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The AlternatIVe Maximite World

The Maximite world is growing. As we mentioned last month in our miniMaximite story, the Maximite has been cloned a number of times, so now there is a range of alternatives for you to choose from. To help you in this choice we gathered a number of these to test along with some expansion boards that might help you connect the Maximite to the rest of the world.

By Geoff Graham

We start with the DuinoMite. It is a Maximite clone manufactured in Bulgaria by Olimex and sold in Australia by Dontronics. The idea was to make a Maximite-compatible computer that is also compatible with the Arduino connector format – quite a tall order. Olimex has managed to make it work, albeit with a number of compromises.

The DuinoMite is actually a range of three boards consisting of a mini, standard and mega version with every option that you can think of. When we first saw them we mentally dubbed them baby bear, mother bear and father bear (of Goldilocks fame).

The samples we reviewed were pre-production but we understand that the final products will be quite similar.

The Maximite should be familiar to most SILICON CHIP readers but perhaps not the Arduino standard. The Arduino is a small single-board computer developed in Italy. It is generally based on an 8‑bit Atmel AVR microcontroller and is an open design that others can easily modify if they wish.

The two standout features of the Arduino are an easy-to-use development environment (based on the C language) and a universal connector that allows the board to be connected to a variety of interchangeable add-on modules. In Arduino-speak these are known as “shields”.

The success of the Arduino has caused an explosion in the number of available add-on shields. You can now purchase a shield with almost any function you care to imagine including networking, GPS, wireless, music and more. The DuinoMite range from Olimex seeks to capitalise on this wealth of products by providing the Maximite with an Arduino-compatible connector.

All the boards in the range also implement a UEXT connector. UEXT is another standard for connecting pre-built, add-on boards. This standard was invented by Olimex who understandably have the widest range including an I/O board with relays, GPS, LCD, Ethernet and wireless networking.

However, you do need to be careful when selecting a UEXT board as some require special software. For example, the WiFi board requires you to implement the TCP/IP protocol stack in software and that is simply not possible in MMBasic.

These comments apply to the Arduino shields as well. This is because some of them require the Arduino development environment (based on the C programming language) to make them work. Also, many shields come with a demonstration program (again written in C) but that is not much help with the DuinoMite range which is programmed in MMBasic, the same as the Maximite.

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