Elf hexadecimal data display working

I just hacked up more VHDL code to get the Elf hexadecimal displays working. I’ve only tested the data displays, but the address should work as well. This probably doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, especially compared to my original work on driving six multiplexed 5×7 dot matrix displays, but it’s not quite as trivial as one might expect.

While the original Elf only had two digits of hexadecimal LED display for data, my #retrochallenge FPGA Elf will also have four digits for displaying the address, particularly useful in load mode. While the Xilinx Artix 7 has quite a few I/O pins, the Digilent Cmod-A7 FPGA module only brings out 44 to module pins, and I can’t use 24 of them for the hexadecimal displays.

I originally considered having eight data lines and three each strobe and blanking lines (for the address high, address low, and data, and blanking isn’t really necessary), but I was in a hurry to route the board and it wasn’t as easy as I’d have liked to route two sets of four data lines to alternate digits. To make the board routing easier, I ended up with four data lines, six strobe lines (one per digit), and three blanking lines.

As a result, I had to write a state machine to detect when either the address or data has changed from the previous value, latch the new value, and sequence through updating all six digits.

I haven’t wired up the address displays on the breadboard, but the data displays are working fine. I’m now able to toggle in a short program, such as my dice program, and run it with the expected data display output.

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