Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Digilent Atlys

For Christmas, Santa Claus brought a Digilent Atlys development board for the Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA's. Nice board, with a bunch of peripherals (Ethernet, USB, audio, HDMI!, etc).
The HDMI interface and protocol is implemented as firmware in the FPGA. My only test so far was to connect an HDMI output to a monitor and power up the board. It generates a test pattern of colored squares right out of the box. Nice. 2011 is going to be interesting.
While setting it up, I also noticed that Digilent now provides tools for Linux programming and communication with their FPGA boards. Need to check those out as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saltwater immersion testing

I've been working on a project that uses a custom A/D-FPGA board to generate and process sonar signals. Basic functionality is working, so the client took it to the dock for some live testing.
The testing included an "unscheduled" saltwater immersion experiment, with power applied to the board no less.
It was recovered after 24 hours; effects on the circuit were not beneficial.
So far, it looks as if the flash memory and A/D converters survived with just minor corrosion on the leads. The FPGA is interesting: definitely nonfunctional, and there's a pit where the epoxy case is crumbly. I suspect that the 1.2 volt switching regulator went out of range and fried the FPGA core.
Next time we plan to use a waterproof case.