A Hands-On Test of the Digital Discovery


About a month ago we released the Digital Discovery with the early adopter promo.

The Digital Discovery, High Speed Adapter, and 4 High Speed logic probes. Turning 4 pins into high speed inputs.

As I’ve watched those go out the door I’ve been eagerly awaiting feedback from customers and they begin to use their Digital Discoverys. One of the first I’ve seen is Steve Liebson from Xilinx who gave his take on the hands-on experience with the Digital Discovery. As a comparison he begins by recounting his first experience with a Logic Analyzer, the HP 1615A.

Well, it’s exactly 40 years later and see what time, Digilent, and Xilinx FPGA technology have wrought. Digilent’s $199.99 Digital Discovery provides the same number of logic-analysis channels as the $6800 HP 1615A but runs 10x to 40x faster and has a 2Gbit acquisition buffer. (The HP 1615A had a 6Kbit acquisition buffer, but that was 40 years ago.) In addition, the Digilent Digital Discovery can not only display digital signals, it can decode and trigger on commonly used serial-bus protocols including SPI, I²C, UART, I2S, and CAN. Of course, none of those even existed 40 years ago except for the UART NRZ protocol.

Next he goes over one of the most important factors (in my opinion) of any new tool… Is it easy to use? He recounts the installation process commenting that:

By the way, I did all of this without taking a peek at the manual.

Then he connected up the Digital Discovery to the Motor Control Shield’s I2C pins to decode the data, and viewed the PWM signal driving the servo. He provided a short video showing the signals.

Some of the captured I2C data.

Summarizing the experience, he recanted:

Again, setting up the Digital Discovery to capture this waveform is pretty simple, pretty intuitive.

To read his whole experience, check out this post on the xilinx forum.

If you are reading this, but need help with your Digital Discovery, make sure to take a peek at the Getting Started Guide and tutorials on our Wiki, and post on the Forum if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing more experiences and projects. Comment below with your experience with the Digital DIscovery.

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When I started school I wasn’t interested in any of things I’m passionate about now. In fact originally I started out wanting to study art. But then I decided I didn’t want to have people telling me what to create, so I changed to music. Then I decided I didn’t want to ruin a hobby by making it my career. At the same time my Physics class was teaching a unit on the physics of music, and I thought that was way interesting, so I changed to physics. Then by the time physics was over I decided that the coolest part of physics was electricity and magnetism, and I may as well get a degree that transfers directly into a career. So while all this was happening, I was attending Shoreline Community College, and during that time I found my passion, or rather presented itself repeatedly, until I realized, maybe I should take a hint from the universe. While at community college, I was asked to help at the high school by tutoring chemistry students. Then I was asked to help at the elementary school by being a math Olympiad coach. I continued both because I found I really enjoyed it. I also had an opportunity, and was hired to be a tutor in the Math Learning Center at the Community College, a job I really loved. At the same time I was working as a Nanny, which I had been doing for several years, the main reason because I could and would answer the hard questions the kids asked honestly (i.e. why is the sky blue). I then was recommended by the patrons of the MLC to the transfer tutoring center (private tutoring,) and developed a wait list of students. Through all these opportunities at some point I realized that I loved watching people go from totally lost, to masters of a subject. I was also forced to admit that having all these opportunities continually renewed, I must have been somewhat good at it. So I decided I wanted to teach, which fits with my mission oriented personality. I saw a serious lack of passionate ECE professors in the institutions I attended. At WSU I continued this trend by being ask to TA for computer science and electrical engineering, being a TA for a total of 4 semesters. This continued by getting an amazing opportunity in my first semester at Washington State University to work at Digilent, an educational company. So even if I didn’t want to teach, turns out I can’t avoid it. Luckily it is my main passion.

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