Archive for December, 2013

Back at it

Posted in Hardware, Uncategorized on December 22, 2013 by asteriondaedalus

So, first thing I did was to open up one of the Verilog prototyping text I got to start training up on the xilinx tools. Half a day doodling with the tool, changing the designs, synthesizing, simulating … most stimulating.  I got myself a copy of “FPGA Prototyping by Verilog Examples” by Pong P. Chu.  So, with the latest ISE Design suite installed one can design and verify without having to even heat up the soldering board.  I’ve also got the Altera toolset installed so I will try running the examples in there as well to get a feel for the difference between the two tools.

Also managed a copy of the “Blue Book” – the gospel of HDL design.  And another recommended text is on the way.

Cobwebs thus slowly dusted off.

Today, I went back onto the modifying of the firmata code to work with s4a python and bluetooth as a prelude to integrating with POSH – then onto SPADE.

I opted to knock up two modules: 1) for the Romeo on the indoor rover


; and 2) for the MEGA1280 I use for experimenting.


I have experimented with the SNAP modules in the MEGA board and you’ll note I also got a XBee format Bluetooth module to allow me to drive the board with Bluetooth commands as well.

Let the fun begin …

Posted in Development, Hardware, Sensing on December 13, 2013 by asteriondaedalus

… and still I need to cut up my VISA card


Okay, I won’t.

So, I jumped on net to find a MPU-9150 breakout as I have started soldering up the propeller proto board to take the ITG 3200 for the phubar experiments.

Propeller Prototype

I am going to add two sockets to allow swapping out between the two sensors.

ITG 3200 Breakoutmpu 9150 breakout

Found a 9150 breakout for $16 odd dollars (although buying 5 for $50 was tempting).

In the meantime found a depth sensor with apparently 1cm resolution, 5 for $20 plus $8 postage.

depth gauge(Post script: the seller retracted the sale, they put the wrong price up – too good to be true afterall.  They don’t appear to be subject to Australian law and not means to force them to honor the “contract”).  You are looking for the MS5803-14B .

This will do for the submersible experiments with the old video camera diving houses.  Of course, some has already written Arduino code to use exactly this sensor (gotta love open source … sometimes).

sony cam

Exam tomorrow …

Posted in Development, Hardware on December 11, 2013 by asteriondaedalus

Just having my morning wake up coffee and day dreaming.

So, I got curious after my last post and an accidental find on the internet (or at least a trillion of them).

Seems many GAL/PAL etc that I use to play with have, relatively recently, gone obsolete (go figure) BUT that means trillions of them on the internet for $1 or less.


Et cetera.

Problem is programming the pesky things.

I have downloaded CUPL (ex commercial and now free – go figure) and a couple of DOS based PALASM (just to be really kooky).

The problem is that you need a physical programmer.  The chips are, more or less, like PROM chips and you need to blow fuses et cetera.

Luckily a blast from the past is GALBLAST which has Eagle files still available.

galblastsch galblastpic

Go figure, might be fun trying to source some of the components on the thing – but doable.

It restricts the number of chips you can burn but that’s fine.

Since I have Eagle PCB editor installed I am tempted to get rid of the DB25 and replace it with either of …




To make it a serial programmer.  Although it is tempting to just make a cable to drive it from my MEGA.



One of these USB to DB25 parallel adapters. This might be simplest first up as it only needs changing the PC programming code around port output and no PCB design work.

Okay, okay, so I am dawdling…

Posted in Hardware on December 7, 2013 by asteriondaedalus

Exam in 5 days time.  Studying way too hard so brain exploding.

Decided to let my self wander the internet.

I had a flash back when I found an old site talking about using FORTH as a hardware compiler for PAL (Programmable Array Logic) (actually PALASM).

That took me back to when I actually wrote a PAL compiler in FORTH for a chipset I was playing with.  Had to, you know the old days, no free software so hobbyists had to make do.

So, I haven’t played with programmable logic, or any hardware design, for a couple of years now so I thought it time to relearn.

Luckily for me (and you) now there is plenty of very sophisticated and free software for the new range of chips out there.

I came across a board for Xilinx Spartan 6 going half price ($35) because the designer felt the usb socket was too frail (nothing a little epoxy won’t fix) so welcome to Mojo V2


And since I was at it I also got an entry level Altera Max II board for $10 just so as not to show any favoritism.


Flashing LED etc. for me to start.  I am partial to the idea of a FORTH processor in hardware (there are a couple of FPGA examples on web).

I also found some VHDL for inputting and processing video from a cheap CMOS camera.

So a full suite of not bad training potential.  Of course, plenty of PDF downloading already including a copy of the Blue Book (the apparent bible of programmable logic design).  Plenty of sites dedicated to hobbyist FPGA design as well.

Just have to get this exam over with.