[Nakul], [Nikilesh], and [Nischal] just finished posting about their entry in the 2012 Open 7400 Logic competition. It’s an encryption system based entirely on 7400 logic chips. The device operates on 8-bit binary numbers, which limits its real-world applications. But we bet they learned a lot during the development process.
The encryption algorithm is based on a the concept of cellular automaton. This is a something with which we’re already familiar having seen many Conway’s Game of Life projects around here. What we’re not familiar with is this particular wing of the concept called ‘Rule 30‘. It works well with this project because a complex pattern can be generated from simple beginnings.
After conceptualizing how the system might work the team spent some time transferring the implementation to the chips they had available. The end result is a quartet of chip-packed breadboards and a rat’s nets of wires, but the system is capable of both encrypting and decrypting data.
Hone your fundamental understanding of computer systems by completing this online course called NAND to Tetris. The idea is to develop each fundamental unit that goes into making computer programs a reality. This starts with logic gates, which are put together into modules that eventually become a functioning computer. From there you need an operating system, a compiler, and eventually you’ll be playing a game of Tetris which you programmed yourself.
It’s certainly not an easy journey, but if you have a computer at your disposal you should be able to make it all the way through the course. There’s a software suite which includes a hardware simulator so that the computer you’re building can be assembled using HDL instead physical components.
The concept is discussed in this TED talk given by [Shimon Schocken]. It is also embedded after the break and in addition to the NAND to Tetris project he shows off some self learning software on the iPad. To us it seems very much like the learning software [Neal Stephenson] envisions in the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer from his Diamond Age novel.
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The Open 7400 Logic Competition is being held again this year. Start thinking about your entries, they’ll need to be finished and submitted by October 31st. As motivation, Digilent has put up two of their Analog Discovery kits as prizes. They can be used as a dual channel oscilloscope, function generator, or 16-channel logic analyzer. Last year was the first time the competition was held. As hype for the event built, more and more prize sponsors signed on and we hope to see the same thing happen this year.
Your entry can be just about anything as long as you show your schematic, explain the project, and use logic. It can be 7400 TTL, 4000 CMOS, discrete gates, or even a CPLD. Last year’s entries spanned a wide range of themes from LED blinkers, to unorthodox 74xx chip hacking, to boards packed full of chips. Good luck and don’t forget to tip us off about your work!
Here’s an IC logic project that displays 24-hour time. Planning was the name of the game for this project. [Mattosx] took the time to layout his design as a PCB in order to avoid the wiring nightmare when build with point-to-point connections.
Much of the complexity is caused by the display itself. Each of the six digits has its own binary-coded decimal chip and array of discrete resistors. Timekeeping is handled by six decade counters, two divider chips, one AND gate chip, and one OR gate chip. He chose a SOIC crystal oscillator chip as the clock signal. We’re more partial to the idea of using mains voltage as the clock signal.
[Mattosx] posted the board artwork if you’d like to etch your own 5″x8″ PCB. Just make sure you read through all of his notes as not all of the chips are oriented in the same direction.
[Jon] wanted his speakers to come on and off along with his TV. The speaker heats up if left on so he didn’t want to do that. But killing the power also resets the volume level (this is an old set of PC speakers and the remote is wired, not IR) so using one of those switched power strips was out as well. He thought a bit about trying to use the power LED on the TV to build his own circuit when it dawned on him. It’s possible to monitor the USB port on the TV and use it to switch on the speakers.
The circuit above uses a couple of opto-isolators to protect both the television and the speakers. The 5V line from the USB port on the back of the TV is monitored by an XNOR gate (which helps to filter out some of the toggling at power-on). When that gate latches it activates a 555 timer which in turn fires up the speakers. Presumable this happens when power is cut as well, but we’ll let you work through the circuit logic yourself.
If you’re attempting to debug a serial bus with a bare-bones logic analyzer, you’re going to have a bad time. Most of the inexpensive analyzers available don’t have a serial pattern trigger, or a way to start recording data after a specific pattern of bits comes down the pipe. [Neil] sent in a great little project that adds a serial trigger to these analyzers, we’ve got to hand it to him for designing such a useful board.
[Neil] designed a small board featuring a CLPD that converts serial data to parallel data. By setting the trigger condition of the logic analyzer to any 24-bit pattern he wants, it’s possible for [Neil] to sniff a serial bus exactly when he wants to.
The circuit is quite minimal, basically just a 100-pin CLPD and a bunch of 0.100″ header pins. It’s a useful tool, and although we couldn’t find the board file to make our own, we’re sure [Neil] will be providing that shortly.
Motion sensing can be quite effective when taking photographs of wildlife. But how can one be sure that the motion was at the center of the frame? A PIR sensor picks up motion in its entire viewing range. It’s not really something that can be aimed. But if you use two PIR sensors you can monitor a focused area for motion.
The trick is to use a logic circuit. By building an AND gate you can trigger based on motion in the area which is overlapped by both of the sensors. In this case the AND gate is built from a voltage divider. The outputs of the PIR sensors are connected above and below the divider’s connection to the photo trigger. Both have a protection diode, and the divider is tuned so that both PIR outputs must come one in order to raise the trigger input above the voltage threshold. So much for never crossing the streams.