Michael Dunn @ edn.com writes:
Whether engineer, hobbyist, or maker, we’ve happily watched as chipmakers and third parties alike have come to their senses in recent years and cooked up a smorgasbord (smorgasboard?) of low-cost microcontroller devboards – in some cases, very low cost, like TI’s $4.30 MSP430 board. More recently, we’ve seen ARM Cortex kits for $10-$50, the flowering of the whole Arduino ecosystem, and of course, the Raspberry Pi, starting at $25. It’s microcontroller heaven.
Those of us wanting a cheap “in” to the FPGA world have been less lucky. But the times, they are a changin’. Many FPGA devkits, from both chipmakers and third parties, have broken – or downright shattered – the $100 barrier, opening the door to low-cost FPGA prototyping, education, hobby projects, and so on.
Follow me as I explore this brave new world of affordable FPGA learning and design. I’ve acquired a representative selection of bargain-priced boards, and will be reviewing each, not just on paper, but by actually creating projects with it.
FPGA boards under $100: Introduction - [Link]
Hydra-X is a development platform which is feature-rich, scalable, and easy to use.
The Hydra-X is based on the Power Application Controller (PAC)™ family of ICs. Hydra-X gives you the ability to execute your own code on a 32-bit ARM Cortex core, paralleled with analog resources such as multi-mode power manager (for AC-DC, DC-DC power management), configurable Analog Front-End (AFE), data converters (1 MHz 10-bit ADC, 2 precision DACs), 52 V, 72 V, 600 V gate drivers, and open drain drivers, to name a few.
With up to 14 PWM timing functions, you will find it hard to run out of timing resources. Fully configurable into PWM, input capture or output compare, these timers are expanded by a dead time generator block; extremely useful when driving external FETs in a half H-Bridge configuration and a dead time needs to be imposed in order to protect the design from shoot-through.
Hydra-X10 and Hydra-X20 by Active-Semi Inc. - [Link]
A quick look-see at a handful of PIC development boards I have collected over the years and what I like about them. IMHO the big winner is the TAUTIC 18F26K22 board. This video is not meant to be a technical review.
A review of a handful of PIC developmnt boards - [Link]
The MC HCK is an entirely open source dev board based on the Freescale MK20DX32VLF5 which supports USB for easy programming. It features 8KB RAM, 32KB program flash + 32KB data flash. [via]
MC HCK hacker’s DIY $5 MCU board - [Link]
10 Tiny Development Boards That Are Up to the Task @ EE Times.
Not so long ago, the typical development board was big, bulky, and often handmade. Recently a flood of Lilliputian-size development boards has been released — one for just about any need.We’ve assembled a collection of 10 boards so small you might lose them in the cushions of your couch.
10 Tiny Development Boards That Are Up to the Task - [Link]
Sol-X developed the GDB to be the best open source prototyping platform on the market and we intend it to replace the Arduino Uno® as the preferred high-level prototyping environment. It is up to 40x faster, 70% smaller, has integrated high power drivers (capable of handling 100x the current), with more flexible Input / Output configurations, and yet is still much easier to program via 12 Blocks™. Our quick release breakout board (called Ejection Seat™) allows for easy prototyping, yet keeps the GDB form factor small and robust enough to use in space companies’ product releases.
The GDB has been designed to be the first space tolerant open hardware electronic prototyping board, enabling any type of person or company to create space qualified hardware. But while the GDB can help create outer space products, it is not just for space. It’s a powerful and versatile programming board that engineers, artists, designers, and students can use in any project they can imagine. This includes prototypes and first release products involving pressure, light, and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors, high current motors, servos, LED lighting, and many other human/computer interfaces.
Gravity Development Board:An open source,faster,better prototyping standard - [Link]
Circuits for Fun have created a new product that will change the way you work with sensors and other electronic control interfaces, they have created a simple intuitive plug and play platform that will help standardize the communication of all kinds of electronic components, itʼs called the Interactive Development Kit, they recently launched on Kickstarter and would love for you to check it out and see what you think, please check out the video and if you like the project we would appreciate any help you can give getting the word out so they can get the product out in the hands of creative people everywhere.
Interactive Development Kit - [Link]
Rajendra Bhatta writes:
The 12F series of PIC microcontrollers are handy little 8-pin devices designed for small embedded applications that do not require too many I/O resources, and where small size is advantageous. These applications include a wide range of everyday products such as hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, rice cookers, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, and blenders. Despite their small size, the PIC12F series microcontrollers offer interesting features including wide operating voltage, internal programmable oscillator, 4 channels of 10-bit ADC, on-board EEPROM memory, on-chip voltage reference, multiple communication peripherals (UART, SPI, and I2C), PWM, and more. The following project board is designed for fast and easy development of standalone applications using PIC12F microcontrollers. It features on-board regulated +5V power supply, header connectors to access I/O pins, ICSP header for programming, a reset circuit, and small prototyping area for placing additional components.
PIC12F microcontroller project board - [Link]
Palma made a USB development board for the PIC18F2550. These chips are really popular, and there is a bunch of projects floating around the internet with them, even our own USB IR Toy, and USB LCD Backpack use them.
This board is basically a breakout board, with decoupling capacitors, and a USB jack. We like that all the broken-out pins are connected two 2 pins of the dual row female header, making it easier to connect one pin to a more then one external component.
You can also check out our PIC18F2550 Breakout Board, build in the “blade” style, having all the breakout pins on one side of the board.
PIC18F2550 USB development board - [Link]
This is an experiment board based on the new AVR ATxmega 128A1 microcontroller from Atmel. It features some nice gimmicks like an opto coupler, a RGB LED, a microSD card slot, infra red transmitter and receiver, USB, an external SDRAM and EBI extension header as well as a rotary encoder. The board has 6mil structures and hence is not home-producible (at least for the most of us). The board aims to be a general test bed for getting familiar with the new Xmega series. It could also be used as an application board.
It started out as a community project and I am about to spread about 100 pieces of this board into the crowd. We can expect some external contributions mostly in form of example code, which is rare at the moment. Although Atmel announced the MCU well over a year ago it is now that the first models become available in small quantities. This edgy character also establishes itself when it comes to the toolchain and programming tools and costs a lot of effort.
ATxmega128a1 development board - [Link]