25 Replies Latest reply on Oct 23, 2019 8:08 AM by dimiterk

    Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest


      There's something to be said for making something just for the sake of it. You can say that for learning as well. At some point in time, we all learn something for the pure enjoyment of learning. But let's flip the coin. On the other side is making or learning with an end goal in mind. Entrepreneurs are in this group; they make something to sell for profit. Other people learn something so they can do something; often times this boils down to winning a job, a contract, or be a member of the gig economy!


      Learn as if you were to live forever.

      A famous man once said, "Learn as if you were to live forever." I was reminded of this old saying when I was given a Minized development board to giveaway for "free" to someone on the element14 community.


      A lightbulb illuminated above my head when it happened. I thought, "geez, this is a great opportunity to give a member the gift of learning."


      Yes, I said...FREE.


      So, what do you have to do to get a "free" Minized development board?

      Enter in the comments section below how the Minized will help you learn and improve your skills. Tell me how receiving a Minized will challenge you and help you do something that you have been wanting to do for a long time. Tell me a little about your background and any experience you have with the technology that's packed into a Minized.


      Are you new to the Minized? Well, here are the facts in a few sentences:

      The MiniZed™ is a single-core Zynq 7Z007S development board. This compact design features on-board connectivity through USB, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Peripherals can be plugged into dual Pmod-compatible connectors, the Arduino-compatible shield interface or the USB 2.0 host interface. JTAG circuitry is incorporated onto the MiniZed base board, so with a single micro- USB cable to your laptop you are already up and running. User LED’s, a button and a switch allow for a physical board interface.


      Here's a few specs

      • Xilinx Zynq XC7Z007S SoC
      • Micron 512 MB DDR3L,128 Mb QSPI flash, 8GB eMMC
      • Murata Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
      • User button, switch, 2 x OSRAM bi-element LEDs
      • On-board USB to JTAG and debug UART circuit
      • Murata Bluetooth 4.1 plus EDR
      • USB 2.0 host (Microchip PHY), 2 x Pmod, Arduino interface
      • Dialog Semiconductor PMIC
      • ST Micro Accelerometer & Temperature sensor
      • ST Micro Digital MEMS microphone


      Here's What You Get

      • Micro USB cable
      • MiniZed development board
      • Voucher for SDSoC license from Xilinx
      • TDM114 Camera Module, 1.26 Megapixel, Pmod, For ZED Development Kits
        • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

          Thank You! Randall Scasny. I often get a really big smile when I see words like Giveaways & Free. I totally fall in love with electronic gadgets.


          I am seriously learning about development boards. I really need some for my projects. As am learning about new boards and exploring them maybe MiniZED will help me in learning more about such high connectivity development boards. And maybe its just a co-incidence I have been planning a project for a week in which I needed a board capable enough to control some servos and manage some data about energy and it seems that MiniZED has the perfect size for my project and almost all the capabilities expected from a development board. And luckily the on-board sensors are a thing to rejoice for.


          I have various project waiting in the list (Some are fictional that's why I have not listed everything...)

          - Smart Cycle Module

          Problem - Here in India the cost of a smart cycle or even a geared cycle is way too costly for a common man like me but it is a dream to own a smart cycle.

          Solution - (not exactly a solution but works out in some way as a solution) A single module which can be placed on any cycle to make it smart. Not just a silly module fond on the internet but a peice of hardware module that would capture electricity for other uses and I also have an idea of placing low power Piezoelectric material under the wheel rubber. Well I have planned many low cost hardware to achieve this. But MiniZED will help me in programming different hardware which I have planned to buy.

          - Anti-Hack System

          Problem - Today many IoT devices can be hacked by even a kid. I seriously tried one on my own (followed some tutorials).

          Solution - So I have just thought of a hardware which can probably carry IoT device network in home through a encrypted protocol (Which I will be exploring later). Well its all about pure un-hack able IoT home network.


          I really don't have any cool idea as am new to exploring the depths of possibilities of achieving various problems using IoT.

          In other words am an explorer of new things coming up. I don't really have a wallet of my own so cant buy any new hardware right now.

          I have past experiences with Arduino and Raspberry Pi 3 b.

