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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 Controller is intended for use by experienced programmers or any technically minded person 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 Controller 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 Controller in either. This manual is geared to the CForth programmer. If you would rather program in ForthC, give us a call and we’ll send you the ForthC programmers manual. We recommend the following references for novice programmers:

The C Programming Language, by Kernighan and Ritchie

C: A Reference Manual, by Harbison and Steel

Starting Forth, by Leo Brodie

Motorola’s M68HC11 Reference Manual and MC68HC11F1 Technical Data Manual are included with this documentation package as Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (*.pdf) files.


How to use this documentation

This manual is laid out in several parts, in an order we hope you find most useful. We have invested a lot of effort to make this documentation instructive and helpful. 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 on your CD-ROM. This sample program can serve as a useful template for a wide variety of applications. This manual contains the following parts:

Part 1,Getting Started: A Quick Tour of the QCard Controller, will familiarize you with the QCard Controller and PowerDock (Chapters 1 and 2) and its programming environment, and get you writing your first program (Chapter 3). These first chapters guide you through the QCard Controller’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 examples of Chapter 3 you will have exercised some of the key hardware and software features of your controller. You might then leaf through the categorized list at the beginning of the C Forth Function Glossary to get a feel for the wealth of precoded library functions available for you to use.

Part 2, Programming the QCard Controller, provides everything you need to know to master real-time programming on the QCard Controller.

Part 3, Communications, Measurement and Control, 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.

Part 4, Putting It All Together, introduces a real-time interactive application, and provides code you can use as a template for your application. It also discusses the nuts and bolts of product integration, mounting, noise considerations and power requirements.

Part 5, Reference Data, contains detailed specifications, pint outs, and schematics.


QCard single board computer users guide

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