Summer of Digilent

As the school year comes to an end and people and families prepare for their vacations, their minds begin to relax. To keep those minds sharp and focused, it may be time to start a summer project. Going through the Internet to find such a project can be tedious and time-consuming. If you don’t want to spend time going through thousands of Instructables, then maybe we can help. Let’s take a look at some of our projects and products that could help fill those lax summer hours.

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If you’re new to electronics and you don’t know where to start, here are a couple of projects built by some of our makers. (These are also great for kids to get an introduction into projects.)

Soldering is a good place to start, but if you’re not quite sure how to approach it, check out James’ blog post about using different soldering tips.

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In Uses of Different Soldering Tips, James looks at several soldering tips and talks about how each one is different and helpful for different jobs. This is a great way to learn about soldering before making a big mess in your workshop. This is also a good resource to look over before teaching someone else about soldering. If you already know how to solder and want to try your hand at, it check out Kaitlyn’s Instructable about Soldering LED Strips to Make Shapes.

If you’re considering getting a 3D printer this summer, it may be best to learn how to make some 3D models first. Check out this blog post about 3D Modeling with Blender.

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Blender is a great, free-to-use 3D modeling program created by the Blender Foundation. There are many great uses for 3D modeling, but if you’ve had your eye on a 3D printer (or even thinking of making your own) take a look at this post. It will allow you to express your artistic side. Maybe once you’ve done your reading, you’ll be able to make and print a little umbrella for your icy summer drink!

Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for our new product coming out soon.

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The Box Monster will be a great kit to get you started with working with the chipKIT uC32. All the parts for this project are provided in a box that is easily converted into a Monster. This is a simple way to show kids how technology can be used to make parts move. This the perfect beginning step to take before making the leap to into other projects.

If you’re feeling up for a challenge, take a look at some of these other projects.

Color Invaders

This a great little color matching game. Made using the chipKIT uC32 (also in the Box Monster), an LED strip and our PmodENC. This is a new twist on the classic Space Invaders game. Match up the color to the invader and fire your missiles. See how long you can last before you become overwhelmed. Be sure to try and create your own version of this game. Try adding another LED strip or maybe even more colors.

WS2812 LED strip connected to a chipKIT uC32 micrcontroller
WS2812 LED strip connected to a chipKIT uC32 micrcontroller.

ZYBOt

This handy little bot is a great way to learn the use of our ZYBO FPGA. The guides provided will show you how to build the robot along with how to use the software and board. It provides an informative section on how to dual-boot using Windows and Linux. It shows how to interface a webcam with the ZYBO board. The guide is separated into several sections. Maybe, once you’ve finished, you can make your bot do something we didn’t think of. Maybe it can bring you a Popsicle to cool you down.

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Proximity-Sensing LEDs

Try your hand at this older project. No coding is required for this project. It provides a great way to understand how photo transistors work with IR LEDs. From this project, you can move onto creating your own proximity-sensing device — maybe a security system to make sure no one sneaks into your home (or even out of your home). Check out this other circuit-based project about building a Soda Can Theremin. Create some sweet tunes to end a summer day around a fire.

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Fan Speed Control Using a Thermister, LabVIEW, and myRIO

Give some of our National Instruments products a try. The myRIO will be a good chance to try your hand at the LabVIEW software. This will also give you a chance to try out the myPROTO, which is compatible with the myRIO device. You will be able to create a cool breeze at varying speeds to keep the summer heat at bay with this project.

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We hope that you enjoy these projects and learn a lot. Be sure to keep checking the blog for more projects to come this summer. Also check out Digilent’s Project Vault forum for other projects that may be of interests to you. Be sure to put your own projects there also so others can see what you have made. Also check out a Digilent’s MakerSpace Instructable collection. We post a many of our projects there.

Be sure to let us know what you think of our projects in the comments, and tell us what you have made! Keep cool this summer.

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About Robert Prew

I am studying Electrical Engineer at the University of Idaho. I have always been interested in technology, video games, science and learning new things. I always believed in the saying “if you can't explain it simply you don't understand it well enough” by Albert Einstein. I have a thirst for self discovery and learning new things about myself. Bringing joy or making others feel happy gives me a great pleasure. You can usually get me interested in an activity that has a more hands on approach. I will always try and strive to be the best person I can be.

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