Last summer, I backed a couple of Kickstarter campaigns - and now they have both delivered.
I am now the owner of a couple of FPGA boards - and I am slowly learning FPGA technology - aided by the subtle democratisation of programmable hardware. More on this later.
Meanwhile, I am still tinkering with the minimalist programming language SIMPL. As of Feb 9th 2015 - I can report, with some joy and enthusiasm, that I have managed a quick and dirty hack, to port it to one of my FPGA boards. I now have a FPGA, hosting a 32 bit, 96MHz soft core processor - that runs one of the simplest interpreted languages on the planet. Is all a bit bass-ackwards, but it's fun.
The sketch is here as a Github Gist. You will need a Papilio Duo and perhaps a LogicStart Shield - or just run it, native on an Arduino if you want a quick play.
I'm currently trying to condense all my Txtzyme and SIMPL experimentation into a single, easy to read, Quick Start Guide. please bear with me on this - it might take a little time.
SIMPL and BLE
A meeting with an old work colleague over a pub lunch, rekindled my active interest in SIMPL. As such I have compiled the various blog posts from 2013 and 2014, into a single document, and I am working out the best way to present it as a useful document describing SIMPL and how it can best be used.
We discussed the idea of passing SIMPL programs via a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection between a Smartphone and a BLE device. SIMPL programs are very compact and ideally suited to the short packet format of a BLE communication packet.
Lithium Battery Developments
I have also been doing some work developing hardware that runs on a single Lithium Ion cell. This has involved the use of the MCP1640 boost converter and also the MCP73832 battery charger IC. This development work has gone very well and I am confident that I can make an economical battery powered design based around these ICs. The MCP1640 at just 30p in volume, is a fraction of the cost of the LTC3525 boost converter. Combined with a small inductor - such as this one from Farnell - you have a very compact boost regulator for about 50p.
FPGAs - The Democratisation of Programmable Logic
Meanwhile, a couple of Kickstarters that I backed last summer have come to fruition - I have now entered the exciting world of FPGAs and soft-core processors. The great thing is that now an Arduino can be emulated by a 32bit 100MHz soft core processor on an FPGA, and as such SIMPL can be ported to the FPGA ecosystem. Here's an update on FPGA developments: