Fpga Programmer or eval board? which one?

Thread Starter

yubyub

Joined Aug 13, 2008
19
Hi, I've worked with FPGA's before at uni on eval boards. Currently I'm looking to get myself some kind of starter kit or the like for myself. All I really need is some kind of interface to program chips, and connect to breadboard. Also I want to select the cheapest option.

If anyone has suggestions that'd be great. At the moment I dont know specifically which fpga's i'll be working with, I'm wondering if programmers are universal or more specific.
 

Dave

Joined Nov 17, 2003
6,970
If it is a generic FPGA kit you are looking for, have you considered the Spartan-3 starter kits: http://www.xilinx.com/products/boards/s3_sk_promo.htm

Prices from $149, however the kits have everything you need and the Spartan-3 is a pretty powerful device so you have a greater scope for more sophisticated designs. There probably are kits down to $50, however you may be limited in what you can achieve. A lot may come down to how much you want to explore and use the device for.

Dave
 

Thread Starter

yubyub

Joined Aug 13, 2008
19
Those Spartan-3 kits seem to be the best value for money. My only concern was that it seems as if the fpga is connected directly to the board. I would like the capability to program the fpga, take it off the board and solder it into the final circuit. I guess a more sensible solution might be for me to just get a simple jtag programmer and include a set of pins to do in system programming
 

Dave

Joined Nov 17, 2003
6,970
Those Spartan-3 kits seem to be the best value for money. My only concern was that it seems as if the fpga is connected directly to the board. I would like the capability to program the fpga, take it off the board and solder it into the final circuit.
Yes, there are hard-connected to the dev board. Not sure if the more expensive kits may give you the option of a swap-out.

I guess a more sensible solution might be for me to just get a simple jtag programmer and include a set of pins to do in system programming
Is certainly an option.

Dave
 

nanovate

Joined May 7, 2007
666
I guess a more sensible solution might be for me to just get a simple jtag programmer and include a set of pins to do in system programming
Then you'll be over-budget. I'd just get the eval kit, make it do what you need then worry about transferring over what you learned to a custom board.
 

dwurmfeld

Joined Apr 27, 2008
5
I would recommend downloading the Xilinx development web package, and using the "JED" file produced, use a programmer from Diligent. I haven't tried to use the JTAG programmer (parallel or USB) directly from Xilinx'x Impact software, but I have used the JED files and programmed successfully using the free Digilent programming application. For example, if you purchased the parallel programmer and the 40 pin CPLD proto device, you could get away with less than $50 including shipping to your fair shores.

This not meant to be an advertizment for Digilent, but an example of what is available.


JTAG programmer and power supply S3ESAMPLE-AK 15.99
Xilinx Coolrunner II CPLD on 40 pin DIP carrier board CMOD 17.95
USB JTAG programmer JTAG-USB 37.99

Programming software is free from Digilent (www.Digilentinc.com)

Have fun and report back on any progress you have made.

David
 
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