A couple of weeks ago, I posted this column asking if anyone was interested in receiving a free Silego GPAK4 mixed-signal FPGA development kit.
As you may recall, in that column I spake as follows:
The problem is that there are only 25 free kits on offer, but so many folks who would like to play with them, so here's what we'll do. You email me at and tell me why you deserve one of these little beauties. Excite me and delight with descriptions of the amazing hobby or work projects you are currently working on or you may one day consider working on LOL.
In two weeks' time, on Wednesday 15th July, 2015, as soon as I've sauntered into the (my office) and ensconced myself in my Supreme Commander's Chair with its super-soft cuddly cushion, I will select the 25 entries that have most fired my imagination and whipped my creative juices into a frenzy. I will then email these folks to ascertain their shipping addresses, and then the guys and gals at Silego will dispatch the development kits and send them winging their merry way.
Well, not surprisingly, I've been inundated with emails. Do you have any idea how difficult this has been? Of course you don't! You would not believe the incredible range of project suggestions I've seen. In fact, some of these are so tasty that I will summarize them in one or more future columns.
I allocated each suggestion an ID number based on the order in which they were received, and then I ended up spending most of the morning creating a monster spreadsheet in which I awarded “points” for things like “creativity” and “ingenuity” and “tasty” and “Oooh, Shiny!”
Well, maybe not quite like that, but I did spend a lot of time and effort comparing and weighing the various suggestions. Then something unexpected happened. I tried to use the “Sort and Filter” function in Excel to re-organize everything based on my weighting numbers. Instead, the !@#$% system modified all of my weighting numbers based on the suggestions' ID numbers.
Essentially, Excel pseudo-randomly swapped my weighting numbers around. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what had happened; I just assumed Excel had done what I'd assumed it was going to do, if you see what I mean. The problem was that I had some other tasks to attend to, so I saved the file and closed it down, and then continued with my other duties. It was only when I returned to the spreadsheet that I realized what had happened. “Oh dear,” I said to myself (or words to that effect).
The end result was that I had to do the whole thing again, which has left my nerves a little frazzled, let me tell you. I'm just about to start emailing everyone to inform them whether or not the radiance of my smile is going to lighten their lives and if they should start looking for a free development kit to land on their doorstep in the very near future.
But wait, there's more, because I've been chatting with the folks at Silego over the last couple of weeks, teasing them with some of the project ideas that have been coming in. They are really impressed with what they've heard; so much so, in fact, that they say that they are going to offer a special bonus to everyone who emailed me with suggestions but didn’t make the “Top 25.” Check out the following image of a GPAK evaluation board.
The idea is that the folks who aren’t getting a development kit can still use the GPAK design environment — which can be downloaded for free from Silego's website — to create a design of their choice. They send their design file to me; I forward the design file to the folks at Silego; and the guys and gals as Silego will return an evaluation board populated with a GPAK mixed-signal FPGA that's been programmed with the design. Even better, the folks from Silego will throw in a $20 coupon that can be used to reduce the price of any item on their website.
Pretty tasty eh? Oooh; I bet you're saying to yourself: “I wish I'd emailed Max with my really cool idea.” Well, I'm sorry, but you're too late; that boat has already sailed (sad face); maybe next time. In the meantime, watch this space for future columns describing some of the cool application ideas people came up with for the GPAK parts.