Old, not obsolete. Working with the Xilinx Virtex-E FPGA in a huge BGA package.

Let me see now, it must have been about two years ago when this story started. I was bored. I can’t remember why but when I’m bored I often surf ebay just to see what interesting bits and pieces are out there. Mostly it’s the same old stuff repeated over and over. Cheap bare PCB modules from the far east at the low end and chancers wanting $1000 for a broken oscilloscope at the other. This time though I found something interesting. Someone in Sweden was selling a job lot of forty factory-sealed Virtex-E FPGAs for what amounted to two quid each. And they were big ones — the XCV600E-6FG676. ‘Virtex’ is...

An acrylic case for Nanocounter

You may have already read my writeup about my first experience with laser cutting and the case that I produced for my reflow oven controller. If not then you can always get up to speed by clicking here. Creating a design for laser cutting involves laying out the different pieces into a...

A review of the Maximator Altera FPGA development board

I recently received a review sample of a rather nice looking FPGA development board called Maximator from the folks at Kamami.com. I’ve spent some time evaluating it and this post is a detailed review of the board. The development kit arrives in a nice, well padded box. What’s in...

A custom enclosure for the Android bluetooth reflow controller

It’s a good nine or ten months now since I published my design for a reflow oven controller that uses an Android app for display and control. I knew at the time that I would need an enclosure for this controller and not just because of the obvious hazards of having exposed mains...

Nanocounter is an accurate frequency counter using an FPGA, STM32 and a bluetooth android app

Here we have a good example of how a requirement for a simple tool spirals out of control and spawns a project that takes months to complete and ends up dwarfing the project that it was originally expected to facilitate. You see, some time ago I was fiddling around with a project, something to do with data logging, probably, I’ve actually forgotten what I was up to. Said project would have used an MCU to acquire and timestamp data over an extended period of time and I quickly realised that the oscillators and quartz crystals used to generate the clock tree inside an MCU are not accurate enough to track wall-clock time over extended...

USB HID device development on the STM32 F042

The STM23 F042 series is ST’s cheapest route into USB device programming for the F0 series of STM32 microcontrollers. In hacker-friendly units of one you can buy an STM32F042F6P6 (48Mhz, 32Kb flash, 6Kb SRAM, TSSOP20) for £1.47 at Farnell today. STM32F042 TSSOP20 0.65mm pitch...

A development board for the STM32F042 TSSOP package

It’s been a while since I posted a new article, a delay at least partly due to me herniating a disc in my neck which left me completely unable to look downwards for any length of time and as you’ll know all too well you can’t work on circuit boards without peering down at...

Filtering the 5V USB power supply line Jul24

Filtering the 5V USB power supply line

I’m currently working on a new project that contains sensitive analogue components and have rediscovered what many before me already know, that is that the VUSB 5V line that comes out from your computer’s USB hub is noisy. In fact I was surprised at just how noisy it is....

An android reflow controller that anyone can build Jul12

An android reflow controller that anyone can build

The story so far Welcome to the never ending saga of Andy and his reflow controllers. About a year ago I published a project writeup showing how I built a PID-based reflow controller. It featured a 640×360 graphical LCD from the Sony U5 Vivaz mobile phone and was all-surface mount. It...

Cheap China ATMega8 investigation: counterfeit or just great value? May31

Cheap China ATMega8 investigation: counterfeit or just great value?

I was recently working on an all through-hole project and for prototyping purposes I’d bought myself an ATmega328P microcontroller from Farnell; you know the one, you can find it on every Arduino Uno board. The general idea was that I’d write the firmware with the luxury of 32Kb...

PCB Fail: Andy bitten by manufacturing defect May02

PCB Fail: Andy bitten by manufacturing defect

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that when I want to get a batch of PCBs made I use the low-cost prototyping services available from the Chinese houses such as Seeed Studio, ITead Studio or Elecrow. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose because I’m convinced that...

From zero to a C++ STM32 development environment

It’s been a while since I wrote an article about my stm32plus C++ library for the STM32 series of MCUs so I thought I’d combine a long overdue catchup with a step-by-step tutorial that will show you how to set up a completely free and unrestricted STM32 development environment from...

avr-gcc 4.9.2 and avr-libc 1.8.1 compiled for Windows Mar08

avr-gcc 4.9.2 and avr-libc 1.8.1 compiled for Windows

It’s been about 3 years now since I last compiled up avr-gcc and avr-libc for Windows and it proved surprisingly popular with you so I’m now bringing you the latest, as of March 2015, versions of avr-gcc and avr-libc. I’ve also included avrdude 6.1 for completeness even...

Modding the STM32 F4 Discovery with a 25MHz clock

In this article I’m going to show you how to do a straightforward modification to the STM32 F4 Discovery board that will change the onboard oscillator from 8MHz to 25MHz. Why do this Probably the main reason to do this is ethernet. If you’re prototyping an MII ethernet PHY then...

Arduino Uno R3 graphics accelerator shield uses no pins

Hello and welcome to another in my series of unique hardware projects designed to bring you something useful that you’ve hopefully never seen before and at a price point that any hobbyist can afford. This project brings together the knowledge that I’ve gained over the last few years to bring you a graphics accelerator for the Arduino Uno R3 based on an ARM Cortex M0 core attached to a 640×360 LCD from the Sony U5 Vivaz cellphone. In previous articles you’ve seen how I’ve reverse engineered the Sony LCD and then used it in reflow oven and FPGA graphics accelerator projects. Introduction TFT LCD shields for the...

PCB soldermask colours: which one should you choose? Jan05

PCB soldermask colours: which one should you choose?

I’m sure that all electronics hobbyists have, by now, noticed that anyone can get their PCBs printed at the online Chinese services such as Seeed Studio, ITead Studio and Elecrow. Many of you will have even used those services. I have, and I’ve used them often. Introduction When...

Exploring the KSZ8091RNA RMII ethernet PHY

In my previous two articles (here, here) I’ve provided schematics and Gerbers for a breakout board that supports the Micrel KSZ8051MLL ethernet PHY. The KSZ8051MLL is an MII PHY manufactured in a reasonably easy to work with 48 pin quad-flat package. One of the burdens of MII is that it...

Hacking the HP Z800 Xeon motherboard into a standard case Nov01

Hacking the HP Z800 Xeon motherboard into a standard case

About four years ago now the company I work for were investing in some new servers for a project that we were working on and what turned up were quad LGA1366 socket Xeons with support for up to 192Gb of memory. In most cases two sockets were populated with Intel Xeon X5670 CPUs, hex core...