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QCard Users Guide

The Programmer’s Guide to the QCard Controller, a single board computer that is ideal for data acquisition and instrument control.

This single board computer (SBC) performs data acquisition and control, packing a Freescale 68HC11 processor, memory, communications, plenty of analog and digital I/O lines, and an expansion IO bus onto a low cost 2.5” x 2” board. The embedded controller dramatically cuts the cost of data acquisition and control. It is easy to program in either C or Forth using the customized programming environment, and includes pre-coded device driver libraries and a real time operating system. This fast low power microcontroller is ideal for instrumentation, industrial control, automation, and data acquisition.

Embedded Computer


This manual provides instructions for using your embedded computer

This manual provides instructions for using your new QCard Controller™ embedded computer. The QCard packs a programmable computer, up to 1 megabyte of memory, communications, analog and digital I/O, and an expansion I/O bus onto a tiny low-cost board. This 2" x 2.5" single board computer is perfect for space-constrained applications and dramatically cuts the cost of data acquisition and control. It is ideal for machine automation, industrial control, robotics, handheld data acquisition, and scientific instrumentation.

The I/O-rich QCard hosts a 16 MHz Motorola 68HC11F1 microprocessor, 512K Flash and 128K RAM (expandable to 512K), and 320 bytes of EEPROM. On-board I/O includes 8 digital I/O lines with counter/timer capabilities, 8 analog inputs, a fast synchronous SPI serial interface, and dual RS232/485 ports. An optional real-time clock tracks the calendar and time of day and battery-backs the 128K RAM.

The QCard is easily programmable in C, Forth or Assembly using any PC. Built-in programming tools include an interactive debugger, a multitasking executive, and comprehensive device-driver libraries.

Convenient connectors allow for simple mechanical integration. The QCard can directly host up to 4 I/O expansion modules called WildCards™ that you can mix and match depending on your applica-tion. The easy-to-use WildCards stack onto the 24 pin WildCard connector on the QCard. A con-venient PowerDock™ module includes an efficient switching power regulator and expands the WildCard bus to host up to 8 WildCards.

WildCards implement a wide variety of user interface, communications, data acquisition and control capabilities. Available WildCards include a Keypad/Display module, octal 12-bit D/A and 16-bit A/D converters, a 24-bit resolution analog data acquisition subsystem, a Compact Flash card mass memory interface, fast buffered RS232/485 dual UARTs, high voltage/high current isolated I/O, and AC or DC solid state relays. You can select the WildCards that meet your needs to configure a cost-effective customized controller for your application.


Prerequisite knowledge

The QCard is intended for use by experienced programmers up to the challenge of real-time programming. We assume that if you’re designing a product requiring an embedded computer, you have experience in the design of the hardware and software needed to customize the QCard to your product, and an understanding of the basics of writing, compiling and debugging software programs. You should be comfortable programming in either the C or Forth programming languages; you can program the QCard in either. This manual is geared to the C programmer. If you would rather program in Forth, Contact Us and we’ll send you the Forth programmers manual. We recommend the following references for novice programmers:

Motorola’s M68HC11 Reference Manual and MC68HC11F1 Technical Data Manual are available on this site as Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (.pdf) files.


How to use this documentation

This manual is laid out in multiple pages, in an order we hope you find most useful. The available software and hardware functions are all described in detail, and many coded examples are presented. For those who are designing "turnkeyed" instruments, we have included a complete turnkeyed application program. This well documented program illustrates how to use dozens of features, including the graphical user interface, interrupts, floating point math, formatted display of calculated results, multitasking, and automatic program startup. The source code is included with your Mosaic IDE installation. This sample program can serve as a useful template for a wide variety of applications. This manual contains the following parts:

Getting to Know Your QCard Controller and Using Your PowerDock will familiarize you with the QCard and its mechanical and power supply platform, and Your First Program will get you writing your first program. These first pages guide you through the QCard’s hardware, explain how to establish communications with it, tell you how to install your compiler, and show you how to compile and run your first program.

After working through the above examples you will have exercised some of the key hardware and software features of your controller. You might then look through the C V4.4 Function Summary to get a feel for the wealth of precoded library functions available for you to use.

With the introduction behind you, the next set of pages provide everything you need to know to master real-time programming on the QCard:

Following is a set of pages that focuses on the QCard’s hardware resources – A/D, serial communications, timer-controlled I/O, real-time clock and others – and provides examples for using each:

Finally, A Turnkeyed C Application Program introduces a real-time interactive application, and provides code you can use as a template for your application. The appendices contains detailed specifications, pin-outs, and schematics:


Conventions used

The following conventions are use throughout this manual:

A/D Analog to Digital Converter
COP Computer Operating Properly timer
D/A or DAC Digital to Analog Converter
EEPROM Electronically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory, nonvolatile
FLASH Flash Programmable Read-Only Memory, nonvolatile and on-the-fly reprogrammable
I/O Inputs and Outputs
QED Quod Erat Demonstrandum, or Quick Easy Design, whichever you prefer
QED-Forth The name of the QCard’s onboard operating system and interactive resident language.
RAM Random Access Memory, volatile
RTC Real-Time Clock
RTOS Real Time Operating System
SPI Serial Peripheral Interface, a fast bidirectional synchronous serial interface
SRAM Static Random Access Memory, volatile
UART Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter

Contact us for technical help (or just to chat)

We have tested and verified the sample code in this user’s guide to the best of our ability, but you may find that some features have changed, or even that we have made a mistake or two. If you find an error, please Contact Us and we’ll fix it pronto.

If you are facing a challenging software hurdle, or a hardware problem in interfacing to our products, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. We provide free technical help to all customers, including new code examples, and can often help you over the hurdle and save you a lot of time.

Not Approved for Life-Support Use

Mosaic’s embedded computers, software, and peripherals are intended for use in a wide range of OEM products, but they are not designed, intended or authorized for use as components in life support or medical devices. They are not designed for any application in which the failure of the product could result in personal injury, death or property damage.

Complex software often contains bugs, and electronic components fail. Where a failure may cause serious consequences, it is essential that the product designer protect life and property against such consequences by incorporating redundant backup systems or safety devices appropriate to the level of risk. The buyer agrees that protection against consequences resulting from system failure, of either hardware or software origin, is solely the buyer’s responsibility.

Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed as trade-marks. Where those designations appear in this document, and Mosaic Industries, Inc. was aware of a trade-mark claim, the designations have been printed in caps or initial caps.
While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this manual, Mosaic assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

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