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March 31, 2015
News - Programming an FPGA
about 2 months ago
Despite the claims in the article, you really do program FPGAs. You do use a programming language (Lucid). HDL (hardware description language) is just another name for a declarative programming language. This produces a binary image that you download into the RAM on the FPGA and it executes. Yes, it's not a standard imperative programming language like most people are used to (e.g., C++ or Python), but it is a programming language nonetheless. The fact that you are loading values into lookup tables to simulate logic functions is really irrelevant to the discussion. It's software because it's soft and easily changeable (as opposed to hardware which is hard and difficult to change).
about 3 years ago
What technology does it use to interface to the SSD? SPI? USB? I'm wondering about the performance.
about 4 years ago
The LEDs are Multiplexed, not driven individually. You need 25 bits, not 144, if I'm reading the data sheet properly.
about 5 years ago
I just threw the board away at that point (over 20 switches in backwards).
Documentation is a complete fail.
This kit reminds me of the saying "Buy once, cry once". I was evaluating various hobby-level function generators in the $250-$500 price range. I came across this kit and figured "gee, if it's only $50 bucks, what can go wrong?" My instincts told me, don't buy it, my greediness won out.
I really don't know if the thing works well or not. I started putting it together following the instructions as best I could. However, there is an "Important Notice" about the switches that is NOT in line with the assembly instructions warning you that the push button switches only go in one way. I totally missed this. Sadly, I soldered in around 25 switches, luck would have all but about 5 were backwards. Ever tried to unsolder 300 pins? Well, let's just say I'm not even going to try, I'm just throwing the board away and will resume looking for a decent function generator.
I realize the engineer who wrote the assembly instructions is probably not a native speaker. But something important like this needs a MUCH bigger warning. Also, isn't there some other part that will do the same function as these push buttons that is polarized and not possible to put in backwards? This is an epic design fail; these parts might be okay for a production line, but not for one-off kits.
I realize this is my own fault for not reading the assembly instructions as closely as I needed to before soldering down those switches. However, if you find yourself mesmerized by the low price, be sure to read the assembly instructions over three or four times before soldering anything in place.
Also, make sure you have a very thin point soldering iron and high-gauge solder. The pins are small and very close together. You're best advised to use a magnifying glass while working on the switches and check for solder bridges (that seem to form quite easily on the switch terminals).
No public wish lists :(