Friday, March 19, 2010

The InterSceptre

This blog will also be used to inform you about the Sceptre, the open source & hardware ARM7-based 32-bit fast prototyping platform as published in Elektor. In the Pages box on the right of this article you will find a link to a special Sceptre page. All information about updates will be posted there; it is sort of the project’s home page.

The Sceptre is my baby and (for the moment) I do all the development for it. Currently I am working on an extension I/O board on which you can plug a Sceptre so that it can talk to the rest of the world. At the same time my goal is to make this board as universal as possible so that it can also be used with other microcontrollers. Except for its name, InterSceptre, and some component print this I/O board will not be Sceptre specific.

The InterSceptre is due for the June issue of Elektor and I am almost done with the circuit diagram. The board will feature lots of communication interfaces: 2x RS-232, 2x RS-485 (so RS-422 is possible too), MIDI in/out, DMX-512 (OK, that’s just RS-485 with a different connector), a WIZnet module for Internet connection, SPI, PS/2 and I2C. USB is available on the Sceptre itself, but a dedicated USB connector for ISP/serial comms will be on the InterSceptre. I also added a JTAG connector and a 4-way multiplexed DAC (the LPC2148 used on the Sceptre has a 10-bit DAC). To stay flexible the board will have a 25-pin DB connector to give access to the ADC inputs and PWM outputs, and some other GPIO.

All of this can of course (unfortunately) not be used at the same time, but I am confident that it will be useful anyway for many applications.

The universal side of the board is also emphasized by its power supply and it will work with 5V and 3V3 systems. The Sceptre is a 3V3 system but 5V tolerant and I will soon show you how you can use it with a 5V I2C controller.

Contrary to the Sceptre, the InterSceptre will only use easy to solder (change/replace/remove) through-hole parts so mounting it will be possible for anyone capable of holding a soldering iron.

That’s all for now folks, I have a PCB to draw.


  1. Hi, I was just wondering if there's some documentation on the many jumpers and switches on the InterSceptre? It can be quite puzzling to work out what's needed for specific funtions and certain combinations are mutually exclusive.

  2. Hello ImmerNochARM,

    I started an Excel file, but since I cannot post any files here you will have to wait until it comes on-line on the InterSceptre page on the Elektor web site. This will probably only be after the weekend.


  3. Still having fun with Sceptre/InterSceptre (got the jumpers sorted out now, thanks!), so just wondering if there are any plans for other boards for InterSceptre? I am still busy with the LPC2148, but just curious to know if Elektor may publish Sceptre-like boards with other microcontrollers in the future. The InterSceptre is a very well thought-out dev board and CPU-neutral.

    1. There have been vague plans to do AVR and PIC adapter boards, but nothing definite yet. If there is demand, I will try something.