boys are from Stanford?  
 ;D
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The MIT folks are having problems because their design doesn't include any Lego   :smiley
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Okay, now to be serious again have a look at the official home page for the AUG AMI DevKit for the .NET Micro Framework from an Austrian company.

http://www.aug-electronics.com/ami

A friend of mine is working with this system and is fully satisfied regarding the hardware, software and the support. The price hurts a bit. It is about 370 € excl. Vat and shipping. smiley-sad It is a professional system which is also suited for hobby. If you want to learn something you have to pay for it. But this is what you get for your money:

the AMI DEV board (MH080407 Rev. 2)
a 3.4" AMOLED display in a plastic housing
a resistive touch screen glued on top of the display
a 1 GB Kingston USB-stick containing full documentation in PDF format and install-files for SDK, samples and more
a 5 V regulated power supply plug (110..240 V AC, 50/60 Hz)
USB-flash adapter cable for SAM-BA
serial cable (RS-232 PC pin assignment - to connect to a PC)
DBGU serial cable (RS-232 device pin assignment - directly connect to a PC)
standard USB A-B cable
standard Ethernet patch cable
"Getting Started" document in printed form

I know you'll say oh "Microsoft" again, but to be honest the system works like a charm  smiley-wink and never had a hanger up to now.

Have a look and come back for dissussion.

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