FPGAs have been the talk of the town at many of this year’s hacker conferences. At CrowdSupply’s Teardown there were workshops on two different FPGA boards, the IceBreaker and the Fomu, and Hackaday’s SuperCon based their conference badge on an FPGA. But what exactly is an FPGA, and why are they so hot right now?
And finally, receiving the biggest applause was Linux-on-Badge: this team used all the badge hacking tricks in the book. The hardware component was a 32 MiB SDRAM cartridge by [Jacob Creedon]. The default badge SOC FPGA bitstream was entirely replaced in order to support a minimalist Linux. Much of the development was done on [Michael Welling]’s computer, guided by the precedence of a LiteX project putting Linux on the Radiona ULX3S. This is a true success story of Supercon collaboration as the team (including [Drew Fustini], [Tim Ansell], [Sean Cross], and many others) came together and worked late into nights, drawing from the massive body of collective expertise of the community.
This October, people all over the world celebrated Open Source Hardware Month with meet-ups, talks and workshops. The month kicked off with events at RAIT in Vienna (Austria) and SparkFun in Colorado (USA), followed by gatherings in Poland, Panama, Thailand, Japan, Ghana and more!
In total, there were 40 events in 14 different countries across five continents, showing us that the world of Open Source Hardware is expanding rapidly. But while many people in the maker community will have used some kind of Open Source Hardware technology — such as an Arduino — there is some confusion about what the term actually means.