$69 ARM-equipped DIP runs fast BASIC
By Alex Mendelsohn, eeProductCenter
Jul 11 2006 (14:16 PM)

Tahoe Vista, Calif.—Putting lots of performance in a small pluggable 600-mil DIP package, the $69 ARMexpress DIP24 microcontroller is available from Coridium Corp.

The low-cost product is intended to help you rapidly create one-of-a-kind and/or small-volume applications, ranging from time-to-market prototypes to production and factory-floor systems. I'm sure it would also be useful in the lab, and most certainly for engineering educational or hobby applications, too.

As the name implies, ARMexpress brings the power of an ARM (Advanced RISC Machines) processor to your PC, leveraging USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectivity. You interact with the controller through a simple software communication package, and the USB interface accepts direct commands. Or, you can create a program file using any text editor such as Notepad.


Some things change and some things remain the same (remember when BASIC was all the rage?), and some things are just plain innovative. Marrying a 60-MHz ARM7 processor with an ARM BASIC compiler, the ARMexpress DIP24 module retains the ease of BASIC programming—but does it at speed. It can execute a whopping 10 million lines of BASIC code while handling one million I/O operations/s. You can use up to 16 TTL-compatible I/O pins.

In use, the system's on-board BASIC compiler generates code that runs up to 30 times faster than interpreted BASIC. In fact, that's on a par with compiled languages such as C. On-board memory stores approximately 3,000 lines of code and 10,000 variables. The ARMexpress DIP24 includes 128-kbytes of flash (40-kbytes available for user code) and 64-kbytes of SRAM for the user variables. You also get 4-kbytes of space in flash that's writeable.

Plentiful I/O

The module also includes built-in support for I2C, SPI, ASYNC, PWM, and 1-Wire communication schemes and protocols. ARMexpress also features digital I/Os that can be controlled individually, or as a group using INS and OUTS BASIC instructions.

The device is also pin-compatible with other of Coridium's DIP24 modules. The company's premiere product is its BASIC-8 industrial controller. It offers eight digital I/Os, eight high-current outputs, and a Web interface.

In the ARMexpress and BASIC-8, any BASIC variable that's declared WEB is visible on a Values page. It can therefore be read or modified using your browser. This is useful for parameters that you want to be able to change remotely. Moreover, variables declared as WEB READONLY can only be read, but not written to, through your browser. That's useful for data you want to monitor remotely but don't want a user to be able to modify.


Coridium supports its wares with an additional tool called BASICnode. It's a project board that includes a prototyping area that lets you configure circuitry for motors, relays, sensors, switches, LEDs, etc. The package includes a power supply, a cross-over Ethernet cable, and a CD with manual and a BASIC tutorial.

Finally, the ARMexpress includes its own regulated power supply, so the plug-in can run from 7-V to 12-V DC sources. It has on-board 3.3-V and 1.8-V regulators.

Click here to download a brief datasheet (in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format).

Click here to read a user manual on-line.

For more information, contact Bruce Eisenhard at Coridium Corp., PO Box 339, Tahoe Vista, Calf. 96148. Phone: 800-478-9020. Fax 800-478-99020. E-mail:

Coridium, 800-478-9020,

Copyright 2005 CMP Media LLC