Instruction Pipelines

Implementation of an instruction pipeline is a common technique used when working with microprocessors. Pipelining improves operation and processing time. Microprocessors such as the Microchip® PIC32MX460F512L on the chipKIT Pro MX4 board use this technology to provide efficient processing and instruction execution. Though the process is sophisticated, it is actually quite simple in concept. In my explanation of instruction pipelines, I’ll specifically refer to the Microchip PIC32 microprocessor.

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Solar Powered Robot — UV Index vs. Solar Energy

If you’ve been around the Digilent Blog, you’ve probably seen a lot of robots. Remember Susan the Line-Following Pig? Well, I recently found a small, portable solar panel in the MakerSpace at Digilent and I was inspired to build a solar-powered robot. Similar to Susan, I will be using the chipKIT Pro MX4 and the Digilent Motor Robot Kit (MRK) for my solar-powered design. However, when I first came up with this idea, it was the middle of winter. That being said, sunlight was quite a bit more scarce, especially up here in Pullman, WA. I first had to ask an important question: will I have enough sun?

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The Science of LEDs

LEDs are one of the coolest electronic components. They can brighten up any circuits project and turn it in to an eye-catching bonanza of blinking lights. Okay, corny imagery aside, they’re pretty cool. But have you ever thought of how they actually work? You likely already know that LED stands for light emitting diode. Where does the light emit from, though? There are no bulbs or filaments in an LED. So what’s going on in there that produces the glow that we love to have in all of our circuits?

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Kirchhoff’s Circuit Laws

In one of my first circuits courses, the professor’s favorite words of advice were to “keep calm and remember KCL, KVL, and Ohm’s law.” With these three concepts, just about any electrical circuit can be analyzed and understood. Granted, things get a little more complicated when you add concepts like inductance and capacitance, but KCL, KVL, and Ohm’s law form the foundation of all circuit analysis. Brandon mentioned Ohm’s law in his blog post on how to choose a resistor for your design, so I will only be discussing KCL and KVL.

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Electronics Explorer Board Fritzing Part Coming Soon!

If you have visited the Digilent Blog before, you have likely seen a mention or two of Fritzing. Fritzing is an open-source software tool that allows users to create professional images of electronics projects. We frequently use Fritzing to generate many of the images we use in our documentation here at Digilent. About a year ago, Digilent started working on creating our own parts for use within Fritzing. Check out this blog post for a quick tutorial of Fritzing and a link to some of the Digilent parts that have been created for Fritzing so far. Coming soon, we will have an exciting new addition to the library of Digilent parts in Fritzing– the Electronics Explorer Board!

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3D Printing the Impossible: A Penrose Triangle

An impossible object is a two-dimensional figure that, at first glance, looks like a real 3D object. However, further inspection will lead to the conclusion that the object can’t actually exist in 3D. One famous example of this is the Penrose triangle. The concept was used in M.C. Escher’s famous Waterfall, and you might also recognize it as Digilent’s logo.

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Getting to Know the Electronics Explorer Board

One of our lesser known products that definitely deserves some more attention is the Electronics ExplorerTM Board. This is an incredible piece of hardware that everyone interested in electronics should have. When I first started in electronics, I used the popular Analog Discovery. After using the EE Board, another analog design product offered by Digilent, it has become my new favorite.

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Digilent WaveForms Software — What Is It and Who Should Use It?

On our website, WaveForms is described as a powerful suite of virtual instruments that brings analog and digital circuit design to your PC desktop. The instruments within WaveForms include an oscilloscope, logic analyzer, arbitrary waveform generator, digital pattern generator, power supplies, a voltmeter, virtual I/O devices, and a spectrum analyzer. Okay, so there’s a long list of fancy technical terms. But what makes WaveForms so special?

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Microcontroller Dice Roller — Made in the MakerSpace

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ve probably seen something about us setting up our very own MakerSpace here at Digilent. We’ve come a long way from a few cluttered cubicles to getting our MakerSpace up and running. We have just about everything you can think of to make any project imaginable: a 3D printer, a soldering station, breadboards, buttons, copious amounts of LEDs, and more! I thought up a just-for-fun project and wanted to test drive the MakerSpace to see what I could build.

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Proximity-Sensing LEDs Part 2: On a PCB

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I designed the proximity-sensing LED circuit to eventually move it on to a printed circuit board, or PCB. This was my first experience with PCB layout, and thankfully it was successful! The board I designed is in the picture below. We ordered 6 “prints” and soldered them in our MakerSpace. I also included extra vias (electrical connections between the layers of the board) so that we could connect multiple boards together.

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Proximity-Sensing LEDs Part 1: On a Breadboard

Who doesn’t love interactive LEDs? This project started because I wanted to make a simple circuit that I could later move on to a printed circuit board (PCB) that I designed myself. (The original goal was to learn PCB design and layout.) This idea was given to me by my manager, Larissa, and was inspired by Evil Mad Science’s Octolively. Being an analog enthusiast, I came up with my own design that doesn’t use any ICs.

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