Xilinx and Linux


Do I have to use that IDE if I'm just doing VHDL/Verilog?

Since the important parts of ISE WebPack are actually the command-line compiler tools, there is no need to use Xilinx's development environment if you can handle the build process. This is much more bulky than compiling software, and a lot of intermediate files are generated. To simplify the process, here is a template Makefile for compiling Verilog or VHDL source into bitstreams for Virtex and Spartan chips: Makefile Read more »



Local (to Atlanta, GA USA)

If you need parts on short notice, look at these. You can also order online from these distributors.

Ack Radio Supply

McMaster-Carr Read more »

Heat-shrink Tubing


This stuff is great. It replaces electrical tape in most applications. The only disadvantage is you often can't put it on the middle of a wire when there is something already on the end. There's even waterproof heat shrink with heat-activated adhesive, but I've never used it so I don't know how well it works. Read more »



Use solder-cup connectors wherever possible. It's easier than crimping and more reusable. Don't strip the wire any longer than needed to fill the solder cup.

When you have to crimp connections, use a ratcheting crimper if you can get one. These won't let go of the connector until it has been fully crimped.

It is possible to make what looks like a crimp on small pins using pliers. Don't do this. They don't have the right shape and the wire will pull out with a little force. Read more »

Driving LEDs



LEDs are current controlled devices. The brightness of an LED must be controlled by setting the current through it, not the voltage across it. Like any other diode, the voltage across an LED changes little with the current through it and it varies between devices, so setting a constant voltage will probably result in the wrong brightness or a dead LED. Read more »

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