Control Matters
SPLat Controls' aperiodic newsletter

29 July 2010
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I am still here!

It's been a while since I did a newsletter - 4 months in fact. The reason is that I made myself go back "on the tools" about 14 weeks ago. There was some development/programming work that nobody in the engineering department was getting around to. Like so many of our customers, we find that work that will yield long-term benefits all too often gets put off in favour of immediate needs and demands. Something had to be done! So I vacated my desk and office, moved my laptop into the lab, bought a 27" monitor :-) and got stuck in.

It has been fun, and challenging, There have been a number of outcomes, one of which is desribed below. Read on ...

Affordable, easy to program, colour touch screens!

As touch screens become more and more a part of everyday life, with smart 'phones, hand held games consoles and the like, it is only to be expected that our customers would like their products to also have the same glamour and convenience. The challenge for us is that Apple sold more iPhones on the first day than we would expect to sell controllers in a year. The economies of scale are totally different. For us to be able to offer something that slick, at an affordable price, would require a miracle.

Has a miracle happened?

Well, maybe not quite, but we have come up with a pretty nifty solution.

I have been dropping a few hints in recent months about a new development project here at SPLat. We have been developing a new controller family, called NG, for Next Generation. This has a 32-bit, 72MHz ARM processor, which is very fast, and loaded with memory and on-chip peripherals. We are also developing SPLatBASIC a special version of the BASIC language that is optimised for deeply embedded static controls. SPLatBASIC is inherently multi-tasking, avoids dynamic memory allocation (eliminating a major source of failures (non-determinism) in embedded controls) and contains a number of instructions aimed squarely at our application space. SPLat NG also has the power to support a tightly coupled graphics touch screen.

We have teamed up with a company called 4D Systems. They are an industry leader in OEM style touch screen modules ranging in size from around 2" up to 3.2", with larger ones on the way. Their 3.2", 320x240pixel, 64K colour module is just USD79. You will be able to buy them from us, directly from 4D, or from any one of 4D Systems' distributors.

A good chunk of my last few months has been invested writing a function library to drive the 4D Systems display modules (initially the 3.2" unit) off a SPLat NG controller. The library is designed to make it extremely easy to implement the kinds of things you would want in a dedicated embedded machine controller, things like menus, data entry keypad, status displays, buttons, LEDs etc.

I have prepared a YouTube video clip to show you what we can do. Please click here to see it.

The colour touch screens, along with 32-bit Next Generation controller technology, are available now for custom controls and will be available in COTS Rapid Prototyping products in 4Q2010.

Have you seen our easy to digest Finite State Machine tutorial?

"I have tried to understand what an FSM animal is and found out your explanation is the best one."

Zhong, USA

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

Some people hear voices.. Some see invisible people.. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

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Copyright 2010 SPLat Controls Pty Ltd. This communication does not constitute professional advice