Monthly Archives: April, 2015

Tutorial
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In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, we’re also going to look at one of the posts on the blog from last November. James, one of our interns, explained exactly what a stepper motor is and how they work. It’s in-depth and incredibly useful.

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Learn.Digilent
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This week for our Richard Wall series, instead of uploading another project, I’ll just present a master post that includes a list of all of the blog posts in the Advanced Microcontroller course. Hopefully this will make navigation easier if you’re just getting into this now. The post will be updated every time a new project is posted on the blog.

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Microcontrollers
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We’ve all seen the very popular quadcopters that people enjoy making. But today I found something new (to me, at least!) and exciting on Instructables — a hexacopter drone made using the chipKIT Wi-FIRE and the chipKIT PGM Programmer/Debugger.

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Tutorial
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We hear words like gigabyte (GB) and terabyte thrown around a lot, but what can we actually do with that much memory? At the most basic level of computing, we have bits, which are going to be either a 1 or 0. A byte is 8 bits. We’re going to represent a byte as a dot.

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Recap
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We hope this week been good for you. We’ve been busy preparing for the summer here at Digilent. We’ve worked on a couple of really big projects, including a release of LabVIEW Home Edition. Have a good weekend!

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New Product
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NI LabVIEW is a graphical programming platform used by millions of engineers and scientists for problem solving, data acquisition & analysis, instrument control, automated testing & validation, prototyping, and more. Now, there’s LabVIEW Home, a brand new product for Digilent, which has been targeted at makers and students, allowing anyone to program visually, using icons and wires to connect hardware and other applications in a single environment.

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Our Team
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When Norm MacDonald started working full-time for Digilent back in 2005 – 2006, most of our products were sold in very basic packaging (think anti-static bags and plain white boxes). Totally understandable for a starting company. A few boards were given a bit of branding, though. The Basys and Nexys, of course. These were the simple boxes those came in at the time. (They may have been done by Clint or Jim or some combination of the two.)

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Community
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Happy Earth Day! The Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) is celebrating Earth Day by promoting their collaborative project that they’ve been working on for the last five years. Instead of simply using the internet for information retrieval as a tool for teaching children about the world around them, the CIESE’s program encourages students to get out into their communities and study their local environments and then share that with the other program participants across the globe. The children involved are excited about the opportunity to do real science like their heroes and to share and learn with the rest of the world.

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Learn.Digilent
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Last week, we talked about using chipKIT Pro and asynchronous communication in our Digilent Learn module that covers Richard Wall’s material. Today, we’re going to get into the ninth project in this series using the chipKIT Pro MX7.

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Projects
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This time of year, it’s easy to slip into a funk of finals and stress-inducing studying. But how to snap out of this haze? With some fun LEDs, of course. Will’s proximity-sensing LED projects from last year provide a fun, cheerful break from end-of-semester blues.

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FPGA
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Who doesn’t love the classic game of tic-tac-toe? And now it can be made new and fresh with the Nexys 2 FPGA board!

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Teaching Material
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If you’ve ever dual-booted a computer, you’ve probably used a LiveUSB. A LiveUSB contains an entire operating system, which can be booted from the USB. While I’ll only used LiveUSBs to install Linux, they can be used with other types of operating systems (like Windows To Go and Macs).

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Recap
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Happy National Library Week! We hope it’s been good for you. We’ve been busy preparing for the summer here at Digilent. We’re working on a couple of really big projects that you’ll get to see soon. Have a good weekend!

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Guide
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This week happens to be National Library week, and although Digilent is not a library, we certainly use them! I’m not referring to public libraries, though (although I am personally a fan of them); rather, I’m talking about the C++ libraries that are widely used with our microcontrollers. Although C++ libraries are not quite the same as an IP for FPGAs, they serve a similar purpose. These libraries include a set of predefined functions that perform a specific task, such as sending and receiving a set of data over SPI, that the user can use without having to define what they do.

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Guide
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Back in March, we released a blog post announcing the ZYBOt. There was a set of Instructables and a video showing what the ZYBOt is all about. If you check those out, you can see that the ZYBOt is remote-controlled and has a video feed that can be displayed to a computer. The ZYBOt is a great project for people that want to dive into working with FPGAs and Linux.

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Community
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In a contest between robot and human…the robot won (at least this round). Breaking one of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, our normally friendly Turbo managed to get in a hit at one of our interns last week when she was troubleshooting.

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STEM Culture
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The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) has been at the forefront of engineering in the UK since 1919. It has since gone global and is now a vital resource not only for women in engineering, but as a snapshot of general progress in engineering since the society’s inception. The WES has been publishing its quarterly journal since World War I, and to commemorate its upcoming centennial, they are seeking to digitize the journals.

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