          And about the board it has a low energy Bluetooth module which will help in transmission of data among other IoT devices without needing much power. The on-board 8GB memory is enough to run my programs. And the Pmod GPIO will allow to connect controllable hardware on it. One of friends do have a small collection of Arduino compatible shields which can be connected to the 22 GPIO present on board. The on-board flash memory will help me in transferring small amount of data such as quick snaps and device details into the IOTA networks. I don't know much about zynq soc. I only know that A9 is powerful and good. I would totally love to win this giveaway but with almost no good experiences am not sure.
          Thank You! Randall, if not me someone will surely make a good use of it because it is really a board to look to. Thank you for presenting the giveaway I hope you come up with more giveaways and free stuff to learn and build intellectual personality. I love you element14, Hackster.io and just everyone helping to promote giveaways and free stuff to the newbies and poor.
          Finally THANK YOU!
          4 of 4 people found this helpful
          • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

            This is a great idea for a contest. I won't be applying because I've already got a MiniZed which I bought to follow along with the original Path to Programmable. It's a great board if you're ready to jump into the Zynq world of programmable logic alongside an ARM processor. Don't expect it to be an easy ride though!

            2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

              Create a wind chime that transmits the XY position of its sail as a value to a receiving station.   The receiving station (development board) converts the XY position to a midi value which in turn can be sent to the musical device  (keyboard, raspberry pi, etc.) for sound generation.

              Once the proof of concept is completed, develop an application for the raspberry pi using what was learned by using the Minized Dev Board.  Freeing up the Minized Dev Board for another project.

              • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                Roughly 2 months ago I was given the chance to play for the first time with an FPGA board with the condition that I would have to blog about it. I gladly accepted and blogged about how to program the FPGA with Verilog (Learning Verilog with the Digilent Cmod S7). Even though FPGAs are quite flexible, there are many high level tasks that are better suited to microprocessors than FPGAs (the opposite is also true). So what solutions are there when one needs both technologies? One would be, to connect a microprocessor to an FPGA and have them work together, but the drawback is that communication may be slow, and PCB  space and power requirements high. A different alternative would be to use "softcores", which are softprocessors, or FPGA processor designs; this could eventually solve previously mentioned issues, but also introduce new ones: softcores consume FPGA fabric (which is expensive), and their computational performance is not on par to hardprocessors. A different approach would be to use a microprocessor and an FPGA integrated into a single package, like the Xilinx Zynq, which integrates a Cortex-A microprocessor and an FPGA. Zynqs more or less solves all previously mentioned issues, but again introduce news too, like the high price tag, and high programming complexity. As always in the end the best solution depends on the problem that needs to be solved.


                In my Cmod S7 blog, I showed a sneak-peek of what I'm currently working on, its a computer graphics project, which I plan to use to participate in the latest project14 (Vision Thing). My plan is to design a simple FPGA GPU that would be used/controlled by a microprocessor who would do all the high level operations. Although I haven't got to this point in the development, its very likely that the slow communication between the microprocessor and the FPGA could severely limit what can be done with this approach. I believe that a better approach would be to use a Zynq, as it would allow me to communicate much faster to the FPGA GPU (there is a reason CPUs have always required a very fat communication pipe to the GPUs).


                I would love to have the chance to experiment with a Zynq board and learn how make the microprocessor and programmable logic work together.

                3 of 3 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                    I like your idea here. May I can suggest a few general things. Here goes

                    • When I design a project, I employ a divide and conquer plan. Your computer graphics idea can benefit too. First deal with getting raw data efficiently enough.
                    • Next reduce the data as soon as possible. Most of what you handle is noise with little value for the end goals. Eliminate that. Be sure to craft the goal(s) within this framework.
                    • Speaking of goals, be specific and not too broad. The goals need sharpness of vision( no pun intended). What I mean is try not solve every problem. This creates drift in focus making the project harder to achieve.
                    • And most important have fun. Remember the journey can be the driver not the goal post.

                    I hope this helps you. If you get stuck, there are many talented individuals on this community. Sorry if I pontificate too much.


                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                        Thank you for your suggestions, I didn't want to get into too much details of the inplementation because it would make the project blog much less interesting. The project is far more specific than what it appeared in the previous post. Its not going to be a full blown general purpose GPU, but one with very tight functionalitt, t's going to be more or less a proof of concept. I have in the past programmed a few graphic engines using different techniques so that side of the project shouldn't give me any difficulty. The aspect I know the least and that I'm more interested in learning is how to have the PS communicate with he PL. The reason I want to do CG is because I've always enjoyed it,  the CG engine I'm thinking about would use a different technology (vector graphics for a vector display), than what I've done before. Since its a simple but non-trivial project it will allow me to experiment with PS-PL communication in a more realistic setting. About the divide and conquer, yeah that's always a good plan for any kind of development. And about data communication, you are right, and I'm aware it could be a bottleneck, but maybe not, so I'll have to test that. Complex optimizations too soon are usually not a good idea, so I'll first see how it works without any. And yeah, I definetely plan to have fun with the project, I've so far had a great time playing with my Spartan 7 and a Zynq would be a great upgrade that would allow to increase my knowledge and learn how to use PS and PL on a single package.

