How to Run Your ESP8266 for Years on a Battery – Open Home Automation

November 17th, 2016

 

low_powerThis is a topic that has a lot of significance for the GadgetBox platform. There are lots of IoT projects that need as much battery life as can be squeezed out of them. This awesome article explains how to squeeze 3 years of battery life out of an esp8266 module!

https://openhomeautomation.net/esp8266-battery/

See how a PCB is manufactured.

November 10th, 2016

What an incredibly helpful video! See first hand all the steps to manufacture a PCB. This answers all the questions I’ve always had when designing a board…

Via EEVblog

https://youtu.be/rEB0pl8a5C0

Node-Red - A visual tool for wiring the Internet of Things

November 8th, 2016

As we continue to puzzle out all the different approaches to create an IoT application something that caught our eye was Node-Red. It’s billed as a visual tool for wiring the Internet of Things. The home page says this:

Node-RED is a tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways.

The intro video shows a pretty snazzy GUI for wiring elements together:

https://youtu.be/O-FDqkhCryA

This article shows how to tie your hardware into the Node-Red mix.

Now the question is what is the best way to run a node.js server?

Node-Red Homepage

Setting Up Your Own Arduino IoT Cloud Server – DZone IoT

November 3rd, 2016

With the soon to be released GadgetBox IoT enclosures we have been on the hunt for server solutions to drive our IoT devices. We really like Blynk so far, but it is not free. So when we saw this VPS based solution we knew it was something to put on the list to evaluate!

If anyone gets a chance to check it out we’d love to hear about it in the forums.

Article via dzone.com

How to Whack a Mole with your FPGA, but Not Physically!

November 1st, 2016

https://youtu.be/pausAon7RFw

Good day FPGA Enthusiasts! FPGAs can be used for a versatile set of applications from real time engineering solutions to building funny games. Today’s post is going to focus on the latter where we build yet another game concept using a FPGA board (you may need to adapt your own). The game in consideration is a simple version of ‘Whack a Mole’. Since the FPGA already has a segment display, Switches and LEDs the peripherals required to run the game are minimum.

The only Hardware required for building this game (you may need more parts depending on your FPGA board) is a FPGA and 3 LEDs (2 of the same color preferably red and one different color preferably white or green). Since only 3 LEDs are being used, you can simply plug them right into the FPGA without using a breadboard or jumpers as shown by the author.

The entire project uses a simple architecture that houses 5 key components which are the LFSR, Score keeper, Clock divider, LED controller and the 7 segment display. Each component significance and working principle has been detailed by the author.

The coding has been done in simple modules and each module has been shared under the corresponding architectural component explanation. The coding language used is VHDL (.vhd) and the code is easy to follow and relate to.

Though the game is fun, there are a few bugs in the code which can be corrected to make the game truly addictive and perfect.

Whack down all those bugs and enjoy!

By fuzmike2

Build your own Mandelbrot Fractal Generator with FPGA

October 3rd, 2016

Greetings FPGA lovers! Today’s post takes you into yet another interdisciplinary project that links pure mathematics, FPGA and VHDL to build something beautiful! The Mandelbrot set is a series of complex numbers that tend to infinity when operated upon by a special operator. These numbers when grouped together create a beautiful image sequence which might appear to be chaotic initially. But simplifying the set, we soon find that Mandelbrot’s numbers are nothing but fractals and this concept can be explored and understood visually with FPGA and VHDL.

Today’s project is an FPGA based Fractal explorer that has been built out of the Papilo Duo kit which includes Xilinx Spartan 6 LX9 FPGA, an ATmega 32U4 microcontroller and a 512 MB Static RAM. Some other hardware needed is a basic 7” LCD screen, a Joystick, a few buttons and a rotary encoder.

The colour map shown in the project is navigated by using the joystick to move around, rotary knob to chose colour scheme and the buttons to zoom in and out. These controls are connected to the ATmega 32U4 microcontroller which is interfaced with the FPGA through an SPI interface.

The LCD has been tweaked to display 800 x 600 and the FPGA has also been correspondingly set to process 800 x 600 pixel fractals using the inbuilt DSP 48s. The project is inspired by the Mandelbrot Fractal Generator by Hamster.

Though the code for this project is still unavailable at the moment, you can refer Hamster’s project to get the basic dataflow and code in the C language. Once you do have the logic at hand, the project can easily be converted to the FPGA/VHDL combination instead of the Computer/C combination used by Hamster.

The project is an excellent way to continue learning coding through VHDL and get used to the Papilo Duo Kit.

 

By Larry McGovern

9 Easy Steps to Build a Photosensitive Synth Machine with FPGA

September 27th, 2016

https://youtu.be/2zdZzn7RD0Y

Hello FPGA lovers! Engineering traditional synth machines using development platforms like Arduino and FPGAs is becoming quite the trend now. Today’s post however takes a twist from the traditional synth machines where sounds are produced by either flicking switches or pressing buttons. The synth machine under discussion is a photosensitive synth machine which uses LDRs interfaced with FPGA in place of button switches and this gives an almost touch screen like feel to the device.

The Hardware required is a FPGA board (adaption may be required), 16 LDRs, 16 high value resistors, a speaker, adequate jumpers and 2 breadboards. The entire project has only 2 sets of hardware implementation off the FPGA board. A speaker is directly wired to the FPGA board besides 16 LDRs which function as the photosensitive keyboard. These LDRs work as a 16 bit Keyboard that inputs signals to the FPGA board to convert to sound signals. The connection diagrams and screen shots are given here.

The coding used for the project has been done in VHDL and the author has given the codes in different modules. The note decoder module on Step 2 is one of the most crucial modules in the whole code as it assigns a particular frequency for the 16 bit value from the LDR keyboard. The sound generator module on Step 4 is the next crucial module as it sends the respective frequency (pitch) values to the speaker interfaced with the FPGA.

Through this link you will find the ucf files for the project. This can be modified according to your convenience in case you would like to add more functionality like sustain buttons and other effects.

By Evan_Ashley_Lauren