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Parallella: The Personal Supercomputer - A Review



Today should have been a day of great delight as my personal supercomputer, or Parallella the Epiphany III processor with Xilinx Zynq 7020 FPGA, finally appeared in my hands after many months of delay. However, I wasn't exactly jumping up and down with joy for, as like most "supercomputing for everyone" enthusiasts, I was suffering from "where is my Parallella" fatigue.

Parallella first appeared as a Kickstarter project, in October 2012, where it did wonderfully well in raising $898,921 in its allocated fund raising slot. However, at the time I didn't back the project, as the $3 million stretch goal required for the production run of the 64-core version, the Epiphany IV processor, was not met.

You can read about my observations using the Parallela kit in the Blog Category: OpenCL, Altera SDK and the Parallella Post. Also, you can read about my projects using the Parallella kit in the Project Series - The Parallella Chronicles (link coming soon).

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The USB Microscope, for PCB Development : A Review


100080For a few years now the death of the Plated Through Hole (PTH) component has been wrongly predicted and hobbyists are still able to dabble in electronics, using PTH components, without finding ingenious ways to mount Surface Mount Technology (SMT) components by hand.

However, although PTH components are still readily available, there is a strong demand for the hobbyist to use SMT components due to space constraints. This is because in modern day DIY hobbyist electronics the design area, the prototyping area the hobbyist has to experiment in, is becoming increasingly smaller than what has been available previously. This in turn is dictating the size of components that can be used. 

When SMT components are required, although a magnifying glass is helpful, a truer friend than the USB microscope may not be found as we attempt to find out in this review. 

Read more: The USB Microscope, for PCB Development : A Review

A 4WD Robot Chassis Kit (for the DE0 Nano) : A Review




Have you ever watched an episode of the TV programme called Robot Wars where in the middle of what can only be described as an engaging robot punch-up one of the robots suddenly stops working. This enevitably prompts the controllers to frantically punch buttons on the remote control with bemused looks on their faces. It also prompts you to mouth, politely, at the controllers, "You muppets!" 


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Altera's Arria V Starter Kit - A Preview

0000452 If you are the type of person that judges a book by it's cover then you may have high expectations of one of Altera's new, exciting-looking FPGA development kits, based on their recently introduced 28nm portfolio of FPGAs. The kit in question is the Arria V GX Starter Kit and the good news is that your high expectations are likely to be met. This kit should have enough "oomph" to inspire your next  magnum opus, as we found out ourselves at one of Altera's Video Design Framework Workshops, hosted recently here in the UK.

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USB 2.0 to TTL UART, 6PIN CP2102 Module, Serial Converter:A Review


0000363Economic theory has taught us about the dangers of pricing a product too cheap, as it could put off prospective buyers, or at least make them weary. So what is one to think when this USB 2.0 to TTL UART serial converter module retails, in some quarters, online  for less than it costs to buy the chip that it is populated with? Undaunted by this slight anomaly I decided to minimise the risk and invest in the cheapest converter I could find and low and behold what a cracking investment it turned out to be.

Read more: USB 2.0 to TTL UART, 6PIN CP2102 Module, Serial Converter:A Review