                        3 of 3 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                      Hello Randall, Glad to be part of this community. It's not more than 1 month that i am connected to element14. In way of searching for such platforms for engineering students like me to showcase and learn skills, very luckily I got this and now i am here. My primary focus is to Improve VLSI chips and to see this world connected to Internet in a safe manner. I can't afford to buy everything for my projects in this time span so if I get this Cute Baby Board, this will be a great help to me. Well now I am working on Arduino Board.

                      Love for Element14 and Community.

                      • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                        I know, I don’t know, what I don’t know about the Minized is everything.


                        I can accept the shortcoming or I can do something about it. I am far from the age of young and short of the years needed to be called old. Retirement was a choice after 37 years in technology. Three different careers across electronic, education and computers has exposed me to a lifetime of gathering knowledge to develop an understanding.  Some knowledge I have retained, much has been left on the roadside. The greatest fear of taking on the retirement career was not finding a challenge.


                        A curiosity that boarders on one definition of insanity, extreme foolishness or irrationality is not far from the truth if I think of what I do to satiate the curiosity. To throw this bone my way is believing you can teach an old dog a new trick. Hey, I just called myself old. No the gift won’t further a career, secure a contract or position me as a member for the gig economy. Awarding me the dev board will only result in providing me the opportunity to experience the pure enjoyment of learning.


                        I can’t think of any project I could use this kit on. It would be nice to have something so I could impress the judges and improve my chances of winning. Until I develop the understanding of the dev board, I am unable to develop an idea of what to do with it. Don’t let this discourage you. Like a floor covered in lego’s building blocks, what gets built is determined only if you choose to discover how the pieces fit together.


                        If you award me such a gift I can promise you the band of merry technology warriors that hang out at this site will have to endure any writing generated from this work. Exploring technology is a pipeline of ink that feeds my pen. Writing is breathing. Writing about technology is breathing pure oxygen.



                        2 of 2 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                          how we can learn this device.. and how this device is used to program.. i want to know and learn as well... i'm interested to learn this technology..and hopefully i'll work on this device in future

                          • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest
                            Vimarsh ‍

                            I would love to make a weather station for my home with this board. It will send the data to the cloud with the onboard wifi. With the help of services like cayenne and blynk seeing the data on smartphone/pc will be great.

                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                              I found the original Path to Programmable was pretty much the same as the Avnet Speedway course. These are the links, but I think they redirect you to create an account and login before you can access them:



                              4 of 4 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                                When will the winner be announced! Waiting to know who'd Idea is awesome so that I can think over their Idea and see if I can implement those Ideas in my projects!

                                1 of 2 people found this helpful
                                • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                                  Excellent opportunity for anyone who want to learn and gain experience in FPGA.

                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                  • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                                    Hey Randall, I signed these account only a month ago, I am new at this website and highly interested in learning things about embedded systems and vlsi. Also i have worked on bare metal avr microcontrollers, so i know the importance of The Minized Development board as we can do a lot of interesting things such connecting it to our android devices, Laptops,etc and then send commands to them using ip's since its an IoT based device as well as it can be used to get data from boilers in industries through sensors and send it to the devices we have. Also the microphone in the board can be enabled for multiple voice data recording and storing it in 8gb emmc for AI systems (security one). Overall This Zynq SoC Board is more than efficient for begineers like me, Who are profoundly interested in learning new stuff like these one.

                                    2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                    • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                                      Quite interesting kit it seems to me. I was away from this community & my e-stuff for a long time due to some issues. This is a good thing to catch up with my electronics stuff back. Well, I've been supervising my family business for a long time, there are many things we can do in that particular industry place. For example - when I first visited there I immediately told electrician to install ammeters on each motor for each phase to know real-time current consumption to avoid/warn any problems with motor winding. Also the big capacitors for PF correction. I have a concept in my mind for a long time why not make a system for that? as I wanted to know - daily updates on how long my main motor (125HP) has run to how much production per hour. Also how much electricity consumed per hour for that particular motor run. Moreover, Main Power line is near so I can use CT's and read current consumption via that system. I can hook up a few temperature & Vibration sensors on motor's of interest and know their real-time values. All these values gathered and processed might result in a system efficient to warn about any real-time problem might occur with motors.
                                      To check whether everything is running fine we trust on ammeter for its reading, let me explain:
                                      This workplace has jerk load and current on 125HP motor usually changes every second based on the material load being fed. Usually, current reading jumps from 90A - 150A while running. sometimes on extreme load conditions, it touches 190A- 210A. We know if it stays in between 90A - 150A everything is fine, if it reaches 190A-210A for few seconds we need to take extreme care may be shut off the material being fed to the motor. If in any case motor keeps on running at peak temperatures greater then 200A motor winding will burn. Unfortunately, this has happened before.

