The Colour Maximite
The Colour Maximite is a small and versatile single chip computer running a full featured BASIC interpreter with 128K of working memory and eight colours on a VGA monitor.
It will work with a standard PC keyboard and because the Maximite has its own built in SD memory card and BASIC language you need nothing more to start writing and running BASIC programs.
The Colour Maximite also has 40 input/output lines including an Arduino compatible connector. These I/Os can be independently configured as analog inputs, digital inputs or digital outputs. You can measure voltage, frequencies, detect switch closure, etc and respond by turning on lights, closing relays, etc - all under control of your BASIC program.
The design and the firmware including the BASIC interpreter is free to download and use.
And all this is powered by a single chip which costs just $9.58.
The Colour Maximite was described in the September 2012 and October 2012 issues of Silicon Chip magazine. The original monochrome Maximite was described in the March, April and May 2011 issues of Silicon Chip magazine.
Both designs use a single microcontroller (the PIC32) for all processing and have a similar component count and cost. The difference is that the Colour Maximite is a more modern design that was able to use improvements in the Maximite firmware to deliver colour, stereo sound and other features.
This is the short list of features in both designs:
|Self contained high performance micro computer with a 32 bit CPU and 128K RAM.|
|Full featured BASIC interpreter and operating system. Instant on, ready for you to type in and test your programs.|
|VGA output. 480x432 pixels.||COLOUR
|VGA output. 240x216 pixels. Eight colour game playing mode.|
|Monochrome Composite Video output (selectable PAL or NTSC)|
|Standard PS2 style keyboard input.|
|Synthesised music and sound effects (using the MOD format).||STEREO||MONO|
|Battery backed real time clock.|
|20 external I/O lines on the back panel.|
|Arduino compatible connector with an additional 20 I/O lines that are independent of the original 20 I/Os.|
|SD card for storing programs and files (up to 32GB).|
|USB for connecting to a personal computer (Windows, Mac or Linux) as a terminal or for file transfer.|
|Extensive communications protocols including Serial (RS232 and RS485 with transceivers), I2C, SPI, CAN and 1-wire.|
|PWM analog output.||DUAL||SINGLE|
|Graphics includes selectable fonts, user designed fonts, drawing lines, circles, squares and control over any pixel with any colour.|
|Special commands for animated games.|
|Firmware upgrades via USB.|
|Powered from USB, 9V plug pack (wall wart) or battery.|
Where Can I Get It?
For the original (monochrome) Maximite check this page.
For the Colour Maximite you have a number of choices:
- Download the construction pack, source the required parts and build your own Colour Maximite. None of the parts are propriety so you should be able to build the Colour Maximite for about $40. To make it easier you can purchase the pre programmed microcontroller and printed circuit board from Silicon Chip magazine. All the details are on the Colour Maximite Design and Construction page.
- You can purchase a complete kit of parts for the Colour Maximite which includes a copy of the magazine articles from Altronics for A$95 (they can ship the kit to anywhere in the world). This approach is the easy option as you get all the parts including the pre cut box and the microcontroller is pre programmed and soldered to the board. See this link for details.
- CircuitGizmos (in the USA) has a fully assembled and tested version of the Colour Maximite called the CGCOLORMAX2. It is fully compatible with the Colour Maximite and has some extra features such as a RS232/485 driver. At a cost of about US$50 it is unbeatable value and makes an excellent alternative to building your own. See this link for details.
- Purchase a UBW32 experimenter's board (about US$40) and build a Colour Maximite around that. Details are on the page UBW32 version of the Colour Maximite. Mick Gulovsen has designed a low cost (about $6) circuit board that holds the extra components required to turn the UBW32 into a full Colour Maximite. Mick has even written a comprehensive assembly manual. See this link for more details.
- A UK company has come up with an innovative Colour Maximite design aimed at the education market. It is called the Maximite FUZE and it includes a case with a keyboard and a breadboard area for experimenting with add on circuits. More details are at http://fuze.co.uk.
When you do have your Colour Maximite up and running remember to download the demonstration music and colour files from the download area below and give them a run. The result is stunning (an example is shown below).
More InformationThis website contains everything you need to build and play with your own Maximite.
