23 November 2022

Rasterbars

This FPGA demo effect renders four animated rasterbars. I created this effect with benjamin.computer for All You Need, a Chapterhouse prod released at Revision 2022. For an introduction to rasterbars and other simple graphics effects, check out Racing the Beam. The design was originally for a custom Artix-7 dev board, but this version runs on the Digilent Arty or as a Verilator/SDL simulation on your computer. Get in touch: GitHub Issues, 1BitSquared Discord, @WillFlux (Mastodon), @WillFlux (Twitter) Read more

24 October 2022

Sine Scroller

This FPGA demo effect renders a horizontally scrolling message along a sine wave. I created this effect with benjamin.computer for All You Need, a Chapterhouse prod released at Revision 2022. The design was originally for a custom Artix-7 dev board, but this version runs on the Digilent Arty or as a Verilator/SDL simulation on your computer. Get in touch: GitHub Issues, 1BitSquared Discord, @WillFlux (Mastodon), @WillFlux (Twitter) What is a Sine Scroller? Read more

11 September 2022

Castle Drawing

In this FPGA demo, we use multiple shapes (rectangles, triangles, circles) to render a simple picture of a castle. We don’t use any software or CPU, just shape rasterization and finite state machines. As our FPGA graphics capabilities improve, I’ll add more features to this drawing. Stay tuned. The design runs on the Digilent Arty or as a Verilator/SDL simulation on your computer. Get in touch: GitHub Issues, 1BitSquared Discord, @WillFlux (Mastodon), @WillFlux (Twitter) Read more

7 May 2022

Display Signals

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. Last time, we played Pong against our FPGA; this time, we revisit displays signals and learn about palettes and indexed colour. This post was last updated in June 2022. In this series, we learn about graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. We’ll learn how screens work, play Pong, create starfields and sprites, paint Michelangelo’s David, draw lines and triangles, and animate characters and shapes. Read more

12 March 2022

Racing the Beam

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. Last time, we got introduction to FPGA graphics; now, we’re ready to put our graphical skills to work with some simple demo effects. I hope these examples inspire you to create your own effects and improve your hardware design skills. This post was last updated in November 2022. In this series, we learn about graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

31 August 2021

Animated Shapes

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the final part of our introductory graphics series, we’re looking at animation. We’ve already seen animation with hardware sprites, but double buffering gives us maximum creative freedom with fast, tear-free motion. We’ll be making extensive use of our designs from 2D Shapes, so have a look back at that post if you need a refresher on drawing shapes. This post was revised in October 2022. Read more

17 March 2021

2D Shapes

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In 2D Shapes, we build on what we learned from Lines and Triangles in two ways: drawing new shapes and learning to colour them in. We’ll start with rectangles and filled triangles before moving on to circles. These basic shapes make it possible to create a wide variety of graphics and user interfaces. This post was revised in September 2022. Expect additional content over autumn 2022. Read more

28 January 2021

Lines and Triangles

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. It’s time to turn our attention to drawing. Most modern computer graphics come down to drawing triangles and colouring them in. So, it seems fitting to begin our drawing tour with triangles and the straight lines that form them. This post will implement Bresenham’s line algorithm in Verilog and create lines, triangles, and even a cube (our first sort-of 3D). This post was last updated in November 2022. Read more

30 October 2020

Framebuffers

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the previous part, we worked with sprites, but another approach is needed as graphics become more complex. Instead of drawing directly to the screen, we draw to a framebuffer, which is read out to the screen. This post provides an introduction to framebuffers and how to scale them up. We’ll also learn how to fizzlefade graphics Wolfenstein 3D style. This post was last updated in November 2022. Read more

28 October 2020

Hardware Sprites

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In the previous part, we updated our display signals and learnt about colour palettes. This part shows you how to create fast, colourful graphics with minimal logic. Hardware sprites maintain much of the simplicity of our Pong design while offering greater creative freedom. This post was completely revised in June 2022. In this series, we learn about graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. Read more

22 September 2020

Life on Screen

In this FPGA demo we’ll experiment with Game of Life, a cellular automaton created by John Conway in 1970. This post was last updated in October 2022. Get in touch: GitHub Issues, 1BitSquared Discord, @WillFlux (Mastodon), @WillFlux (Twitter) This demo uses an old framebuffer design. For new projects, I recommend Framebuffers. Requirements For this demo you need an FPGA board with video output. I’ll be working with the Digilent Arty, but it should be easy to adapt this design to other boards. Read more

30 July 2020

FPGA Pong

Welcome back to Exploring FPGA Graphics. Last time, we raced the beam; this time, we’ll recreate the classic arcade Pong and play against our FPGA. This post was last updated in June 2022. This post was completely revised in April 2022. In this series, we learn about graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. We’ll learn how screens work, play Pong, create starfields and sprites, paint Michelangelo’s David, draw lines and triangles, and animate characters and shapes. Read more

26 June 2020

Video Timings: VGA, SVGA, 720p, 1080p

To work with standard monitors and TVs, you need to use the correct video timings. This how to includes the timings for four standard display modes using analogue VGA, DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort: 640x480 (VGA), 800x600 (SVGA), 1280x720, and 1920x1080 all at 60 Hz. CRT monitors typically support higher refresh rates in addition to 60 Hz, such as 72 and 85 Hz, but most LCD monitors do not. There are an increasing number of televisions and monitors that do support high refresh rates, but these are beyond the scope of this guide. Read more

10 June 2020

Ad Astra

These demos combine some of my earliest FPGA designs from 2018: simple sprites and an animated starfield generated with a linear-feedback shift register. I don’t recommend using this approach to sprites in new designs, check out the hardware sprites tutorial instead. This post was last updated in August 2022. Get in touch: GitHub Issues, 1BitSquared Discord, @WillFlux (Mastodon), @WillFlux (Twitter) Requirements For these demos you need an FPGA board with video output. Read more

20 May 2020

Beginning FPGA Graphics

Welcome to Exploring FPGA Graphics. In this series, we learn about graphics at the hardware level and get a feel for the power of FPGAs. We’ll learn how screens work, play Pong, create starfields and sprites, paint Michelangelo’s David, draw lines and triangles, and animate characters and shapes. Along the way, you’ll experience a range of designs and techniques, from memory and finite state machines to crossing clock domains and translating C algorithms into Verilog. Read more

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