I discovered the Cypress PSoC family of microcontrollers via the FreeSOC Kickstarter Project. It’s a really neat idea; Rather than producing a bunch of variants of their MCU parts with different peripheral options, Cypress PSoC parts leave the wiring of peripherals to pins up to the developer. It’s a bit more complex than that in reality, but that’s the crux of the idea.
The FreeSoC project uses the PSoC-5 MCU, which is a 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 variant. This is an amazingly capable chip, but it is hardly hobbyest-friendly as it is available only in QFN and TQFP packages with over 100 leads. Doable as a reflow project, but beyond the capabilities of all but the hardiest of hobbyests. Cypress offers three different PSoC product families – PSoC-1, a low-power custom (“M8C”) 8-bit core, PSoC-3, an 8051-based 8-bit core, and PSoC-5, with the aforementioned 32-bit ARM core.
I discovered that Jameco had the CY8C24123A-24SXI on sale for $1.35 in quantities of 10 or more, so I ordered 40 of them to use in projects. These are little SOP-8 devices, so they are pretty easy to hand-solder. The devices are certainly capable of emulating lots of other devices, and at this price point they are actually cheaper than many.
My intent is to create a simple little AVR-based programmer which can program these devices without computer involvement. While the PSoC IDE is only available for Microsoft Windows, I should be able to create a large enough set of useful personalities to avoid having to spend too much time in Redmond hell. Burn the resulting .hex files to an EEPROM, build a simple AVR-Based programmer with a trivial GUI, and I can build custom devices to order as I need ’em. That’s the theory, anyway.
But where’s the 1,001 uses that you hinted at in the article title? Well, I’ve got a good list started, but I need to prove the viability of the idea before i get too far ahead of myself. Stay tuned…