Thursday, May 20, 2010


This is a late-night shot of the game Pong!, running on a soft-core TSK-3000 RISC processor on the nanoboard. You control the paddle with the remote left and right. There aren't that many examples on the Internet on how to use the actual VGA display for the nanoboards. Actually, I found none. There were two examples from the tutorials shipped with Altium designer that demonstrated how the VGA connector should be used. There are a number using the TFT display on the board, but that's too small for a couple of things.

Pong! on the nanoboard goes public domain. It's imperfect and inefficient, but it does show how to render things on the VGA monitor (not the TFT). This implementation uses double-buffering, which in embedded devices is very costly because of memory requirements.

The display is not yet stable, it's flickering due to issues with VSYNC. I haven't figured out yet how to use the interrupts properly and let the framework driver rely on them, or whether the API calls have been used correctly. I'm hoping for some feedback in the forums, after which I could provide some updates here and there and show better practices in doing this.

Another thing I'm looking into is the best practice for writing one's own drivers for USB. There's a software stack available that can already inspect USB signals and packets that tell a host device what a connected device is about. There's very likely going to be a point where someone wants to write their own USB device for interfacing with the nanoboard, but is wondering whether to start from scratch at the signal level, or whether the usb-host sw platform can be used in any way. Without hacking into the standard altium designer library that is.

Well, plenty of ground to cover still with this device. It's a lot of fun and I'm starting to find my way around it already. I'm feeling quite confident about my abilities to prototype using the hardware on and around the board. It's just so easy. The difficulties start to arise when more complicated designs are required, especially those requiring more memory or specific hardware protocols or interfaces (custom designs). As with the above, my next goal will be to find out how to connect a USB joystick (and I'll opensource that as well). And from there... onwards...


Stefan said...


Indeed there is no documentation on how to use the VGA with this board. It is very annoying.

However, I tried to test your project, but when I compile it I get 45 errors which look like this:

[Error] Output\frameout\__framework.makefile amk E452: target 'Output\frameout\graphics_svg_palette.obj' returned exit code 1

Do you know how can I fix it?

Gerard Toonstra said...

It's been a very long time, but maybe the next post on the blog in that time could help you out:

It's too long for me to figure out why it wouldn't work. Maybe the build area wasn't cleaned properly and it's relying on old files?