Cheap Cyclone FPGA board

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#1
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Many years ago I designed my own PCB for playing about with Altera Flex 10K FPGAs. I thought of doing the same for the more recent Cyclone II chip, but I came across this Cyclone II board on eBay for $25.99 and ordered one:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISA...

I already had a Chinese-made copy of the Altera USB-Blaster which is required for configuring Altera devices and programming their flash memories. I opted for ordinary air mail delivery ($6.90), and it took about three weeks to arrive.

The board is quite well made, and is very good value for just under $26. It's only got two layers, whereas a minimum of four layers are usually employed with FPGAs to ensure signal integrity, and the linear regulators are a bit wimpy. However, it's quite adequate for hobbyist and educational use. I connected a 5V supply to it and it immediately started flashing the three LEDs, showing that the FPGA and configuration memory were working. I then entered a simple schematic design into the free Altera Quartus II software which read the pushbutton and wrote the value to one of the LEDs, built the application, and downloaded it to the FPGA with the USB-Blaster, via the JTAG port. It worked OK, so I knew that the board was basically functional. I haven't checked downloading to the configuration memory using the AS connector, yet.

I'm designing a simple add-on board for it with a seven-segment LED and a couple of switches, so that I can implement a simple 8-bit CPU on it. I did something similar on my Flex 10K board. That used four-layers, BTW.

Anyway, if anyone is in the market for a very cheap FPGA board, I can recommend this unit.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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With a little experience previous on cpld's now i am getting started on Fpga's.Starting to learn verilog i have in mind to implement a game on a fpga especially the Ms Pacman.Now,i would like to ask what size of capacity the chip has to be to fit a design like this inside.And the LUT's how can be evaluated in number of gates?

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The development tools can be set to select a suitable device into which the design will fit. That said, I'm quite sure that a Pacman game can be implemented on a relatively small device like the EP2C5T144 on that board of mine without any problems.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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What kind of 8-bit CPU where you thinking of doing? Rolling your own or something from Open Cores? Just curious, are you a verilog or VHDL person?

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The one in Rapid Prototyping of Digital Systems by Hamblen et al. It's a very simple one. I prefer VHDL, which the book is based on.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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Cool... I want to experience a little bit with altera-s, I think this board is a perfect start for a hobbyst. Could you please link in the USB-Blaster you are using?

thx
sandmann

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I'm using this one:

http://www.amboy.com/ssblaster

but it's rather expensive. You can buy one bundled with the board:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Altera-Cyc...

The Altera USB-Blaster costs $300.

Leon Heller G1HSM