For more information about the
MaxiMite BASICBOXX after the project ends visit the website:
MaxiMite BASICBOXX after the project ends visit the website:
MaxiMite BASICBOXX (BBX) Computer
In the early days of computers there were no operating systems to install or multiple different programming languages to learn. You just powered up your Commodore 64 or Apple II and started programming in BASIC.
They powered up with the Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction language (BASIC Language) which was created for non-techical people to learn programming. They were ready to use right out of the box!
They had crappy keyboards and required large floppy drives or tape players to store files and TV's for monitors, yet they were lots of fun and great for learning the fundamentals of programming.
All the early developers of computers and software such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates learned BASIC language when they were young.
Linus Torvalds (creator of Linux) first learned programming on a VIC-20 running BASIC.
These early BASIC computers were a great place to start programming!
Well, I want to bring that BASIC computer back to a whole new generation but with modern features!
MaxiMite BBX Computer
The Maximite BBX Computer is a custom version of the open source Colour Maximite design by Geoff Graham.
The Maximite BBX Computer is a small and versatile 32-bit single chip computer running a full featured BASIC interpreter with 128K of working memory and eight colors on a VGA monitor.
It runs a version of BASIC called MMBASIC (MaxiMite BASIC). MMBasic was designed to mimic the original Microsoft BASIC (also known as MBASIC, BASICA or GW-BASIC) which was supplied with the Tandy TRS-80, Commodore 64 and the early IBM personal computers.
But MMBASIC has updated features for modern day keyboards and monitors. It has the ability to directly control electronics such as Arduino shields or control breadboard electronics using Raspberry PI cables. Plus you can create games and dataloggers and science fair projects with the powerful MMBASIC.
In addition its backward compatible.
Dust off all those old BASIC Programming books because they are now usable again!
The large floppy drive has been replaced with a tiny SD card.
The Maximite BBX has a modern connection scheme such as a VGA port so you can connect almost any modern day flat screen monitor or modern TV with VGA.
A standard PS/2 connector keyboard is used in place of the old fashion built in keyboard. This allows you to select the keyboard you want to use.
A USB port allows you to connect the Maximite BBX to any laptop and program it from a terminal program. In fact you can program from the USB port and still display the program on the VGA monitor for testing.
The Maximite BBX is powered from a small 9v-12v power adapter but can also be powered from a 9v battery with a 9v battery connector.
No Line Numbers Needed
You can use the original line numbers in BASIC or you can use the built in editor for much easier editing of programs including cut and paste.
No GOTO's required!
Ask any professional programmer and they will tell you that GOTO's are evil (even though most programming languages still include them).
Well MMBasic goes far beyond that old GOTO language limit and supports not only the traditional BASIC constructs:
- IF ... THEN ... ELSE ...
- FOR ... NEXT
- ON ...
but also a number of modern structured programming constructs:
- DO ... LOOP with WHILE and UNTIL qualifiers
- Multi line IF statements with ELSE, ELSEIF and ENDIF statements
- User defined subroutines (SUB ... END SUB)
- User defined functions (FUNCTION ... END FUNCTION) that can return floating point numbers or strings.
Digital and Analog I/O
This gives you the opportunity to easily learn Embedded Electronics. That's something even those old computers didn't do this easy.
MMBASIC has commands for setting a digital pin high or low and also for reading analog voltages.
As an example the following program fragment will set pin 2 high if the voltage on pin 1 is outside the range of 1.5V to 2.5V.
Lots of kids already have Snap Circuits but after they complete the projects in the included manuals where do they go from there? Connecting to Snap Circuits is easy and allows a student to go a lot farther with programming and electronics.
The Maximite BBX has a standard Arduino connector on top for plugging in Arduino shields. The I/O pins are separate from the 26 pin connector so you can control a shield and breadboard electronics at the same time.
Making Sounds and Music
The Maximite BBX has a stereo audio port on the back that can connect to any amplified speaker with a 3.5 mm jack. This can create some interesting projects as you can run .mod files from the old 8 bit computer days on the Maximite BBX. Recreate all those old games sounds with ease.
MMBasic has commands for clearing the screen (CLS), turning a pixel on or off (PIXEL), drawing lines and boxes (LINE), drawing a circle (CIRCLE) and saving the video screen as a BMP file (SAVEBMP). You can also position text anywhere on the screen by using the LOCATE command.
Sprites and Color Graphics
Maximite BBX supports custom Sprites and color graphics for gamers who want to recreate or run some of those original games.
The Maximite BBX can be powered through the Arduino header and also can have a program stored on the internal flash memory or on the SD card as an "autorun.bas" program. Then the program will start running as soon as the Maximite BBX is powered up. This is great for making portable programmable gadgets of all kinds.
Wood or Plastic Case
You can choose a wood or plastic case. If we hit our bonus goal then you can order in various plastic colors.
