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From: Antti Lukats on 15 Jan 2006 10:45
"Hahnsolo" <coreyhahn(a)gmail.com> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
> Well, I guess I would be one of those "rebirth" hobbyists. I am
> younger and just "discovered" the fpga. I was under the impression
> that things like this were very expensive, but when I see starter kits
> for $150, I had to snatch one up and try it out. For the last 5 months
> I have been feverishly programming and learning with Webpack 7.1
> implimenting different ideas on codecs, processor cores, and so on.
> Now I that I have a handle on whats available and possible on most
> platforms I bought my first dev board a couple of days ago. I can't
> wait for sun to open up there sparc cores. So many ideas so little
> I can't believe I went through my undergraduate education without
> trying fpga's out, and my focus on RF and optics was not very close to
> VLSI or control. After 5 months though there are a ton of optics
> processing problems that can be sped up with fpgas. Like I said, can't
> wait to start debugging!!
> So much to do, so little time...
> new Hobbyist
no need to wait for sun
commercial quality SPARC core and system on chip library is available now
you need XC3S400 or larger (better larger) to implement a SPARC based system
From: Ray Andraka on 15 Jan 2006 15:58
> Hmm, really? ;-) As far as I know the only "pure" hobbyists
> here are Antti and myself, the rest is more or less professional.
There are many of us here who started out as pure hobbyists, but then
grew our passion into a paying endeavor. I started out in the mid '70's
first with dissected radios, tape recorders etc, whatever I could get my
hands on, with radio shack kits (many of which I heavily modified...one
that comes to mind was a regulated power supply where the 2N3055 got hot
enough to melt through the red plastic board/box that soon got a
heatsink and a darlington pair for more output current and a switch to
select output voltages). From there, I started getting into logic.
Between a 1976 Signetics IC databook (which is still on my bookshelf)
and several of Lancaster's cookbooks (some of his circuits would never
get past a critical review, but they were great for learning) I taught
myself digital design. Even built a couple of computers based on the
then brand new 6800 (on an Ohio Scientific board), and then the Z-80
scratch built on wire-wrap boards before graduating from high school in
Like Philip said, I had a mentor (a friend of the family who is an EE
and was consulting mostly in audio and telephony back in the 60's and
70's) that gave me much of the motivation to make and improve on the
projects in Radio Electronics (which I was subscribed to from 1971 to
1982, I dumped the entire collection when it caused me to exceed my
weight allowance in a move with the Air Force, Killed me, but I couldn't
even give them away).
From: Phil Tomson on 15 Jan 2006 16:39
In article <slrndsgqr4.i5.weingart(a)irricana.cs.ualberta.ca>,
Tobias Weingartner <weingart(a)cs.ualberta.ca> wrote:
>Kevin Morris wrote:
>> Any takers?
>Real/Complete programming information would be a very good start to a new
>hobby phase. But I think that all the FPGA vendors are too scared to give
>out this information. Come on, xilinx, altera, etc, etc. What could there
>possibly be so secret in the format for how to program your parts? :)
Indeed. I don't get it either. How much can be reverse engineered from a
bitstream format? This closedness is a real hindrance to the development of
an open source eco-system around FPGAs.
Any university open FPGA architectures being developed out there? While it's
probably too late in the game for a new FPGA company to enter the race, it's
possible that one of the smaller, hungier players might be able to
differentiate themselves by opening up their bitstream formats.
From: Peter Alfke on 15 Jan 2006 17:16
I built radios in high-school days, and was a ham operator during
college years. Later, in Sweden, I designed and built power supplies
and sold a hundred of them as a moonlight operation. Then the usual
audio amplifiers and speaker boxes.
Now the interest is rekindled and I play with the design of my
second-generation programmable clock module (1 Hz to 2.5 GHz with,
hopefully, 30 ps jitter). But this also taught me that, for top-notch
performance, you need the help of several friends and experts (software
design, pc-board lay-out, GHz trickery, test instrumentation) and of a
commercial manufacturer. We built a few hundred of the first generation
"X-Pod", and are using them inside the company on many test benches. So
it's more "skunk works" than hobby activity, but still the same fun.
I have toyed with the idea of a storage scope. The digital part in an
FPGA plus external RAM looks easy. But less than 500 MHz sample rate
seems to make it a toy, and at that rate the A/D becomes quite
expensive, and an input attenuator looks forbidding, But there are neat
examples of using the PC for display and control.
Peter Alfke, from home.
From: Jim Granville on 15 Jan 2006 17:57
Peter Alfke wrote:
> I built radios in high-school days, and was a ham operator during
> college years. Later, in Sweden, I designed and built power supplies
> and sold a hundred of them as a moonlight operation. Then the usual
> audio amplifiers and speaker boxes.
> Now the interest is rekindled and I play with the design of my
> second-generation programmable clock module (1 Hz to 2.5 GHz with,
> hopefully, 30 ps jitter).
Digits of precision & granularity ?
But this also taught me that, for top-notch
> performance, you need the help of several friends and experts (software
> design, pc-board lay-out, GHz trickery, test instrumentation) and of a
> commercial manufacturer.
A tad outside the average hobbiest resource pool ?
We built a few hundred of the first generation
> "X-Pod", and are using them inside the company on many test benches. So
> it's more "skunk works" than hobby activity, but still the same fun.
> I have toyed with the idea of a storage scope. The digital part in an
> FPGA plus external RAM looks easy. But less than 500 MHz sample rate
> seems to make it a toy, and at that rate the A/D becomes quite
> expensive, and an input attenuator looks forbidding, But there are neat
> examples of using the PC for display and control.
Yes, scopes are dominated by things other than the FPGA, so are not
My favourites would be for Xilinx to do a split
a) Freq Ctr & Signal Generator - Smallest/Cheapest FPGA version
b) Freq Ctr & Signal Generator - Money-no-object version
FreqCtr's can become quite complex - so a series of designs would show
users more and more, but still have a HW platform that is
i) FPGA dominated
ii) Clearly ahead of any uC alternative