I was recently inspired to try out by Hamster’s own Colour Invaders project. As the name suggests, this project is similar in design to the classic Space Invaders game or (more similarly) the Casio’s Number Invaders on the calculator. The idea behind the game is that different colored “invaders” start marching down the LED strip and you have to fire missiles that match the color of the oncoming invader. Naturally, as you successfully destroy more of the attackers, the faster they come towards your base. Here is what you need to get started.
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.