Cigar Box Computers
The idea for my first Cigar Box Computer came from when I was kid, my
Dad had made a cigar box crystal radio for me. I loved this thing, it
had a crystal earphone, a loopstick tuning coil and best of all; it
needed NO POWER. It peaked my interest in how it worked. This was how I
got started in electronics, I just could not get enough of gadgets. I
kept going with learning about electronics and eventually computers and
programming. So, in April 2003, the idea for a low-cost small simple
computer was born.
The Cigar Box Computer or CBC for short has several attributes that
make it unique among computers.
- Very Low Cost
- Simple to Build
- Simple to Program
- Useful for non programmers
Cigar Boxes come all kinds of sizes and shapes including some very nice fine wooden ones.
These can usually be found for free at most places that sell cigars,
gas stations, supermarkets, Walgreens, etc. Just ask if they have any
empty ones! I get one to five almost every time I ask. If you frequent
any of these places, you could ask one of the employees to save the
boxes for you.
Almost any low power programmable embedded computer will do. But the
best ones are the low cost development boards available from many of
the chip vendors. These will come with an IDE and development software
for the chip they are pushing at a very low cost. Here are some of the
vendors that I have used:
All of these companies sell development kits for low cost. Some of these developement boards are very small.
- Zilog (Z8, Z8Encore!, Z8Encore XP)
- Motorola (now Freescale)
- Texas Instruments
- Dontronix SimmStick (Both AVR and PIC Processors)
This is a Zilog Z8 Encore XP
This is a Zilog Z8 Encore Developement Board
Software is the key to the usefulness of a CBC. There are many ways to
program a CBC depending on what your goal is. You can use the canned
software I have provided or you can write your own from scratch or
anything in between.
For more Information Contact:
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