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Powering Ultra High-End Data Acquisition at Swabian Instruments

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Case Studies

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USPS has refurbished 195 Mail Processing Machines using the Opal Kelly FrontPanel API and is now working on two new designs using other Opal Kelly FPGA modules.

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Opal Kelly’s powerful modules come with software APIs that made it easy to incorporate into Fibics’ designs.

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Opal Kelly modules are used for teaching in undergraduate classes at Yale.

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We saved significant time by using the XEM6001 as compared to rolling our own solution. Using Opal Kelly saved us months in our development efforts.

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Jova Solutions

The Opal Kelly provides a development platform and a communication layer that has dramatically reduced development engineering expense and has accelerated our time-to-market.

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Articles & Papers

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Erik Vanserum

Building a High Performance Camera for Wood Inspection Using the XEM5010 FPGA Integration Module.

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John Dailing at Optiphase has developed a PC-controlled Waveform and Timing Generator (WTG) Instrument using the Opal Kelly XEM3001 mated with a custom adapter PCB.

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BHO Instruments Homeland security, military XEM3001, XEM3005 BHO Instruments develops data acquisition and processing systems for x-ray and gamma-ray semiconductor radiation detectors.
Look Dynamics Government XEM3010 Look Dynamics develops and sells equipment for analyzing satellite imagery to government customers. It uses Opal Kelly’s XEM3010 modules as daughter boards to move data to/from the Look Dynamics system and a PC.
NuWaves Engineering Government XEM3010 NuWaves Engineering is a premier supplier of RF Systems, Subsystems, Products, and Engineering Services for industrial, military and commercial markets. Mike Trimble, Project Engineer at NuWaves says, “Opal Kelly is the digital brains going from the 8-bit world into a proprietary module.”
Black Forest Engineering Military and research XEM3010 Black Forest Engineering specializes in applications focusing on 3D imaging and IR cameras primarily used by the military and research labs to evaluate technology. The company uses Opal Kelly’s XEM3010 module to control the read out of ICs (ROICs), read back the image data, and format the data into a Camera Link Camera Interface that is captured by a computer with a Camera Link frame grabber.
CAE Military flight simulators XEM3001 CAE is a world leader in providing simulation and modeling technologies and integrated training solutions for the civil aviation industry and defense forces around the globe. The Opal Kelly XEM3001 module is used in CAE’s Optical Encoder for Telescope application.
NIST Digital Servo XEM6010 The Time and Frequency Division of the Ion Storage Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have created an open-source general purpose digital feedback controller using the XEM6010. According to the project description, “it has been optimized for feedback control of lasers in atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics experiments, but it should be applicable in other control applications with similar bandwidth, noise, and loop shape requirements.”Their paper, An Open Source Digital Servo for AMO Physics Experiments, describes the details and their GitHub project includes sources for the hardware, firmware, software design, and enclosure.
Optiphase, Inc. Waveform Generator XEM3001 Article Optiphase manufactures interferometric fiber optic sensor solutions. John Dailing at Optiphase has developed a PC-controlled Waveform and Timing Generator (WTG) Instrument using the Opal Kelly XEM3001 mated with a custom adapter PCB. The WTG Instrument was developed to support R&D instrument development where fully custom and fully embedded solutions are not practical. For more information on this equipment, please see our summary page.
iBiquity Digital Test and Certification XEM3005 iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of HD Radio™ technology which is fueling the digital radio revolution in the United States and around the world, uses Opal Kelly XEM3005 FPGA USB 2.0 modules in their Test and Certification Lab in Maryland and in their IC Development group in New Jersey. iBiquity uses the Opal Kelly FPGAs as an innovative approach to testing new chips, from a variety of manufacturers, where flexibility is crucial. iBiquity is also using Opal Kelly modules for I/Q base band insertion into decoder chips for certification.
Static Control Components Laser toner remanufacturing XEM3001 Static Control Components, the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of parts and supplies supporting the laser toner remanufacturing industry, uses Opal Kelly XEM3001 modules in in-house test equipment to test their assembled products.
