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Just stumbled upon the papilio project the other day. Wow all I can say is this looks great! I read through many posts and wiki's on the pages, including the first post about the creation of the papilio duo.


Sorry for the long post.


Jack, all I can say is thank you for creating such an innovative product. I will just say I think your logic for combining the arduino and the fpga is the best design I have seen out there and there are quite a few similar projects I have looked in depth into(mojo, fpga arduino shield, etc). I believe I probably fit in the market you were going for so I think you hit your goal. I purchased a papilio duo and a game bundle(to replace my old mame machine that is probably 10 years old and in need of a rebuild). The game bundle was just something I thought was a great idea once I found the project so I think your business ideas are working. I had looked at the fpga years ago but they were very pricey and would have a high learning curve for me since my background at work is in primarily in software. You mentioned a 3d printer wing in the future, I am very interested in that.


hamster, I really liked the intro to Spartan book. Was a great read and can't wait to try out the exercises.


I, like others on here, tinker with some of the other boards(I have arduino's, beaglebones, olimex's, Rpi's, MSP's and others). I find that each has it strengths and weakness, but all have certain areas where they excel. 



My particular interest in the papilio duo, and I think a great growth area for this device, is for 3d printing and CNC. I have been building/using CNC machines(lathe, mill, routers) and 3d printers since ~2000. I was leaning toward the beagleboard/olimex for this due to the PRU's on them for step generation, but I think the duo is a much better match. I truly think something like the duo is the future for those areas for a few reasons.


1. As things in the reprap world advance, current arduino boards are hitting their limit with additional functionality, stepper speeds, more extruders, accurate timings, etc.

2. As speeds increase closed loop servo's will probably take over meaning encoder processing which no arduino I am aware of could handle more than 1 encoder accurately and do anything else.

3. For inexpensive 3d printers to reach further outside of the techno hobbyist realm they will need to be more stable and simpler to operate, hence closed loop and plenty of processing power.

4. Newer parallel kinematic reprap's(delta bot's ,etc) require much more processing and are slow on arduino.

5. Next step up is beaglebone black with linuxcnc which while an improvement, most of the servo and very stable linuxcnc setups use expensive cards with FPGA. Currently no card vendors for beaglebone that I am aware of.

6. I believe one of the big things that has increased arduino sales and exposure is they are the bases for most reprap 3d printers, so having the arduino to step to the duo will make for an easier transition for users.

7. at $88 the duo is much cheaper than the pc+fpga, beaglebone+fpga solution and any other hybrid arduino+X solutions to be able to handle the processing needed.


I have only a little understanding of FPGA's in general so feel free to throw water on my ideas if I am way off here.


My thought to use the duo are to take an arduino firmware(probably Teacup) that currently can run on the Leonardo(probably not well though) and trim out all of the stepper generation and PID loop stuff and offload that to the FPGA. This would leave the things the arduino is good at and things easier done in arduino(adc, serial communication, etc)  to even shrink the arduino firmware even more.


Looking forward to getting a chance to try it out.










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Hey Chris,


Welcome aboard and thank you for the awesome feedback. I think you just answered some questions that I had about how an FPGA could make a reprap solution better. 


I think that the biggest challenge is having a unified programming/development environment that made it easy to share FPGA projects. I'm hoping that DesignLab will make a difference and make it easier for us to put together great solutions for things like you are talking about. :)



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I agree, the designlab software does look like it will make it much easier to create solutions. Looking forward to getting mine to start working with it. Looks like it could significantly reduce the learning curve for working with fpga's which has what has kept me from jumping in till now. I am sure once I get familiar with using them in general, and get functional things beyond the demo led's most vendors show, moving deeper into creating HDL components might be easier.




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