Recently I ordered a rather well priced FPGA development board from Ebay. The board is unbranded, save for the ALTERA logo appearing a few times, it does have a product code of A-C8V4 though.
Using a Cyclone II QFP, the board appears to be loosely based on the DE2 from Terasic. Overall, I don’t actually have many complaints, for $100 including shipping, it’s not too bad.
The board come with a USB Blaster and cable, 5V 1A Power Adaptor, plastic cover and a TTL/USB module. It also comes with a software disk including Quartus II, Modelsim, sample code and a schematic of the board. Here it is assembled on my desk.
Now let me cut right to the chase by outlining what you need to know.
- The LCD module goes on upside down, so the board has to be rotated to read it, odd, but not a big issue
- Every peripheral is controlled by a PNP transistor, thus active low, so make sure your unused pins aren’t driving ground.
- The 3 right-most 7 segment enable pins are shared by D5,D6,D7 of the LCD. While it’s possible to operate the LCD in 4 bit mode, this conflict is one you must be aware of.
- The VCC and GND pins of the RS232 header appear to be unconnected. The port itself works fine, but if you want to connect a bluetooth module for instance, you’ll want to solder pins to the power pads at the top left, or power it externally. My guess is that this is because the TTL module didn’t like to be powered externally, e.g. through the board.
- The TTL module drivers are very finicky and often choose not to work, this was my main motivation for using a bluetooth connection.
- The chip is the EP2C8Q208C8N, with 8256 Logic Elements and a core voltage of 1.2V. It can be programmed with the JTAG connector or flashed with the Active Serial connector.
- The 7 Segment displays all share the same A-G pins and need to be multiplexed to work, but I will upload code for this soon.
- No slide switches, at all.
- Very few LEDs that aren’t hard-wired to the peripherals, about 6 that can be driven by the FPGA.
Overall, not bad. It’s brought me many many hours of fun over the holidays, but isn’t quite as good as the DE2 boards I’ve grown used to using. For 1/3rd the price, though, I don’t regret the purchase at all.