Mustang Technology Defense XEM3010 Mustang Technology, a defense systems company with specific expertise in radar, RF sensors, aircraft and missile integrated systems, and guidance and control systems, uses the Opal Kelly XEM3010 to test their Radar prototype hardware.
W5 Networks Wireless systems for retail XEM3001, XEM3010 W5 Networks, a provider of cost-effective electronic shelf label systems for retailers, uses Opal Kelly XEM3001 and XEM3010-1500P in its in-house test systems. The Opal Kelly products speed up the testing process in W5’s test fixtures.
Radix20 Design Services ASIC Simulation / Emulation XEM3050, XEM3010 Radix20 is using the XEM3050 to develop a design that will become an ASIC implementation in the final product, a GPS receiver for Magellan Systems. “With the XEM3050, we are able to operate the simulations faster than real-time, dramatically reducing the time required for design verification… We are so happy with the performance of the XEM3050 that we are considering reworking our entire design verification system and demo unit to use this module,” says Gil Herbeck, President of Radix20.
University of Illinois - ECE Cancer Imaging XEM7310 Cancer affects one in three people worldwide. Surgery remains the primary curative option for localized cancers, but good prognoses require complete removal of primary tumors and timely recognition of metastases. To expand surgical capabilities and enhance patient outcomes, we developed a six-channel color/near-infrared image sensor inspired by the mantis shrimp visual system that enabled near-infrared fluorescence image guidance during surgery.
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Tecella University research, biopharma XEM3005 TECELLA supplies HTS/UHTS measurement systems that accelerate and improve drug discovery and pre-clinical research. Opal Kelly’s XEM3005 modules are used in TECELLA’s products for digital system control and data acquisition.
Black Forest Engineering Medical equipment XEM3001 Black Forest Engineering specializes in applications focusing on 3D imaging, IR cameras, medical scanners, and mammogram and dental X-rays. The company uses Opal Kelly’s XEM3001 module to control the read out of ICs (ROICs) and to enable the reading back of digital data for storage, until the computer can take the next data points.
Intan Technologies Electrophysiology Amplifier XEM6010-LX45 The RHD2000 Evaluation System supports the Intan Technologies RHD2000 series of electrophysiology sensor devices providing up to 64 unipolar sensor inputs and an optional accelerometer. The system software source code (C++ / Qt) is released as open source to encourage development with their sensor technology.
Texas Instruments Ultrasound Transmit Solution XEM3001 The TX-SDK-V2 is an evaluation board for the LM96530, LM96550, and LM96570 components as a complete ultrasound transmit solution. The TX-SDK-V2 utilizes the XEM3001 and Opal Kelly’s FrontPanel SDK to provide a GUI to control the LM96570 digital beamformer and LM96530 T/R switch.
Texas Instruments High-speed precision ADCreference design XEM3010 The ADS1675REF is a reference design for the ADS1675 high-speed, high-precision analog-to-digital converter. The ADS1675REF utilizes the XEM3010-1500P and Opal Kelly’s FrontPanel SDK to provide data transfer of the ADC samples to the PC for analysis in Texas Instruments’ own ADCPro analysis software.
National Semiconductor Analog LaunchPad XEM3020 (Custom) Opal Kelly worked with National Semiconductor to design their Analog LaunchPad (ALP), an evaluation platform for their video and other products. The ALP (or XEM3020) is a Spartan-3E based platform which handles up to 3.25GHz signaling and incorporates FrontPanel™ to communicate with their extensive Python framework.
Cirrus Logic CS485xx audio processorevaluation kit XEM3001 Cirrus Logic has incorporated Opal Kelly’s FrontPanel SDK into their CDB48500-USB Evaluation Kit for use with their CS485xx High-Performance, Low Cost 32-Bit Audio Processor.
Stanford University 3D Cameras XEM3010 “Digital cameras keep packing in the pixels, but they can’t hide the truth: Photos are flat. Now, engineers at Stanford University have developed a way to bring 3-D clarity and depth to the world of 2-D photography.” Popular Science Online Article
RPM Associates Smart phones, cellular phones XEM3010 RPM Associates uses Opal Kelly’s XEM3010 module for prototyping image processing algorithms and as a display timing controller for small displays for mobile applications. The end products are smartphones and cell phones. Rainer Malzbender, RPM’s founder, says, “Opal Kelly provides a very easy PC interface for experimentation – software, firmware, and hardware.”
Dream Inventions Toys and consumer electronics XEM3005 Dream Inventions designs chips that go into products from consumer toys to consumer electronics companies. According to Tom McWilliams, Dream Inventions’ founder, “The main attraction for me is the use of the Opal Kelly board with the Macintosh for development.”
Neuronix Robotics XEM3010 The patent-pending Neuronix technologies will be designed into vision-guided industrial robots and into military and video surveillance systems. The Opal Kelly FPGA-based XEM3010 is used to perform buffering and DSP functions, as well as communicate to a PC via USB.
Sandstrom Engineering SONAR XEM3001 Sandstrom Engineering uses Opal Kelly modules to emulate SONAR signals converted to serial busses.
