PI Zero as development environment?

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inf0mike
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Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2020 9:48 am

PI Zero as development environment?

Postby inf0mike » Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:55 am

Has anyone considered the possibility of using the Pi Zero as an on-board development environment for the Next?

My thoughts on this were that the pi could run a full UI on it's own display with developer tools that could compile / assemble directly into the Next's memory map and provide external debugging tools etc.

Is this even possible with the current architecture?
Does the PI have the ability to access the memory map?

If it were possible, this could offer all the benefits of modern IDEs such as VSCode but using the real hardware instead of emulation.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the idea in case it has not previously been considered / rejected!

Regards,
M

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Timbucus
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 7:43 pm

Re: PI Zero as development environment?

Postby Timbucus » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:16 pm

It is not an impossible idea and has been discussed several times. However, the DietPI implementation for the Next (NextPI) was hard labour for a single person (D) that had to fit into only a 1Gb card and boot fast enough to work to act as a co-processor and not corrupt when powered off at random so it is a read only file system. That is not to say that it could not be utilised but, hardware control of the Next would need additional items in the Next side core and developing on the PI side - maybe a project if you are looking for something to do. There is actually a command line Z80 cross assembler on the NextPI distribution but, no GUI.

It is also possible to install your own distribution if you want - that is what I did for a long time but, by the time you have a separate Screen, Keyboard and mouse for the PI it is less attractive. If hardware support was added then that might change but, that would need a lot of development that the core team would struggle to deliver currently.

The ODIN assembler from Matt will run on the Next itself and is shaping up nicely and of course the NMI button gives access to some very powerful memory examine tools without needing the PI.

Finally I have my CPM instance on the Next set up with my tools from the 1980's which are pretty good for on machine development.
I'm Infinite Imaginations when not in work... PAWS for thought.

inf0mike
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2020 9:48 am

Re: PI Zero as development environment?

Postby inf0mike » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:15 am

Thank you for the history and your insight into this.
I remember reading somewhere that during early development, the pi was being used to grab screen memory to provide an HDMI out (much like the zx-hd does) so I thought that there might be still a means to access the Next memory map directly from the Pi.

I will look for some further documentation about the Next <-> Pi interface to see what other interesting features might be possible.

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Timbucus
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Re: PI Zero as development environment?

Postby Timbucus » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:26 pm

The NextPI has a UART interface that runs at 115Kbs but, in theory could go higher. The old interface as you say tried to bus monitor signals but, relied on a bare metal bit of code as obviously a non real time OS like DietPI cannot keep up - in fact he bare metal barely did and certainly not at the higher speeds of 7MHz and above.

There are also some as yet undefined GPIO pins that could have something added in the core for future expansion but, that would need PI side drivers to be established as well. The future is unwritten as yet if skilled developers step up to the plate and help build it.
I'm Infinite Imaginations when not in work... PAWS for thought.


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