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Paul Bleisch

Using Ultrascope for Rigol DS1052E

I’ve become more and more annoyed at having to export images from my Rigol scope to a flash drive plugged into the device. I’d much prefer to capture signals and images directly from my Macbook. Unfortunately, the PC software that comes with the Rigol — Ultrascope — does not run on Mac OS X. Boo. Over the last couple nights, I’ve played with the idea of writing a Cocoa app to pull data from the scope. USBTMC + Cocoa seems like a pretty good path to go.

Continue reading “Using Ultrascope for Rigol DS1052E”

Sometimes it is a bad part… sometimes.

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on my retro pc project. The first step with the 8284 seemed to go well but the trouble began when I tried wiring up the 8088. I wasn’t getting anything remotely close to the expected boot sequence. According to the datasheet and
The 8088 Project Book
a few clocks after dropping RESET back to zero, the 8088 should raise ALE after placing 0xFFFF0 on the address lines.

No such luck.

Continue reading “Sometimes it is a bad part… sometimes.”

Starting a Retro PC using The 8088 Project Book

Several months ago, I purchased a copy of Robert Grossblatt’s classic The 8088 Project Book in hopes of building a retro 8088 computer. My plan was to scavenge the parts from craigslist, ebay, and a couple Seattle area used computer junk stores. My adventures locally didn’t result in many parts though I did have much fun finding all those old ISA cards. I did manage to buy quite a few intel parts (8259s, 8255s, etc…) and a bunch of 74xx TTL parts from a gentleman in the area who was clearing out old stuff. But I still didn’t have an 8088 and a couple other necessary support parts. My queries to craigslist resulted in offers to sell me old 8088 PCs for crazy prices. Eventually, I gave up on finding the parts locally and started adding the remaining pieces to various digikey and futurlec purchases. This past weekend the final piece – the 8284 – arrived which is good because it is pretty important being that it drives the clock for the entire system.

Continue reading “Starting a Retro PC using The 8088 Project Book”

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.

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.

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