Author Topic: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use  (Read 8995 times)

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Offline thinlayer

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A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« on: June 28, 2013, 02:52:34 am »
Here's our campaign on IndieGogo http://igg.me/at/fpga-module/x/3703559

We are all about making FPGA an easy, accessible technology for everyone.

People think that FPGA is a difficult technology to master and use in a project. This is just not true; FPGA is easy to learn, rewarding to develop and very powerful. Low cost devices like Altera's Cyclone IV FPGA are becoming accessible to students, makers, hackers and people like you.

We've developed this FPGA module called 'helix_4'. It's simple but elegant, boasting an Altera Cyclone IV E FPGA with single cycle Asynchronous SRAM for the Nios-2 32-bit soft MIPS processor, as well as a big DDR2 DRAM chip for DSP and data heavy applications. All the power is regulated on the module, it has it's own oscillator, flash and a cryptography chip for protecting your IP development. It's about bringing the Cyclone IV FPGA to you as easy as we could make it.

All you need to supply is 5V power, and a 10pin header for programming.

And we've developed a lot of code and examples to help you start and finish your project very quickly: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Module+-+helix_4#ms_dev_sw_examples

We hope you want to commit to a dev board or module.
If you just like the project, please hit the like button to help us get to towards the front of IndieGoGo's webpage.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2013, 03:35:53 am »
Why did you go with Flexible Funding?  That makes people uncomfortable...
 

Offline thinlayer

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 04:36:57 am »
Yeah - I think you may be right.

I was naive to that fact. I guess the main reason is that I can work with whatever the community decides to give me, but 38k is the point where I can get the low cost per unit I project I need. But now I feel that i might be better off with all or nothing, especially if that makes people comfortable to commit.

Do you think it's a huge obstacle? Is this going to hold a lot of people back?

I've written IndieGoGo to see if it's possible to change. The option has been grayed out in my dashboard.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 06:15:05 am »
Speaking of uncomfortable... why launch through IGG instead of KS? KS doesn't have the greatest backer protections in place, but IGG doesn't have anything at all. Far too friendly to scammers. And Flex Funding is even worse.

It doesn't matter how good your idea or delivery chances are - after the Mu Optics project I won't touch an IGG campaign again. But I have no problem backing numerous KS projects. At least they have a few rules in place for tech projects - and they even enforce them occasionally.
 

Offline edavid

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2013, 07:03:41 am »
Speaking of uncomfortable... why launch through IGG instead of KS? KS doesn't have the greatest backer protections in place, but IGG doesn't have anything at all. Far too friendly to scammers. And Flex Funding is even worse.

It doesn't matter how good your idea or delivery chances are - after the Mu Optics project I won't touch an IGG campaign again. But I have no problem backing numerous KS projects. At least they have a few rules in place for tech projects - and they even enforce them occasionally.

They are Australian, so they can't use KS.
 

BulletMagnet83

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 09:37:52 am »
I like the look of it  :) FPGA boards have tempted me for quite a while, but it's something I've avoided due to the cost and the high probability I'm just too damn stupid to use it! I'm very tempted to back the project as $59 isn't very much money, and by the time September rolls around I'll probably not have missed the money.

One thing that does slightly put me off though - those little semi-circle board edge things. I would personally prefer shrouded IDC sockets or at the very least pin header holes better suited to "plugging shit in". I suppose such a thing could easily be kludged though, so it's not a total deal-breaker...

I wish you guys good luck anyway! Payday soon so I may bite after that.
 

Offline thinlayer

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 09:40:19 am »
I would have definately used KickStarter.... IndieGoGo was a second choice. I saw some projects (that were awesome) on Pozzible, that just didn't get anywhere and it wasn't the campaigners fault. It just doesn't get the eyeballs. Pozzible might be ok for artists making videos, etc, but it's not great for us right now.

IGG has a bit more of an audience, and a few tech projects there have been overwhelmingly funded. I've written to ask them to switch to FUll Fuding mode. If they say no, I may cancel the campaign and restart it as Full Funding.

I am sensitive to the scammer threat, but ultimately if you buy ANYTHING on the internet,  like eBay, it may never turn up. We all pay for our internet purchases UP FRONT, and this puts the risk on us, where it used to be we'd receive the good or service then pay for it.

So I expected that people would accept us as being no different o any other shop. Doesn't PayPal give you fraud protection? Surely that'd apply to Crowd-Funding?

