The aim of the set of posts in this section of this blog category is to develop an USB protocol debugger and analyser that can extract USB 2.0 data, from a USB data stream, in real time and fed the stream to a PC, which will typically host a Linux operating system. Although some processing of the USB data stream may take place in the FPGA in the first instance the stream will be buffered in external memory attached to the FPGA and sent in its raw form to the PC.
This is a blog about our everyday exploits in all aspects of everything. From science, art, computing, engineering, playing badminton to even playing computer games. Just about everything!
Altera Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are popular devices used world wide and can be found on many high-end and not so high-end development kits and boards. Some of the less expensive evaluations kits (and favourites of ours) that are ideal for rapid prototyping of their mid-range FPGAs include the DE0-Nano, the BeMicro CV and the BeMicro Max.
The application software used to program Altera's FPGAs is known as Quartus and is available for both the Windows and Linux platforms, although sadly, just like Xilinx's Vivado, it is not available for OS X. In this blog post we overcome the hurdles required to run Quartus on Linux's OpenSuse 13.1 (Bottle), as the time approaches to put one of our BeMicro CVs to work.
Robotics and FPGAs (8) - Design of a Multi-Channel Servo Controller PCB (Rev. 1), Part 2 - Analysis and Component Selection
This blog post describes the analysis and component selection stage of the multi-channel servo controller board design and it is during this stage where, sadly, for most of us it all begins to go wrong. It is during this process that every datasheet must be read and reread again and again, until every line of text and every curve in a graph is thoroughly understood. It is at this stage that some, out of despair of a looming deadline, decide to fall on their knees, look skywards and utter words of reverence, utter words of importance or just words.
It is at this stage that others decide it is time to put on their jeans and T-shirt and lock themselves in their study. Only to emerge a few days later wearing a robe and sandals. As you will find out in this blog post we chose to put in a few night shifts to resolve the recurring problems in the design and felt justified emerging with our guru's attire. However, we have known some at this stage of the design process to decide that X marks the spot and continuously aim their heads at it, ceremoniously. Entertaining as this method could be, we prefer ours. However, we recommend you should choose the problem solving method that works for you!
Robotics and FPGAs (7) - Design of a Multi-Channel Servo Controller Board (Rev. 1), Part 1 - The Design Definition
I have found it difficult completing this blog post this week, let alone doing any programming, as I have just discovered the series "Breaking Bad" on Netflix. Now, what I like about this show is how intelligently the show has been thought out, typical of what any engineering design project should be really. The plot, the cast, the characters have not just been cobbled together, but have been interwoven into an intricate and delicate interlinking pattern of intrigue and suspense that has led to the show's success. "Who would have imagined you breaking bad?"
The design of our 17 DOF robot, like system design in general, should not be anything different. It should consist of well thought out building blocks, which will include mechanical design, digital hardware design and software programming, amongst many other scientific disciplines including physics and electrical engineering. Also, if we do not want our robot to harm anybody we may need to include the discipline of philosophy and maybe incorporate Asimov's laws of robotics too! For now, in this blog post, we will concentrate on the design of a printed circuit board to mainly control the robot's servos.
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.