We here at Digilent Inc. are proud to be a leading hardware provider for educators, students, professionals, hobbyists, and hackers alike. We have developed numerous devices to help with every stage of developing projects, from learning the basics to prototyping to finished projects. If you can think of it, we have the hardware to help you build it. So it should come as no surprise that we have a few options to choose from should you decide you want a parts kit to go along with your new Electronics Explorer Board or chipKIT Max32. So, which kit is right for you? Well I’m here to help make that decision a little easier. I will be discussing three kits that we offer: the chipKIT Starter Kit, the Analog Parts Kit, and the TI myParts kit.
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.
As we continue on with our Pmod series featuring one of Digilent’s largest product lines, we find ourselves needing to see what’s going on inside of our microcontrollers and FPGAs as they race through their code at 80,000,000 times a second (or even faster!). Once again, Digilent has a variety of solutions to solve our dilemma. Our visual Pmods range from simple LEDs and a seven-segment display (SSD) to complex OLED and LCD screens.
You may recall a post we had a few days back on the Pmods that offered a DAC. As I mentioned then, DACs are used for a wide variety of applications but one of the most common ways that you see a DAC being used is in audio applications. Digilent’s Pmod line offers several audio peripheral modules that do just that.
Previously, we had the chance to take a look at the LS1, which is a great Pmod to use with line-following robots such as Susan. Today, we’ll take a look at five of the digital-to-analog converter (DAC) Pmods. Four of them are conveniently named DA1, DA2, DA3, and DA4, and the last one is a R-2R circuit.
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.
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.
I’m a big fan of the chipKIT WF32. It’s a powerful little board with a WiFi card and SD card reader built in, but there’s a lot more to this board than meets the eye. There are a ton of communication lines, external interrupts, output compare pins, and more hidden in all those GPIO pins, but how do you tell what is what? That’s where the WF32 pin diagram comes in. I’ve compiled, color coded, and listed what each pin is capable of.
Many of you have likely done some soldering before, but if you are like me, you may not be familiar with all the different soldering iron tips that are out there. I know that I used to be under the impression that there were only two types of soldering iron tips and only one useful type–the one currently on the soldering iron.
A few weeks ago, we found ourselves in the Digilent Makerspace tinkering with some fantastic LED strips, the WS2811 / WS2812. If you haven’t played with these yet, you really ought to. I grew up loving colored lights. Some kids threw the baseball, while I made amusing shapes on a Lite-Brite and begged to put Christmas lights in my window in mid-September. That being said, you can see how giving a weirdo like me a strip of individually-controlled LEDs, each supporting 24-bit color, would be like giving matches to a madman.
One of the best parts of traveling to a conference like ASEE is getting to participate in hands on workshops. I love getting to go to these, because many times, these are teaching experiences that I’ve only heard about that use Digilent products, so it was a welcome change to be able to see one in action.
Digilent recently attended the pre-conference workshop session at the American Control Conference (ACC) at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower in Portland, Oregon. We were there to provide support for the Analog Discovery, which was being showcased in the pre-conference workshop “Ubiquitous Hands-On Learning: The Future of Engineering Education”. Workshop speakers included Bonnie Ferri, Al Ferri, and Deborah Warner. In addition to the presenters, 9 attendees were there. After discussing student involvement in engineering education, participants were able to play with various test and measurement devices.