VisiSonics Industrial Acoustics and 3D Audio XEM3001 VisiSonics RealSpace™ tools combine real-time acoustic signal processing algorithms with computer vision and machine learning on GPU equipped platforms to provide a new generation of technologies to address real world problems. VisiSonics was named one of the “Five Companies to Watch” at the October 2010 NVIDIA Emerging Companies Summit. They use Opal Kelly modules for their Audio Camera. “VisiSonics produces the high performance RealSpace Audio Camera that combine 64 microphones and five video cameras to capture and process real-time frame registered 3D audio / video scenes. We use the Opal Kelly XEM modules to control and format the data acquisition process and manage the device. The Opal Kelly module is easy to develop with and its use has allowed us to focus our energy on our core business of signal processing and industrial acoustic solutions rather than on complex digital design. We have begun our next product cycle and Opal Kelly is still our design choice,” Bill Strum VP of Business development and COO.
Jova Solutions CMOS manufacturing andcamera developers XEM3010 Case Study Jova Solutions is an engineering test equipment development firm. Jova determined an urgent need in the market for a reasonably priced test system for CMOS image sensors. “The Opal Kelly XEM3010-1000 is an expertly-designed module that is the heart of our instrument… the central core of our CMOS Image Sensor Lab ISL-1600. It provides a development platform and a communication layer that has dramatically reduced development engineering expense and has accelerated our time-to-market,” stated Martin Vasey, CEO, Jova Solutions.
Fibics Incorporated Semiconductors and materialsscience / metallurgy XEM3001, XEM3010 Case Study Fibics Incorporated provides analysis solutions to semiconductor and materials science / metallurgy clients, specializing in focused ion beam (FIB) applications and analytical services. 90% of Fibics’ work focuses on solving “real-world, commercial problems.” According to Mike Phaneuf, Fibics’ President, “Opal Kelly XEM3010 and XEM3001 modules have been used as the heart of half a dozen designs for solving those problems.”
e/de/vis GmbH Quality-control equipment XEM3001, XEM3005 e/de/vis GmbH, is a manufacturer of non-destructive test equipment using infrared cameras. Opal Kelly XEM3001 and XEM3005 products are used for signal generation, frame grabbing, and synchronization tasks.
University of Oklahoma Advanced Radar Research Center Storm Research XEM6310 The University of Oklahoma Advanced Radar Research Center and the National Severe Storms Laboratory are working together to develop a cylindrical polarimetric phased array radar system to discover novel methods for observing severe weather and aircraft using flexible digital phased array techniques. Many XEM6310s provide reliable, high-bandwidth links from control computers to an array of custom-built radar transceivers to transfer commands and real-time radar data.The combination of low-level FPGA interface control and neatly abstracted USB 3.0 host communication provides an ideal development environment for our fast-paced research needs.
Washington University in St. Louis CSE 260 Course XEM6310 Classroom – Dr. Viktor Gruev was Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University when he taught CSE 260 Introduction to Digital Logic. Students were introduced to modern logic design to construct digital systems and used the Opal Kelly XEM6310 and EVB1005 CMOS Image Sensor Module in the lab portion of the course. Dr. Gruev is now at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.In the laboratory sessions, students gain hands-on experience with design tools and writing hardware description language (VHDL). They will also write state machines and use them to interface to the 5 Mpixel image sensor on the EVB1005.
University of Stuttgart Diamond Group XEM3005 Research – In the Diamond Group at the University of Stuttgart (Germany), we are developing building blocks of future quantum computers. We envision a quantum computer built out of individual impurity defects in the otherwise perfect diamond crystal lattice. The defect’s electron spins serve as “quantum bits”. Compared to other approaches such as ultra-cold atoms, superconducting circuits, etc., our setups are charmingly simple.However, the precise control of the quantum bits requires accurately timed laser and microwave pulses, as well as the detection of single photons with a timing resolution well below a nanosecond. With their ready-to-go C++/Python software library, Opal Kelly FPGA development kits have been the enabling technology for us to perform these tasks within a single versatile, flexible and extendable platform. Their technology has been key to our success and puts us a step ahead from other leading research teams around the world. TimeTagger 200 Brochure
