Success! I have managed to write and compile firmware for the FTDI Vinculum-II (VNC2) USB host IC so I can read HID reports from a Saitek Cyborg EVO joystick, parse the data into values for the X, Y, rotation and throttle axes and button states and transmit any change in values by UART which can be received by an MCU.
This is what I did:
First, I got a V2DIP1-32 development module. This is basically a VNC2 (the 32-pin version) on a PCB along with a 12 MHz crystal, a USB A socket, a 3.3 V voltage regulator, an LED and a couple of capacitors and resistors. In other words, only basic support components.
Next, I installed the Vinculum-II Toolchain (the development IDE) version 2.0.0 and then updated to SP1.
The IDE works ok. Especially the application wizard works well and gives you a good starting point for your own firmware by adding the necessary libraries, headers and scaffolding code based on your selection of IC, USB ports in use and required drivers.
But the IDE is Windows-only software… *sigh* I hate that. Fortunately I have my old MacBook Pro with Windows 7 on a Bootcamp partition.
Note: you don't need the VNC2 Debugger/Programmer Module to flash the VNC2 – the USB-to-UART cable is sufficient – even though the FTDI website states that the Debugger/Programmer module is required for initial programming.
On to the firmware itself. I did start by wasting a couple of hours by not reading the VNC2 dev board's datasheet closely enough to notice that the USB socket on the board is connected to USB port 2 and not – as I figured – port 1. After tweaking the supplied example project 'USBHostHID' and reading the documentation I pretty quickly had some firmware that did what I wanted: wait for a HID device with the specified VID/PID to be connected, read HID data, parse the data into corresponding X, Y, Rz, Z and button values and, if any values change, send the new values over the UART connection.
Here's the complete firmware project (including compiled .rom file).
And here is a sample dump of the UART output. If a line starts with a "S" it is a status message, if it starts with "E" it is an error message and otherwise it is a value update.
If you want to use this project to read data from your own joystick (and it's not a Saitek Cyborg EVO), you'll have to change:
- The VID/PID for the joystick:
// find VID/PID of Saitek Cyborg EVO device
hc_ioctVidPid.vid = 0x06a3;
hc_ioctVidPid.pid = 0x0464;
parse_hidmethod to match your own joystick's HID descriptor.
As kind of a bigger, more long-term project I've been thinking about building a small ROV. This is in no way a novel idea – there are lots and lots og DIY ROV projects out there (Google: build your own ROV). I live by a canal in Copenhagen habour so it would be fun to have a small underwater robot to play with.
There is a lot of hardware going into a ROV project so there's lots of potential for learning new technologies. One of the components is, of course, the control input device. I figured I would forego the usual clunky four-way tact switches and use a decent USB joystick instead – a Saitek Cyborg EVO to be specific. It has pitch, roll, yaw and throttle axes as well as a thumb hat switch and about a million push buttons.
This is a USB joystick and it uses the USB HID protocol. So I need the MCU to work as a USB host. This either involves a big nasty pile of firmware code or a MCU with ROM-based USB host drivers.
My current MCU of choice, the LPC1347, does not have USB host capabilities, but its bigger (but older) brother, the LPC1768 (and other in the LPC17xx series) does have USB host drivers.
However, instead of switching to another MCU I've decided use a dedicated USB host IC. That being the FTDI Vinculum-II. This chip will handle all the USB stuff: enumerating, connecting and so on. And it will be programmed with firmware that simply echoes HID data from the joystick to the MCU using either UART or SPI.
So – off to the store to get myself a development board version of the VNC2 (this one) and we'll see if I can get it working with the joystick…