Another key thing here is that the design is done. Lower risk! There are video's of the dev board doing lots of things, and we've had a shop open since April stocking modules and dev boards. This is really about a collective big volume run to drive the cost down, and exposure to really launch a business. Factories and Vendors don't give a $hit about you unless you have a 5 figure Purchase Order. When you have it, you shop it around like a weapon and costs get magically slashed. I'm really looking forward to that having been fleeced for 8 months.

My reputation is on the line too. I've used my real name, you can find me LinkedIn nice and easy. It would be hard for me to get a job in FPGA devleopent after fuc*ing over a big portion of a very loud community. My phone number is even there...

Brent.
 

Offline thinlayer

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2013, 09:51:07 am »
BulletMagnet, thanks for the positive feedback.

If you definately must have IDC headers, the DE0_Nano from Terasic is a good choice. They are $80 only.

Our dev board lets you hook up Arduino UNO shields, and most people own a few. Did you see the dev board on the campaign? You can also attach terminal block shields like these ones from Seeed http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/screw-shield-p-1238.html?cPath=98_16, they are $7.50. I think SparkFun have a proto-shield or a screw-shield of there own with terminal blocks and/or a breadboard. These are more useful because terminal blocks and breadboards just are... more useful...

I have a Multi-Shield Dev Board on my desk right now with the same Seeed Screw-Shield, hooked up to some custom PCB hardware with a 433Mhz radio, I'm working on it for a contract. I've got an Electric Imp in another shield and I'm going to put a 2.8" LCD shield on the 3rd as a UI. It's for a base station for mesh networking, and the whole thing will transition to a customer 2 layer PCB soon. It's a good platform for hacking things together.

The scalloped/semi-circle edge connectors are easy to solder, and that comes when you want to make your 2 layer PCB. 2 layer PCBs cost like $50 now. If you are paying more I'll set you up with my guy :-) We also have a good amount of example code, projects and templates to get you started. http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Module+-+helix_4#ms_dev_sw_examples
 

Offline thinlayer

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2013, 10:47:35 am »
Dave knows who I am, and I'm pretty sure he might know where to find me - it's on my PO letterhead. If something goes wrong he can track me down and whine at me!  :blah:
 

Offline iceisfun

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2013, 04:20:00 pm »
That looks pretty awesome, maybe make more videos talking a bit about it instead of just some music.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 11:22:00 pm »
I didn't realize that you were in Australia (not Austria). Didn't Kickstarter start allowing projects from non-US folks last year? I know that I have seen a few from UK. I'm assuming the list of countries allowed is short, but would have thought Australia would be one of them.

Also, everyone who does a crowdfunded campaign says that their "design is done" until funding ends :)
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 11:35:58 pm »
Didn't Kickstarter start allowing projects from non-US folks last year? I know that I have seen a few from UK.
I think it's just UK at the moment. I think the issue holding things up elsewhere is not KS themselves but the Amazon payment system they use.
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Offline MacAttak

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2013, 09:35:57 pm »
I see. Well, if the project is able to be switched over to Fixed Funding then I might contribute to it despite my deep dissatisfaction with IGG. But I won't back anything with Flexible Funding again, period.
 

Offline thinlayer

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2013, 11:37:55 pm »
Guys, thanks for all the feedback. Doing this:

1) New products: $80 - 'Breadstick' with 1x UNO shield socket, and ~44 IO that go to 0.1" row pin hdrs for breadboard plugging in. 10 of them will be ADC inputs, the other 34 direct to FPGA. It's going to have a Byte Blaster onboard. If I can't get permission from Altera to use their PID/VID, I'll bundle a byte blaster dongle from a 3rd party, and you can plug it in. Power from USB, 3.3V & 5V to breadboard on hrds too.

2) FPGA module with nothing but the FPGA. <$30, no ram. I will try to put it on 0.1" LEGS for breadboarding, but I'm not sure if I can keep it <$30 if I do this - requires power/connecters/ESD protection/etc... cost...

3) the big dev board will stay $175, but I'll embed or bundle that byte blaster with it. Powered from USB too if power numbers work.

4) I'll let the IGG run to finish, but it's not going well. Serves for feedback though. When new products ready,  will relaunch with FIXED model, and better pitch/information.

Got a mauling this time round, but I know how to fix my sh#t. Very valuable.
 

Offline romovs

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2013, 03:24:53 am »
We are all about making FPGA an easy, accessible technology for everyone.

