There is a wide assortment of cheap development (dev) boards for Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLD), the smaller cousin of the Field Programmable Logic Array (FPLA)
Using an inexpensive board and the development software that’s free to download from the major programmable companies such as Xilinx and Altera, the only additional thing needed is a programmer module. Cheap ones are available on Ebay but I am hoping that someone takes the time to teach an ARM/Arduino to step in as a programmer.
I have a small collection of dev boards including some Ebay specials and also designs I did a few years ago to choose from. For today I am grabbing a newer board that has not been fully checked out yet; an Altera Max V device. I have stuffed the CPLD, the clock oscillator, some LED’s and part of the onboard power supply along with the JTAG header needed to program the CPLD and that’s about it.
Ever since I received my PSOC 4 Pioneer kit from Cypress I have wanted to play with this little mixed-signal Programmable System-on-Chip (PSOC) developer board. I love developer boards, providing that they are priced in a way to entice me to not only open my wallet but also make time in a busy schedule. I think my kit was free after winning a swag bag from Adafruit that they themselves obtained at the Open Hardware Summit and gave away on their weekly streamcast. Ultimately it was the invitation to beta test datasheet.net which also was included in that pile of swag that led to my getting involved with Hackaday.
What is Programmable System On Chip?
So what is a PSOC 4? A quick summary is that it’s based on an ARM Cortex reduced instruction set processor (RISC) and is somewhat capable of supporting shields based on the Arduino footprint, and it also uses a bright red PCB that I have come to associate with a Sparkfun PCB. What doesn’t show is the fact that this programmable system on chip has programmable analog function blocks in addition to programmable digital logic blocks. There is also some supporting input/output circuitry such as a multicolored LED and a capacitive touch sensor directly on the PCB.
This is an intriguing amount of programmability, so much so that Newark/Element 14 highlighted a “100 projects in 100 days” event on it.
Enter the IDE
Over the years I have had to create or install many Integrated Development Environments (IDE) that linked hardware to software. Knowing that you had to, and how to, implement an IDE was part of being an engineer. Nowadays with the Arduino type environment the user has an IDE pretty much as soon as they click on the executable which I find to be one of the best aspects of the genre. It was so quick in fact that I was able to get my teenaged son into writing his first program even before he remembered to do massive eye-rolls and make sounds of utter disdain. He did give up however, just shy of learning how to have the Arduino make sounds of disdain on his behalf.
The IRC bot’s operation is fairly straightforward. It enters a channel and can be commanded to search. The first two searches will return links to Google searches for the strings given. Every third search however, will return a link to Hackaday’s search page. In the example below, “SedAwk” is an unsuspecting user, and “SearchRobot” is our bot.
The requirement list is heavily influenced by the requirements needed to earn a merit badge in the Boy and Girl scouts – first, do a little research and be able to describe the type of build we usually feature. Then, describe the project to your teacher and directly relate your project to other builds featured on Hackaday. Solid advice, we have to say.
There’s a few solid tips that really help us out; putting up a blog post for your project really helps us out, as does hosting your code on a Git. Videos are always good, and even though I’m partial to Vimeo (these videos just come out looking more professional for some reason), a lot of our commentors prefer YouTube.
About the commentors: the requirement sheet specifically mentions ignoring the flame bait comments, something we’d have to agree with. The comments have gotten better, but the best way for you (yes, all of you) to help is just hit the report button and don’t feed the trolls.
If your post doesn’t make Hackaday, don’t feel bad. Before I started working here, I built a Mellotron and submitted it to the tip line. It didn’t get featured, but I just rolled with the punches. Now I’m waiting for a Raspberry Pi to come in so I can update that build and give it the rollout it deserves. If your build gets skipped, just re-submit a week or so later. We’re a fickle bunch and sometimes projects waste away in the tip line, especially if it’s similar to a recently posted build.
Ever since Hack a Day first emerged on the scene in 2004, the site’s design has been pretty consistent. The black background with its green and white text, while a bit dubious looking at work, is fine by me. For others however, the site’s design is a constant eyesore both figuratively and literally. [James Litton] is one of those readers, and he wrote in to share a tip that helps him read up on the latest hacks without killing his eyes.
[James] uses Firefox to browse the web, so he whipped up a small Greasemonkey script that tweaks Hack a Day’s style sheet once it reaches his browser. His script inverts the background while changing a few other items, making for a much more comfortable read. Overall we found the change to be pretty reasonable, but go ahead and judge for yourself – you can see the before and after screen shots in greater detail on his site.
[James] also points out that the script should work just fine in Chrome, for those of you who prefer that browser instead.
So if your eyes are a bit on the sensitive side, feel free to grab his script and customize away – I don’t think we’ll be changing the theme any time soon.
Starting next Monday we be adding some themed posts into the mix. Every couple of weeks we will pick a new theme. Our first theme will be about hacks and projects involving high voltage. Each day we will have a new post based on the current theme. To make this happen though, we need your help. If you have been working on something that involves high voltage or you know someone who has, hit us up on the tip line. If you have a cool high-voltage project but haven’t posted it online yet, take a look at this link where we show you some options.