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Ben

Ben

I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it - Voltaire.

Posted by on in Robotics Using FPGAs

Up till now we have merrily plodded along in the construction and assembly of the 17 DOF robotics kit. However, as we all know projects very rarely have unlimited resources and budgets, unless of course they are being conducted by a superpower trying to prove a point. We are not a FPGA superpower, neither are we trying to prove a point and more importantly our pockets are shallow.

Hence, just like in any discipline, we need a plan even if it is only a half-baked one to maintain focus, mitigate risk and prevent costs from spiralling out of control. So the focus of this blog post is to develop the skeleton of a project plan, which will be fleshed out as we progress in the series. We do things this way, as unfortunately, we do not have the resource to preplan the project in-depth before hand, which is typical of home-brew projects.

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Posted by on in Development, Software and Tools

KiCad is an open source software suite for Electronic Design Automation (EDA) that facilitates the creation of professional schematics and Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) of up to 32 copper layers. It runs on Windows, Linux and Apple's OS X. One of the things we like about KiCad, apart from it being endorsed by CERN, is this multi-platform support. We also like the fact that it is released under the open-source GNU GPL v2 free of charge.

However, free does not mean free of functionality, on the contrary. This is a fully-fledged, feature rich EDA tool, that we will be using from now on to design our PCBs. Also, because the software is available to our readers too, our design files should be freely available once we switch over to Git Hub. Installing KiCad on a Macbook Air with Mavericks 10.9.5 is the topic of this blog post. 

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Posted by on in First Impressions

If you are looking for a FPGA development board that looks cheap, feels cheap and is cheap, then you need look no further. For, while it can be said that looks could be deceiving, in this case they are not. This board is extremely cheap and looks it. In fact it seems that to reduce cost  and save on drill bits the board has not been provided with any mounting holes!

However, beggars can't be choosers and if you are in the market for a cheap development  board to quickly prototype a design using Altera's Cyclone V FPGA on a limited budget, like us, then this board could be for you. This blog post provides a quick fire review of the board, which is available standalone or as a kit in the form of the BeScope Bundle.

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Posted by on in Development, Software and Tools

 As the title of this blog suggests this post is about installing and building an application using XCode on a Mac OS X system in general and on a Mac OS X with Mavericks 10.9.5 installed in particular. The purpose of the installation is to use it to program an OpenGL example from the legendary OpenGL red book.

However, while installing Xcode is straightforward understanding the mechanisms required to run an OpenGL example are not. For example, should one install MacPorts, XQuartz, both or neither to run X11 applications? Should Glut or FreeGlut be installed? The decisions I made to compile and run a basic OpenGL tutorial are the subject of this blog post.

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Posted by on in First Impressions

The Rigol DS1074Z 4-channel oscilloscope has become popular in hobbyist circles for a variety of reasons, good and better. Firstly, and probably most importantly, because of the price bracket Rigol have managed to fit this oscilloscope into. Secondly, because  hobbyists being hobbyist have discovered a flaw in the Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) algorithm used to encode the scope's optional functionality. This has allowed them to add hundreds of pounds of additional functionality to the basic version of the scope for nothing.

 However, before I discuss what hobbyist should not do to enable the additional functionality, let's see what the basic oscilloscope has to offer.

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