Then you might consider writing a good book to go with the board.
There are plenty of FPGA dev boards in all imaginable price ranges. Hardware isn't the problem. From my experience what is lacking right now is a good guide for complete beginners covering all the aspects of FPGA programming in an accessible manner.
 

Offline cthree

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2013, 06:07:38 am »
Speaking of uncomfortable... why launch through IGG instead of KS? KS doesn't have the greatest backer protections in place, but IGG doesn't have anything at all. Far too friendly to scammers. And Flex Funding is even worse.

It doesn't matter how good your idea or delivery chances are - after the Mu Optics project I won't touch an IGG campaign again. But I have no problem backing numerous KS projects. At least they have a few rules in place for tech projects - and they even enforce them occasionally.

KS is tied to Amazon Payments which is only available to US "persons" and UK "persons" which is legal residents and companies. Available meaning who can receive money, not send it.

IGG is tied to PayPal which works both ways for most everyone in the industrialized world.

They are pretty much the same thing. If you think KS is safer then you are just setting yourself up for getting burned. KS doesn't actively enforce a damn thing so any claims to the contrary, like having working prototypes, is bullshit. I've had KS campaigns I've subscribed to totally change the entire product design after they were funded. Oh jeez, sorry, we decided to redesign the whole product and feature set but the good news is if you want a refund you have till Thursday to claim it. WTF is that? So much for a "prototype". Pure bullshit. The screenshots are just as mocked up on both sites. The only crowdfunded project I've participated in that's even close to what they said was going to happen is on Indiegogo.

Projects which add more and more and more features during the course of the campaign as stretch goals or perks are the least likely to succeed on either site and neither site requires that the specifications be known fully in advance or that they not change. How prototyped is a product which is little more than a rough idea when it's funded for production? The fact is most of these projects need the money to finish the design first, hence the spec waffling after funding.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2013, 06:21:05 am »
We are all about making FPGA an easy, accessible technology for everyone.

Then you might consider writing a good book to go with the board.
There are plenty of FPGA dev boards in all imaginable price ranges. Hardware isn't the problem. From my experience what is lacking right now is a good guide for complete beginners covering all the aspects of FPGA programming in an accessible manner.

This is a very good point. I backed the Mojo KS project (Spartan-6 fpga), and one of the most valuable aspects of that product (in addition to the low cost) are the tutorials that are targeted to complete beginners. I'm a highly accomplished software developer by trade, and I know the essentials of digital electronics by self-education, but it really helps to have that entry-level set of walkthroughs. And I gather from your pitch that your target audience is likely to benefit from that as well.

I agree with romovs that there is a dearth of accessible material for that segment. There is plenty of stuff for advanced users of HDL, and a few very simple "hello world" tidbits out there... but a huge gap of missing guidance in between. Just learning the very basics of HDL is a chore because you either have to buy a 500 page manual or weed through any one of a handful of (hopelessly outdated) online guides that are often more confusing than anything.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2013, 06:38:34 am »
KS is tied to Amazon Payments which is only available to US "persons" and UK "persons" which is legal residents and companies. Available meaning who can receive money, not send it.

IGG is tied to PayPal which works both ways for most everyone in the industrialized world.

They are pretty much the same thing. If you think KS is safer then you are just setting yourself up for getting burned. KS doesn't actively enforce a damn thing so any claims to the contrary, like having working prototypes, is bullshit. I've had KS campaigns I've subscribed to totally change the entire product design after they were funded. Oh jeez, sorry, we decided to redesign the whole product and feature set but the good news is if you want a refund you have till Thursday to claim it. WTF is that? So much for a "prototype". Pure bullshit. The screenshots are just as mocked up on both sites. The only crowdfunded project I've participated in that's even close to what they said was going to happen is on Indiegogo.

Projects which add more and more and more features during the course of the campaign as stretch goals or perks are the least likely to succeed on either site and neither site requires that the specifications be known fully in advance or that they not change. How prototyped is a product which is little more than a rough idea when it's funded for production? The fact is most of these projects need the money to finish the design first, hence the spec waffling after funding.

KS doesn't always enforce their rules, but recently they have been. I've seen projects shut down completely. I've seen projects where the project owner tried to add reward tiers that violated the "no multi-item sets" rule and KS simply deleted those tiers and cancelled all associated pledges (without so much as a warning). And I've seen quite a few projects where the project owners were downright complaining because they weren't allowed to show incomplete portions of their designs (or designs related to "stretch goal" addon features) due to the "no renderings" rule.

