Friday, March 28, 2014

PSHDL Board IndieGoGo Campaign

Last year during the 30C3 I announced the PSHDL board, and promised to create a crowd-funding campaign for it. Many people followed my call to give me an estimate on what they were willing to pay for this board, and from that data we concluded that it would be realistic to create such an campaign.

Unfortunately this took us longer than anticipated. The biggest risk involved in our campaign is that it is a physical product, that people can do stupid things with. In order to be on the safe side, and not ending up in a million dollar debt after an US law suit, we had to arrange for an insurance. This turned out to be a rather slow process (mostly caused by the insurance companies not reacting upon our inquiries).

But now all the legal problems have been addressed and we are very proud to announce that our campaign is now online at indiegogo.

At this point of time we already collected more than a sixth of the required funding in about two days. This leaves us very optimistic that we can get through with this campaign. This doesn't mean that we don't need help. We can need as much help as possible, and even if you decide not to back our campaign, it would be very nice if you could help us to spread the word.

Board details

As some people had some difficulties to understand how all of the board IOs are connected, we also created a new graph that hopefully helps you to understand it better.

High Level view

We also send the latest prototype to manufacturing and expect it to arrive in about two weeks.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Web updates

When I started to develop PSHDL, I thought that having a web ui might be a good idea. This allowed users to see what PSHDL can do without ever having installed a thing. The first version that i created was written in GWT and it work well. But when I realized that I can simulate PSHDL, and even do so in the browser, I thought it was time for an upgrade.

In the middle of last year i created the beta web interface that was written in Dart with Web UI. It turned out to be a quite popular and comfortable development environment and many people started using it. It is also powered by a generic REST API that can be used from other services. After such a long time of testing I am confident that it is time to promote the beta to the front page.

But that doesn't mean I won't have a beta anymore. In the last 2 month I completely rewrote the beta editor, yet again with Dart, but this time with the more modern Polymer framework and a much cleaner separation of concerns. While it does work quite well already, I am not perfectly happy with it. It does have some performance issues that needs to be addressed before I promote it to the front page.

New features

The new beta has some unique new features that I quickly want to present here:

  • The page now scales much better with lower resolutions.
  • Simulation
    • The simulation is now in most cases faster as the update rate is fixed at a maximum of 10 FPS.
    • The LEDs are now dimmed with the duty cycle.
  • Cloud synthesis
    • You can now create board definition files with a dialog.
    • It is now possible to create the synthesis definition files with a dialog.
      • Ports can be visually located on the PCB
  • Workspace
    • The ace editor recycles the session, which stores undo/redo history and cursor position
    • Dirty marking is now based on SHA checksum
    • Editor content is refreshed when a local-helper is updating a file

For the upcoming Indiegogo Campaign, I created a video that demonstrates how the new web UI can be used to get a blinking LED within a few minutes.

While old bookmarks of workspaces still kind of work, they should be updated with the new location.

Indiegogo campaign

During the 30C3 I announced that we plan to finance the initial PSHDL board with a crowd-funding campaign. While from a technical point of view everything is ready to launch the campaign tomorrow, there are some legal issues that we have to take care of. Tom needs to create an insurance for his company, unfortunately the insurance company takes an absurd amount of time to process our insurance request. When this step is resolved, we will launch it immediately.

The board underwent some design improvements. It now has a PMOD compatible connector that is connected to the Atmel and 4 blue LEDs on the upper side. This makes the board more usable even without LED arms. Also the Atmel now has some ADC/DAC Pins on a connector.