                                      This part is interesting, The main motor runs a rotopactor machine. This machine has 8 Rulleys (each weighing about 38Kg) which are installed horizontally in between two Circular Rings (One is Hollow, made up of MS Iron combined weight 350 KG). This whole unit rotates on a shaft which is run by that motor. Now, care to be taken while installing those rulleys as these must be of the same weight (max weight difference can be 100Grams), two rulleys which has almost same weight are installed opposite to each other to maintain balanced rotation of the whole set. If care is not taken while installing these things this might get out balance and starts shaking. Vibrations can be felt as far as 100-150 meters that something is not right. This is how we know things need to be inspected. Also, these rulleys deteriorate constantly & need to be changed after running for a maximum a week.
                                      The vibration sensor role is to detect the difference between normal vibrations to abrupt vibrations being made by machine. As, when rulleys are near its end they make ground more shaky. This is what needs to log i.e. day 1 vibration - Day 7 vibration. This log details will be fed to the system to make it capable of giving warnings.

                                      Both motor surface and rotopactor need to be hooked up with temperature sensors. I can't say about values on this one because I never got the opportunity to check its temperature other than my hand which does not have any TFT installed on it to tell temperature other than screaming it too hot shut it off. But after hooking up with sensors it will be logged on a daily basis. Algorithms for the system will be made accordingly after making logs.

                                      All in all, system will log details for each sensor for normal run and abrupt change. Pre fed algorithm will be helpful in warning nearby Workers, Forman about the situation via Sound Alarms as well as Lights. Also, if everything works as I have thought, I will make all the system readings to be directed to me as well on phone/laptop via Wireless Wi-Fi network, IoT. Lights can also made to automatically turn on/off for evening/morning.

                                      This kit or not I'll do it, I think time has come. Will update on the blog when I start this project, it will be fun.

                                      Cheers !!

                                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                      • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                                        i have the board thanks to a roadtest 1.5 years ago. Back then i used MATLAB for it, but subsequently i find PYNQ is kinda good to use too. However, until today, there is still no PYNQ image for minized. For those who want to use it one can choose MATLAB or SDSOC as it is easier for the beginner user.

                                        4 of 4 people found this helpful
                                        • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest

                                          Dear Randall,


                                          Hope it is not too late.


                                          I've been looking at such 'dual-brained' SOCs for some time already with the intention to build some toy project and to put my hands on this technology. Here comes the chance. And as you're asking about what each of us would learn primarily, not what we will  build, the answer is quite straightforward for me - I would like to learn how such solutions can be designed and implemented efficiently where one need to run in parallel the hardware and software development threads and to keep all design aspects aligned to the common goal.  


                                          As the target solution I'm considering a multi-channel logic analyzer. I have some spare ideas for implementation including some tasks related to media processing which can leverage the integrated mic and advanced SIMD capabilities of the ARM core. Or smart sensor edge aggregation.


                                          But it seems that  the logic analyzer project will give much more flexibility in the sense of complexity. It will be possible to start from the simple signal triggering and basic filtering done on FPGA followed by the direct bypass of data to USB and to continue with implementing of some advanced protocol analysis on the ARM core involving creation of state engine and session analysis.


                                          From the form factor perspective it is possible to start from the USB box attached top PC and to implement the complete device with VGA interface on the later stage.


                                          Anyway, no matter what you will decide about this my 'application' I'm very grateful for bringing my attention back to this type of solutions.



                                          • Re: Improve Your Skills with a "Free" Minized Dev Board Project Contest



                                            Hmm, too late but I would be interested int the camera mostly.

                                            I built an application with the Minized using a cheap camera last month. If you have a PYNQ-Z2 contest in the future let me know.


                                            I would like to port this application to PYNQ-Z2 since it has much more logic and it would allow for applications like object tracking.




                                            The ZC7007 does not have enough BRAM for complex applications.

                                            1 of 1 people found this helpful