Hey folks, I wanted to thank you all for the support - VGATonic is a Semifinalist in the 2015 Hackaday Prize contest!
I also entered into the Best Product category, but VGATonic was edged out by 10 very excellent entries - five of which are in the running for both prizes! Congratulations to you all and best of luck!
That means I've got to pivot the messaging for VGATonic from just a 'product'; how can I ensure that we're building something here that matters?
The best argument, I think, boils down to enabling people to get started quickly with graphics (I laid out a similar argument in my second project log from this year's prize). There just are not a lot of other graphics cards examples out there, and we've already got something solid here - 640x480 VGA on a number of Linux single board computers (and some microcontrollers as well). Throw in the basic 2D acceleration stuff, and we're head and shoulders above most graphics projects.
There's more than enough here to show something useful... and hopefully even impactful!
So, with that in mind, I'm planning on exploring lighting up that RCA jack with some NTSC video next as an optional firmware. (NTSCTonic?). Then, in a single project, you'll be able to get from 0 to VGA or from 0 to NTSC very quickly - and perhaps with a nudge we can add PAL as well, covering a wide range of "first generation" video technologies. (I don't know much about SECAM, but I think NTSC/PAL/VGA covers most of the world)
It would be great to present an < $25 BOM board which can do either NTSC or VGA, dealer's choice, right? And having the platform is nice... but hopefully I document it in a creative way so this becomes educational as well! With the modest sized CPLD on board, it might make a reasonable project for an introduction to VHDL, before folks move on to FPGAs (even most entry level ones are at least 5x the relative logic size of the 144 macrocell CPLD). But, please, if you have ideas - brainstorm with me!
Congratulations to the other semifinalists, and good luck!