Spartan-6 Microboard: Firing It Up!

S6 Microboard powered via USB Mintyboost

S6Microboard powered via USB Mintyboost

I promised this article 4 days ago. I apologize. I’ve made it worth it.

Getting this project running was a bit of a beast. Not the development or implementation, those are based on public code, previously tested on this device. No, the trouble was in figuring out exactly how to program/load this board, driver issues, and how to code for this board. That is all now figured out.

I started by finding this set of articles by this Duane Benson fellow (they are topically listed at the bottom). He gives good, fairlyunderstandable instruction, but some aspects are just plain incorrect. In one article, he explains how you must use exclusively the micro-USB for programming, when in reality, you must use the full size USB port.

You will need the CP210x driver, but don’t bother trying to get it from Avnet’s malignant tumor of a website. Download it directly from Silicon Labs. (by the way, the CP210x series chips are extremely interesting, they have a USB-to-I2S adapter I’d like to experiment with…) Once you have the drivers squared away, plug it in, we’re cookin’ with gas now!

Okay, so how do you actually get information into the board: enter Matthew Galloway, or his site at least. This is what you need, and pretty much everything you need to get this thing blinking: his Blinkenlights tutorial. You’ll also want to download a copy (me not trusting the site) of the S6Microboard Manual which gives the names of the physical locations on the board.

Got blinkenlights? Good. Now were ready for the next project: tomorrow.

I promise.

Discovering FPGAs Series by Duane Benson:

*This is not yet a complete listing of this series, and this series is continuing

What’s This All About?
Opening the Package
Sorting Out the Pins
Flashing the LEDs
More About the UCF
Adding LEDs & Modifying the Verilog
Bringing Up the IDE
Creating the .BIT File
Loading the .BIT File
Playing With LEDs & Switches
Adding in the Switches
Driving a 7-Segment Display
The ChipScope Virtual Logic Analyzer
Alternative Latching Strategies
Getting to Grips With ChipScope
Observing Switch Bounce With ChipScope
Modules in Modules
Creating a Logic Analyzer
Selecting a Syntax
Building a Two-Stage Synchronizer
My Logic Analyzer Takes Shape
Debugging a Motor Driver
Becoming a Clock Wizard
I See Clocks Everywhere!

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Mojo Spartan-6 FPGA Boards!

Mojo Back

Mojo Spartan-6 FPGA Boards!

I’m not gonna lie, super excited for this project. I’ve been wanting to get started with FPGAs for a while now, but the price was too high. Not to mention, you have to learn a new language, or two (VHDL and Verilog, you had better learn both eventually.)

Spartan-6 Chip; ATMega16u4 Far Right

The Mojo board simplifies it, or will attempt to. Coming in at only $74.99, the price is quite right; and the creators aim to step you through tutorials as they roll out the project. Now, compared to most FPGA development boards, it doesn’t have many bells and whistles: no Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB Host, high speed RAM, or much really. It gets by with just a reset button and 8 leds, if you really want it, you can just wire it up (except the high speed ram, that requires additional engineering, shipping from Krypton; that involves Superman — don’t even bother.)

Anyway…was saying…excited!

Check out this list of premade modules (called cores) while we wait, and spam the hell out of them till they sell you one — you won’t regret it!

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