STEM Culture
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Alan Shepard became the second man and the first American to go to space when he piloted the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission into space on 5 May, 1961. John Glenn followed a few months later when on 20 Feb, 1962, he piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission to three complete orbits around the Earth. These flights, among several others, were the necessary testing and training precursors to the Apollo moon-landing missions already in the planning stages. Apollo 11 was the culmination of years of work, when American astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans to set foot on the Moon on 20 July, 1969. What is the common thread between all three of these monumental events? Katherine Johnson.

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FPGA
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Our applications and systems engineering manager, Sam B., has had an exciting project sitting on his desk for a long time that we finally get to see. Originally, his project was the Zedbot, a Linux-based robot that uses the Zedboard.

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Events
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This upcoming Saturday is Pi Day! It’s a particularly special one this year — 3.14.15! What do you plan to do for it?

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Tutorial
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Moore’s Law is the observation that every two years, the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles.

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Recap
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This week, we’ve been quite busy with visits from some of our colleagues at NI, continuing getting ready for ECEDHA, and finalizing our conference display. Check out everything going on now!

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Projects
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So, who’s excited about ECEDHA? We here at Digilent wanted something big and flashy to amaze everyone, so we put this together. We carry weatherproof strips of the WS2812 addressable LEDs in 1m lengths with 30 LEDs on each strip, so what better way to grab your attention than to build a display with 30 strips!

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Community
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In science fiction, plasma-based technology is often included because it is perceived as futuristic and exotic. Referring to plasma as exotic is understandable, but the technology behind its creation is less so. Since the invention of electric circuits, it has been possible to easily create and control plasma using high voltages. It is pretty common knowledge that high voltages ionize the air producing plasma arcs. What is not-so-common knowledge is the fact that these arcs of plasma can be used to play music.

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Our Team
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Today’s throwback brings us a few pictures from the first time we at Digilent presented ourselves as a company in a trade show setting, around 2007. This conference was very small — it was located in the main floor entry of the ETRL building on the WSU campus. Clint (Cole), our former president, was giving a presentation as well.

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Guide
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Inter-integrated-circuit, more commonly known as I²C (generally pronounced I-squared-C), is a communication style originally developed by Phillips Semiconductor (now NXP Semiconductor). Its design allows multiple components to be able to talk to each other on the same data line, making it widely used in a variety of systems, including Pmods. As a fan of Pmods, I’m in favor of learning how you can communicate with them and get them what you want to do. Let’s find out more.

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STEM Culture
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As I mentioned a couple days ago, we will have a greater focus on women’s history within STEM this month. Last summer, I did a blog series focusing on just that! With it being the beginning of the month, I’d like to do a throwback to one of my first posts in the series that provided an overarching history of women’s involvement in the long history of science, technology, engineering, and math.

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Learn.Digilent
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Today, we’re going to revisit Richard Wall’s chipKIT Pro module. Last week, we learned how to get started with chipKIT Pro and MPLAB X. This weeks posts covers the methods of reading from and writing to the input and output (I/O) pins of the PIC32 microcontroller. Dr. Wall also presents software modeling concepts using data flow diagrams and control flow diagrams.

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Microcontrollers
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This episode covers the smallest– but possibly the most powerful– member of the chipKIT family, the chipKIT PGM. To understand the chipKIT PGM, you need to know the difference between a chipKIT and a chipKIT Pro.

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STEM Culture
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Compilers take your source code and convert those instructions into a language that the computer hardware can understand, almost always a low-level binary machine language. Douglas Hofstadter compared looking at raw machine code to trying to read DNA one atom at time. It’s doable, but not easy, so it makes sense that we use higher level languages, like C, and then run them through the compiler to generate the machine code. But where did the idea of a compiler come from? Enter the Queen of Code, Grace Hopper.

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Around Digilent
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It’s March, which means many things — St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, the Ides of March — but I’m especially excited about it being Women’s History Month! Over the course of this month, we’ll celebrate the lives of those influential women whose work has brought led to innovation within STEM fields. In addition to the series I did last year, we’ll have a bunch of new content for you, too!

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Guide
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Welcome back to the Digilent Blog! When we were working in C, we learned about the data structure called a “linked list”. Now, we’re going to go over two new data structures — stacks and queues. In this post, we’re going to make classes for stacks and queues to help show some of the capabilities of OOP (object-oriented programming)!

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Recap
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This week, we’ve continued getting ready for ECEDHA, especially preparing one of our exciting demos. A few of our team members have been traveling, so things have seemed quiet, though we have plenty going on. Check out some of those exciting things below!

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Our Team
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Welcome back to Digilent’s Show and Tell series! In this third episode, Larissa discusses our carrier modules, or Cmods. Cmods were originally created in order to give breadboard access to components that were not traditionally breadboard-able. One of the advantages to breadboarding while learning electronics is that students get a more tactile experience of connecting components together to make a functional circuit.

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Pmod
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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.

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Community
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Digilent hasn’t always been located at 1300 NE Henley Court! Looking back at its old locations is so fun — getting to see where we were and how we’ve grown. Today, we’d like to show you one of our former locations, the one right before our current building. This was Digilent’s fourth location. Norm snapped these pictures on a Friday night in 2006, just after we had re-organized the main floor. This was the “combine” building — it sits above what is now one of Pullman’s fine dining establishments, Black Cypress.

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Guest Blog
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Last week, we introduced Richard Wall, who has done some fantastic work on our Learn modules. Today I’d like to introduce the first project in his module (the one to do with advanced microcontrollers using the chipKIT Pro MX7).

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Projects
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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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