Digilent has just announced their annual US and EU regional Digilent Design Contests for 2013. Digilent Design Contests are engineering contests open to all students enrolled in any educational institution in that region. Students are challenged to create an original project featuring whether FPGA boards featuring state-of-the-art Xilinx FPGAs, microcontroller boards featuring Microchip microcontrollers, or chipKIT boards based on the Arduino development environment.
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In order to understand the chipKIT platform, it is important to talk about Arduino first. Arduino is an easy-to-use and powerful open source environment for developing microcontroller based applications. It has gained huge amount of popularity in past few years, specially among hobbyists. Arduino has been a wonderful tool, introducing many people to the world of embedded electronics with little or no prior knowledge of electronics. The standard Arduino development boards are based on 8-bit Atmel AVR processors which are pre-programmed with a serial bootloader, and thus simplifies the uploading of user programs to the on-chip flash memory without the need of any external programmer. Because of its low cost, easy-to-use software development environment (open-source C/C++ like programming platform), rich set of libraries, and tons of resources available online, Arduino has become a common choice for electronics hobbyists these days. Hundreds of plug-in application boards, called Arduino shields, are also commercially available to extend the functional capabilities of the Arduino board. The simplicity and the open source nature of Arduino and its shields allow students, hobbyists, and even artists to do many creative things.
Inspired from the growing influence of Arduino, Microchip and Digilent, in 2011, introduced a new and much powerful form of Arduino platform, called chipKIT, which is based on 32-bit PIC processors. The chipKIT platform consists of two development boards (chipKIT UNO32 and chipKIT MAX32), and an open-source software development tool, which is basically a modified version of the Arduino IDE, and is called MPIDE (Multi-Platform Integrated Development Environment).
|Arduino Uno||chipKIT Uno32|
Digilent has just announced the 8th annual US regional Digilent Design Contest, to be held on May 6-7, 2012 in conjunction with the IEEE EIT conference in Indianapolis. Digilent Design Contests are engineering contests open to all students enrolled in any educational institution in that region. Students are challenged to create an original project using Digilent boards, whether FPGA boards featuring state-of-the-art Xilinx FPGAs, microcontroller boards featuring Microchip microcontrollers, or chipKIT boards based on the Arduino development environment.
Contest enrollment begins on January 25th. Project presentations and judging will take place on May 6th, with the winners to be announced on May 7th. Attendees of the EIT Conference are invited to attend the contest. Judges will be looking for creativity, feasibility, and originality, and judging positions are still available. Please contact Digilent if you are interested in participating as a guest judge for the contest.
The US contest is one of several 2012 regional contests, including China, the EU, and India. Digilent awards generous cash prizes to the top finishers and donates the hardware used by all contestants.
The 2011 Worldwide Digilent Design Contest Finals were held last September in conjunction with the FPGAWorld conference in Munich, Germany. Participants included 16 teams from China, India, Romania, Switzerland, and the US. Winning projects included a smart shopping cart, a bomb disposal robot, and a GPS-enabled rover.
Guidelines for the Digilent Design Contests will be available at http://www.digilentinc.com/events/ddc2012/ or http://www.facebook.com/Digilent?sk=app_244940582228984.
Projects from all Digilent Design Contests, including documentation, are available at http://digilentinc.com/NavTop/Showcase.cfm.