KS does not offer any funding model that resembles the "Flex Funding" of IGG - which IMO is essentially a blank check for scammers. It also provides considerably better communication tools between project backers and the project owners. On IGG, you can only post comments with a limit of 500 characters, and you cannot post comments that relate to specific updates - there is one single feed for the whole project. This is awful for accountability on larger projects.

I've backed quite a few on KS now (30+), and while yes many of them are/were late as hell when it comes to delivery, the vast majority have been exactly as advertised.

Yes, when they give in to pressure from backers for "stretch goals" (I f*cking hate that concept, btw) it almost always ends up causing major delivery delays. But the big killer is when a project is too successful. Making 100 units of a product in your own basement is entirely different from mass producing 5000 of them - and that's what devastates the delivery schedule of most of them. Even people experienced in bringing products to market can be swept off their feet when they end up selling far more than they had planned for.
 

Offline cthree

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2013, 06:46:19 am »
Here's our campaign on IndieGogo http://igg.me/at/fpga-module/x/3703559

We are all about making FPGA an easy, accessible technology for everyone.

People think that FPGA is a difficult technology to master and use in a project. This is just not true; FPGA is easy to learn, rewarding to develop and very powerful. Low cost devices like Altera's Cyclone IV FPGA are becoming accessible to students, makers, hackers and people like you.

We've developed this FPGA module called 'helix_4'. It's simple but elegant, boasting an Altera Cyclone IV E FPGA with single cycle Asynchronous SRAM for the Nios-2 32-bit soft MIPS processor, as well as a big DDR2 DRAM chip for DSP and data heavy applications. All the power is regulated on the module, it has it's own oscillator, flash and a cryptography chip for protecting your IP development. It's about bringing the Cyclone IV FPGA to you as easy as we could make it.

All you need to supply is 5V power, and a 10pin header for programming.

And we've developed a lot of code and examples to help you start and finish your project very quickly: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Module+-+helix_4#ms_dev_sw_examples

We hope you want to commit to a dev board or module.
If you just like the project, please hit the like button to help us get to towards the front of IndieGoGo's webpage.

There are dev kits available from every FPGA maker. I'm not sure what makes yours different. Can I plug your module into a breadboard and wire up my peripherals and make it go without a huge learning curve? I'm not sure I can. Do I get something I can use right out of the box and have blinking an LED in under 15 minutes? It's not clear that is what I'll get with your thing. It sounds more like a learning and prototype tool than something with a practical application in its own right.
 

Offline cthree

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2013, 08:11:33 am »
KS is tied to Amazon Payments which is only available to US "persons" and UK "persons" which is legal residents and companies. Available meaning who can receive money, not send it.

IGG is tied to PayPal which works both ways for most everyone in the industrialized world.

They are pretty much the same thing. If you think KS is safer then you are just setting yourself up for getting burned. KS doesn't actively enforce a damn thing so any claims to the contrary, like having working prototypes, is bullshit. I've had KS campaigns I've subscribed to totally change the entire product design after they were funded. Oh jeez, sorry, we decided to redesign the whole product and feature set but the good news is if you want a refund you have till Thursday to claim it. WTF is that? So much for a "prototype". Pure bullshit. The screenshots are just as mocked up on both sites. The only crowdfunded project I've participated in that's even close to what they said was going to happen is on Indiegogo.

Projects which add more and more and more features during the course of the campaign as stretch goals or perks are the least likely to succeed on either site and neither site requires that the specifications be known fully in advance or that they not change. How prototyped is a product which is little more than a rough idea when it's funded for production? The fact is most of these projects need the money to finish the design first, hence the spec waffling after funding.

KS doesn't always enforce their rules, but recently they have been. I've seen projects shut down completely. I've seen projects where the project owner tried to add reward tiers that violated the "no multi-item sets" rule and KS simply deleted those tiers and cancelled all associated pledges (without so much as a warning). And I've seen quite a few projects where the project owners were downright complaining because they weren't allowed to show incomplete portions of their designs (or designs related to "stretch goal" addon features) due to the "no renderings" rule.

KS does not offer any funding model that resembles the "Flex Funding" of IGG - which IMO is essentially a blank check for scammers. It also provides considerably better communication tools between project backers and the project owners. On IGG, you can only post comments with a limit of 500 characters, and you cannot post comments that relate to specific updates - there is one single feed for the whole project. This is awful for accountability on larger projects.

