Broadcast Engineer at BellMedia, Computer history buff, compulsive deprecated, disparate hardware hoarder, R/C, robots, arduino, RF, and everything in between.
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Programming PALs in 2021

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The [IMSAI Guy] has posted a follow-up video with all the details of how he programs GAL22V10 chips in the modern era. We noted that this was missing from his stepper motor project a few days ago, and before we could even ask him, he answered. And no, you won’t have to dig that old Intel 486 DX2-66 out of the closet and search eBay for working floppy drives. It turns out the answer is easier than you’d think.

Microchip now owns WinCUPL through its acquisition of Atmel in 2016, and offers WinCUPL as a free download from the Microchip website. This runs only in Windows, although some users report success running under Wine on Linux. This tool will compile the design, but you still need to program the chip. If you’ve done any EEPROM programming lately, chances are you have one of the TL866A MiniPros laying around — this programmer can handle CPLDs, PALs, and GALS as well as EEPROMS. [IMSAI Guy] walks you through the programming procedure, and if you’ve programmed EEPROMs before, the process will be familiar.

For those who prefer the Linux or Mac environment, there are some alternatives. We’ve seen GALasm used on several projects such as [Ken Yap]’s 8085 Minimax. The GitHub repository for GALasm states that commercial use is strictly prohibited, so take note if this applies to your project. As for controlling the TL866A, there is a Linux port called minipro available on GitLab. The remaining hurdle if you want to experiment with these programmable logic chips it to actually get them — many are now obsolete. But it looks like you can still buy Lattice and Microchip (Atmel) ones from various sources. Happy Programming.

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tekvax
2 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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The first COVID vaccine you can get is the best

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This video from Vox is pretty helpful when talking to friends or family potentially confused by the incredible variety in vaccines that appear to be available, but really aren't.

When and where the studies on vaccine effectiveness and what metrics are being tracked/shared massively impact the idea of effectiveness that one may come to after hearing quick reports in the media, or listening to people who like to participate in boat parades. — Read the rest

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tekvax
2 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Can you dig this groovy berry-colored 1975 computer?

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The color palette of Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP-11/70 16-bit minicomputers surely brought joy to every refrigerated raised-floor room it was housed in.

If you can't live without one, you can build a functional scale model with Raspberry Pi guts:

[Image: Goblin Refuge, CC-BY-CCO (public domain)]

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tekvax
2 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Watch this cool asteroid size-comparison video

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This animated video shows the relative sizes of different asteroids and comets, including a couple of fictional ones just for fun.

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tekvax
4 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Satellite Ground Station Upcycles Trash

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While the term “upcycle” is relatively recent, we feel like [saveitforparts] has been doing it for a long time. He’d previously built gear to pick up low-Earth orbit satellites, but now wants to pick up geosynchronous birds which requires a better antenna. While his setup won’t win a beauty contest, it does seem to work, and saved some trash from a landfill, too. (Video, embedded below.)

Small dishes are cheap on the surplus market. A can makes a nice feedhorn using a classic cantenna design, although that required aluminum tape since the only can in the trash was a cardboard oatmeal carton. The tape came in handy when the dish turned out to be about 25% too small, as well.

The dish isn’t just ugly, it probably won’t stand up to everyday use. The bit error rate was a bit high, but he did manage to pull down images from GOES-16. It sounds like he has plans to weatherize it and mount the dish permanently. The Raspberry Pi scripts would not work properly on his laptop, so he finally switched to a Pi. The images looked great

It seems to be a rite of passage to build a ground station out of junk. You might have better luck with some of the other software that is available.

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tekvax
5 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Decoding S/PDIF With A Microcontroller Brings A Few Headaches

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The average punter shunts audio around with analog 3.5 mm cables, RCA jacks, or Bluetooth on a regular basis. A useful standard that hasn’t really bothered most of us is S/PDIF, standing for Sony/Phillips Digital Interface. It’s a useful way to pump digital audio around over copper cables or optic fiber. [Andrew Jeddeloh] got curious about the standard after contemplating some long cable runs in his home, and decided to try decoding it.

The target for [Andrew]’s development efforts was the STM32L476 Discovery, which had no SPDIF decoding hardware on board. Instead, [Andrew] tinkered with the peripherals he had to see what would work. In the end, a cavalcade of internal timers were daisy chained to allow the microcontroller to recover a clock from the self-clocked S/PDIF signal. This was then used to generate a clock to sync up the onboard SPI hardware to actually read in the 16-bit PCM data from the S/PDIF signal.

[Andrew]’s original broader plan was to pipe the S/PDIF data to the onboard I2S DAC, though he struggled manipulating the remaining resources on the STM chip to do so successfully. Anyone wishing to have a crack can take a look at [Andrew]’s code over on GitHub. If completed, the STM32L476 would become a useful analog endpoint for S/PDIF streams, allowing you to pump tunes digitally over long distances without signal degradation. If you know the key to getting it done, sound off in the comments! Alternatively, if you need to get up and running more quickly, the Teensy platform has you covered!

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tekvax
5 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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