For information on the Colour Maximite click on these links:
- Description and Specifications
- Design and Construction
- UBW32 version of the Colour Maximite
- Photo Gallery
For details of the original (monochrome) Maximite click on these:
- Description and Specifications
- Design and Construction
- The mini-Maximite, a miniature version of the Maximite
- The DuinoMite, a Maximite clone
Other useful pages:
- MMBasic introduction
- The MMBasic home page at http://mmbasic.com
- Firmware downloads
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Maximite Story (how it came about)
New Firmware - V4.5
A new version of MMBasic is available for download at the bottom of this page. This version is a major update and includes support for InfraRed remote control, numeric keypads, LCD Display Modules, distance measurement and many other special devices. Because of the significant number of changes and bug fixes an upgrade to this version is recommended.
The change log (included in the download) provides full details of all changes. The update can be applied via USB from a Windows computer and all software and instructions are included in the download.
When a new version of MMBasic is available I will post it on this web page. To save you from having to check this web page all the time I can also send you an email. To enable this please enter your email address in the box below and click on Submit. You have my word that your address will be held confidential and will only be used when an update is available.
The first thing that you should read is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list as this covers construction problems, usage questions and general questions related to all Maximites (colour, monochrome, DuinoMite, etc).
Also, you should check the list of current bugs found in MMBasic as it lists any faults found in the current version and provides workarounds if applicable.
The Back Shed has an active forum where a many knowledgeable users are happy to help newcomers to the Maximite and MMBasic: http://www.thebackshed.com/forum/forum_topics.asp?FID=16
The MMBasic library is a collection of programs specifically written for MMBasic. These include games like Space Invaders and Pacman, demonstration snippets of code and programs to do interesting things like generate morse code. Because the programs are so small they are all bundled together into a single downloadable file available in the download section below.
The library is managed by Hugh Buckle and is a great resource for beginners and experts alike. If you have written a program for MMBasic and you believe that it is worth sharing, please send it to Hugh at and he will add it in. You should also include a description of what the program does for the library index.
Interesting Web Sites
Two excellent classic games for the Maximite plus a file manager:
The Back Shed forum is a great place to hang out and disscuss the Maximite and microcontrollers:
A video clip showing a moon lander game running on the Colour Maximite with sound effects:
http://youtu.be/knq5vX65Xy4 (the program is included in the MMBasic Library which can be downloaded below)
A short video clip which provides an excellent introduction to the original monochrome Maximite:
And another clip which introduces the Colour Maximite:
A few reviews of the Altronics kits for the Maximite:
A benchmark showing the speed of the Maximite compared to the 80's style computers (it is fast):
RetroBSD. A port of BSD Unix running on the original and Colour Maximite (also see downloads below):
Glenn from Melbourne built his Maximite from scratch (including the PCB):
A video clip showing the world's smallest Maximite in action:
Source Code to MMBasic
The source code for MMBasic is available from the main MMBasic website at http://mmbasic.com
All downloads are for the current version. Older versions can be found in the archive.
The firmware updates include all the relevant documentation (it does not have to be separately downloaded).
|Maximite Hardware Manual||DOWNLOAD|
|MMBasic Language Manual||DOWNLOAD|
|MMBasic Language Manual - Russian language version by Alexey Skomorohov (V4.4 only)||DOWNLOAD|
|MMBasic Change Log||DOWNLOAD|
|Colour MMBasic for the UBW32||DOWNLOAD|
|Using Serial Over USB on the Macintosh||DOWNLOAD|
|Colour Maximite MMBasic firmware V4.5 (also for the UBW32 with colour)||DOWNLOAD|
|Monochrome Maximite MMBasic firmware V4.5||DOWNLOAD|
|DuinoMite MMBasic firmware V4.5||DOWNLOAD|
|DOS MMBasic V4.5||DOWNLOAD|
|Special Version of V4.5 with support for CAN (Controller Area Network)||DOWNLOAD|
|MMBasic Library dated 1-Nov-2014 (user written programs for MMBasic)||DOWNLOAD|
|Demonstration programs for the Colour Maximite (including a synthesiser demo)||DOWNLOAD|
|Windows Serial Port Driver (for connection to the Maximite via USB - Windows only)||DOWNLOAD|
|BSD Unix for the Colour Maximite (by Serge Vakulenko)||DOWNLOAD|
|MMEdit, a full featured editor for MMBasic (it runs on your PC). By Jim Hiley||WEB SITE|
|Sprite and Font File Editor for the Maximite (written by Fabrice Muller)||DOWNLOAD|