FPGA driven reflow oven

Almost every electronics now have SMD parts on it. Hobbyist sector is no exception. Sometimes parts only come in SMT packages and there is no way to avoid. If you need to solder few of them, maybe you can get away with soldering iron and a bit patience. But for larger batches maybe it is better to use reflow soldering technique. This is nothing more than baking circuits in oven. One thing is important here – temperature and timing. Instead of doing this manually, better leave this process to control circuit.

fpga_reflow_oven

Hamster though it would be fun project to make an oven controlled by FPGA. He programmed temperature stages as finite state machine. Temperature is monitored by using thermocouple. Heater element is switched on/off with solid state relay. The other part of electronics is less critical like LED display, RS232 logging. As initial tests showed, good oven isn’t enough. Proper paste dispenser is also critical for smooth solder joints. But with some practice or by simply using stencils results sould be much better.

Lab 2 Lunar Lander GAME

This is a project done by the students from Cornell University. The idea was to have a full hardware and software video game solution that is able to use real-time motion tracking as control input to a video game. With the help of motion- tracking technology, they simulated a gun which works on finger/hand movement and the movements are displayed on a VGA monitor. For the game, they have used an Altera DE2 board with a CycloneII FPGA to implement the video processing core.

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The video input is taken from video camera that outputs an NTSC signal that is processed to extract RGB values from the image in the camera’s field of vision and all that is possible because of power of FPGA parallel processing. The game is fairly playable if it is handled correctly and may require multiple tries to get it to work properly. Many parameters are either limited by hardware or tuned specifically for the game. Overall, I would say, that it’s an excellent project with the help of a FPGA and is something which I would have definitely enjoyed it making.

Make Your Own Music

Ever wonder to have tools which can help you compose your own music. Most of them which are available are software’s, but this one is a hardware which was done as a final-year project by the students of Cornell University. They designed and implemented the Audio Composer and Conductor Suite (A.C.C.S) which is a combination of tools to develop and compose new music. The software end handles audio note frequency and note length generation through a user based input

FPGA hardware then generates multiple tracks of musical notes on a synthesizer that are played over speakers. Running in parallel with the audio output is video detection hardware to track the user’s movements. The entire set up is centred on 2 Altera FPGA Development Boards, a DE2 and a DE2-115. The DE2 is in charge of filtering and hand movement interpretations. The DE2-115 is in charge of Musical Notation and synthesis. A TV camera sits at around head or chest level about 5 feet in front of the user, while a white or black backdrop is put behind the user to block background light and colours. Overall, an excellent project for electronics as well as music lovers.

Beat proagrammable gate array

The name might sound complicated enough, but the project is actually a fun to use synthesizer –sequencer which also has an added ability to sample and compose. This project was built by two people as their final year project for Cornell University. As far as the hardware part is concerned, they use an Altera DE2 FPGA board for processing the data and a popular software by Mathworks named MATLAB as a user interface since it has an ability to create interactive GUI without much input.

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The synthesizer uses a combination of sampled and additively synthesized sounds to produce various instruments. The FPGA based sequencer takes input from a MATLAB GUI and sequences each instrument separately, allowing the user to make compositions in real-time. Moreover, an automatic gain control algorithm was designed and implemented to ensure that overflow would not result in distorted output. The design starts with user input to a screen of buttons on a MATLAB GUI. These sequences are periodically pushed out through a National Instruments Analog-Digital Converter into the GPIO port of the Altera DE2 board which is read by the Altera board and is processed according to the sample received.