Alvie Is The Newest Blogger On All Programmable Planet!

We wanted to congratulate our longtime friend, colleague, and collaborator Alvaro Lopez on being selected as the newest contributor on All Programmable Planet’s list of heavy hitters. Alvie is the man responsible for the ZPUino SoC softcore system, and much more. So, congrats Alvie! Here’s his introduction from APP:

Álvaro Lopes is a Senior Software Engineer at the Critical Software company in Portugal. He works in ASDT (Aeronautics, Space, Defense, and Transportation) and his specialties cover a wide range of areas, from hardware (analog and digital) to software (specification, development, and validation), primarily for embedded systems. He is the creator of several CPU cores and digital systems, such as the ZPUino SoC softcore, whose versions include one that actually runs uCLinux. Although Álvaro mainly does digital design just for fun, he ranked 1st (ex-aequo) in the 2011 “Open 7400” contest by Dangerous Prototypes, with his 7400 Triple Seven Segment Capacitance Meter that could measure from 0.1nF up to 999µF.

You should head on over to APP and check out Alvie’s first article, of which we’ll share an excerpt with you here:

…I started to target the Papilio boards for my ZPUino design. Things went so well that Papilio became the main driver of the ZPUino project. We have been improving the design ever since — supporting more devices, improving the documentation, adding software libraries, and helping all of our users to accomplish their goals.

It’s great to see Alvie on APP – he definitely will add to the greater knowledge base for all who read All Programmable Planet. And here at Gadget Factory, he is certainly an indispensable member of our team, so again our congrats!

(via All Programmable Planet)

Introducing ZAP IDE – ZPUino And AVR8 Together At Last!

Howdy, hacker types!  What’s new, you ask?  Well, I’m happy to say there’s a cool little development coming your way called ZAP IDE.

What’s ZAP IDE you ask? Why, it’s the first version of the ZAP (ZPUino Arduino Papilio) Soft Processor IDE, that’s what! It’s basically ZPUino and AVR8, all in one. How about more of the nuts and bolts? Let’s ask Jack:

The ZAP IDE puts the AVR8 and the ZPUino Soft Processors together in the latest and greatest Arduino IDE (1.5.2) and makes using either one super easy. We’ve cleaned up all of the source code for both the ZAP IDE and the ZPUino HDL and pulled it all together with new documentation. The goal is to make the ZPUino extremely useful for anyone who uses a Papilio, whether you are just starting or an old hat. This is a new beginning for Soft Processors on the Papilio and the first step in making Open Source System on Chip designs as easy as using an Arduino.

New Features:

  • All soft processors together in one release, the ZPUino and AVR8 together and a framework for any future Soft Processors.
  • ZPUino board types are associated with their corresponding bit file. Just select, “Burn Bootloader” and the ZPUino version you need is loaded to your Papilio board. No more searching the website and trying to figure out what ZPUino bit file you need.
  • Code Examples built in that are specific to what Soft Processor you are using.
  • ZPUino code examples specify what kind of board type/ZPUino variant is required. Just select the required board type, burn the bootloader, and run the code.
  • ZPUino documentation for:

    You can find more on the ZAP IDE topic by checking out the ZAP IDE forum thread.  You can find more on the release notes and join in the discussion there!

    (via the forums)

Hacker Challenge #1: Win A $40 Gift Card To GF Store!

Hackers, are you ready for the first Gadget Factory Hacker Challenge? Do you want to win a $40.00 gift card to spend on anything your heart desires at the GF Store? Here’s the deal: YOU design and implement a way to make the Ethernet module pictured above work with your Papilio board. You WIN a $40.00 gift card to the store! Simple enough.

Ethernet functionality. It has long been a requested feature for the Papilio FPGA dev boards. And the Gadget Factory community has what it takes, so let’s make this happen! In the first (of hopefully many) Hacker Challenges, the community of Papilio users and developers are going to put our heads together to hack this module and make the results open to the community.

The Challenge:

  • (No purchase required) You must hack a way for the ENC28J60 used in this module to work with any and all Papilio FPGA boards.
  • Post your working code (Arduino code and a library for the Arduino IDE, or VHDL code) to the Hacker Challenge thread on the forums.
  • Must be repeatable so every Papilio user can benefit – embrace the open-sourceyness!
The Reward:
  • Designs that are repeatable, work with both the Papilio board and the Ethernet module will win one of three $40.00 gift cards to the Gadget Factory Store.  
  • So, the three of you that make the most meaningful contributions to the design will get a gift card! Those contributions can be:
            • Post your working code (Arduino code and a library for the Arduino IDE, or VHDL code)
            • Write documentation
            • Make improvements to documentation or code

    The endgame here is to create a design that anyone with a Papilio and this particular Ethernet module could use successfully for their own projects. In the true spirit of open source, when we put our heads together as a community, we all win!

So get crackin’ – get hackin’!


Listen: Jack’s Presentation From Design West 2013

Happy Friday, gadgetheads! We’ve got an audio treat for you today, from last week’s industry event Design West Expo 2013 in San Jose.  Our founder and CEO Jack Gassett gave his first  presentation ever, on Designing an Open Source Arduino/FPGA Development Board.  There were lots of people at the show that we recognized from the forums and website, and it was a pleasure to finally get to put names to faces.  It was great to meet you guys, so many thanks to everyone that showed up and introduced themselves!