I've backed quite a few on KS now (30+), and while yes many of them are/were late as hell when it comes to delivery, the vast majority have been exactly as advertised.

Yes, when they give in to pressure from backers for "stretch goals" (I f*cking hate that concept, btw) it almost always ends up causing major delivery delays. But the big killer is when a project is too successful. Making 100 units of a product in your own basement is entirely different from mass producing 5000 of them - and that's what devastates the delivery schedule of most of them. Even people experienced in bringing products to market can be swept off their feet when they end up selling far more than they had planned for.

You are making a very thin, paper thin, argument about what differentiates one from the other. They enforce their rules when backers complain. They are inconsistent at best and they are in fact perverting the model by presenting these "products" as things you can "buy" like you would on Amazon. Allow me to explain what I mean.

If you are "buying" things on Indiegogo then you are doing it wrong. Crowd-funding is just that: funding. Getting one or some of the things you are helping to fund the creation of is a "perk", they don't call it that by accident, it's not a purchase. When you give $125 to fund your local PBS affiliate you get a handy tote bag and a DVD of bird songs as a gift, a thank you. You aren't purchasing the merchandise, you are supporting a cause which is commercially insupportable. This IS the model crowd-funding and Indiegogo is based on.

If the project fails to produce the thing they asked for the money to do then that's the way it goes. You need to decide which projects and more specifically which people are worthy of your support. You have to decide if it's something you care about. Is it something you'd like to see happen even if there is no commercial source willing to fund it? Is it something you think the people behind the project have a reasonable chance of being successful at? If you want to "buy" a gadget then wait until they finish making them and start selling them on Amazon ready to order.

If you are crowd-funding something because you don't want to invest you own money or you don't want to borrow the money or you don't want to go find a venture capitalist to fund then you are going it wrong. The whole point, and if you read Indiegogo's mission statement you'll see, is to fund the otherwise un-fundable. That's why crowd-funding exists. Some things just can't attract commercial funding so they ask the general public "the market" or "audience" if they would help make it happen. There is a reason why there are perks which don't include getting the thing that is being funded. There is a reason for the $5 perk which gets you nothing but a thank you. If you didn't know why those things were there before, now you do.

The reasons projects like the one in this thread fail to attract funding is they are trying to sell a product rather than achieve some higher purpose through the creation of the thing. The OP is asking for money to make these things in quantity to make them cheap, he essentially wants a line of credit. The only people who will fund this project are people who are doing it wrong, pre-purchasing a product with an extended delivery date. That's why he's sold $525 worth. If he instead asked for the money to accomplish some ridiculous goal like teaching all the kids in Africa to program FPGAs then he would probably be oversubscribed by 3000%.

When people give you money on Indiegogo they do so because they like what you are trying to do and they want to help you accomplish it. They might want the thing you are making but they many not. Successful projects always get a large percentage of their funding from non-product perks, the $1, $5, $10, $20 and so on. Rule number #1 at Indiegogo is always have a $1 perk. They aren't just making that shit up. In addition to giving you some money, backers more importantly spread the word about your project and how cool they think it is to all their friends and followers. That's why they are successful!! Unless backers share your project on Facebook and twitter it isn't going to be successful. They aren't going to do that unless they think others would be interested in your cool project too, it needs to be tweet-worthy. They become advocates for and reflectors of your message. That gets you more funding.

If you don't get why some crazy projects are way oversubscribed and other perfectly sensible ones have almost zero backers it's because you don't get crowd funding. You will be burned because you don't understand what you are getting into when you hand over your credit card info. The Indiegogo blog explains much of this in detail. I used to think about it like you do until I sat down and had a conversation with one of the founders of Indiegogo at an event and she explained it to me quite eloquently.

If you and your high school science club want to build a satellite and launch it into space to find alien life on distant planets then you do it on Indiegogo because nobody else is crazy enough to fund that shit. No prototype required. Yes, this was a real project I myself contributed $65 toward and as a perk I get a picture of a picture of me in space with the earth in the background. Will I ever get it? I dunno, it would be nice but I gave these kids the money for them to try, not necessarily succeed. Richard Branson gave them $100,000 for largely the same reason.

