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    Last month, you decided on Simple Electronics Repairs for October!


    Let us know what Project Competition you want for November!

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  • 08/27/17--13:57: Not-as-expensive FPGA Boards
  • I haven't done a poll in a while so I thought it would be fun and instructive to do one about less-expensive FPGA boards.  One of the challenges of getting into FPGA design is that the boards are usually a lot more expensive than a Raspberry Pi or a microcontroller board from ST, NXP, or TI.  This may prevent people from giving FPGAs a try, which in turn makes the boards more expensive since they're manufactured in smaller quantities.


    Still, if you look around there are some nice boards under US$100 and even under US$50.  I highly recommend Joel Williams' list of Cheap FPGA Development Boards.


    Here are some boards available for US$50 or less that seem particularly interesting.  I've used the Papilio One and iCEstick myself.


    • Gadget Factory Papilio One 250K: This is one of my favorite boards and IMO a very good value at US$38.  It has a Xilinx Spartan-3E 250K, 48 I/Os on headers, and a JTAG programmer.  It's currently out of stock, but you get its "big brother" with a 500K part for US$65.

    • Generic Cyclone II board: Two years ago Michael Kellett wrote a nice 'blog about a US$15 Altera Cyclone II board available from Chinese distributor AliExpress.  It's an impressive board, except that it doesn't come with a programmer.  Michael was able to get a bundle with a programmer for just under US$50.

    • Lattice iCEstick:  At US$22 from some vendors, this is the least expensive FPGA board I know of that includes a programmer.  It has a Lattice iCE40 1K LUT FPGA, which is a small FPGA -- maybe a fifth the capacity of Papilio One 250K.   On the other hand, iCE40 is the only FPGA that has a fully open-source tool chain.


    • Numato Labs Mimas: At US$35, Numato's Mimas is the cheapest Spartan 6 LX9 board I've seen with a programmer.  It has a lots of I/O on headers, along with some LEDs and push-buttons.  Numato is based in India, so I don't know what shipping is like.  Numato also has Mimas V2 for US$50, which adds 64MB DDR SDRAM, VGA connector, and 3-digit 7-segment display but much less general-purpose I/O than Mimas.  And they also have the US$30 Elbert V2 with a 50K Xilinx Spartan 3A and I/O similar to Mimas V2.


    • Scarab Hardware miniSpartan3 is a small Xilinx Spartan 3A board with a 50K or 200K part for $30 or $40, including an on-board programmer.  I've never dealt with Scarab personally.  The miniSpartan3 is a nice size to incorporate into other projects and has lots of general-purpose I/O.


    So which one do you like best?  Or is there another not-as-expensive FPGA board you prefer?  If you have experience with any of these boards or vendors, please comment.

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    Good afternoon, element14 community members!


    This Friday, September 22nd at 5:00PM CDT (11:00PM BST) we'll be upgrading the community platform to Jive 9. Woohoo!


    What to Expect:

    • The maintenance/downtime is expected to last approximately 4-5 hours. The community will be inaccessible during this time.
    • There may be intermittent outages up until Noon CDT on Saturday.
    • Once the maintenance is complete, we'll be posting platform upgrade notes and changes courtesy of mcollinge.


    What's Next:

    Myself and several other members of the element14 community and development team will be on Friday night/Saturday morning to ensure that everything deployed correctly. This is a (relatively) simpler upgrade than those in the past, since we'll be doing a direct version upgrade (From Jive 8 -> Jive 9) instead of skipping one. Additionally, the update has been successfully deployed on our staging environment for a few weeks now, and everything appears to be stable. However, part of the maintenance period does involve doing a complete back-up to the site, so there should be no fear that anything will be lost. Absolute worse case scenario, everything is on fire we can safely revert back to Jive 8.


    What's Next Next:

    After the Jive 9 upgrade is complete, expect us to continue to make improvements and fixes in the future. Some of the things on this list include:

    • Further updates to the navigation/user interface to improve the look and feel to the site.
    • A full audit of all current groups and spaces.
    • Additional bug fixes/improvements.
    • ... And more.


    There is not a fixed time line to these things, and we'll continue to update you once more information is available. As always, if you have any questions/feedback/concerns please let us know.


    Thank you!

    The element14 team.

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    I've read through all the comments regarding the MiniZed development board. And it seems like people would like more information about the following:


    • Zynq Programming
    • How to program and use Xilinx FPGA to do small projects
    • A Webinar of a MiniZed project
    • Better understanding of how the ARM and FPGA features can leverage from each other and how these two features can be implemented.
    • A quick tour of Vivado Design Suite


    Here's the poll: if you are interested in any of the above topics, please vote how you would like this information presented to you.

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    The element14 RoadTest Group is one of the popular groups on the element14 Community. It's even popular with our suppliers. RoadTests give any element14 member the opportunity to receive a product at no charge (taxes excluded) and all you have to do in return is write a review of the product. But not every member of the element14 community is a member of the RoadTest group or has taken advantage of the RoadTest experience. Why aren't you part of the RoadTest group? Please vote or leave your comment below.



    Randall Scasny

    RoadTest Program Manager

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  • 07/13/17--13:32: September Monthly Poll
  • Last month, you decided on Solar Powered Yard Gadget (tiebreaker) for August!


    Let us know what Project Competition you want for September!

