Paul Bleisch


May 2010

XESS open sources XSTOOLS

XESS, makers of a selection of Xilinx based FPGA prototyping boards, has open sourced their XSTOOLS. This is great news for linux users as this enables the community to update and maintain a port of the standard tools — the last set of linux tools were the 4.0.6 version which doesn’t support the newer boards. In the recent past, I tried porting a newer version of XSTOOLS to linux again but gave in due to the USB and Windows dependencies in the newer code base. Hopefully the availability of a central project will mean an up to date linux port.


Rigol DS1052e

About a year ago I had to make a tough budgeting decision – something that many fellow hobbyists have to do.  Which would it be – an oscilloscope or a logic analyzer? At the time I was doing alot of FPGA and planning to do microcontroller stuff so I bought a LogicPort from Intronix.  While a great purchase, I’ve found myself looking at analog signals or higher voltages than I expected.

I began watching Craigslist for used oscilloscopes, hoping to pick up a cheap 25Mhz scope.  Meanwhile, I came across David Jones’ eevblog and his review of the Rigol 1052e. In some sort of sign, the Rigol DS1052e’s went on sale this past week for $399 (interestingly only $10 more than I paid for my LogicPort).  Now, I did find a few 50Mhz 2-channel scopes (HP, Tektronix, Hitachi) locally for between $250 and $350 but for a little more I get a new DSO.  Yum.

I haven’t received the scope yet.  I’ll post some info when I get it.  I should also do a review of the Intronix LogicPort – a nice piece of kit.

What’s more is that in the process I discovered eevblog which is outstanding.  I must have spent three hours watching past episodes the other night until 2:00 in the morning.  Great stuff.

Futurlec’s value packs

I’ve decided to invest in some component “staples” so I can more easily do simple projects with the kids.  After looking around a bit, I decided to get a few  value packs from Futurelec.  Specifically, the 1/4W resistor pack, a ceramic cap pack, mylar cap pack, a diode pack, and the linear ic pack.  They shipped quickly and the pre-sorted and labeled nature made it easy to pop into my cheapo Home Depot containers.  Great stuff.

I left the resistors in their shipping package since they were labelled for me.
I left the resistors in their shipping package since they were labelled for me.

I came upon Futurlec while looking for 8088 related parts for another project. If you haven’t tried them they seem to have great prices for 74LSxx stuff and the like (compared to digikey and jameco) and ship small orders.

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