You poo poo Indiegogo because you don't understand it. Many if not most of the people posting in this sub-forum also don't get it either. If you want to shop for electronics, don't do it on Indiegogo, or Kickstarter, despite their claims of deliverability. If you want to sell electronics, you probably won't get the funding.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2013, 11:55:04 pm »
If you're done with the condescension I'll just leave it at this. You've expressed your own opinion of what crowd funding is all about, and unfortunately your definition is so narrow that it only includes charitable donations. If that is all it was about then there would be no need for "pledge tiers", "perks", or "rewards". There would just be a "Donate" button and that would be it.

But quite obviously these platforms all offer the ability to designate different perks/rewards for increasing monetary contributions, and these are in the form of promises to the backers. They don't say "give me $100 and I might send you XYZ reward if I feel like it". Furthermore, nearly every single technology, design, or culinary project takes advantage of those multi-tier features... and the ones that don't typically never meet their goal. I honestly don't give a shit about dance, literature, music, or any of the other categories of projects, so who knows... maybe your utopian charitable kumbaya system works well for those.

But anyways, thanks for informing me that I don't know how to support technology product development. According to you I should be sending my money - no strings attached - to people who preferably don't have a solid plan of execution, who don't even know how much money they need to succeed, and hell they don't even need a reasonably complete design before asking for cash to build it.

Why again should I do that? Sending free money to douchebags who ask for handouts from their Macbooks while sipping on lattes at Starbucks? Instead of giving that money to an accountable charity, or helping someone reach mass production economies of scale in their new business?

Anything else you would care to enlighten me about, oh fountain of crowdfunding wisdom? I surely wouldn't want to keep sending money to projects that you don't approve of. I've already contributed well over $1,500 to over 30 different projects in the past 12 months. A few of them have been fantastic successes for their creators. How about you?
 

Offline cthree

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Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2013, 02:57:25 am »
I've already contributed well over $1,500 to over 30 different projects in the past 12 months. A few of them have been fantastic successes for their creators. How about you?

A bit more money but about the some number of projects I think.
 

Offline intconman

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 1
Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2013, 08:14:25 pm »
I've been having a look the the datasheet here:

http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Datasheet+-+Helix_4

Are you sure that the on board linear regulators can supply enough power for a high speed fully utilized EP4CE22?

2.5V -> 150mA
1.8V ->150mA
1.2V (or 1.0V on LP variants) ->150mA

 

Offline thinlayer

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 35
Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2013, 02:34:58 pm »
Hey Guys,

I pretty much have started a book of tutorials. If you go here: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Module+-+helix_4, you'll see them all if you scroll down. There's raw C and C++ code, complete example projects in Quartus and Nios2 SBT, and tutorials that show you how to build them. For example:

LCD Shield Tutorial: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Example+-+helix_4_ms_2_8_lcd
Touch Shield Tutorial: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Example+-+helix_4_ms_touch
Servo Motor Tutorial: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/example+-+helix_4_ms_motor_servo
Audio Codec (24bit Wolfson ADC/DAC) Shield: http://www.thin-layer-embedded.com/Example+-+helix_4_ms_audio

- There's currently 8 tutorials on shields, there's 8 zipped up projects to go with them.
- There's three 'hello world' templates, one for the module, one for the dev board, one just to add Nios to either.
- There's C code for Nios for I2C, SPI, UART, and IC's like the MAX17043, MPR121, WM8731
- There's EagleCAD & Altium Designer PCB and minimal schematic templates to start custom boards
- There's a datasheet, and a manual.

There are going to be some warts in the documentation, but it's a wiki, and I'm inviting anyone to join it and edit. We've spent a LOT of time on support material.
 

Offline thinlayer

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 35
Re: A Low Cost FPGA module that's easy to use
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2013, 02:40:33 pm »
Quote
Are you sure that the on board linear regulators can supply enough power for a high speed fully utilized EP4CE22?

2.5V -> 150mA
1.8V ->150mA
1.2V (or 1.0V on LP variants) ->150mA

Good question: I've done my best to break it!

The design was based on the biggest real world project I could cram in a 4CE22 and I came in < 150mA. This was a NIOS2/f churning memory test code for SRAM and DDR2, and the rest of the fabric full of PRBS generators. The LDOs are rated higher than that of course. I actually down spec'd the 1.2V LDO to make the module a touch cheaper/ save space.

The design was tested at 65'C running as hard as I could run it.

In actual use, I'm not seeing the LDOs get hot at all.
 


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