Digital Electronics Links




Good Links





    Online Labs



    Cypress SoC Links

    I was given a Cypress PSoC 3 development kit. This includes an 8051 controller, programmable logic along with various analog components. The development software allows for visual design, lots of components in the libraries as well as programming in C. Oh, and I now have a PSoC 4 as well.


    TI MSP430

    I purchased this at the 2013 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire for $11.


    Bora Binary Explorer Links

    I purchased this board through the Kickstarter program. This board includes a Xilinx XC9572XL CPLD, which gives you equivalent to around 1600 gates.


    Altera FPGA Links

    I purchased an Altera DE1 development kit, which includes a Cyclone II FPGA. What an awesome looking board. 


    Altera De1


    Xilinx Links



    Verilog Links



    VHDL Links

    • They would go here!




    CPU Design


    Links Sites



    Digital Simulators (see Altera for Modelsim)


    Analog Simulators




    • Digital Design And Computer Architecture
    • Digital Design Principles And Practices
    • Fundamentals of Logic Design
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    Job Sites Around Vancouver

    Search Terms: Manager, Infrastructure, Network, Systems, Operations, IT


    Job sites (friday is posting day):

    Consulting Firms

    • West Pacific Consulting Group (Feras El-Kalel) Glen Murray
    • CNC Global (Tammy Danforth)
    • Teksystems
    • Annex Consulting Group (Shaun Marthinson) Jean Claude Rondoe
    • TRS Consulting Group (Titan) Mike Britton
    • SI Systems (Ray Bullmore??)
    • TP Systems
    • Maxim Group (Jay Bell)

    Head Hunters

    • IT Mindfinders
    • Robert Half

    Surrey Searches

    Employers in Surrey


    • Business in Vancover
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    ASUS TF700T Tablet Review

    I have to admit that when the iPad3 came out, I was mighty impressed with its’ Retina display and was surprised that no other competitor that I was aware of even came close. Kudos to Apple and their suppliers for pulling off that amazing feat. As for myself, I’m not a fan of iTunes and have been looking for a tablet, but on an alternate platform. Being the owner of an Android phone, an Android based tablet seemed a good fit.

    My needs are:

    • Ability to display portrait or landscape via tilt
    • Touchscreen navigation
    • Wi-Fi
    • Must be close or equal to iPad3 resolution and screen size (1920×1200 minimum)
    • Able to plug in MicroUSB or SD card
    • Can plug into my desktop/laptop and appear as an external hard drive
    • Has a Gmail email/contacts/scheduling client (and syncs across my various devices)
    • Can display my techie PDF files clearly and without the need to magnify/scroll around every single page
    • Runs media consumption applications, ie Newsreaders, browser, Youtube
    • To comfortably use the device in bed
    • Watch movies

    My needs are NOT:

    • Creation or updating of documents/spreadsheets
    • Running the latest/greatest games
    • To replace a laptop or desktop

    Ultimately, the TF700T serves as a fancy bookreader for me. Expensive? Yes. Quick? Yes. Crystal clear? At 10″ and 1920×1200 pixel resolution, most definitely.

    One the negative side, I wasn’t impressed with the non-standard charging port on the ASUS. It reminded me of the one in use on the Apple products and I would have much preferred an industry standard Micro USB port.

    Oh, and I plugged a mouse into the USB port of the keyboard and it worked just fine – but I normally don’t use it. I also disabled the touchpad on the keyboard as I found it got in the way of typing.

    Do I feel what I paid was worth it? Compared to the iPad and currently available Android tablets, very much so.

    I’m very happy with the TF700T and add-on keyboard. I don’t expect it to match the content creation capabilities of a laptop or desktop, but then I already had an Android phone and was aware of the capabilities of the platform.

    Would I take the tablet on the subway or bus? In that case, I would probably have preferred a 7″ tablet, like the Nexus. That seems to be a much more ‘on the go’ device than the 10″ based TF700T.


    Based on my needs, I would give this tablet 9/10.


    Want to replace your laptop with a Tablet? I would not recommend it.

