John Catsoulis' PIC24-Powered Scamp Single-Board Computer Brings FlashForth to the Breadboard

The Udamonic Scamp is a fully-functional, breadboard-friendly SBC running FlashForth, based on a PIC24.

Gareth Halfacree
2 years agoRetroTech / HW101

John Catsoulis has launched a compact single-board computer, built around the Microchip PIC24 microcontroller, designed to be programmed using its on-board copy of FlashForth.

"Scamp is a self-contained, modular embedded computer. You can use it as the basis for any number of projects," Catsoulis explains of the design. "​It's used in schools and universities for research or teaching. It's used in home projects by hobbyists. Companies use Scamp in product development to rapidly prototype and debug their own hardware, or as the controller core of their next product.

"To use Scamp, you don't need to install any IDEs, compilers or development tools. Everything runs directly on Scamp, and all you need is a host computer with a USB interface and some terminal software."

Where most similar systems might use MicroPython or Adafruit's CircuitPython fork for this, Scamp is different: It uses the FlashForth Forth stamp system — an implementation of the imperative stack-based language originally developed by Chuck Moore in 1970.

"​Scamp has an I/O connector that makes it very easy to interface to external devices," Catsoulis continues. "You can add switches, buttons, control knobs, LEDs, and other electronics modules just by plugging them in. It can be interfaced to many of the modules that are available for Arduinos and similar embedded systems. ​Writing software to use other hardware is very easy, and fun."

The design is also cleverly dual-function: The labeled general-purpose input/output (GPIO) connectors on the side of the board can be used with jumper wires, or connected to a pin header to allow the board to be inserted vertically into a solderless breadboard.

While Scamp has previously been made available through Catsoulis' Udamonic website, the machine is now also up on Tindie — and at a discounted price of $15 per unit.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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