One common request on Digilent is the, “Can I do XYZ on board ABC”?

I really dislike answering questions of this type. I’ve been surprised too many times by someone doing what I thought was impossible. Indeed, I’ve also had my own opportunities to surprise others by doing things they thought were impossible.

A couple examples should illustrate this point:

  1. I gave up early on the idea of building a Video game on a Basys-3 board. I figured the task was just plain impossible: although you can make a 128kB of block RAM on the board, there wasn’t enough memory on the board for a 640x480 piece of video memory, with a bare minimum of four bits per pixel (256kB required) and the Basys-3 only has the block RAM on board.

    Since giving up, I discovered some individuals had done it. Digging into those who were willing to share, I learned how they had done it. They took the video stream, and wrote characters directly on the stream using FPGA hardware. That way, there was no storage requirement. I had already done something similar to place a mouse on the screen, so I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was.

  2. When presenting at ORCONF some time ago, I had the opportunity to meet my first Digilent employee. When I shared with him what I had done with their CMod S6, and specifically how I had managed to place a multi-tasking O/S (as I called it) on the board, he was exceptionally impressed. Particularly since he had written off the board as being unfit for this type of task.

The only question left, therefore, is where the next surprise is coming from.