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Designing Microprocessor Devices on the 100LX

Designing Microprocessor Devices on the 100LX

I'm an electronics engineer and I design microprocessor controlled devices. So, computers are a MUST for me.

A few years ago I designed all my projects with pencil, ruler & paper. I only used my desktop computer to write & compile the software that goes into the EPROMS of the units I designed.

With time, more powerful computers and better software came along. Then I was able to do everything in a computer and said goodbye to my pencil & ruler. But it wasn't enough!

I was getting the URGE to continue my projects while camping, waiting in line at the movies, in the bathroom, etc. I just hated seeing time pass by and do nothing. To correct my situation I carried a notebook computer with me all the time. Unfortunately size, weight, and battery life got in the way.

Imagine how HAPPY I was when the first palmtops came out. After playing around with the Atari portfolio, Poqet PC, and ZEOS POCKET PC, I discovered the HP Palmtop. I was delighted to see that the guys from Hewlett Packard had the same thing in mind that I had; an IBM compatible computer that REALLY fits in a pocket (not like the other video-cassette sized palmtops) and would run for tens of hours on just 2 AA's. Many times I think the HP 100LX was created just for me.

Unfortunately, many people viewed my Palmtop as little more than an expensive gadget. Some even thought I was a little crazy to spend so much money and time on this little "calculator."

In order to prove to others that VERY SERIOUS work can be done on the HP 100LX, I decided to design one of my projects from start to finish, using ONLY the HP 100LX.

I copied an old copy of the OrCad electronics drafting software to my 10MB flash card. I also copied my favorite editor (QEDIT), two assemblers (8088 & 68705), EPROM programming software, a couple of my software libraries, and all the technical information I would need for all the chips I was going to use for my project.

When I finished filling up my flash card, my HP 100LX was ready for the work of it's lifetime.

First, I wrote an overview of my project. Then I started designing the software for the microprocessors used in my project. At the same time I was using OrCad and designed the schematic diagrams.

I finished this first part of the project in a little over a month and then proceeded with the PC board design. (The PC board is the cardboard where the electronic components are mounted.) The 100LX screen seemed a bit small for drafting PCB's but I soon forgot the small screen & keyboard.

Finally, I programmed the EPROMS (again with the HP100LX), soldered the components on the PC board and tested my project for the first time.

After two months of debugging and other hard work, I finally had a finished prototype ready for production -- COMPLETELY designed on my 100LX.

I couldn't have completed the project any faster on a desktop computer. With a desktop computer I'm stuck in the same place all day long. With the HP Palmtop, my work is with me wherever I go. I did much of it sitting under a tree in a big park near my house. It was more pleasant working outdoors, far from any AC outlet, not worrying about batteries, breathing clean air and letting my creativity reach its limits.

I bet the guys from HP could use the HP100LX to design the next HP palmtop (HP 200LX?). In any event, that's how my HP 100LX became more important than my other computers.

Ahhh! Those were the nice summer days in the park!

Harry Konstas

Montreal Quebec, CANADA

CompuServe ID: [72540,620]

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