Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

NERP Tonight! FPGA’s with Ste

NERP is not exclusively raspberry pi, the small computer interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.

Ste Kulov (like “steve” without the “ve”) is the signal processing guru of Pumping Station:One. He’s also a great teacher who’s enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of the theory and practice of analog and digital circuit design. Tonight Ste will show NERP what FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips do and how to use the chip manufacturers’ development tools.

FPGA’s are very fast logic chips that can perform better than microprocessor CPU’s in a number of high throughput applications. FPGA’s are programmable, but FPGA programs aren’t necessarily seqences of instruction like a C program would be. In fact, on an FPGA you can “write” a CPU. All the cool kids are learning to use FPGA’s, and you should, too!

Tonight’s agenda from Ste:
1.) What are FPGAs & CPLDs and what do they do?
2.) Why would you want to use one?
3.) Explain how you would program one using a hardware description
language such as VHDL or Verilog.
4.) Go over a quick Verilog example & demo of displaying “NERP” on the
4-digit 7-segment display on my dev board.
5.) With the remaining time, demo off my Nintendo DS video output
project to illustrate the neat stuff you can do with these things.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 3-25-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in
Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.

Ed Bennett
Tags: announcement, electronics, embedded, meetup, NERP, Open Source, raspberry pi–

Happy Happy


03 2013

NERP tonight with Drew: Beagle Bone and Pi Face


NERP is not exclusively raspberry pi, the small computer interest group at
Pumping Station:One in Chicago.

Tonight Drew Fustini will demo the Beagle Bone.

BeagleBone ( is an open source, low-cost
credit-card-sized Linux computer that connects with the Internet and runs
software such as Android 4.0 and Ubuntu.

BeagleBone is capable of interfacing to all of your robotics motor
drivers, location or pressure sensors and 2D or 3D cameras. It can also run
OpenCV, OpenNI and other image collection and analysis software.

Through HDMI, VGA or LCD expansion boards, it is capable of decoding and
displaying mutliple video formats utilizing a completely open source software
stack and synchronizing playback over Ethernet or USB with other BeagleBoards.

Drew will also hit the high points of a Raspberry Pi interface board called the
Pi Face (

Pi-Face Digital is the first of a range of interfaces to allow the Raspberry Pi
to control and manipulate the real world. It allows the Raspberry Pi to read
switches connected to it – a door sensor or pressure pad perhaps, a microswitch
or reed switch, or a hand held button. With appropriate easy to write code, the
Raspberry Pi then drives outputs, powering motors, actuator, LEDs, light bulbs
or anything you can imagine to respond to the inputs.

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 3-11-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in
Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.

Ed Bennett


03 2013

NERP tonite: Pick-n-Pi

NERP is Not Exlusivey Raspberry Pi, the small computer interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.


Boardforge gantry Ver 0.3a in development (Ed_B)

Several members of Pumping Station:One are collaborating on a project to produce a pick and place machine. PnP machines are robotic assembly devices that place electronic components on circuit boards as part of the soldering process. The software that will run the machine is made of several distinct subsystems including motion control and computer vision. Jay Hopkins has been doing some experiments to determine whether a Raspberry Pi can serve as the on-board controller for the machine. Tonight he’ll show nerp some of his progress. Teaser: OpenCV _will_ compile on the Raspberry PI!

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 2-25-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.



02 2013

Analog Signal Processing – Class Knowtes



Thanks to all who showed up on Monday night (Feb 18th, 2013) for the signal processing class.  It was a lot of material to cover in one night, but I hope everyone at least learned (and retained) something.  I was asked by several people to post my lecture notes online so people can review them.  It took me awhile to go through my notes and clear them up (somewhat) for someone besides me reading through them.  Also, I had to erase and rewrite a bunch of stuff because they were too close to the edges and were being cut off by my scanner.  So that’s why it took so long.  Anyway, here are the notes, the notes for the pre-class Math Review, and the 8-page info packet that I passed out during class:




Now that the class is over, the next thing to do is figure out what class to teach next.  I noticed that many of the attendees enjoyed the filter design example we went over.  Perhaps we could do a short class on some practical Analog Filter Synthesis?  Some people have “thumbsed-up” the idea for doing a class on learning how to use LTSpice to build schematics & simulate circuits.  Recently, I’ve been reverse-engineering schematics from double-sided printed circuit boards in older consumer electronics.  I could demonstrate some techniques on how to do that.  Another idea is moving directly past the Analog Signal Processing class and going right into Digital Signal Processing.  All the same topics from analog appear in digital such as convolution, impulse response, frequency response, & transfer functions.  Except most of the integrals become discrete summations when in the digital domain.  There are neat topics specific to digital such as FIR filters and sample rate conversion, which I think are the most interesting.  Actually, the website Coursera just started a DSP class this week.  If you were at Monday’s class, the Coursera course should be much easier since most of the topics are similar, like I described above.  Check it out.

If you have any feedback on Monday’s class, ideas for other electronics classes, or any other comment, then please let us know.  If you see me at Pumping Station: One and remember what I look like, then feel free to talk to me in person.



