Here's an interesting little development board, recommended to us by Jason from BuildBrighton. It's an ARM-based dev board, from those cool kids at Farnell, called the PSoC4 Pioneer Kit (or the CY8CKIT-042 for you part-number junkies). It's an Arduino sized/shaped dev board, is Arduino shield-compatible but with an ARM processor and costs just £16+VAT!
It comes in a lovely fatter-than-usual DVD case, with mini usb lead and - bizarrely - about four or five little jump leads in a bag. Software is downloadable from http://www.cypress.com/go/cy8ckit-042
What's really exciting is that the processor alone is available for an amazing £1.58 each (in multiples of ten). That's almost as cheap as even the lowest 8-bit PIC microcontroller we use - and much cheaper than the 18F2455 chips we're so keen on using for their USB capabilities.
But it's not just a souped-up usb-capable PIC.... it has up to 6 FPGA modules - meaning you can program what the hardware peripherals actually do: need 6 uart/serial ports on your next device? No problem!
What got us talking about these was CNC Paul's need for a number of quadrature encoders for servo-motor drives on his CNC design. We're still not 100% sure why these are so much more awesome than stepper motors, but he's insistent that servo motors are the way to go and that steppers are just sooooo last year. Which means we need to be able to drive the things which means decoding super-fast high-speed quadrature encoded signals.
So far we've only seen the introductory video, but it was enough to encourage us to buy three of these little beauties - one for me, one for Steve, and one for CNC Paul (Jason already has one, and has a couple of days development head-start on the rest of us!)
The software is already in our download queue and hopefully we'll get a few hours spare to play with it tomorrow and see what the examples are like....