A Low Cost Dual Discriminator Module for the Easy-phi Project

A few months ago I presented you the Easy-phi project, which aims at building a simple, cheap but intelligent rack-based open hardware/software platform for hobbyists. With easy-phi, you simply have a rack to which you add cards (like the one shown above) that perform the functions you want.

Recently my team finished testing our FPGA-based discriminator or “universal input” if you prefer. As easy-phi cards use a well-defined electrical signal to communicate with each other, we needed to make a card that would translate the different kinds of electrical signals from the outside, as well as perform plenty of other functions. It was therefore designed to have a 100MHz input bandwidth with an AC/DC coupled 50 ohm/high impedance input stage (x2) and 4 easy-phi outputs. For this module, we picked the (old) spartan3-an FPGA to perform the different logic functions that may be needed by the final users (high speed counter, OR/XOR/AND, pulse creation,…). Using the cortex-m3 microcontroller present on the board, it may be easily reconfigured at will. All design resources may be found on our Github, and you can always have a look at our official website.

Myst(ery) Box

myst box

Anyone remember the game Myst? Well, [Michael] and his girlfriend have been playing quite a bit of it lately, so for her birthday, he decided to make her something inspired from it.

For those unaware of the classic that is the Myst series, it is a set of games that started back in 1993 where you assume the role of the Stranger who gets to explore other planets (called Ages) to solve various logical and mechanical puzzles.

Anyway, [Michael] got his girlfriend tickets to visit GC319QK (a geocache site requiring diving) — since the gift is a relatively small token, it was logical for [Michael] to make a fancy box for it — and that’s exactly what he did. It’s a peculiar little wooden box with LEDs, a button, a latch, an unplugged wire, different rods and strange looking sensors — and it is a very clever little puzzle.

We could explain to you how it works (with the Arduino, phototransistors and maybe the source code), but instead we think you’ll enjoy watching [Michael's] video of it.

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