Category: Shopping

FPGA arrived

Just arrived from China, a small cheap FPGA: Altera Cyclone-II (EP2C5T144).

The device itself is the least capable of all the Cyclone II FPGAs, but its seriously cheap at only $13. And its big enough to hold a basic CPU core. This is what it looks like (9V battery included for scale):

FPGA1

The USB Blaster has to be bought separately but only costs an additional $3. Unfortunatly the DC jack is for 5V, its unregulated unlike Arduinos. Bummer. And I dont have any 5V adapter with a 5.5mm plug so I have to make one myself.

Here are the specs for the board itself (and others of the same family, its the smallest one, EP2C5):

cyclone_specs

So now Im mostly ready to start designing and testing my own CPU. Ive already started some basic designing since a couple of nights back. Gaining some insights and making early design choices.

I still havent committed to wether the data bus should be 8-bit or 16-bit. Id like to make it 16-bit but that means a whole lot of wires (since its ultimately imagined as a breadboard design). Now that I think of it maybe I should make a first test design with address bus and data bus both being 8-bit.

Sorting integrated circuits

Today I received an order of compartmentalized plastic boxes for sorting things into. And so I sorted what I have so far. Some compartments are empty because the chips are still in my shopping cart at Digikey. And some are in the mail on the way here from China (Aliexpress).

Small compartments but can pack up to 20 chips into one if its just packed well. If thats not enough then the dividers can be removed to expand compartments sideways. The horizontal dividers are fixed. Vertical dividers on the compartment right at the lock mechanism is also fixed. But all in all, a cheap, neat, easy solution for sorting integrated circuits.

logics

Link to the Aliexpress item. Shipping took 19 days from China to Sweden by China post registered air mail.

Chinese chip connection…

“Psst. Hey dude. Over here…”

A chinese man in the shadows beckons me to come over. When I do, he opens his coat to show me the lining covered with little bags full of INTEGRATED LOGIC CIRCUITS.

The mans name is Ali. Ali Express. And while he claims his goods are the best, straight from the factory, it can sometimes be something entirely different. But, most of the time it gets the job done.

Ali has been my supplier for a while now. Sometimes his wares are scruffy but it’s usually not an outright disappointment.

Today he dropped another small bag at our secret drop box. It was filled with… well, see for yourself. Plastic cases or foam was not included ofcourse. Alis wares usually comes wrapped in horrible kitchen plastic foil. Cringeworthy stuff having near static sensitive devices. But hey, it’s cheap.

All of this for 11 dollars, 13 cents. Shipping included. But Ali made a mistake this time, I only ordered and paid for 2x ATTINY85s, but I received 5x.

My uncle also dropped by today and left a few (three) PIC16C84-04/P chips as well. So now I’m all set up with MCUs for a while. No more excuses, it’s time to get around to doing something useful…

chipgood1

Aliexpress woes

Up until now I havent had any problems with my orders so I thought Aliexpress was way cool. But now Ive had a couple of orders just not arriving and seller claiming “oh please! we shipped it!”

Its time for me to learn how to shop safely. For starters, picking the free shipping packages is probably not a good idea. Free shipping doesnt come with tracking so the seller can simply say they shipped it and then I guess you are screwed.

And then taking as much screenshots and notes as possible to present as evidence in case of a dispute.

Or maybe I should just stop using Aliexpress unless there is no other option. But still, its very hard to beat their prices for some things…

Update February 22nd,

Yesterday I complained and worried, today both over-due packages arrived. Have I just been lucky or are electronics sellers on Aliexpress more honest than the others. To date, Ive received everything I ordered. Only two have been late.

AliExpress unboxing #1

“Bigger” package arrived today from China. A whole bunch of good stuff. But a lot of it also needs header soldering before it can be put to use. The two ESP-12F modules will be especially tricky to solder any kind of headers on to, seeing as the connection points are not spaced the standard breadbord friendly distance.

View the unboxing video on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/q4k5O6LL3a8

Its also my first unboxing video, so dont expect too much.

unboxing1

Little mailbag, January 23rd

mailbag-2017-01-23

A small package arrived from far far awar with some new playthings for me.

  • A small 128×32 pixel OLED display, I2C interface.
  • 433MHz transmitter and receiver (two separate modules)
  • Four 7-segment 4-digit LED thingamajingys
  • Header pins…

Got the OLED working pretty quick.

Oscilloscope day

Arrival today from Amazon, a cheap (£46) USB oscilloscope. This one is either fake chinese or something, or I was lucky. All the other scopes, same model, were about £60. I havent opened the package yet, so we will see…

hantek_arrival

This is the lowest end budget version, 2 channels, 20Msps. Have to start somewhere…