Buying Vera board ?

mchobby

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Oct 13, 2019
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Hi everyone,

I'm a MicroPython addicted Guy and interested in the vera project to make an autonomous MicroPython learning system.
Until now, I did worked on the GameDuino port to MicroPython --> See this GitHub repository
And even with nice results shared on YouTube Bouncing ball, scrolling, sprites , collision, ...
I'm not happy with the GameDuino's text mode and bitmap mode.

As seen on the Commander X16 videos, the VERA project did overcome the limitation.

Would it be possible to buy some Vera Video board? and where?

Kind regards,
Dominique
 
May 22, 2019
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Hi everyone,

I'm a MicroPython addicted Guy and interested in the vera project to make an autonomous MicroPython learning system.
Until now, I did worked on the GameDuino port to MicroPython --> See this GitHub repository
And even with nice results shared on YouTube Bouncing ball, scrolling, sprites , collision, ...
I'm not happy with the GameDuino's text mode and bitmap mode.

As seen on the Commander X16 videos, the VERA project did overcome the limitation.

Would it be possible to buy some Vera Video board? and where?

Kind regards,
Dominique
l have asked the same question. I want to build a CP/M computer using a Teensy and RunCPM.

They should, at some point, be able to make VERA available for sale. The specific price and availability are not yet known at this point.
 

mchobby

New Member
Oct 13, 2019
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@TomXP411 Your request was it long time ago?
I would be really happy with some prototype... if the problem reside in "small serie" production, there is maybe a solution on this side of the world.
Cheers,
Dominique
 
May 22, 2019
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It was probably a couple of weeks ago... and VERA has seen some huge changes just since then, with the addition of an SPI master (useful for reading from an SD card and a real time clock) and a UART for serial I/O.

i don't know what the roadmap looks like, but I'm not expecting to see a stand-alone VERA module until next year some time.
 

GregZone

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Sep 29, 2019
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I also have a few original GameDuino's lying around. They were fun, and still great for straight-forward video projects, but had real limitations when playing around with your own microprocessor based designs.

As VERA is all about moving forward with a more capable and parallel interfaced FPGA design, I'm more interested in whether the VERA core is going to be open source for those of us who would like to play with or make their own FPGA implementations?
 
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mchobby

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Oct 13, 2019
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@TomXP411
As the Vera sub-project seems to be appealing for others project, would it be possible to open a dedicated Topic entry?
It would be a nice way to share project crispy news, roadmap, release planning for sub-module release, etc.
A good way to put light on the Vera Project, we (Makers) miss this kind of interface with support for various micrcocontroler platform (Teensy for @TomXP411 and MicroPython for me). Definitively interested by this interface... I was looking so long time for something similar going further than DIY project.

This should probably receive the agreement of 8BitGuy and Frank van de Hoef . I think this may be a good idea.
Kind regards,
Dominique
 
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May 22, 2019
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I think that, at this point, VERA is tightly enough coupled to the CX16 that opening a separate forum section would be premature.
 

tomseago

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Sep 17, 2019
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San Francisco, CA
FWIW I'm also interested in VERA as a standalone part for integration into other projects. I do a lot of work with ESP-32 based systems and it feels like adding a VERA to such projects would open up a whole additional set of projects that could be done. I've also considered hacking together my own limited VGA output board directly from an ESP-32 core, but it wouldn't be nearly as sophisticated as what VERA already does. Fundamentally I think VERA is a significant addition to the hobbyist space and would really encourage it to have a life of it's own - although obviously I think the X16 needs should always be the dominate driving force.

It's almost as if in creating a "dream computer" the team is going to create a bunch of "dream subsystems" ;)
 
May 22, 2019
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There actually is a little ESP32 based display terminal running around. it's available through Chinese importers, but not actually stocked in the US (so far.) The Color Maximite is also a decent VGA terminal, and one version has a nice "sea of holes" that can be used for prototyping and microcontroller projects. While I never finished it, I'd made some headway into marrying that to an ESP32 chip to build a WiFi Maximite.
 
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mchobby

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Oct 13, 2019
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There actually is a little ESP32 based display terminal running around. it's available through Chinese importers, but not actually stocked in the US (so far.) The Color Maximite is also a decent VGA terminal, and one version has a nice "sea of holes" that can be used for prototyping and microcontroller projects. While I never finished it, I'd made some headway into marrying that to an ESP32 chip to build a WiFi Maximite.
Indeed, the work made on FabGL for ESP32 (FabGL GitHub, see the videos on the readme) is really impressive. There is also a VT100 terminal emulator (over WiFi).
This may offer a some alternative for projets... even if it is not a native Maker's video board.
 

gnarz

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Oct 15, 2019
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FWIW, I would also be interested in a standalone vera board. It looks like a nice solution to add graphics to homebrew computers without adding a microcontroller that is massively more powerful than the computer you're sticking it into...
 
