Is the Electronics Explorer Board Just a Breadboard?


A common point of confusion that I see both at events and among forums on the internet, is that the Electronics Explorer Board(EE Board) looks just like a big breadboard. Although on first inspection it may look that way, if you turn it around to the back you can see just how much technology is put into this portable workstation.

The front of the Electronics Explorer Board, where you can clearly see the large breadboard-able work-space.

The back of the board… that’s a whole lot of ICs!

Some of the highlights are 14 bit DACs, and 10 bit ADCs, and connecting it all is a Spartan 3E FPGA.

So now that we know that it isn’t just a breadboard, lets get into what it really is. First let’s take a look at the hardware.

Starting on the top left of the board we see the Micro-USB connector that is used to provide communication between the hardware, and the Windows, Mac or Linux run software.

The auxiliary power supply is required to power the board and all of the tools. Along the bottom we have the Scope, Analog and Power sections of the board.

The SCOPE section consists of 4 differential analog inputs, with a DC and AC channel on each one. The ANALOG section consists of 2 reference voltage supplies, 2 differential analog outputs, and the 4 voltmeter channels.

The POWER section contains VP+, the positive power supply, vp- the negative power supply, and Vcc the 2 channel fixed power supply.

On top you have 32 digital inputs and outputs. And of course in the middle is the large breadboard-able workspace.

These inputs and outputs were all designed for use with specific tools. All of these tools can be accessed through WaveForms or WaveForms 2015, which is the free, Mac, Linux, and windows compatible software toolset. The EE Board features the same tools as the Analog Discovery 2, but with different specifications, number of channels and for some of them slightly different features.

The first tool is an Oscillocope:

The Oscilloscope on the EE Board is a 4 channel differential oscilloscope.

There’s also a WaveForm Generator:

There is a two channel Waveform Generator that combines a function generator and arbitrary waveform generator.

There is a Power Supply tool:

This includes a positive supply, negative supply, fixed supply, and reference voltages.

There is a Voltmeter:

The Voltmeter on the EE Board has 4 channels.

There is a Data Logger:

The Data Logger uses the same channels as the Oscilloscope.

There is a Logic Analyzer:

The Logic Analyzer can use all 32 digital channels, and can decode SPI, IIC, UART can and more.

There is also a Pattern Generator:

The Pattern Generator can use all 32 signals and output counters, clocks, pulses, custom signals and more.

The Digital IO can simulate IO in static IO:

In the static IO team you have access to 32 bits of virtual IO, including LEDs, buttons, switches, progress bars, slide switches, and a seven segment display.

There is a Network Analyzer:

The Network Analyzer uses the Oscilloscope and Waveform Generators to display a Bode, Nyquist or Nichols plot.

There is a Spectrum Analyzer:

The Spectrum Analyzer uses the Oscilloscope channels to display signals in the frequency domain.

There is a Protocol Analyzer:

The Protocol Analyzer enables communication via SPI IIC and UART.

Last but not least is the Script Editor. If your application requires the use of multiple tools, any automation, or custom decoding, the script editor will allow you to write Javascript scripts using the pre-exisiting tools.

For more information on the EE Board and to view the Getting Started Guide, check out the board’s resource center. You can see how the EE Board stacks up against other Instrumentation tools here.

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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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