Hackaday writes about an interesting talk from the recent Supercon:
If you hadn’t noticed, we had a bit of an FPGA theme running at this year’s Superconference. Why? Because the open-source FPGA toolchain is ripening, and because many of the problems that hackers (and academics) are tackling these days have become complex enough to warrant using them. A case in point: David Williams is a university professor who just wanted to build a quadruped robotics project. Each leg has a complex set of motors, motor drivers, sensors, and other feedback mechanisms. Centralizing all of this data put real strains on the robot’s network, and with so many devices the microcontrollers were running out of GPIOs. This lead him to become, in his words, “FPGA-curious”.
If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to the state of the art in open-source FPGAs, this is your talk. David covers everything, from a bird’s eye view of hardware description languages, through the entire Yosys-based open-source toolchain, and even through to embedding soft-CPUs into the FPGA fabric. And that’s just the first 18 minutes. (Slides for your enjoyment, and you can watch the talk embedded below the break.)
The second half of the talk is more about his personal experience and advice based on the last year or so of his experience going from FPGA newbie to master of his own robot. He highlights the versatility of a soft-CPU in an FPGA versus a pre-baked microcontroller solution. With the microcontroller you get all of the peripherals built into the silicon, but with the FPGA you get to write your own peripherals. Want a 10-wire SPI-like bus? Just code it up. Your peripherals are as simple or complex as you need them to be.
On the hardware side, David touts the PMOD standard (a man after our own heart!) and points out the large ecology of PMOD-compatible devices out there. Going for a plug-in solution also means that your engineering job is reduced to building a carrier board that can seat the FPGA brainboard of your choosing and interface it with a bunch of PMODs. It’s hard to get much simpler than that.
We are big fans Hackaday Supercon and several of the OSH Park team will be attending again this year from November 15 – 17. Here’s some of what to look forward to:
Four weeks from today the Hackaday Superconference comes alive for the fifth year. From engineering in challenging environments to elevating the art form of electronics, here are nine more talks that will make this a year to remember.
In addition to the slate of speakers below there are three other announcements, plus workshops. Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM) is designing this year’s badge based around a beefy FPGA running a RISC-V core and using open source synthesis tools. We’ll have more on that soon, but if you just can’t wait, check out the expansion board spec he just published, and join the conference chat room for the inside track. Badge hacking is sure to be the liveliest we’ve ever seen.
Tickets are sold out but you can still get on the waiting list and hope that one becomes available. If you are holding onto one of these hot commodities but are unable to use it, please return your ticket so that we can get it to someone waiting with their fingers crossed.
via Speakers Taking the Stage at Supercon Plus a Hint of the Hacking to Come — Hackaday
Chris Gammell at Hackaday Supercon:
Simple designs will save your next product if you know which circuits to piece together. Utility circuits practical for everyday electronics. Hackaday Superconference: The greatest gathering of hardware hackers, builders, engineers and enthusiasts on the planet returns. Streaming Live talks from our ‘Main Stage’ in Pasadena, CA. Visit for full list of talks and workshops : https://hackaday.io/superconference/
Bring your Open Hardware Summit badge to Hackaday Supercon in Pasadena this weekend!
Drew Fustini will have the badge programming jig with updated firmware featuring like the MicroPython WebREPL, accelerometer demo, and Magic 8-Ball app by Steve Pomeroy
Drew Fustini will also have USB-to-serial adapter boards for badge to share!
Over the weekend, the last available tickets to the Hackaday Superconference vanished. This will be the fullest, most exciting, hack-packed Supercon ever. We’ve always had a stunning slate of speakers. It’s hard to objectively say we will top previous years, but yes this collection of talks is an insane concentration of hardware speakers that tops…
via Supercon is Sold Out, Join Us On the Live Streams and Chat Rooms — Hackaday
Reverse engineering silicon is a dark art, and when you’re just starting off it’s best to stick to the lesser incantations, curses, and hexes. Hackaday caught up with Ken Shirriff at last year’s Supercon for a chat about the chip decapping and reverse engineering scene.
via Ken Shirriff Chats About a Whole World of Chip Decapping — Hackaday