Spartan-6 Microboard: Firing It Up!

S6 Microboard powered via USB Mintyboost

S6Microboard powered via USB Mintyboost

I promised this article 4 days ago. I apologize. I’ve made it worth it.

Getting this project running was a bit of a beast. Not the development or implementation, those are based on public code, previously tested on this device. No, the trouble was in figuring out exactly how to program/load this board, driver issues, and how to code for this board. That is all now figured out.

I started by finding this set of articles by this Duane Benson fellow (they are topically listed at the bottom). He gives good, fairlyunderstandable instruction, but some aspects are just plain incorrect. In one article, he explains how you must use exclusively the micro-USB for programming, when in reality, you must use the full size USB port.

You will need the CP210x driver, but don’t bother trying to get it from Avnet’s malignant tumor of a website. Download it directly from Silicon Labs. (by the way, the CP210x series chips are extremely interesting, they have a USB-to-I2S adapter I’d like to experiment with…) Once you have the drivers squared away, plug it in, we’re cookin’ with gas now!

Okay, so how do you actually get information into the board: enter Matthew Galloway, or his site at least. This is what you need, and pretty much everything you need to get this thing blinking: his Blinkenlights tutorial. You’ll also want to download a copy (me not trusting the site) of the S6Microboard Manual which gives the names of the physical locations on the board.

Got blinkenlights? Good. Now were ready for the next project: tomorrow.

I promise.

Discovering FPGAs Series by Duane Benson:

*This is not yet a complete listing of this series, and this series is continuing

What’s This All About?
Opening the Package
Sorting Out the Pins
Flashing the LEDs
More About the UCF
Adding LEDs & Modifying the Verilog
Bringing Up the IDE
Creating the .BIT File
Loading the .BIT File
Playing With LEDs & Switches
Adding in the Switches
Driving a 7-Segment Display
The ChipScope Virtual Logic Analyzer
Alternative Latching Strategies
Getting to Grips With ChipScope
Observing Switch Bounce With ChipScope
Modules in Modules
Creating a Logic Analyzer
Selecting a Syntax
Building a Two-Stage Synchronizer
My Logic Analyzer Takes Shape
Debugging a Motor Driver
Becoming a Clock Wizard
I See Clocks Everywhere!

Teensy (The once and future king) Model 3.0

ImageThis thing is epic embodied. Go ahead and contact Mr. Teensy Himself on Twitter and tell him how appreciative you are. Because it won’t be long before these things are everywhere. With an ARM Cortex-M4 processor and an independent IC for the bootloader, it’s quite resilient to bricking (necessary for me!) native USB, what else is to be expected from PJRC

Oh yeah, and fully working Arduino bootloader and libraries for everyone who doesn’t want to program in C/C++. This is going to be big. Paul claims they easily overclock to 96MHz, and combined with a 32-bit processor, that’s a lot of computing power. Not to mention the 32bit analogWrite() (billions of levels of precision) and 13bit analogRead() (65536 levels of read, or down to a 134uV precision per level. Compare that to a Arduinos’ precision of 19mV, or 4.2mV for the Mega with the 1v1 voltage reference.

So…basically stoked. Get it here for the next day or so.

P.S. Of course, the Kickstarter for this thing was fufilled basically instantly. I mean, we all have the Teensy 2.0, right?

FM RF Data Link


In preparation for testing for my technicians class radio license, I’ve been designing a data modem for my avr chips. The current plan is to use a tuned FM transmitter, driven by an op-amp square wave generator, modulated by a microcontroller. This is an improvement (in both power and computational resources) over the original idea of summing sinewaves on the Tx side and Fast Fournier Transform on the Rx side. Seems pretty wasteful, now doesnt it?

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