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:
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.