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory XEM3001, XEM3010, XEM3050 Research – Chi H. Pham uses Opal Kelly FPGA modules in the Space Department at JHU/APL for space environment simulation, testing hardware to ensure the systems and parts survive in space. “Using the Opal Kelly modules has helped me to create and generate various inputs into both systems and parts while they’re being exposed to the space environments.”Research – JHU/APL uses Opal Kelly modules for initial prototype development. Many of the applications ultimately require one-time programmable FPGAs, but these are very inconvenient for prototyping. Instead, we spin a simple PCB and plug an Opal Kelly board into it to test options for event logic and find quirks with other devices we expect to use. We’ve also used Opal Kelly modules as an interface converter – for example LVDS to USB. Classroom – The graduate level class distributes boards to pairs of computer science graduate students. After a few simple labs, like counters, each pair designs a cryptographic accelerator on the FPGA. The idea is to expose students, already familiar with software solutions, to other possibilities (such as FPGAs) for computer security applications.
University of Adelaide, South Australia Dept. of Electronic Engineering Shuttle LX1 Research – We have been using Opal Kelly boards as a data acqusition interface to go from ADC convertes to the PC. The large RAM has been particularly useful to buffer large amounts of data. Projects have included capturing data from ADC’s for radar appliactions and GPS RF front-end chips.Classroom – The Opal Kelly boards have been ideal for post-graduate students enabling them to quickly set up data acqusition systems. The example code and supporting software provided is easy to use and understand and allows beginners to set up a data acqusition system relatively quickly and simply, as well as teaching them valuable coding skills. “We recently acquired a Shuttle LX1 (XEM6006) from Opal Kelly that our graduate students are using for Research and Development. We like the provided memory test and RAM test, which are very useful starting points for capturing data from the ADC. We have found Opal Kelly modules are one of the quickest to get up and running – the FrontPanel interface is relatively simple and allows us to quickly set up systems.” said Matthew Trinkle, Research Engineer.
Yale University Electrical Engineering Department XEM3001 Case Study Research – The Electrical Engineering Department at Yale is focused primarily on biological research. They use Opal Kelly FPGA modules and FrontPanel software to interface, control, abstract data, and collect data from a variety of devices. (e.g., interfacing biosensors with computers and recording optical neural readings.)Classroom – Opal Kelly modules are used for teaching in undergraduate classes at Yale in the VHDL class that teaches programming for FPGA and in other digital courses, where students learn to program the module to operate as a digital circuit. “The Opal Kelly infrastructure makes it easy for even a beginner to use it. It is useful in the classroom where undergraduate computer science and engineering majors use it for hands-on learning,” said Eugenio Culurciello, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Yale University. An Integrated Patch-Clamp Potentiostat with Electrode Compensation A Low-Power Silicon-on-Sapphire Tunable Ultra-Wideband Transmitter
University of Michigan Solid State Electronics Lab XEM3001 Research – David Wentzloff, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department finds the XEM3001 modules very useful and treats them as an essential piece of bench-top test and measurement equipment, like a power supply or scope. They currently use the XEM3001 for research and to control custom chips and acquire data.Energy Efficient Pulsed-UWB CMOS Circuits and Sensors Video demo of a wireless link using LabView and the XEM3001
Michigan State University Adaptive Integrated Microsystems Lab XEM3010 Research – The Adaptive Integrated Microsystems Lab, headed by Dr. Shantanu Chakrabartty, is using Opal Kelly modules for research and test-station development. The lab plans to make this low-cost and portable test station available to other members as Open Source.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) XEM3010 Research – MIT Ph.D. student Jose Luis Bohorquez used Opal Kelly modules in his research designing an ultra-low power transceiver for medical implants. The RF and analog sections have various parameters that could be modified digitally for optimum performance. He used the Opal Kelly FPGA module to interface with an on-chip SPI to change those settings. He also used the module to perform direct digital modulation on the transmitter and demodulate data coming into the receiver.“What I liked best about the Opal Kelly module was that I could easily interface it with MATLAB and LabVIEW. My area of expertise is not digital design, yet I was able to figure out how to get great value from the module in just a week or two.” Jose Luis Bohorquez, Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering, ultra-low power RF/Analog IC design.
Penn State Arecibo Observatory XEM3010 Research – The Electrical Engineering Department at Penn State, in a collaborative effort with the Arecibo Observatory, is using Opal Kelly’s FPGA module for the development of a multi-purpose radar controller. The module provides communication with an on-board computer, housed inside the instrument, and produces user-defined 32-bit digital logic-level patterns to synchronize multiple instruments in the radar system.Use of the Opal Kelly module in this project has significantly reduced design time and complexity through utilization of the FrontPanel API which provided high-speed multi-byte data transfers and customized status/control commands. This combination of hardware and software made the FPGA module an integral component in the design.
