A Better Way to Plug a CPLD into a Breadboard

If you read my first post about a simple CPLD do-it-yourself project you may remember that I seriously wiffed when I made the footprint 1” wide, which was a bit too wide for common solderless breadboards. Since then I started over, having fixed the width problem, and ended up with a module that looks decidedly… cuter.

To back up a little bit, a Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) is a cool piece of hardware to have in your repertoire and it can be used to learn logic or a high level design language or replace obsolete functions or chips. But a CPLD needs a little bit of support infrastructure to become usable, and that’s what I’ll be walking you through here. So if you’re interested in learning CPLDs, or just designing boards for them, read on!

Continue reading “A Better Way to Plug a CPLD into a Breadboard”

Rory Aronson on Documenting Open Source Projects

Every project starts off with an idea. Sometimes those ideas are bigger than one person, or even a small group of people. That was the position [Rory Aronson] found himself in with Farmbot, his finalist entry in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Documentation was key for [Rory]. Farmbot first came into the world in the form of a white paper. The paper included a request for collaborators, making this an open source project from day 0. Documentation has been important throughout the Farmbot project, so it was naturally the topic of [Rory’s] talk at the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference.

Continue reading “Rory Aronson on Documenting Open Source Projects”

Embed with Elliot: Debounce your Noisy Buttons, Part I

“Psst…hey buddy! Wanna see the sweetest little debouncing routine this side of Spokane? C’mon over here. Step right over those bit-shift operators, they don’t bite. Now look at this beauty right here: I call her The Ultimate Debouncer(tm)!”

Everybody who works with microcontrollers eventually runs into the issue of switch bounce or “chatter”, and nearly everyone has their own favorite solution. Some fix it in hardware, others fix it in software. Some hackers understand chatter, and others just cut-and-paste the classic routines. Some folks even try to ignore it, and they might even get lucky, but everyone’s luck runs out sometimes.

In the next two “Embed with Elliot” installments, I’ll look a little bit at bouncing, look into doing hardware debouncing both the simple way and the right way, and build up a basic software routine that demonstrates some of the principles and which works just fine, though it’s not optimized. We’ll be laying the groundwork.

In the next installment, I’ll let you in on my personal favorite debounce routine. It’s a minor tweak on a standard, but with some special sauce that’s worth spreading around. I’ll call it the Ultimate Debouncer(tm), but will it stand up to the scrutiny of the Hackaday commenteers? (How’s that for a cliffhanger?!?)

For now, though, let’s look into switch bounce and the standard ways to fix it in hardware and software.

Continue reading “Embed with Elliot: Debounce your Noisy Buttons, Part I”

How to Be the Hardware Engineer at a Startup

For those who prefer the smell of solder smoke to lines of code then you may be a hardware engineer. What you should consider is how to land a job at a startup, how to work fast, be a team player, keep an open mind, and be organized. Joining a startup will be the greatest challenge of your career. You can do it! Be a hardware engineer at a startup and change the world.

Continue reading “How to Be the Hardware Engineer at a Startup”

Programmable Logic: Build Yourself a CPLD Module

A Complex Programmable Logic Device (CPLD) is a great piece of hardware to have in your repertoire. As its name implies, you can program these chips to serve the logic functions you need. This might be replacing an obsolete chip, or maybe just a way to learn and try different techniques. What better way to learn than to get your hands on a CPLD and give it a try?

I created a CPLD module with the intent of being able to plug it into lots of things including solderless breadboards, but I screwed up. It seems that the plugin space available on a solderless breadboard is 1.1”, I had made the footprint 1” wide leaving no room for a row of wires on both sides. Duh.

But let me back up and show more about what I’m doing , I wanted to make a programmable piece of logic that could be built as a kit one could easily solder at home, could be programmed in-circuit, and could work at 3.3 or 5 volts.

Image5bTo implement an easily solderable kit I went with an older CPLD part that also has 3.3v and 5v versions that will maintain its programming regardless of power. The logic itself is a CPLD IC from the Altera Max family with two versions that fit the board with either 32 or 64 macrocells. A macrocell is the basic logic building block and it is programmed with logic “terms” and then interconnected to other macrocells through a programmable interconnect.

Continue reading “Programmable Logic: Build Yourself a CPLD Module”

Why You Need to Be at the Hackaday SuperConference

Hackaday’s first ever SuperConference is November 14th and 15th. Imagine a hardware conference that’s actually about hardware creation, packed with the most talented people – both as attendees and presenters. We are taking over Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco for the event that’s sure to change your engineering life. Apply Now for your tickets.

This isn’t hype. Our excitement is well founded, and especially so in this case. Here’s why:

Continue reading “Why You Need to Be at the Hackaday SuperConference”

SuperCon Presenters Revealed

When we announced the Hackaday SuperConference earlier this week we weren’t able to mention any presenters; the call for proposals to this epic hardware conference was still open. Now that the proposals are in we have been poring over them and starting to send acceptance notifications. Just a few of the notable presenters who have already confirmed are listed below. This is more than enough to get the excitement started but we will of course announce more in the coming days.

Check out the amazing space we’ve booked at Dogpatch Studios. It is perfect for the non-stop, high-throughput schedule that has been assembled. There will be one speaking track for talks that spans the entire weekend, while multiple concurrent workshops are held on the other floor of the venue. The evening party will kick off with the announcement of the 2015 Hackaday Prize winner, and the winner of Best Product.

Head over and apply now to attend the two-day SuperCon in San Francisco on November 14th and 15th. This list of amazing people and topics is just a taste of over thirty talks and workshops going on at the hardware conference you’ve been waiting for.

Shanni R. Prutchi  | Construction of an Entangled Photon Source for Experimenting with Quantum Technologies

Sprite_TM | Implementing the Tamagotchi Singularity

Michael Ossmann | Simple RF Circuit Design Workshop

Fran Blanche | Fun and Relevance of Antiquated Technology

Paul Stoffregen | Advanced Microcontroller-Based Audio Workshop

Noah Feehan | Making in Public

Sarah Petkus | NoodleFeet: Building a Robot as Art

Minas Liarokapis | OpenBionics

Luke Iseman | Starting a Hardware Startup

Dozens more to come.


Download the SuperCon poster and hang it everywhere. Share the @hackaday #SuperCon.  Do it now.