HSC-5100 Computer
The HSC-5100 computer was quite a powerful embedded computer for 1990. It had a total of a megabyte of memory during the time when the typical PC had the same.
The HSC-5102 was a complete computer with the HSC-5100 PCB mounted on a metal panel with a power supply and a 640x480 monochrome LCD on the other side and a touch panel. The package was then mounted on sock knitting machines. The computer was connected via ten conductor ribbon cables to I/O cards to interface to the mechanics of the knitting machine
Pre-USB To communicate with the I/O cards an optically isolated serial interface was developed. It communicated at 2M bits per second. The I/O card would hold in a reset state when the clock from the computer was not present keeping the machine in a safe state. Much of the architecture used is now seen in the ubiquitous USB interface.
Programmable I/O The I/O cards used LCAs (Logic Cell Array) that were programmed at startup time. This allowed for the design to be updated in the software.
Flash Memory Flash was new technology and only starting to take part of the optically erasable or one-time programmable memory market. The program could be updated via the network.
Optical Network The machines were in a harsh environment and we developed a fiber optic network using plastic fibers. We could monitor the machines, update the software, and update the sock patterns and programs over the network.
LCD controller VRAM (Video RAM) and an LCA was used for the display controller. Black, white, and grey was achieved by modulation techniques on a display that was black and white only.
Touch Panel The touch panel used an 8 bit analog to digital converter which allowed us to resolve a 256 by 256 grid. However, with numerous issues to resolve and limited processing time to allocate to the touch panel, we had an 8 by 8 grid in software.
Diagnostic LEDs A virtual trademark of our projects was the cluster of four red and four green diagnostic LEDs. After all, looking at a computer does not let you know if it is running unless there is something that shows activity. At power on a dance would occur that would show the self-test progress. During operation each LED would blink in sequence to show that the system was actually running. Errors would flash an error code.
Heritage Systems Corporation ●