Newton Research Labs: Robotics Systems and Software

Onset Tattletale Model 8 68332 board

The Onset Tattletale Model 8 68332 board has a 68332 processor, 256K or 1M of RAM, 128K or 1M of EEPROM, an analog to digital converter, and other support circuitry needed for using a 68332 processor.


Newton Research Labs is in no way affiliated with these products or companies. The following information is based on our own experience with the products and are our own opinions. Please contact the manufacturers directly if you have questions or if you want to place orders.


Tattletale Model 8 Picture


The Tattletale Model 8 is a very small 68332 board optimized for low power consumption. It comes in a number of memory configurations with 128K or 1Meg of Flash EEPROM, and 256K of static RAM or 1Meg pseudo-static RAM. An optional expansion board (shown in the picture) provides serial and power connections, prototyping area, and access to the 68332 signals. The Tattletale also includes an analog to digital converter, and a PIC microcontroller (which is meant to handle power management) on board.


The printed circuit board used by the Tattletale Model 8 is well engineered and of high quality. Like Motorola, and unlike Vesta, the board is a multi-layer surface mount design. In addition to being more compact, this type of construction leads to cleaner signals (which is helpful for the analog to digital conversion) than the 2-layer through-hole construction Vesta uses.

An advantage of using this board is that, unlike the other two, there are no jumpers, so you can't prevent the board from working by setting them wrong. The fact that there are no jumpers points out that this board is in some ways less flexible than the other two. However, the robust implementation of the boot EEPROM mostly removes the need for the jumpers used by the other boards. Unlike the BCC and SBC332, the Tattletale allows reprogramming of its boot device (EEPROM) without requiring board modifications, extra hardware, or a device programmer. This feature is extremely nice, as is the inclusion of an analog to digital converter.

The drawback of the Tattletale Model 8 is the issue of connectors. The Model 8 by itself includes two small rows of female header at either end of the board (see picture). These provide easy access to a small number of signals, including analog inputs and some digital input and output lines. Unfortunately, these headers do not include any bus signals or chip selects. The bus, chip selects, and other signals are available as flat gold pads which are meant to connect to other hardware using "Squishybus" connectors. Unfortunately, these cost $45 a pair, and are not .1" spaced, so they do not interface to anything but custom designed PC boards. In order to gain useful access to these signals, you must buy the PR-8 expansion board (shown in the picture), which considerably increases the cost of the system.

In conclusion, the Tattletale Model 8 has more features than the Vesta and Motorola 68332 boards, but more is difficult and expensive to interface to because of the way the connectors are arranged. If you want a system that you can use for prototyping, expect to pay around $650, about twice what the others cost. However, the smaller size, low power features, analog to digital conversion, and especially the extremely nicely implemented EEPROM, may make it worth the extra money for your application. Also, much of the annoyance and cost associated with the connectors may go away if you design a compatible printed circuit board.

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