First off, a huge thanks to Element14 and Xilinx / Avnet for sponsoring this program!
I would consider myself and electronics hobbyist and I currently work in the engineering field as an Applications Engineer at a packaging machinery company. I've done lots of personal projects with Arduino, RaspberryPi and the like. I have never really gotten into FPGAs although I have worked directly with FPGA developers and done field upgrades on them in my professional career. I think that the selection team for this project has done a good job in picking people from both "my" end the spectrum to people who appear to have lots of experience and they can do more compare/contrast with other types and brands of embedded systems & FPGAs. I also recently competed (and won!) the Pi Chef Design Challenge here on Element14 creating a Smart Range Hood with a RaspberryPi, PiCamera, Thermal Camera, four air quality sensors, and a web-connected touchscreen interface.
My line follower has literally not been used in years and is getting dusty! Just like the rover Opportunity, time to dust it off!
I am hoping, through the course of this project, to learn much more in-depth about the basics and core functionality of FPGAs. I am going to be presenting from the viewpoint of someone who only really knows "about" FPGAs but hasn't played with them. I will be sharing the learning curve of both the development environment and the specific chipset itself. I plan to post lots of videos and pictures as well to explain what I'm working on, when it makes sense.
I am hoping to re-develop my line-follower robot that I made back in 2010. This was built originally on a RobotShop Rover kit which is Arduino-based and included an LCD I stole from an old telephone as a display and the sensor array using simple photo-resistors. In that project, I ran into an issue where I had used up all the pins on the Arduino and still wanted more functionality like true wheel encoders for feedback and some sort of wireless communications. Using the MiniZed board, I can gain Wifi/Bluetooth and a boatload more IO with the two 12-pin headers. I will have to modify the MiniZed board with stacking Arduino headers to make this work. I will be receiving my board in the next few days and also get the curriculum to review; so at this stage I don't know if there will be a more guided approach to the final project.
I also hope to hear as much from the community as possible through this project - If anyone has questions, wants high-res photos, or specific things they are interested in seeing, please post a comment or message me. Is there anything anyone has at this point they want to ask about? How else could I enhance my rover with the higher pin count and wireless communication?