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Smart Traffic Light

A tangible electronics project to learn soldering, microcontroller and FPGA

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Project Overview

In this project, you'll progress through multiple learning phases and develop a perspective shaped mindset with the tangible hardware that embodies the elegance of modern electronics. If you are interested or have learned soldering, microcontroller and FPGA, this is a great project to kick off.

Hardware

The complete hardware kit includes a pre-assembled main board, 4 traffic lights (with 12 unsoldered LEDs) and 8 road lights (with 8 unsoldered white LEDs). You can also choose STEPico (a RP2040 based microtroller board) and STEPFPGA (a Lattice based FPGA development board)
The hardware and parts included in the full project (or the green board STEPico only if you do not need FPGA)

Tutorial

As a big part of the learning process, we will include a 70-page detailed tutorial with great illustrations to walk you through the assembly process and also cover more advanced topics such as microcontroller, micropython coding and working principles of some electronics components and sensors.
The physical copy of the tutorial book included with this project
Some figures in the tutorial (hands drawing by our artist)

The Learning Part

Soldering

The majority of parts on the board have been pre-assembled to ensure the functionality of the main board. But you will still need to attempt an introductory level soldering task (20 LEDs with though-hole pins) to complete the entire project. Getting your hands dirty is always the first step in learning. If you are looking for a beginner-friendly soldering kit, please check out our previous campaign for "SparkTip".

Microcontroller and Python

Once your board hardware has been completed, it's time to explore how each component, sensors and LEDs interface with each other, and the best tool to appreciate all the controls is through a Microcontroller.
In the project, we use Raspberry RP2040 based microcontroller, and in the tutorial we have two sections that provide walk-through codes, guiding you through the foundational steps and acquainting you with microcontroller configurations and micro-Python programming.
Check out this page for details: STEPico & Micropython

FPGA and Verilog

This hardware provides flexibility, high-speed processing capabilities, and customization for advanced control and management in traffic light systems. This part will be implemented by the STEPFPGA board.
The detailed procedures to setup FPGA board for this project can be found at: STEPFPGA & Verilog