    Update: After owning this tablet for over a year, I find that the web browsing on it is very sub par. The score for this table has now dropped to 7/10.

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    A Web Development Environment

    Update: Working on a new version, which isn’t ready yet. It should contain:

    • Secure backups
    • Review of all content
    • Linux Mint
    • Git update with database migration and serialization
    • I’ve created a document that describes setting up a web development environment using a Windows 7 workstation, an Ubuntu 12.04 Virtual machine along with a Hostgator Reseller account and, most importantly, Git.

      This document provides lots of examples. Feel free to provide constructive feedback to

      Topics covered include:

      Oracle Virtualbox phpMyAdmin
      Hostgator Web Hosting vim
      Drupal Git
      WordPress drush
      Site Migration wp-cli
      FTP Samba
      Apache SSH
      MySQL GIMP
      PHP NetBeans

      I have now released version ‘1.0‘ of this document as well as a sister document for installing Virtualmin and Webmin on Ubuntu 12.04.


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    Maker Initiatives



    Maker Specific



    Making Stuff



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    Getting Back Into Electronics

    After a 25+ year hiatus, I started to get back into electronics about a year ago. It started around the 2012 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire with the purchase of an Arduino Uno. After creating a couple of basic LED projects, I then purchased a strip of RGB LED’s along with a video remote and wrote a program that displayed a variety of patterns and to be controlled remotely. From there, I created a project whereby the LED’s would respond to sound, followed by a small Sumo Bot.

    Other items I’ve recently acquired include:

    • Raspberry Pi (a tiny Linux computer)
    • Bora Binary Explorer (Xilinx based CPLD development kit)
    • Altera DE1 FPGA development kit
    • Cypress SoC 3 development kit
    • Cypress SoC 4 development kit

    It’s been a while since I was working with electronics at this level, as I’ve been in IT for so long. Back in the 80’s, I worked with various processors, including:

    • 8080
    • 6502
    • 6800 and 6802
    • Z80
    • 8088
    • 68000
    • Z8000

    My first ‘computer’, in 1980, was a Motorola 6802 D3 evaluation kit. It included some built-in ROM, a hex keyboard/display as well as 128 bytes of RAM. If you wanted anything else, you had to either make it or buy it at a horrific cost. I ended up designing and wire-wrapping additional memory (which worked), and a cassette interface, which almost worked. After a while, I thought about my end goal, which was to program some graphics and create more hardware. As a result, in December of 1981, I purchased an IBM PC for $5,500, which was almost 1/3 of my gross income at the time. I enjoyed programming the PC in assembly language and wrote some nice graphics programs for it, including a 3D starfield, a small 3D’ish star game as well as a CGA hack for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

    I purchased an Amiga 1000 in 1985 as it was significantly ahead of any other platform at the time. It had:

    • Motorola 68000 CPU
    • Graphical user interface
    • Multi-tasking
    • Command line interface
    • Dedicated chips for colour graphics
    • Dedicated chips for sound
    • System documentation and development tools

    What was not to like.

    Getting back to the old CPU’s, the challenge with them is that they all ran at speeds under 10Mhz. In order to go faster, you required either:

    • AMD 2900
    • Motorola 10800

    I spent some time reading about the AMD2900, but had neither the technical background, the time nor the funding to implement that in any fashion. With the development of FPGA’s (field programmable gate arrays) in the 90’s, engineers have been able to create their own CPU’s without requiring a series of dedicated chips to do so. With the use of my recently acquired FPGA development kits, I hope to re-learn some of the basics of hardware design and possibly develop a simple CPU. I don’t, however want all the muss and fuss of wire-wrapping 7400 series components like the old days.

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    On Cypress Semiconductors

    My foray into programmable logic started with the Bora Binary Explorer from Kickstarter. From there, I found out about Xilinx and Altera FPGA’s. Now, I’m looking into Systems on a Chip, called SoC’s.

