It’s been awhile since we last had some specific focus on Pmods, so I decided that we should get back to our favorite blog series (or at least my favorite). This week we’re going to check out some of the Pmods that occasionally get overlooked– the power Pmods. These Pmods include screw terminal modules, transistor modules, and power monitors.
Some of the Pmods, such as the PmodOLED and the PmodCLP, need a higher operating voltage to run their screen than is normally supplied by system boards. This predicament could be solved by using an external power supply to power the screens, but that can get pretty inconvenient especially if you want your project to be portable. A slightly easier method that does not require a power supply is a boost converter circuit.
When working with microcontrollers, it’s pretty straightforward to have your system board “listen” for an input that you would give it and have it do some sort of action to show that it noticed your input, such as pressing a button to light up an LED. Listening to a set of inputs and then comparing them to a predetermined set, like in the Simon Says game, is a little more involved but definitely doable. But what if we did not compare to any internal values and the system board has no idea how many inputs we might provide?
It’s time for another Pmod feature! Today, we’re going to check out the Connector Pmods. Rather than just being strictly limited to a pure input Pmod or pure output Pmod, all of these Pmods are able to easily communicate with the system board in both directions. Although many of these Pmods might be chalked up to simple “pass-through” modules, I certainly wouldn’t label them that way. These Pmods offer some invaluable features that are otherwise not so easily obtained.
Today we’re going to compare two different ways of increasing the functionality of a system board: Pmods and shields. Those of you have that have been following the Digilent Blog know that Pmods are Digilent’s series of peripheral modules with 6-12 pins that can easily be connected to appropriate pins on a system board to provide extra functionality and include audio amplifiers, GPS receivers, USB to UART interface, seven-segment displays, accelerometers, H-bridges with input feedback, analog-to-digital converters, and much more. For the rest of you who have been in this sector of the electronics industry, you know that shields are a type of board that you can plug directly on top of your microcontroller in a nice pin-to-pin fashion for expanded functionality. Although you might suspect which of these two items I prefer, we’ll check out the advantages of both of them.
Here at Digilent we have a ton of products with a large amount of documentation and examples (like our Learn site and our Instructables page) letting you know how you can use our products. Within all of these, there are statements about what each product is (and is not) capable of in addition to the recommended operating condition. Some of you may be wondering, “How do we know these things?” Much of the information presented is determined from a datasheet. But where do we find this sort of information in the datasheet, or how do we even read a datasheet? Let’s find out.
Today, we’re going to check out the last chunk of the input Pmods™ that Digilent offers. This set of inputs are slightly different than the inherent sensors that we saw last time. Although these Pmods are designed to give the system board information about the outside world, but this time you are their whole world. These tactile Pmods are designed so that they respond when you physically interact with them. It’s kinda like playing outside…in the comfort of your own home.
It is time to check out another set of the Digilent Pmods! Last time, we looked at a subset of the input focused Pmods, the analog-to-digital converters. Today, we’re going to take a look at more of the input Pmods, most of which incorporate ADCs into their design structure. These ten peripheral modules are all inherent sensors, reporting the temperature, location, light level, or movement without the user needing to physically interact with them.
As many of you know, it is possible with many types of displays, such as LCDs and LED displays, to create your own custom characters and, naturally, display them. However, to create your own characters, you need to be able to create a bitmap of how your character (or characters) look. We will be working with the PmodOLED and it’s corresponding library to create our own characters.
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.
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.