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May 22, 2019
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After some thinking, if I would use an ESP32 as VGA controler... I would also needs to do the same work as the Vera board already does!
I’m considering buying one of those for now, then getting a VERA when she comes out.

One thing to note is that while the ESP32 controller will work via a serial connection (SPI? RS232? Not sure), the VERA implementation is based not he 6502 bus, so you’ll need at least 12 pins available: 8 data pins, 3 address pins, and a read/write pin. While this will mean much faster I/O, it’s a little less Maker friendly than the Gameduino or ESP32 implementation.
 

GregZone

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Sep 29, 2019
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After some thinking, if I would use an ESP32 as VGA controler... I would also needs to do the same work as the Vera board already does!
I also considered that while the FabGL implementation looks interesting, it's not for my retro computing purposes. The ESP32 FabGL is really an all-in-one solution with the dual core 32bit ESP32 processor as the CPU. I can see that FabGL is a great library for making standalone VGA video based microcontroller projects.
eg. The VT serial terminal application example (which would be of use for your retro 70's serial terminal interfaced microprocessor systems).

However, VERA fills the quite different retro requirement of being (specifically) a Video ASIC replacement, which also has an 8bit microprocessor bus compatible parallel interface.
 

percival477

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Oct 5, 2019
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However, VERA fills the quite different retro requirement of being (specifically) a Video ASIC replacement, which also has an 8bit microprocessor bus compatible parallel interface.
Would the vera also be capable of 24 bit Data bus interaction for the 65816 or other late 70s processors?
 

GregZone

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Sep 29, 2019
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Would the vera also be capable of 24 bit Data bus interaction for the 65816 or other late 70s processors?
The 65C816 still has an 8bit (external) Data Bus. When you say 24bit, I think you might be confusing with the full Address bus capability of the 65C816.
Other late 70's processors, like the 68000 released in '79 were still 16bit external Data bus even though they had 32bit internals.

So, even if the WDC65C816 is used for the CX16, a peripheral would still just be using an 8bit wide Data bus to interface.

nb. VERA has 3 address lines (A0/A1/A2), therefore it's interface / registers require only an 8 address block (if fully decoded).
 

mchobby

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Oct 13, 2019
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I also considered that while the FabGL implementation looks interesting, it's not for my retro computing purposes. The ESP32 FabGL is really an all-in-one solution with the dual core 32bit ESP32 processor as the CPU. I can see that FabGL is a great library for making standalone VGA video based microcontroller projects.
eg. The VT serial terminal application example (which would be of use for your retro 70's serial terminal interfaced microprocessor systems).

However, VERA fills the quite different retro requirement of being (specifically) a Video ASIC replacement, which also has an 8bit microprocessor bus compatible parallel interface.
It is the reason why I'm so interested by the Vera board. There is really a lack in this area and would be really happy to bring MicroPython (pyboard) to retrogaming level.
Very, very, very impatient so see the Vera Board coming.
It would also be a nice board to show on the Maker Faire we attend in Europe.
 

percival477

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Oct 5, 2019
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The 65C816 still has an 8bit (external) Data Bus. When you say 24bit, I think you might be confusing with the full Address bus capability of the 65C816.
Other late 70's processors, like the 68000 released in '79 were still 16bit external Data bus even though they had 32bit internals.

So, even if the WDC65C816 is used for the CX16, a peripheral would still just be using an 8bit wide Data bus to interface.

nb. VERA has 3 address lines (A0/A1/A2), therefore it's interface / registers require only an 8 address block (if fully decoded).
Yes, I was referring to the databus and was originally meaning for the data bus of a 68K of 16 and thinking the 816 had a 16 bit data path. I would be interesting to see if there is a way to add aditional address lines incase someone wants to redisign the x16 with a 68K.
 

ebuceci

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Dec 17, 2019
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Hi there,
I really hope that the VERA chip does become available as an standalone module not only beeing integrated into the commander x16. Ther is an other similar project – FA18 MK2 in the making that replicates the venerable TI9918A in an DIP40 package ( here is an Image http://codehackcreate.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/f18a_mk2_f17.jpg) including 512k SRAM and DVI/HDMI out that can replace failing chips in the ColecoVision, MSX ComputersTI 99/4 and many others. Its already the 2nd incarnation and at the moment in prototyping stage preparing for production.

This MK2 version features an SPARTAN-6 LX9 with 512k SRAM, has the pinout of the TI9918A and 14 free GPIO pins available as the RAM is onboard and thus the corresponding pins are free. That module could easily host the VERA firmware I think.

As I'm following this project for quite some time now and waiting for 2 of these F18A modules Matthews main problem at the moment seems to be there are not enough requests for a production run as it is BGA and QFN packages on that tiny board (DIP40 sized). Imagine the possibilities if Frank and David could join forces with Matthew - the production of the module as a platform for both projects could start soon and feed the needs of many more retro enthusiasts.
 
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