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Member Since: May 29, 2007

Country: United States

  • Hmmm, I about had a heart attack looking at that person using a drill press. Somebody didn't take shop class (always clamp the workpiece)...

  • Here is your AVC GPS tracking band. Your broom is in the playpen, our staff behind me will help you get on it. Try to get this right, you exit the right window and re-enter the left window--which will appear to you like the RIGHT window when you come back, unless you are coming back upside down, in which case please just don't come back. You kind of look like the type that would be competing in the rotating wing class, am I right <twirls finger around ear>?

  • What a cool contest--then I saw the twitter requirement, yuck. How about just having a comment place just like this--or would it get too big? I have no idea how many would participate or how hard that would be to do, but then it would be easy to find (on Sparkfun rather than twitter) and one less account to be hacked.

  • I love this device! What a great improvement over the winbond voicerecorder chip I had been using for messages on my home automation intercom. Very quiet (intercom is on all the time, imperceptable noise), and doorbell sounds beautiful! I use the serial interface to trigger all kinds of home status messages, and believe it or not, I am likely to run out of messages at the 255 limit. Is there any possibility of an extended serial command that could expand the number of messages? Thanks again--easy to use and very well done.

  • Soldering class Rule Number 1: Cardio!

  • Texas Instruments was the company that paved the way--they were the true innovators. Signetics, Intel, AMD, Motorola all were nascent in the new IC business as well. Xilinx and Altera came along quite a bit later--it took a really long time for the configurable logic concept to be really workable.

    I remember being so excited about the IC stuff anyone could buy for the first time--I was the only one in my high school of 3000 students doing anything in the IC electronics building area! When I was in college, IC logic was available in increasing complexity, but the notion of configurable logic didn't really exist as far as I knew--somehow I came up with the idea of reconfigurable logic (and hence my college IC project). At the time, I'm sure others had ideas about configurable logic as well--but it took a very long time for the notion to become remotely as good in practice (as fast, as cheap, as reliable) as wiring up existing ICs. I made an array of interconnected nand gates that were selectivly enabled by a small array of nand latches. Depending on how you wrote the nand latches, you could alter the input to output function of the IC. Pretty simple, but those were amazing times where you really could come up with ideas never been done before.

    I knew several people that went on to be very successful in the tech business, but I had (and still don't) no interest in money-making or business--I've just always loved making things, so I maybe had opportunities but never took them. I've had a long and mostly comfortable career in logic and ASIC design, and that was good enough for me.

    Getting back to the subject, FPGAs are the ultimate playground for somebody like me--processors can't touch the flexibility of what can be done here.

  • I designed a 1Ghz logic analyzer with little more than an Altera FPGA and a serial port. Try that with your latest processor of the day, I don't care if you can program in CUDA and all that--FPGAs and processors are simply different tools for different jobs.

    I designed an FPGA interface for the Raspberry Pi that uses direct writing of RPi GPIOs to achieve about a 16Megabyte/sec transfer time in C (don't use the BCM2835 library functions, that will limit you to around 2.5 Mbytes or less). This overcomes some of the limitations of the RPi by putting in a precisely timed thread scheduler, touch panel HW, 64 high current IOs, and an LVDS LCD panel interface in the FPGA. I'm working on an FPGA design that will take HDMI signals (10 samples per clock) to LVDS video (7 samples per clock) so that the RPi video can be displayed on the panel. None of these are practical things for a processor to do. It's a giant circuit sandbox, and the tools are getting better for makers. I'll brag a little and tell you I've been doing this since 1978, when I designed what could arguably be called the world's first FPGA in college (I still have all the project data, and I got an A+!) using rectangles to draw out transistors. Somebody said FPGAs are going away, I laughed, they are just now coming into their own...

  • I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned in the original write-up, this is called the 4-wire resistance measurement and is a standard and very effective in locating shorts on power planes, even multiple shorts, on a board--you look for the relative minimum voltage in an area. I never run more than .5 to 1 volt since the current sometimes burns out the short if it's a whisker, then you're left with that voltage running around the board. One thing dennis didn't mention is be sure this applied voltage is the correct polarity so that if the short suddenly disappears, you dont have negative power, although this is rarely an issue at .5V. This and never, ever power up a new board without a current limited supply.

  • Lucky is supposed to use the stepladder by the door for the smaller dumps.

  • Pre-hire test for working at Sparkfun. Demonstrated ability to mine red boxes and avoid creepers while soldering a must.

No public wish lists :(