The photo above shows Jack (left) hanging out with Raspberry Pi’s Gert van Loo (right) at the expo. Gert designed the original alpha hardware that the Raspberry Pi Model B is based on, as well as the new Gertboard. If you look closely, you’ll see (appropriately enough) Jack’s pin that says “I <3 FPGAs,” and Gert’s pin which reads “I <3 Raspberry Pi.”  Lulz and good times!

We also wound up meeting the boys behind the BeagleBone – they gave us a BeagleBone Black to check out!  We will be making a post to the blog about it in the next couple of days, so keep it here on this channel!

On to the substance. We inexplicably didn’t come up with any video from the show, but we do have an audio capture from Jack’s presentation (thankfully!) that you can get at the link below… so take it with you and listen to it podcast-style!  We also have a link to download the Powerpoint presentation from the show.

Jack’s seminar, Designing an Open Source Arduino/FPGA Development Board covers everything from the story of the Papilio hardware’s development, to the AVR8 and ZPUino Soft Processors, to some great info on the Papilio System on Chip (Schematic Editor).  Awesome show, Jack!

Powerpoint presentation – Powerpoint and Word

Audio capture from Jack’s presentation

We’d like to thank everyone that showed up to rock Design West with us, and everyone who is a part of the Gadget Factory community.  We couldn’t have gotten anywhere without you!

New In The Store: USB Battery Pack & 1/8″-1/4″ Audio Adapter

Hey gadgetheads!  Just a quick note: we recently added a couple of new products to the Gadget Factory Store.  The first is a killer USB battery pack that you can use to juice your Papilio when you’re on the move. We just got these in, and we’ve got them very reasonably priced at $26.99 – yeah, just for you.  Zap over to this little guy in the store here.

Product info:

  • Uses 4 AAA alkaline batteries or 4 AAA Ni-MH batteries to power your Papilio and other devices
  • You can also recharge 4 AAA Ni-MH batteries from the USB port
  • Input: DC5V/400mA
  • Output: DC5V/400mA
  • Interfaces: USB+USB 5pin
  • Comes with USB charging cable
  • Batteries not included

The next newcomer to the store is something you’ll need for the Retrocade Synth, or any other audio hardware for that matter.  Our new audio adapters are female 1/8″ TRS to male 1/4″ TRS and are gold-plated for optimal audio quality. It’s always good to have a few of these on hand, so make sure you are equipped!  These guys are only $3.99 for a pair.  Zap over to this one in the store here.

So that’s the long and short of it. Stay tuned to the blog, as we are adding a grip of new products to the storefront in the weeks and months to come.

If you still haven’t seen our new storefront, you can check out the store’s main page here.

Shen Zhen Maker Faire 2013 Sponsored By Seeed Studio

There’s an awesome maker’s convention being hosted by Seeed Studio this year, so we wanted to drop you guys a quick line about the 2013 Shen Zhen Maker Faire in China. Since we have a global readership, there’s no telling where you guys are at. So on the off chance that you’re near Shen Zhen, or you want to have an excuse to go out to China and check out manufacturing and hang out with the good folks at Seeed Studio – then here is your chance! The 2013 Maker Faire is described over at the convention site thusly:

A Maker Faire is a place for old and young, professional and hobbyist who are interested in “making” every kind of things. May it be art, technology, interaction, sculptures, robots and much much more.

Exhibitors can show their creativity, demonstrate their products or services and exchange Ideas with like-minded, get in touch with potential customers or even investors.

Vistors can enjoy the program at and around the Maker Faire, participate in workshops and events for young and old, learn soldering, making clay art or even welding. There will be a lot of interesting people to meet, a lot of interesting products and all kind of arts to look, hear and even taste. So just visit us and give yourself the chance to be inspired and astonished by the beauty and power of creativity.

If you’re interested in learning more, or plan to attend, please check out the English side of the Shen Zhen 2013 Maker Faire site. Many thanks to Seeed Studio for letting us know about this fantastic event! Let us know if you plan on going – maybe you can send some photos our way!

(Shen Zhen 2013 Maker Faire)

Sale! $20 Off Papilio Pro And RetroCade Synth Bundle!

Great news!  We’ve finally got the Papilio Pro and the RetroCade Synth in stock here at the Gadget Factory store.  To celebrate, we’re going to make you a deal.

Starting today, and only for a very limited time, we’re offering TWENTY BUCKS off the Papilio Pro and the RetroCade Synth when purchased together. Call it a bundle!

This offer is only available at our own storefront, and is valid while supplies last.  These will sell out fast at this discounted price, so get yours now!

Keep in mind that we offer fast and affordable domestic shipping as well as low-cost international options.

Here’s a link to the bundle in the store for your shopping convenience.

Happy hacking.

RetroCade Hardware Guide and User Guide Available Now; Final Hardware Launching Soon!

In anticipation of our final RetroCade Synth hardware launching within the next couple of weeks, we wanted to take a minute and point everyone in the direction of the updated RetroCade Hardware Guide and the RetroCade User Guide:

These webpages are “works in progress” at this point, but are being updated constantly – so check back to these pages *often* for the very latest.  If you’re interested in FPGA audio synthesis at all and are unfamiliar with our RetroCade Synth, make sure you check out the Retrocade home page for a great overview of the product, some video of this little bad boy in action, and some general tech specs.

So get your knowledge on!  And get ready for some hackable chip-tune synthesis action with the RetroCade Synth by Gadget Factory.

Additional links:

Questions?  Ideas? Flattery?  Hit us up in the comments section, and stay tuned to the blog here for all your RetroCade developments.