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    Colour Maximite 2

     

    The Colour Maximite 2 is a small self contained computer inspired by the home computers of the early 80's such as the Tandy TRS-80, Commodore 64 and Apple II. 

    It uses a USB keyboard and outputs to a standard VGA monitor.  Programs are saved on a full size SD card and it boots straight into its own sophisticated BASIC interpreter with a full screen program editor.

    The Colour Maximite 2 is designed to be simple to use, easy to program and provide endless hours of fun.


    While the concept of the Colour Maximite 2 is borrowed from the computers of the 80's the technology used is very much up to date.  Its CPU is an ARM Cortex-M7 32-bit RISC processor running at 480MHz and it generates a VGA output at resolutions up to 1920x1080 pixels with up to 16 million colours.

    The assembly instructions, PCB design and the firmware are completely free.  It can be easily built by a beginner with no special skills in an hour or two or you can purchased it partially or fully assembled.

    With a monitor and keyboard it makes a complete stand alone BASIC computer. It is perfect for rediscovering the computers of the 80's, learning to program, entertaining and inspiring children, creating and playing simple computer games and generally having fun discovering what you can do with this powerful low cost computer.

    The Colour Maximite 2 comes in two versions:

    Generation 1

     

    Generation 2

     

    This is the first version of the Colour Maximite 2 and is designed for easy assembly by home constructors. 

    Compared to the Generation 2 design (on the right) this version is missing a few features but these are not critical and this design offers the same amount of fun and capability. 

    If you have already built this version of the Colour Maximite 2 you should upgrade the firmware to the latest version as this will provide most of the features of the Generation 2 computer (eg, the mouse).

    In this design the complex part, the STM32 ARM Cortex-7 processor, is mounted on a US$30 pre assembled module from Waveshare. When plugged in this gives the Colour Maximite 2 its brains.

    If you have some skill with soldering and electronics you can build the Colour Maximite 2 yourself (it is not hard).  You will need a soldering iron and a PC or laptop for loading the firmware. 

    The printed circuit board can be made by any PCB fabrication house and the components can be ordered online from standard suppliers such as RS Components, Mouser and Farnel (Element14).

    The Construction Pack (available at the bottom of this page) contains all the information that you need.

    If you do not want to source the parts yourself you can buy the computer as a kit of parts:

    • Silicon Chip magazine offer a kit of parts that includes the PCB and all other components except the Waveshare CPU board and the case. They sell the case separately including pre-cut front and back panels.
    • Micromite Org in the UK (https://micromite.org) has a kit that includes everything except the Waveshare module and some connectors.
    • Mick Gulovsen in Australia (https://www.dontronics.com/micks-mite/files/) has a variety of offerings including the bare motherboard as well as other parts.
     

    This design is optimised for automated machine assembly and is suited to users who would like to purchase a partially or fully assembled Colour Maximite 2.

    This is not intended to replace the first generation design (on the left) but it does have a few extra features:

     - A 1920x1080 pixel VGA mode and 24-bit colour.

     - More RAM for BASIC programs.

     - On board support for a mouse, accurate real time clock, ESP-01 WiFi module and an extra Wii controller port on the front panel.

    All vendors will supply this version with the small on board components, including the microcontroller, already soldered.  The extra components (connectors, battery holder, etc) may be supplied loose for you to solder yourself (easy) or the vendor might offer it fully assembled and tested (check their website).

    Suppliers include:

    Some suppliers have created their own designs which offer some additional features but are still compatible with the Generation 2 design and runs the same firmware.  These are:

    If you are very good at SMD soldering you can build your own or you can get a PCB fabricator to supply and solder the components for you (see the Construction Pack below).

    Construction Pack

    The design and firmware for both the first and second generation versions of the Colour Maximite 2 is open and free for anyone to use.  The Construction Pack (at the bottom of this page) includes the PCB gerber files, parts list, schematics and assembly notes - in fact, everything that you need to build your own.

    Additionally the pick-and-place files for the Generation 2 version are also included so, if you want to build a number of boards, you can get someone like JLCPCB (https://jlcpcb.com) to fabricate the boards, supply the components and solder them for you.  This is economical if you need two or more boards assembled.

    Other WEB Pages

    This page provides an overview of the Colour Maximite 2 and includes key information such as support options and firmware downloads.  More detailed information is available on these pages:

    If you are looking for the latest firmware and manuals for the Colour Maximite 2 scroll to the bottom of this page to the Downloads Section.

    The Maximite Family

    The Colour Maximite 2 is the third in the Maximite series of computers:

    The Colour Maximite 2 is mostly compatible with these predecessors and most programs written for them will run with little or no modification.

