I received my Chameleon AVR dev-kits yesterday and immediately started going through the manual. On top of processor-specific data sheets, e-books, sample code and other documents there is a ~300page manual written specifically on the Chameleon design and operation. The Chameleon comes pre-loaded with a little test application/game. I decided to film it briefly in order to demo what the board is capable of. Here is the default game displayed on a TV via NTSC, audio is through the TV but the mic on my camcorder isn’t great so it’s a bit low and input to the game was via PS2 keyboard.

As you can see, NTSC/PAL and VGA output is pretty neat when combined with some microcontrollers. This can allow for video displays of sensor values, control of objects with PS2 keyboards/mice and audio to all be EASILY added to projects.

How it works:
The dev-board has 2 processors on it. The AVR Atmega328P and the Parallax Propeller. The two processors are connected via I2C and the Atmel acts as a master to send commands to the Propeller slave. The Propeller takes care of all of the heavy lifting when it comes to graphics, keyboard/mouse input and audio. There is a PIC version of this kit available as well, but being that the Atmel version comes with an Arduino bootloader and supporting libraries I couldn’t resist getting it over the PIC.

Review:
The only gripe I had about this product was that it took a heck of a long time for the company to ship when it had an “in stock” status. As you can probably tell by some of my previous posts, I was starting to get a bit impatient😀 That being said, I’m not sure of the reason for the delay but it’s possible that some slight modifications were made to the dev. board. For example: I noticed that in the documentation images there is no heatsink on the regulators whereas mine both have one. Either way the wait was definitely worth it.

The user manual seems to have been written by the guy who designed the dev-board himself and it is very casual. While there are a few spelling and grammatical errors here and there, it’s not enough to be annoying and you can still very clearly tell what he means to say. I’m only ~ page 60 of ~300 so far, but from what I can see the information presented is easy to understand and thorough. The author explains VGA and NTSC in pretty good depth and also provides links to external supplemental resources. Overall I’d say this is a very well put-together product and I’m looking forward to finishing the manual and starting to create some of my own applications for it.

Another advantage (at least on the AVR model, not sure about the PIC) is that the headers on the board share a similar footprint to the Arduino, allowing compatibility with some prototyping shields/etc. The physical footprint is similar, but the pin-outs are different. The bottom row of IO are for the ATMega328P while the top row contains 8 IO from the Propeller board. Both chips can be programmed via serial and the target is selected by toggling a switch. There is also an ISP header for programming if you want to blow away the bootloader. Being that the introductory price of these kits are only $60 I’d certainly recommend jumping on one before the price goes up, because it’s a pretty good deal IMO.

The packaging from the manufacturer was excellent, each dev kit was wrapped in an anti-static bag, in bubble-wrap, inside a plastic case surrounded by foam chips. I have included pics of the unpacking at the bottom of this post.

I’ll post more when I get a project completed. I just wanted to put a quick update up since my most recent posts haven’t really had much “substance” lately.

Cheers!

Pics:

2 free LEDs... LOL

Chameleon Dev Kit