Weekly Recap: 3/13/2016 – 3/20/2016

Hello and welcome back to the Digilent blog!

Tomorrow marks the first day of spring, and while for many this is a time for robin sighting and romance inciting, we regard this particular time of year with a slightly… different outlook (see “Trade Show Season”).

Trade Show season is a very special time for Digilent, as it gives us an opportunity to go out and connect face to face. It is an amazing chance to show off what our products can do, and get to see other incredible demo’s! And despite while it may be a little bit more “April Brainpower” and a bit less ” May Flowers” than the conventional spring, it is no less of an magical time. We are still stiring up plenty of sorcery here at Digilent, as exemplified by our Blog Post of the Week!

Levitating a Ping Pong Ball – First Steps


Check out the first of three installments, as James explores the world of levitation. Armed only with a childhood dream (and some Pmods!) he doggedly pursues the goal of elevating a ping pong ball with his hand. The beginning of the journey is linked above… or if you are the kind of person that cannot wait to see if his vision achieved liftoff, the conclusion post is here.

Convenient link to the end provided judgment free, courtesy of James Colvin and the Digilent Blog.

And ping pong balls and Zybo boards are not the only things becoming airborne around Digilent. After an incredible SXSW we are now flying to the sunny skies of La Jolla, California for our next Trade Show: ECEDHA!

“ECEDHA, or the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association, is composed of heads or chairs of departments offering accredited programs in electrical and/or computer engineering. The purpose is to help advance the field, facilitate member interaction and idea exchange and improve communication with the profession, industry, government, and others.”

Catch us at booth 308 during the ECExpo if you are in the area!

News Corner:

Beyond Digilent’s in-office (and very out of office!) activities, this has also been a big week for those involved with the FPGA scene. According to recent articles by the EE Times and Designer News, it appears that the technology once considered to be reserved for the “technically elite” has found an increasing market in the more layman-level maker.

The FPGA vs. microcontroller debate has long been a fixture of the hardware community. Many find themselves draw to microcontrollers especially initially, as their smaller learning curve and cheaper nature can be very appealing. However the sheer power and ability to customize offered by FPGA’s has a (increasingly!) lucrative draw.

The Arty in action!

As observed by Ray Hsu, a section manager for academic programs at National Instruments, “Some projects use really complex non-linear control algorithms, so the developers have to use FPGAs to get the performance they need.” There are a number of projects such those that use audio or require a lot of simultaneously running actions that are simply better suited for the FPGA. As stated above however, the learning curve and price range can absolutely be intimidating. But this is starting to change, and more and more people are taking an interest in the complex but rewarding world of FPGA’s.

This is excellent news for us at Digilent, as not only do we specialize in the FPGA’s themselves, we occupy an unique intersection in the markets between engineers and makers. We offer a stellar array of both entry level and elite FPGA boards (and even one that is a bit of a microcontroller/FPGA hybrid!) for anyone who would like to foray into the field, as well at an extensive resource center and project bank to assist once you have taken the plunge!

Additionally we are still running our free shipping on orders over 100 dollars offer through the end of March, so now is the perfect time to take the first steps into this powerful world!

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About Miranda Hansen

I enjoy creative writing, engineering, thinking, building, exploring and sharing with people. Huge aficionado of spending time thinking about things that “don’t matter.” I am very interested in unconstrained creativity. I love cross-discipline ideas and all of their integration into complete original systems. And I like things that do things.

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