    Development Team

    Peter Mather designed the circuit and PCB, ported the MMBasic interpreter to the STM32 ARM Cortex-7 and wrote the device drivers including the graphics sub system. Geoff Graham wrote the MMBasic interpreter and the manuals.  Phil Boyce, Jim Hiley, Graeme Rixon, Mauro Xavier and Robert Severson provided advice, testing and developed demonstration programs.

    The Generation 1 design was described in the July 2020 and August 2020 issues of Silicon Chip magazine while the Generation 2 design was published in the August 2021 and September 2021 issues.   These web pages provide a shorter description so, if you want the full story, you are encouraged to read the magazine articles.  Back issues of the articles can be purchased from Silicon Chip or electronic access can be purchased for about the cost of the printed issue (it is worth the cost).

    Reviews and Other Web Sites

    Reviews of the Colour Maximite 2:

    These are some early video clips showing what the Colour Maximite 2 is capable of (all are written in BASIC):

    The Back Shed forum is a great place to hang out and discuss the Maximite and microcontrollers.  It is also the main support forum for the Colour Maximite 2: http://www.thebackshed.com/forum/Microcontrollers

    Software Libraries

    If you are new to the Colour Maximite 2 you should download the Colour Maximite 2 Welcome Tape curated by Thomas Williams.  It is a collection of programs written by the user community that includes games, demonstrations and utilities.  It has an easy to use menu system and you can always use CTRL-C to break out of a program and list its code so that you can see exactly how it works  Recommended for new users.  Download the Welcome Tape from here: https://github.com/thwill1000/cmm2-welcome

    Jiri from the Czech Republic has collected most games, utilities and useful programs written for the Colour Maximite 2 into an easy to browse library.  If you have written something useful you can also add it to his library.
    See the CMM2 LIBRARY here: https://cmm2.fun

    Andrew (aka CaptainBoing) from the UK has assembled a huge amount of information, code fragments, programming techniques for the Colour Maximite 2 and other devices that run MMBasic.  For Colour Maximite content follow this link while for general MMBasic try following this link.

    If you were around in the 1970's and playing with the computers of that era you will probably remember the book 101 BASIC Computer Games edited by David H. Ahl.  This provided simple games that you could type in yourself and inspired a generation of budding programmers.  If you are into nostalgia the book and its programs are available from this website: http://www.vintage-basic.net/games.html  Most will run on the Colour Maximite 2 with minor modifications.

    Help and Support

    The download section below includes a tutorial "Programming with the Colour Maximite 2".  This will take you through programming in BASIC, controlling the I/O pins and so on. It is recommended reading for anyone starting with the BASIC programming language and/or the Colour Maximite 2.

    Support questions should be raised on the Back Shed forum (http://www.thebackshed.com/forum/Microcontrollers) where there are many enthusiastic Maximite and Micromite users who would be only too happy to help. The developers of both the Colour Maximite 2 and MMBasic are also regulars on this forum.

    Online Manual

    The user manual and a tutorial are available for download at the bottom of this page but another option for programmers is to use an online manual created by Jim Hiley of Tasmania.  This covers all variants of MMBasic in one integrated online lookup tool.  Go to: https://www.c-com.com.au/mmhelp/

    Firmware Update

    A new versions of MMBasic (ver 5.07.01) for the Colour Maximite 2 is available and can be downloaded from the download area at bottom of this page. This is mostly a maintenance update which fixes a number of bugs and adds some new functionality such as GUI support.

    Source Code

    The compiled firmware (the file with the extension .bin) is available from the download section at the bottom of this page and is free for anyone to use as they wish.

    The source code for the firmware including MMBasic is available on http://mmbasic.com.  Note that this is for personal use only and cannot be reused for commercial purposes and cannot be redistributed (modified or not) by anyone without written agreement (see http://mmbasic.com for the details).

    Downloads

    Programming with the Colour Maximite 2
    A tutorial covering the Colour Maximite 2 and programming in the BASIC language.
    DOWNLOAD
    Colour Maximite 2 User Manual DOWNLOAD
    Colour Maximite 2 firmware V5.07.01 (includes both the above manuals).
    This firmware will run on both the Generation 1 and 2 designs.
    DOWNLOAD
    Known bugs and issues DOWNLOAD

    Previous versions of the firmware can be found in the archive.

    Other Downloads

    Colour Maximite 2 Construction Pack for both Generation 1 and 2 designs.
    Includes assembly instructions, parts list, schematic, PCB design files, etc.
    DOWNLOAD
    Colour Maximite 2 Beta Test Version of the Firmware
    This is the latest test version of the next firmware release (may include bugs).
    DOWNLOAD
    MMEdit, a full featured editor for MMBasic (it runs on your PC).  By Jim Hiley WEB SITE