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Paul Bleisch

MSP430 LaunchPad arrived today

I ordered one of the $4.30 LaunchPad eval kits from TI a few weeks ago. It was immediately on backorder but to TI’s credit, when they had them, they shipped them quick — overnight FedEx from what I can tell. Nice.

I’ve only downloaded the tools – Code Composer Studio and IAR Embedded Workbench – which I’ve never used before. Should be interesting. I’ll check all this out once I work through my current (and ongoing) PIC32 composite video problems.

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Exploring the PIC32 … and failing

I purchased Lucio Di Jasio’s book Programming 32-bit Microcontrollers in C (Exploring the PIC32) a while ago and love it. However, I’ve been struggling over the last few nights to get the composite video stuff to work on my PIC32 Starter Kit + IO Expansion board. The simple resistor DAC seems to be working fine but the output on the TV looks to have an extra pixel or two per line. A vertical line shifts right every line and then resets about every 8 lines or so.

I need to do more debugging with a scope attached to see what is up but it isn’t turning out to be turnkey — I suspect this is something to do with my setup and not the book or code itself.

An amateur’s look at the Rigol DS1052E

My Rigol scope showed up a couple weeks ago and I have had some time to play with it. I’m no expert on test equipment but I’ve been very happy with the DS1052E so far. In particular there have been several nice surprises along the way.

Continue reading “An amateur’s look at the Rigol DS1052E”

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.

An adventure begins…

This is the first post on a new blog.  It should be short and preview the greatness to come.  One out of two isn’t bad.

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