BeagleBone Black project spotlight:
By Tara Stratton
As working professionals, Michael Jones, Jonathan Piat and their team at Valent F(x) know that interfacing with FPGA boards can be a clunky and cumbersome process. With these complexities of electronic design in mind, they strove to devise a more user-friendly, plug-and-play method to, as Michael put it, “make even students and hobbyists smile.”
As a result, the folks at Valent F(x) developed the LOGi family of FPGA development boards. According to Michael, these boards “were created with a dual-use purpose: to limit the sharp learning curve associated with FPGA development and to enable the unification of existing hardware interfaces and open-source development platforms,” including our own BeagleBone Black. Valent F(x) claims that they help their customers overcome various challenges by developing open-source hardware that is easy to use, program and interface with various existing hardware peripherals.
Image credit: Valent F(x)
The LOGi-Bone is a LOGi FPGA board that recently met with great success on Kickstarter. The heart of the LOGi-Bone—like all of the other LOGi-boards—is a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA. The LOGi-Bone has two rows of connectors on the underside of the FPGA board that allow users to interface with the 2x46 headers on BeagleBone Black, based on TI’s Sitara AM335x processor. The board is also compatible with the original BeagleBone.
The main controller is a Mac Mini mounted in a custom arcade console. Every frame of video is rendered on this console and streamed over Wi-Fi to reduce the number of wires needed—normal wires don’t work for a POV display because they would get tangled up from all of the spinning. Because of this challenge, all of the brains required to run the display are mounted to the spinning part and spin along with the display.
Other LOGi-Bone features include:
● 256 Mb SDRAM
● 2x LEDs
● 2x push buttons
● 2x DIP switches
● 1 high-bandwidth SATA connector expansion port
● 2x Digilent Inc. PMOD expansion ports supporting 59+ plug-and-play hardware modules
● 1x Arduino-compatible headers connected to the FPGA pins (3.3V only); supports more than 200+ Arduino Shield modules
● Optional GPMC, SPI or I2C port access from the BeagleBone Black
● 10x length-tuned LVDS pairs
● Bit-stream-loading interface connected to the host processor; optional bitstream FPGA self-loading from onboard Flash
“The LOGi-Bone adds FPGA flexibility and capability to the BeagleBone, allowing it to be easily morphed into endless digital applications,” said Michael. In fact, the Valent F(x) team has already created applications for the LOGi-Bone, including a Bitcoin miner, machine vision and autonomous vehicle and robotic controllers. All applications are open source and available on the LOGi repository. You can also find videos of some their current applications on the LOGi YouTube channel.
Valent F(x) says that they are all about user collaboration and hope to create a community infrastructure that allows users to work together to create unique and interesting projects. Generally, users have strengths in one of the many facets involved in electronics, thus making it difficult to create and finish a project that requires a wide range of electronic functionality. Enabling multiples users with varying skills to work together allows multi-faceted projects to be created, with each user adding their respective strengths to the project. Valent F(x) would love to hear from you to know what kind of projects and applications you would like to see created and get involved in.
Now that their Kickstarter is closed, the Valent F(x) team will start manufacturing boards and will start fulfilling orders later this year. Visit Valent F(x)’s site for more information on these boards or to order one of your own!