New FIGnition inFUZE 8-bit computer takes ‘build-your-own’ hardware design into education

RS Components (RS) has announced the availability of FIGnition inFUZE, a new customised version of the low-cost, self-assembly 8-bit FIGnition computer that has been developed primarily for educational use as a simple and practical aid to understanding basic computing.

FIGnition is supplied as a kit of parts comprising a small, bare PCB and a set of components including an 8-bit 20MHz ATmega328 microcontroller, a 512Kbyte Flash memory chip and an 8Kbyte RAM device.

Designed for construction by beginners, FIGnition comes pre-loaded with the Forth programming language, providing a simple, efficient environment in which to interactively learn and run computer code. Power is supplied via a USB port, and the board connects to a PAL or NTSC format TV displaying a 25 x 24 text or 160 x 160 bitmapped graphic image. No external keyboard and mouse are required to get started: all commands and programming can be executed easily using the on-board eight-key keypad.

FIGnition inFUZE from RS is supplied with a set of sample programs including games and utilities pre-programmed into the Flash memory chip. Schools will find the analogue data logger useful as it allows students to connect up simple sensors and graphically display the measurements. All source code is visible allowing students to experiment by modifying existing code before moving on to create their own.

Comprehensive assembly instructions and easy-to-follow tutorials are provided on the FIGnition website. Additional support is available through the growing user community, which provides a forum for sharing the experiences of other FIGnition developers.

Requiring only basic peripherals, FIGnition inFUZE is a simple, low-cost option for anyone wishing to understand the essentials of computing, and can be soldered together in as little as one hour. The inspiration behind FIGnition, for creator Julian Skidmore, was the earlier generation of 8-bit computers such as the Sinclair ZX80, which gave many of today’s electronics engineers their first taste of hardware design.

“Building the FIGnition inFUZE from scratch is a great, interactive way for young people to gain their first hands-on learning experience of how computer hardware works,” said Jonathan Boxall, Global Head of Semiconductors, RS Components. “Its low selling price makes it widely accessible and a valuable tool for educational purposes. It is one of a growing number of easy-to-use open-source development boards that provide a fun and useful introduction to computing to the engineers of the future.”


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