Alee aims to prove the effectiveness of programming microcontrollers in Forth for both education as well as production. It consists of two projects:
- Alee Forth, a compact, portable, and standards-compliant Forth implementation.
- Alee devboard, an Arduino-form-factor development board featuring an MSP430FR microcontroller with FRAM.
The word alee is a nautical term, meaning to be on the side of the ship where one can take shelter from oncoming wind. Given today's rush towards ever-newer technologies and programming languages, Alee Forth and the devboard allow you to take a step back towards older, mature tech to look at its nuanced simplicity.
The Alee "devboard" is purpose-built for use with Alee Forth. The on-board microcontrollers features 64kB of fast and non-volatile FRAM: the result is an on-board Forth "IDE" that retains your work even after power is removed. All you need to begin tinkering is a USB cable, a computer, and a serial terminal program.
Here are some 3D renders of the devboard. I'll have an actual board assembled soon and will add photos of that then.
The microcontroller runs at 16MHz and includes numerous peripherals: ADC, UART, SPI, I2C, timers, RTC. The Forth interpreter uses less than 8kB of FRAM and utilizes the available 8kB of SRAM for large data and return stacks. There are also two buttons and two RGB LEDs for some basic input/output to get started with.