The Maker Movement is inspiring the young and old alike, that anything is possible. You’ve all read the predictions that the next “big thing” hasn’t been invented yet and that it can come from anyone. That’s what the Maker Movement is all about. At Atmel we believe in the power of the Maker!
We maintain a similar mentality here at Digilent, and not only do we believe that anyone can be a Maker, we also support the idea that there are different types of Makers.
Just as there are a variety of different learning styles, the manner with which you make can have similar diversity. This can encompass differing skill levels, areas of expertise and reasons for making. Atmel has recently released an interactive quiz to help you determine what kind of Maker you identify with.
Digilent supports Makers of all shapes and skill levels, and to encourage you to start that summer project we have included a brief product guide below, based upon Atmel’s Maker types!
The Professional: You hack things to make this world a better place. You work 40 hours a week (most likely as an engineer), but you’re a Maker the other 128 hours. You spend way too much time on Hackaday and Hackster.io. You love datasheets and application notes.
If you happen to be a Professional, then you probably already are well-acquainted with your favorite tools and materials when it comes to making your ideas a reality. However if you are in search of high-end industry standard hardware, the Genesys 2 is probably your best FPGA choice. With its high-capacity, high-speed FPGA, fast external memories, high-speed digital video ports, and wide expansions options, the Genesys 2 is designed to make your project possible, no matter the complexity.
The Novice: You might be a student, real or self-proclaimed. You spend hours on the Instructables website. You’re learning your way through a cool invention. You’re an electronics tinkerer or always wanted to be one. You have an AVR Man mask from the latest Maker Faire.
If you are just getting started in the world of making, you should definitely check out the Arty. An FPGA development board designed with Makers and hobbyists in mind, it comes ready to use and (unlike other Single Board Computers) isn’t bound to a single set of processing peripherals.
This flexibility and accessibility make it an ideal place to start. If you are more interested in microcontrollers, our chipKIT line is also a superb starting point, with the uC32 and WF32 (which has on-board WiFi!) being some of our top sellers.
The Entrepreneur: You’re about to start a company with a new project. Or you’ve already created the thing that will change the world. Your favorite websites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Your motto is “Fund me, Fund me, Fund me..please!” Your best friend is coffee.
If you are designing any type of electronic project on a marketable level you will need top-of-the-line instrumentation to test and ensure that your product is viable. Also useful for debugging, the Analog Discovery 2 is a USB oscilloscope and multi-function instrument that allows users to measure, visualize, analyze, record, generate and control mixed signal circuits of all kinds. And at only $279.00, you will still have plenty of money left for your favorite caffeinated beverage.
The Professor: You teach students how to use electronic systems and devices. You tinker around so you can educate your class on new technologies. You know the answer to the question before the student asks it. Your favorite website is a book. Your office is chocked full of dev boards and eval kits.
If you are looking for the board to take your class (and students) to the next level, look no further than the Nexys 4 DDR and Basys 3. The Basys 3 is an excellent introductory board for those new to FPGA, all while supporting a large collection of on-board I/O devices. If your students are a bit further than entry level, the Nexys 4 DDR board is specifically designed to bridge the gap between industry and the classroom.
The Hacker: You are the type to tear apart a toaster just to put it back together, but this time as an alarm clock. You always want to reverse engineer things that already work. You were the most photographed attendee at the last Maker Faire. You think labels are lame.
If you are more interested in the rapid execution of your latest brilliant idea, I would consider the aforementioned chipKIT line. Additionally if you need something to enhance the functionality of your project, our Pmod line offers an incredibly diverse range of functions, including inputs, outputs, communication, connection and power. From joystick controllers to accelerometers, these little boards are the fastest way to get that project out of your head and onto the workbench… and they are 70% off!
If your idea requires intensive work on the software end, and you do not feel like spending the time to research, learn about, and write up the code you need in your current IDE, consider LabVIEW as a graphical programming option. Do not let the amazing speed with which you can get started fool you, it is still a extremely powerful software with expansive capabilities. And with the addition of LabVIEW MakerHub, you can conveniently connect it to your favorite hardware… you can even do it untethered!
I personally identify as the Hacker, as my mother and many ruined household appliances can attest. Which one are you?