Caltech LIGO Observatory XEM3010 Research – The LIGO observatory is using Opal Kelly modules to prototype a possible new (improved) data acquisition system for the LIGO, according to Dr. Raymond E. Frey, Department of Physics and Center for High Energy Physics at the University of Oregon and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), is an effort of the National Science Foundation, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
University of Edinburgh IMNS XEM3010 Research – The University of Edinburgh Engineering Department has designed a generic PCB test board for integrated circuits containing connectors for Opal Kelly, a ZIF socket for a custom IC and analog support electronics. The Opal Kelly module is used to control the IC and to receive and process outputs.Classroom – The Opal Kelly module provides essential support for masters and PhD student projects. “We find the Opal Kelly module an ideal basis to teach students about the use of FPGAs. The ease of building simple software interfaces and USB interface to a laptop greatly assists presentation of the work as a developmental step towards an eventual IC with on-chip digital processing.” Dr Robert Henderson, Senior Lecturer School of Engineering and member of the Integrated Micro and Nano Systems Research Institute, The University of Edinburgh
University of Liège GIRPAS – Institute of Astrophysics and Geophysics XEM3010 Research – The GIRPAS group of the Institute of Astrophysics and Geophysics of the University of Liège is using Opal Kelly modules in the frame of infrared atmospheric spectroscopy at the high altitude research station of the Jungfraujoch (3580m alt, Swiss Alps).Classroom – Students pursuing a Master in Space Sciences degree at the Institute use Opal Kelly modules for graduate level research projects in their class on Signal Acquisition and Processing: Application to Embedded Systems.
Universidad Politecnica de Madrid XEM3005 Research – Universidad Politecnica de Madrid uses Opal Kelly modules for fast prototyping boards, due to the very high level APIs and simple constructs, to set up a series of communication channels between the FPGA and the Host PC. Currently they are using a XEM3005 module to mine digital subparts of a brand-new PEM (positron emission tomograph for mammography) scanner in its early design stages. The XEM-based prototype can actually manage a couple of gamma-cameras and perform basic PET acquisitions. Through a set of tests, they expect to determine parameters and performance measures needed to make strategic decisions in their PEM design.
University of Erlangen-Nurembuerg XEM3010 Research – The Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg has around 25,000 students and approximately 10,000 researchers, professors and employees. The FPGA board is used at the Institute for Electronics Engineering. The Institute is engaged with the simulation, design, and verification of information-electronic systems, and electronic circuits and components. The expertise covers simulation and circuit design of RF/analogue/mixed-signal building blocks. Furthermore research on baseband algorithms for wireless communication, e.g. for GSM, UMTS, WLAN-OFDM, UWB, RFID and sensor systems/architectures is performed.The Opal Kelly FPGA modules are mainly used in the education of students during their bachelor and master thesis. Moreover they are used for fast prototyping in research projects. One emphasis of the research work is the design of mixed-signal integrated circuits. Typically the analog hardware is realized in a modern semiconductor process and the digital circuitry is implemented in a FPGA board for testing purposes. This offers the big advantage of easy re-designs and fast prototyping of the digital circuitry. One example is a synthesizer for a high-precision local positioning system. The analog and RF circuitry is implemented in a 0.18um SiGe BiCMOS technology. The delta-sigma modulator for the fractional-N PLL and further control logic for the analog part is implemented with the Opal Kelly FPGA module.
University of Wollongong Centre for Medical Radiation Physics XEM3010 Research – The Centre for Medical Radiation Physics is a research team within the School of Engineering Physics at the University of Wollongong in Australia. It is dedicated to the development of semiconductor detectors and dosimeters for clinical applications in radiation protection, radiation oncology, and nuclear medicine as well as high-energy physics applications. One of the main strengths of CMRP research activities is in the area of radiation detectors for medical imaging. This uses Opal Kelly FPGA modules and FrontPanel software to interface, control, and collect data from ASIC front-end electronics specially-designed for semiconductor detectors for a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) system.Classroom – Undergraduate and Masters-level students use the Opal Kelly XEM3010 as a platform to learn Hardware Description Languages (VHDL or Verilog) and create modules and state machines for data handling and collection.

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