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'[EE]: How do I get started w/PLD's?'
2002\08\01@234422 by Brandon Fosdick

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I'm looking to try my hand at using PLD/PGA's. I'm thinking of starting off with
something simple, like flashing LED's controlled by one of ftdi's usb modules
(I've been looking for an excuse to play with those). Naturally my first thought
was to ask the wise and wonderful piclist for advice.

So far I've been reading up on Xilinx's stuff, I seem to remember somebody
mentioning that they're best for hobbyists. They're free WebPack software looks
a bit convoluted. Has anybody used it?

What's the best way to get started?
What kind of programming hardware do I need?
Verilog or VHDL?
Any good books for learning [Verilog | VHDL]?
Any *nix based tools around for this?

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2002\08\02@133455 by Brendan Moran

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> I'm looking to try my hand at using PLD/PGA's. I'm thinking of
> starting off with something simple, like flashing LED's controlled
> by one of ftdi's usb modules (I've been looking for an excuse to
> play with those). Naturally my first thought was to ask the wise
> and wonderful piclist for advice.
>
> So far I've been reading up on Xilinx's stuff, I seem to remember
> somebody mentioning that they're best for hobbyists. They're free
> WebPack software looks a bit convoluted. Has anybody used it?
>
> What's the best way to get started?
> What kind of programming hardware do I need?
> Verilog or VHDL?
> Any good books for learning [Verilog | VHDL]?
> Any *nix based tools around for this?

Personally, I started with the use of SPLDs, though what I used was a
22V10, and that was with a universal programmer.  It may not be all
that easy for you to do without the universal programmer.  I looked
at what was required a while ago, and couldn't find a programming
spec.  Real pain, eh?  But someone else might know.  I think I've
seen a Xilinx rep floating around on the list, so he might be the
best person to answer your questions here.

Finding a VHDL reference is not easy.  I got what I know of VHDL in a
course I took.  The problem is that VHDL refers to more of the
spectrum than just PLDs.  It is a language for describing hardware in
general.  Finding a Verilog reference may be easier, I don't know.

If you look at the thread "[OT]: DIP FPGAs: Are there any?" Steve
mentions an Altera starter kit for FPGAs (different than SPLDs or
CPLDs)

Quick info:
SPLD: "Simple Programmable Logic Device"
Has some registers (D-type flipflops) that can be used or diabled,
has multiple inputs, and outputs.  Outputs go to pins, but are fed
back to allow for internal logic to process the data on an ouput pin.
Uses Flash EEPROM for configureation memory

CPLD "Complex Programmable Logic Device"
Similar to a SPLD but has small groupings called "macrocells" that
are like the circuitry to an output pin on a CPLD.  Unlike a SPLD,
all I/O is configureable as inputs or outputs.

FPGA "Field Programmable Gate Array"
Similar to a CPLD, but uses a serial data stream on powerup to aquire
its configureation.  Unlike a CPLD, it can be reprogrammed on the
fly.

I know I'm being overly simplistic here, but this is how I believe it
works.  If I'm incorrect, I'd like to know about it.

- --Brendan

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2002\08\02@133718 by Brendan Moran

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> I'm thinking of starting off with
> something simple, like flashing LED's controlled by one of ftdi's
> usb modules (I've been looking for an excuse to play with those).

Oh, and could you tell me which FDTI module that is?  It looks kinda
cool :)

- --Brendan

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2002\08\02@140627 by Dwayne Reid

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At 09:55 PM 8/1/02 -0400, Brandon Fosdick wrote:
>I'm looking to try my hand at using PLD/PGA's. I'm thinking of starting
>off with
>something simple, like flashing LED's controlled by one of ftdi's usb modules
>(I've been looking for an excuse to play with those). Naturally my first
>thought
>was to ask the wise and wonderful piclist for advice.

All you need to start is <http://www.al-williams.com/awce/pldhome.htm>

He has a nice little board available, all the software, a nice tutorial.

dwayne

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2002\08\02@153348 by Brandon Fosdick

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Brendan Moran wrote:
>
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> Hash: SHA1
>
> > I'm thinking of starting off with
> > something simple, like flashing LED's controlled by one of ftdi's
> > usb modules (I've been looking for an excuse to play with those).
>
> Oh, and could you tell me which FDTI module that is?  It looks kinda
> cool :)

I'm thinking about the USBMOD2 that dontronics sells.
(http://www.dontronics.com/giga.html)
Its a bit pricey, but not too bad and its does what I need.

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2002\08\02@154135 by Brandon Fosdick

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Dwayne Reid wrote:
>
> At 09:55 PM 8/1/02 -0400, Brandon Fosdick wrote:
> >I'm looking to try my hand at using PLD/PGA's. I'm thinking of starting
> >off with
> >something simple, like flashing LED's controlled by one of ftdi's usb modules
> >(I've been looking for an excuse to play with those). Naturally my first
> >thought
> >was to ask the wise and wonderful piclist for advice.
>
> All you need to start is <http://www.al-williams.com/awce/pldhome.htm>
>
> He has a nice little board available, all the software, a nice tutorial.

Thanks, thats looks like exactly what I need.

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