Monthly Archives: August, 2014
We are going to continue with our Pmod series and talk about how you get the Pmod (peripheral module) to do what you want it to do. After all, it is not the best plan (especially in electronics) to just plug something in to a random spot and hope the device works correctly. The vast majority of the peripheral modules in the Pmod line collect or receive data (or both) and need to communicate this data with the host board. A GPS module that doesn’t send its coordinates to the host or an audio amplifier that does not receive data from the host are not terribly useful. Successful communication is key in any relationship, electronic or otherwise.
In December 2013, Digilent received a cold call from Imagination Technologies. They loved our WiFi-enabled WF32 — but what if it had the latest PIC32 MZ-architecture processor instead of the MX processor that other chipKIT products have? After all, the MZ not only show-cased Imagination’s IP core (the way the processor is put together), but it was the ideal processor to run FlowCloud, their internet of things (IoT) solution. So, they asked, “Would it be possible to have 1000 of the retooled product by March?” It was with this seemingly out-of-the-blue call that the development of the chipKIT Wi-FIRE began!
As you learned from James’ post, Digilent offers 63 Pmods! Each of those products has its own story of its conception and evolution. One of those products that had a very interesting beginning is the PmodLS1.
A few weeks ago while chatting with James (another intern) and Gene (our co-founder) we were discussing how the company began and how the board design process works. In this discussion we discovered that the Pmod LS1 has a beginning in education at Washington State University.
Have you ever had trouble separating your shields and boards? So did we, but not anymore! Use this shield separator tool to pry between your chipKIT or Arduino board and a shield to easily separate the two and avoid bending the pins on your shield. It also has a hole so you can keep it on your key ring and have it wherever you go. I designed the tool in Autodesk Inventor and printed it with our Makerbot Replicator, and it turned out great!
We have made a few posts showing off our 3D printers and some of the classes on 3D printing that we have done here at Digilent. Garrett Mace from macetech.com showed us some of the basics on how to use various 3D modeling software like AutoDesk Inventor, Autodesk 123D Design, OpenSCAD, MeshMixer, and SketchUp. Today, I’m going to introduce some of the basic modeling tools available in the free but robust Blender.
We are excited to announce the launch of our newest category on our website!
We’ve been making NI Academic Hardware for years and even sold a few on our website (although we had them stashed in multiple categories). We decided that NI week would be perfect timing–it’s an amazing event around the LabVIEW community, close to the start of the new Academic calendar and most importantly, our product development team had just released 4 brand new products targeted for NI Academic Hardware. We decided it was high time to create a special category for our parent company.
In 2010, I decided to go back to school and earn my degree. After a few semesters of class and a few months working part time retail at RadioShack, I had learned a few things and decided to start building. At the time, all I had were some Craftsman screwdrivers that my dad had given me for Christmas, a few pliers, some wire cutters, and a hammer. Basically the kind of stuff you would find in an all-in-one homeowner’s tool kit. Needless to say, those tools weren’t really helpful when it came to building a motion sensing AC switch, or soldering together some under-cabinet lighting. I needed to get the right tools for the job at hand.
Robotics isn’t always immediately accessible. There are kits and tutorials, and a huge community built up around robotics, but it’s still an expensive hobby to get into. Many cheap robotics platforms can cost upwards of a hundred dollars, which can seem overwhelming when you’re young and just getting started. That’s why I started a series on Instructables dedicated to using cheap materials and an arts-and-crafts mentality to make robotics cheaper and more approachable for everybody!
At Washington State University, the electrical engineering department uses Digilent FPGAs in several classes. Students are allowed to pick from a variety of our FPGAs. The main choice is between the Nexys or Basys lines of FPGAs. As a student, I hear a lot of confusion from students about the differences between the two series of boards. I figured that students can’t be the only ones who have questions about the difference, so I decided to write a quick summary of the differences. I’ll be using the Nexsys 4 and the soon-to-be newest member of the Basys series as an example. I’ve compiled two lists to highlight the differences between the two.