02 2013

NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi Monday 2/11 @ 7pm

This NERP, Drew Fustini will show us how to WebIDE to program the Raspberry Pi. WebIDE is free from Adafruit. Put simply, “The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is by far the easiest way to run code on your Raspberry Pi. Just connect your Pi to your local network, and log on to the WebIDE in your web browser to edit Python, Ruby, JavaScript, or anything and easily send it over to your Pi.” Drew will use a Pi Plate RGB 16×2 character “Pi Plate” as the output device.

At the 1/28 NERP, we announced that the Adafruit Industries community grants people intended to send us a care package with Raspberry Pi goodies. The package arrived last week, and rather than opening it right away I thought it would be nice to share the surprise on Monday. It’ll be fun to see what kinds of ideas come out of the box and what kinds of projects they might inspire.

As always, if you have a NERP related project that you’d like to share, bring
it along!

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

NERP meets at 7pm 2-11-13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.


02 2013

ECE Academy – Analog Signal Processing



Transfer function?  Poles??  Frequency Response???  Are these sections you skip over when reading electronics datasheets and application notes?  Well, let’s put the shame behind us and finally learn these topics which are fundamental to being an electronics engineer.  Come join us in learning the exciting world of Analog Signal Processing!  We’re going to cut through most of the clutter usually taught in a core electrical & computer engineering course and present you the most basic and useful concepts within this discipline of electronics.  You’ll learn powerful tools to help expand your knowledge as an engineer and/or an electronics hobbyist.  The following topics will be covered:

  1. Complex numbers & impedance
  2. Common signals & classes of signals
  3. Linear systems & the impulse response
  4. Convolution
  5. Time-domain analysis of an RC Circuit
  6. Fourier Series
  7. Fourier Transform
  8. Laplace Transform
  9. Frequency-domain analysis of an RC Circuit
  10. Ideal & Practical filters
  11. Bandwidth
  12. AM Modulation
  13. Sampling Theorem & Aliasing

The overarching theme of the class is to emphasize why analyzing signals & systems in the time domain is inefficient and why you should do it in the frequency domain instead.  Along the way we’ll learn useful tools which have countless real-world applications.  We end the class with sampling an analog signal and turning it into a digital signal for use within a computer.

The class is quite heavy in mathematics, so be prepared.  Attendees who want to grasp everything should have at least some Calculus experience (know what derivatives & integrals are).  Come early if you would like to review some math.  The class will be all whiteboard & markers so you aren’t required to bring anything.  You can bring a notebook to take notes if you like.  There is a lot of material to cover, so it’s possible the class might run long depending on how savvy the audience is.  Either way, you’re more than welcome to stay after and discuss signal processing applications or anything else with electronics.

The Details:

  • Who: Anyone (Open to the Public)
  • When: Monday, February 18th – 7:00pm to 9:00pm;  Come at 6:30pm for math review.
  • Where: 3519 N. Elston – 2nd Floor in the Electronics Lab
  • Cost: FREE



02 2013

Raspberry Pi hands-on workshop

Not Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi hands-on workshop


NERP is Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi, but Monday, 1/28, we’ll be all Raspberry.

Pumping Station:One and NERP are excited to be included in Adafruit Industries community grants of cool hardware for the Raspberry Pi.  Adafruit is sending us a care package of Raspberry Pi gear we can use to make projects. The exact contents of the package will be a surprise.

On Monday Jan. 28th at 7pm, we’ll get into the swing of making cool Pi things by doing a hands-on workshop on basic controlling and sensing with the Pi. Bring your Pi, keyboard, monitor, etc, and try out a couple of demo projects from . The parts cost should be about zero since the projects don’t require much external hardware. PS:One’s Electronics area will provide tools and parts to get started.

We’ll learn how to turn on a simple LED (or anything else) using Python. Then we’ll explore two example projects on :

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One

As always, if you have a NERP related project that you’d like to share, bring
it along!

NERP meets at 7pm 1/28/13 at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago. NERP is free and open to the public.



01 2013

Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi meetup Mon. 1-14-13 7pm

The new year’s first NERP Meetup will be at 7pm tomorrow night.

In the first half hour, we’ll have a beginner’s look at the Raspberry Pi board and software. We’ll see what extra hardware you’ll need to get started with the Pi and how to boot up a new board.

In the second half-hour, we’ll connect a homemade circuit to a Pi and see one method for controlling stuff with Python. You can find out more about NERP at the Meetup page,


01 2013

Nerp tonight! Monday Dec. 17 at 7pm

Allen Kapusta will make a presentation on types of task dispatching. Any processor more complicted than an Arduino will be shared by different pieces of running code. Allen’s presentation will be a general overview of how tasks are selected for execution by the processor and what guidelines the task should follow in order to co-exist well with its neighbors.

Drew Fustini will show us how to display tweets on a character LCD connected to a Raspberry Pi. His Python examples will demonstrate a simple way to make a read-only connection to Twitter and print tweets on a 4-bit parallel connection.

NERP will not meet December 31st, but will resume its regular bi-weekly schedule starting Monday January 14th.


12 2012

Monday Dec. 3rd. is back-to-basics night at NERP

Monday Dec. 3rd. is back-to-basics night at NERP. In Part 1, Carl
Karsten and Bonnie King will give an introduction to Python programming
for novice programmers. The target will be the Raspberry Pi, and the
focus of their teaching examples will be on input/output to simple
hardware. In Part 2, yours truly will demo control of output devices
including simple circuits for interfacing electronics to
electro-mechanical devices.

Find us here…



12 2012