The wood box is bare wood so you can finish it off any way you want. Stain it, paint it, Steam Punk it.
Beginner's User Manual
This is where it all comes together. I want to produce a series of books that teach the basics of programming and also electronics. Books written for the Beginner not the super smart tech geek. Books like my "Programming PICs in BASIC" which have been popular with beginners in the Microchip world.
Each reward ($25 and up) will include a free copy of the first book/manual which takes a beginner step by step through 10 projects to get familiar with the Maximite BBX and programming in general.
The manual is partially written and if this project is successful, it will be published in print followed by more project books to advance the users knowledge. We don't plan to sell this Maximite BBX and walk away. We want to continue to support beginner's so they can learn and advance as programmers. And all those books written for the Apple II, Commodore 64, TRS80 and other BASIC books are now also helpful manuals for the Maximite BBX.
Appendix - the manual also has an appendix section with schematic and links to the firmware for those that want to build their own design.
This is how we plan to support the Maximite BBX but we need to have a platform that is affordable and popular enough to support the costs of producing books so a successful kickstarter project allows us to launch it in a big way.
How We got Here:
We started with the design from Geoff Graham which is a schematic and firmware and built some of our own prototypes along with testing a few kits. In the process we found a great partner to manufacture the circuit board. We also found nobody had what we wanted to offer; a complete and assembled unit packaged in an attractive case ready to use right out of the box.
We finally settled on the electronics design but we couldn't offer a computer with dangling wires and open circuits for a kid to use so we designed our own custom case and laser cut it out.
This took multiple versions and in the process we used wood as a easy way to modify the design before spending more money on laser cutting. In the end we ended up with a design that could be built in wood or plastic.
Then the testing began. We wrote lots of sample code and drove Arduino modules and external electronics to prove all the features worked the way we wanted. This also gave us the project code for a manual written for a beginner.
So at this point we've built several prototypes and tested it on kids to adults and the results were nothing but positive. We've had people ask us if they could buy one but we knew we needed to make it affordable and to do that we needed to make it in volume.
So we negotiated with our suppliers and found we need to build a minimum of 100 units to make an affordable computer and cover all the material and tooling costs. So that's why were here at Kickstarter.
Why are we at Kickstarter?
We want to make this computer affordable and easy to get. And to do that we need to produce 100 units minimum so the manufacturing costs can be covered and make it affordable.
The Maximite BBX circuit board will be professionally manufactured using surface mount components. The manufacturer has already produced many circuit boards but not in the volume we need to get the pricing.
The box is a custom design that is laser cut. Once again we need the volume to get the material cheap enough and the laser cutting pricing to come down to make our target price.
It's that simple. We need to buy in one large volume order to cover the tooling costs and make the Maximite BBX affordable beyond the high price prototype mode.
Please help us make it a real product!
These are the rewards we are offering our Kickstarter Supporters:
Note: $99 early bird reward is the same as the $109 reward, $119 early bird reward is the same as the $129 reward.
Bonus (We can dream right?)
If we can cross the $20,000 (about 200 units) mark then every Maximite BBX will have a choice of color for the plastic box.
Production Process, Challenges and Timing
We know building anything is a challenge but I've had successful kickstarter campaigns before so I know the steps for success. Our electronics assembly partner is ready to produce the boards and we have the extra components custom to the BBX design all lined up just waiting for a bulk order.
The boxes will be laser cut and we have the manufacturer lined up to produce in volume. He has the final files in his system and we have run several sample runs to verify the design is ready.
The next step is the assembly and test and the same crew who assembled my previous Kickstarter projects are ready to go on this one. The team has already built and rebuilt the prototypes so they know the process to assemble the BBX modules.
I have written a test program that will run through all the BBX features prior to shipping. We want it ready to go out of the box.
Packaging has also been setup. We tested several different box sizes to make sure the computers can arrive safely and undamaged.
The printed manual is still in the works but real close to finished. I've published eight books through my publishing print house so this is something I've completed many times before.
I believe we have everything ready to make this Maximite BBX a real product. We just need your support!
We have planned out the production to ship the early bird rewards first by May 2014. The rest of the rewards will be shipped by June 2014. This gives a student or school the summer to learn how to use it and enter the new school year in September ready for science fairs and school projects.
Risks and challenges
#1 If we don't sell enough to hit the 100 unit volume the boxes can't be built affordable enough.
#2 We've run prototypes for months and there have been no issues with the electronics. So we don't see a major risk to supplying the boards.
#3 The plastic case is a custom design and has gone through several redesigns but we have them fitting together great now. Since we are laser cutting the case we can easily tweak the design mid-stream if we need to but we don't expect that to be an issue.
#4 We get hit by a bus! (hopefully not). We have a team of people working together on this so we can even finish the project while the bus victim recovers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)