    One company I recently came across was Cypress Semicondutor, who have a very nice line of programmable SoC’s. I received one of their development kits, which I setup and tried out and found that their documentation was far better than I’d seen from the other manufacturers. As a result, I filled in an online survey about their product and have already received emails from 2 of their engineers. Talk about customer service. Today, I ordered their PSoC 4, which includes:

    – ARM based CPU
    – Programmable logic
    – A/D conversion
    – Flash & RAM

    One of the cool things about this kit, is the education and examples they provide. This should be an excellent learning experience, and I hope to be able to present some projects with it at the Vancouver Maker Faire in the future.

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    Ubuntu and Mint on VirtualBox

    I use Oracle’s VirtualBox to run VM’s on my Windows 7 machine. I use it for web site development with WordPress, Drupal and have several tools to support this, such as Git, NetBeans, Samba and so forth. Unlike VMWare Player, VirtualBox provides Snapshots, which allow you to quickly backup and restore your VM.

    I’ve been trying different versions of Ubuntu and Mint to find out which works best with VirtualBox (for me) and am finding that Linux Mint with Mate seems to be coming out on top.

    1. Ubuntu 12.04 worked OK, that is, until you applied patches. Sometimes, re-installing the Guest Additions fixed any graphics issues, and sometimes they didn’t.
    2. Ubuntu 12.10 required patches in order to work with VirtualBox at all.
    3. Ubuntu 12.04 kind of worked with the seamless mode, but then again, it kind of didn’t.
    4. Linux Mint with Cinnamon was problematic graphic wise with VirtualBox.
    5. Linux Mint with Mate seemed to work the best. It survived updates and the seamless mode works like a charm. In addition, it uses the same ‘apt-get’ features of Ubuntu.
    6. I haven’t spent much time with Ubuntu 13.04, but did have some initial installation/graphics issues with it.

    Unless something else comes up, I’m switching over to Mint for my LAMP development environment.

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    On Web Development Environments

    I have to admit at times to an amount of ‘Mac envy’. Whenever I attend either a WordPress or Drupal conference, most of the delegates that brought a computer will be using a Mac of some form. The code sprint rooms are packed with Mac users. Myself, I have a 5 year old ASUS laptop, running Windows 7, as well as a 5 year old Windows 7 desktop at home. They were nicely spec’ed when I bought them, so performance is not really an issue. The challenge I have, is, creating a seamless web development environment to support my Drupal and WordPress sites. My requirements include:

    • To match my production environment as close as possible
    • To support Git and a host of Linux/Unix tools
    • To support Photoshop
    • To provide seamless support for developing and staging web sites
    • Can take it on the road with me
    • Can survive a hard disk crash without too much pain

    It’s no exaggeration to say that, aside from purchasing a Mac, I’ve tried a LOT of variations and am currently using:

    • My desktop if my principal environment
    • Occasionally use my laptop
    • Oracle VirtualBox
    • KVM

    Let me explain. . . .

    First off, I’ve been developing with Linux Mint on Oracle VirtualBox hosted on my desktop for several months now. I’ve been looking to offload it from my desktop, as I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket. Therefore, I setup KVM on a dedicated host so that I could implement several servers independently of my desktop, including my main development environment. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the obvious disadvantage here is that I can’t take that on the road with me. That is, unless I’m prepared to use a rather slow VNC connection.

    Rather than offload my principal Linux box to KVM, I think I’ll continue to host my Linux on VirtualBox on my desktop and to copy that environment to my laptop for those times when I’m offsite, let’s say at a development meetup or client site. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use KVM to host various machines, such as my production backup server, test servers as well as a home media server.

    In some respects, it’s not quite as seamless as a Mac, but my development environment is stored as an image and can move seamlessly between my desktop and laptop. I’ve also got file sharing and drive mappings setup so that it’s easy to access my Linux Machine from Windows. Furthermore, VirtualBox’s seamless mode looks pretty awesome.

    I’m pretty happy with my development environment, and now just need a Haswell chip to run it on. In the meantime, I’ll back off on the Craigslist search for a used Macbook.

    Update: Just bought a 4770K desktop with 32G of RAM. Lots of room for virtual servers.

    Update2: That desktop rocks!

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