Monthly Archives: October, 2014

Contest
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We are excited about our projects for Digilent’s first Halloween contest! From the extremely creepy to the rather cute, the contest submissions were wonderful! All of the participants will be getting tickets to go to “Haunted Palouse”. What we need help with is giving out the $200 first prize! Take a look at the contest submissions and vote for your favorite using the SodaPop poll system!

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Projects
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With Halloween coming up soon, I decided to make a cool Halloween prop using Digilent products. After grabbing a chipKIT uC32, a couple of shift registers, a bunch of LEDs, breadboard jumper wires, and a PmodMAXSONAR, I was able to make a distance detecting Halloween Box Monster.

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Tutorial
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Previously, I posted about what a debugger is. Other than all the great features I described in my debugger post, you may be wondering–why does Digilent care? As you probably know, we use many of Microchip’s wonderful products in our chipKIT and chipKIT Pro boards. We still want to address the overarching differences between the user experiences using chipKIT and chipKIT Pro boards, so we’re going to talk about the differences between MPLAB and MPIDE!

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Workshop
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Digilent is proud to announce that together with our Brazilian distribution partner, Anacom, and our academic partner Xilinx University Program, we will be hosting a workshop, “FPGA Design Flow using Vivado,” from Oct 29-30. This course will provide professors with an introduction to digital design tool flow in Xilinx All Programmable devices using Xilinx Vivado Design Suite. It will be held at Escola Politécnica da UFBA, Brazil. Attendees will use the Digilent Nexys 4 and the Xilinx Vivado Design Suite to gain the hands-on experience with digital design, basic HDL knowledge, Xilinx 7-series architecture overview, and Xilinx Vivado design suite.

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Our Team
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The Digilent brand has become pretty pervasive in both the classroom and the industry over the past decade, but the sophistication of our product line belies the small size of our company. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that each of the nearly 14 thousand orders we ship each year are hand-packaged by one of the only three people that make up our shipping department.

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Pmod
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As we continue on with our exploration of the Pmods, after checking out some of the Output Pmods like the DAC, Audio, and Visual Pmods, we find ourselves at the final set (at least for now) of output Pmods. These five Pmods all drive different types of motors including servo, DC, and stepper motors. Through these Pmods, you can get your project on the move, whether its a robot arm, a box monster, or a line-following robot.

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Guide
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So what exactly is LabVIEW? LabVIEW is National Instruments’ program development environment. The name is short for “laboratory virtual instrument engineering workbench”. NI created LabVIEW to enable domain experts to focus on building systems by abstracting the hardware and software. For example, their hardware and software allows a chemist to focus on chemistry and not get bogged down with analog signal conditioning for thermal couples or advanced programming techniques.

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Contest
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At Digilent, we are huge fans of Instructables.com. Free, easy to use, and lots of inspiring projects… we think that it’s an amazing platform for people/students to share their projects with the world. Just take a look at our MakerSpace page at http://digilentinc.com/MakerSpace and you will see over 30 projects that have been created in the past 3 months. So what happens when you combine Instructables, Halloween, and people using Digilent products? We have a Halloween contest!

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Projects
1

At one point or another, we have all played the “Simon Says” game. In this game, one person, Simon (or Susan, Chad, or whoever happens to be the leader), will say “Simon says” and tell all of the other players to do something, such as raise their left hand. The catch in this game is that if the leader tells the other players to do something without saying the words “Simon says” and the other players do it anyway, they’re out. I personally really enjoy playing Simon Says, but I thought it could even be more fun if you could play Simon Says with a bunch of LEDs…

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Digilent Design Contests
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To me, one of the most enjoyable company events is being a judge for the Digilent Design Contest US each year. I get to meet the talented students who are involved and play around the innovative applications powered by Digilent hardware. As Digilent boards are used worldwide, the Digilent Design Contest is also held worldwide in Europe, Japan, and China. Every two years, Digilent will bring top teams from each region to compete for the world championship. This year, the worldwide finals were held at the Digilent China Training Center in Shanghai.

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About
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You might have noticed that we’re pretty fond of our Instructables at Digilent. In the tutorials we post here on the blog, we often include a link to a corresponding Instructable. So that begs the question — what do we use Instructables for, since we could also write the tutorial on the blog?

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New Product
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Have you been looking for a microcontroller development board that you can use for a wide variety of PIC, PIM and DIP arrangements? We have the board for you! The Universal Development Board (UDB) was created for anyone who wants to be able to utilize multiple functionalities on the same board. You can easily use this board for multiple microcontroller development projects, which makes this board really useful and cool! This board is complex, but don’t be scared away–all the functionality you require was thought of and put into this board.

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Guide
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Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is a technique that takes advantage an electronic device’s capability to rapidly “pulse” one of its digital pins between logic high and logic low voltage states. The idea is that the switching between the two voltage states in a desired pattern will produce an “average” voltage somewhere between the high and low voltage inputs. If, within a given period, the pin is at a high voltage level more often than a low one, an overall higher voltage (but less than the full strength input voltage) will be observed.

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Projects
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Coffee is taken very seriously here at Digilent, as it is in most workplaces. Something that used to make me mad was not knowing when my coffee hit that perfect “Goldilocks” temperature zone where it didn’t burn my mouth but was warm enough to fully enjoy. I am currently working on developing a thermocouple Pmod using Analog Devices MAX31855 and thought of a great application project. If I could somehow sense how hot the temperature of the coffee was, I could have a microcontroller tell me when my coffee hit the perfect temperature range!

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Guide
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A while ago, we learned that one of the ways that Pmods are able to communicate with their host board is through SPI. We learned then that serial peripheral interface is a type of communication protocol where the “master” board and the “slave” device (in this case, a Pmod) are able to send bits of data to each other at the same time with the host board controlling the timing of the communication. Although this is a nice overview, it is my personal experience that theoretical overviews are not the most helpful in actually implementing what we are learning. This begs the question: how do you use SPI? Lets find out!

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