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  • 04/14/15--04:46: Raspberry PI - QNX
  • Hi,

    Has any one tried porting QNX on Raspberry pi ?


    I am planning to take it up atleast the Graphics (HDMI) & Network part.



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  • 09/21/17--05:01: Beaglebone Black QNX
  • I have added HDMI Drivers to Beaglebone Black QNX , and added few QT applications too .. Any one who have has QNX 6.5 can compile it & use ..


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    Wacky Automation Devices

    Monthly project competitions, chances to earn prizes, you decide project themes, your ideas, your projects, turn ideas into projects.

    Back to The Project14 homepage

    Project14 Home
    Monthly Themes
    Monthly Theme Poll


    3 First Place Winners Earn a Shopping Cart of $100 for any element14 site!




    The Electronics & Design Contest You Voted for: Wacky Automation Devices


    Your Monthly Theme: Wacky Automation Device (aka Rube Goldberg Machine)
    Rube_Goldberg's_-Self-Operating_Napkin-_(cropped).gif Rube_golderg_competition.jpg

    This month's theme is Wacky Automation Devices and comes from dougw. The idea is to come up with an automation device similar to a Rube Goldberg machine. A Rube Goldberg machine is a complex contraption in which a series of devices perform simple tasks and are linked together to produce a domino effect whereby activation of one device triggers the next device in the sequence.  The inventor was a famous an American cartoonist.


    You've probably witnessed the influence of Rube Goldberg in cartoons, movies or TV shows you've watched.  Depictions of overly engineered contraptions leading to intense chain reactions resulting in simple results can be seen in movies such as the Goonies, Beauty and the Beast, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and Ernest Goes to Jail.


    Rube Goldberg, born on the 4th of July in 1883, certainly had the whole right brain / left thing working for him. Not only was he a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist known for his wacky cartoons but he also received an engineering degree from Berkley. He has the distinction of being the only person listed in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as an adjective and its been estimated that he did 50,000 cartoons over the course of his lifetime.


    His legacy lives on, not only through TV and movies, but through Rube Goldberg Inc, a not for profit 501(c)3 dedicated to promoting STEM & STEAM education for students of all ages.  The engineering fraternity at Purdue University has hosted a National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest every year since 1987 . In 2009, the same chapter established a similar contest at Berkeley University, where Goldberg got his degree.


    Your Project, Your Ideas!



    About Project14

    Every month you'll have a new poll where you'll get to decide an upcoming project competition, based on your interests, that will take place a couple of months in advance. Themes are broad in scope so that everyone can participate regardless of skill set.


    What are Monthly Themes?

    • Every month (around the 14th of each month) a new theme will be posted on Project14.
    • Submit your ideas (proposals) for your projects to get feedback from the rest of the community.
    • Submit a project entry in the Theme space once you start working on it.


    What are Monthly Theme Polls?

    • Every month (around the 14th of each month) there is a project theme poll.
    • Vote on which project competition you want to see for the following upcoming theme.
      • The themes voted on during the previous poll decided the upcoming theme.
      • If you submit an idea for a theme that is not used then it can still be used in a future poll.
    • Themes comments and ideas from the comments section of the project theme poll.

    Step 1:Log inorregisteron element14, it's easy and free.

    Step 2:Post in the comments section below to begin a discussion on your idea.Videos, pictures and text are all welcomed forms of submission.

    Step 3:Submit a blog post of your progress on your project by the end of the month.  You are free to submit as many blog entries as you like until the beginning of the next theme.


    Be sure to include video proof of your project!


    Visit:Wacky Automation Devices


    Submit an Entry Form Here:


    Submit Project


    You have until November 14th, 12:00 AM CDT to submit your completed project!


    A jury consisting of your peers will judge project submissions!



    How You Win:



    Come Up With a Clever Name:
    Stick to the Theme:
    • A clever name can make your project memorable.
    • The right name can distinguish your project from others and help create buzz around your project.
    • This project is your baby! Part of the fun of bringing something new into the world is coming up with a name.
    • If you have an idea for a project that doesn't fit the current theme then submit your idea in the comments section of the monthly poll.
    Be Original:
    Submit Video Proof:
    • Providing the steps you took to complete your project (text, video, or images) and providing video proof should be sufficient in most cases.
    • If your project introduces something new or something that is not commercially available or affordable then that counts!
    • If it doesn't work that's fine, this program is more about the journey than the end product.
    • A short video is all that is required but you can shoot as much video as you like.
    • You are encouraged to be creative and have as much fun as possible!


    Three First Place Winners Earn a Shopping Cart of $100 (from element14 sites)!


    Your Project Examples:


    Monthly Theme: DIY Test Equipment

    The Drinkmotizer - a Raspberry Pi Drink Mixing Robot

    drink-mo+wiring+2.jpg Drinkmo+full.jpg





    Project Example:  The Breakfast Machine
    World's Largest Rube Goldberg Machine








    Discuss Your Ideas In the Comments Below!


    You have until November 14th, 12:00 AM CDT to submit your completed project!

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    We are planning to offer a Power ESSENTIALS module in a few months. It's a big subject, for sure. So, while we are doing our research, we wanted to ask you what are you most interested in learning.  I've listed a few general topics below. Feel to offer other ideas. We'd like to offer topics that will be of most interest to you. Thank you.