Introducing Arachnid Labs and the Loki

As many of you will have guessed from the predominance of electronics related posting recently, I've been working a lot with digital electronics of late. I recently made the decision to get serious about it, pick a trading name, and start working on projects that others can enjoy. The end result? Meet Arachnid Labs:

Arachnid Labs is the name I'll be releasing future projects under, including some that will be available to buy on Tindie. The first of these is a very ambitious project I'm calling Loki.

Loki is a microcontroller development board designed around Cypress's PSoC processor. It's extremely flexible and powerful - a big step beyond a typical Arduino style board. I'm really excited about it, and I'm working really hard to get it - and an initial set of expansion boards - ready and tested.

I'll be blogging about my progress with Loki and other projects regularly on the Arachnid Labs blog, so please check it out and subscribe if hearing about that appeals.

I've also set up accounts for Arachnid Labs on Twitter and Google+, which you can follow for news and updates.

7400 Competition Winners Announced

The winners are out! See the blog post for details.

My own entry, the Discrete FPGA is one of the 15(!) first-place winners!

7400 Competition Reader's Choice

The 7400 competition has put up a Reader's Choice post, soliciting votes for readers' favorite submissions. It's also a great summary of all the excellent submissions this year.

Go check it out! Of course, if you wanted to leave a comment voting for my DFPGA project, I certainly wouldn't complain...

Build your own FPGA

The Open 7400 Logic Competition is a crowd-sourced contest with a simple but broad criteria for entry: build something interesting out of discrete logic chips. It's now in its second year, and this time around I was inspired to enter it.

Discrete logic, for anyone who isn't familiar, are any of a number of families of ICs who each perform a single, usually fairly straightforward, function. Typical discrete logic ICs include basic logic gates like AND, OR and NAND, Flip-Flops, shift registers, and multiplexers. For smaller components like gates and flipflops, a single IC will usually contain several independent ones. As you can imagine, building anything complex out of discrete logic involves using a lot of parts; these days they're typically used as 'glue' logic rather than as first-class components, having been largely supplanted by a combination of specialised devices, microcontrollers, and FPGAs.

Building a microcontroller or CPU out of discrete logic is a popular hobbyist pursuit, and it serves a useful purpose: building a CPU from scratch teaches you a lot about CPU architecture and tradeoffs; it's an interesting and instructive exercise. So, I wondered, wouldn't building an FPGA out of discrete logic be ...