element14, the first collaborative community and electronics store for design engineers, and modding guru Ben Heck, showcase the benefits of using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLDs) to enhance LED-illumination on past projects on the latest episode of “The Ben Heck Show.”

Ben demonstrates how the use of CPLDs simplifies the design process by incorporating Verilog hardware description of integrated circuits instead of wiring them by hand. After installing the software for his Altera Max V development board, Ben creates the logic inside the CPLD from his computer before applying the program to his initial Super Alarm Clock build. Ben then assigns circuit board pins and applies Binary mathematics to the circuit connection to increase the level of brightness on the Super Alarm Clock’s LED backlit display.

“This episode was a fun opportunity to deconstruct the complex language of programmable logic devices as a means to help my fellow designers expedite their current builds as efficiently as possible,” said Ben. “Not only that, but I always enjoy revisiting previous projects, in this case the Super Alarm Clock, to implement the latest technologies to enhance ease-of-use and functionality.”

Ben wraps things up by offering viewers a look at how FPGA is utilized on a new DMD display on a pinball machine build. Using a Verilog programming structure and an Altera Cyclone II FPGA, Ben transposes a picture of a cat onto the DMD display and demonstrates that the new conversational-structured language increases the LED brightness, something not possible with a standard microcontroller.

“element14 is committed to providing engineers and enthusiasts with the most innovative, up-to-date design solutions to effectively streamline the design process and facilitate ingenuity and creativity,” said Kevin Yapp, chief marketing officer, Premier Farnell. “In this particular episode Ben’s improved LED-backlit design merely scrapes the surface of the vast array of resources and components available to design engineers through the online community.”

Show fans are invited to join the element14 community to send Ben a challenge for a future build, engage with community members, and enter for a chance to win one of Ben’s builds featured on the show.

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