Pete's Log: Hackerbox 0088

Entry #2223, (Smokepacking)
(posted when I was 44 years old.)

HackerBox 0088 arrived earlier this week and as soon as I saw it was FPGA-themed, something clicked in my brain and I wanted to do it immediately.

Components of HackerBox 0088 - an unpopulated PCB for an FPGA lab, an FPGA board, a sticker, other misc electronic components

At this point I think it's been more than a year since I last did any soldering, so it was time. Luckily it seems I still know how.

HackerBox 0088 - FPGA lab - a circuit board with an 8x8 LED matrix, a small screen, an FPGA module, dip switch, buttons, potentiometer, jumper cables connecting things

The finished board has a bunch of components that aren't actually connected to each other. Instead, there are headers for each pin on each component that you connect via jumpers so you can reconfigure as desired for different experiments. I worked through a few of the experiments in the instructions, but now have grander ambitions in mind.

I still have a bunch of VHDL from my undergraduate days and for some reason the silly idea of resurrecting the JAM-8 processor from Comp Arch 2 has entered my mind.

Unfortunately, the tool chain for this FPGA board uses Verilog instead of VHDL. Will I let that stop me? I don't know yet. It does mean more work converting code. Or figuring out if there's a way to make the tool chain do VHDL.

I guess first I should decide what inputs and outputs I want to use and how. At my disposal are an 128x64 OLED display, a 8x8 LED matrix, a 16-bit ADC, an 8-bit dip switch, four buttons, a potentiometer, and a PS/2 port. Too bad I don't have any PS/2 devices lying around.

Anyway, first it's dinner time. Then I'll reevaluate this madness.