Author Topic: Devices containing repurposable FPGAs  (Read 753 times)

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Offline Foxxz

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Devices containing repurposable FPGAs
« on: June 30, 2022, 03:44:18 am »
I enjoy when people take a device or toy and repurpose it for another use or expand its capabilities. This is common with things containing microcontrollers. I'm interested to know what is out there that contains an FPGA and could be repurposed such as the Pano Logic boxes.
 

Offline Berni

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Re: Devices containing repurposable FPGAs
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2022, 05:21:04 am »
FPGAs tend to be quite a bit more complicated and usually come in BGA packages so it is hard to trace out what connects where on the PCB. The bigger FPGA chips also need a very expensive license for the vendors IDE to even compile code for it.

A lot of the time FPGAs are also tightly embeded into a system and don't provide a whole lot of useful IO to the outside. So it might make more sense to steal the FPGA from the board and make your own board. But this does take a fair bit of effort due to it being BGA and the board you make might need to have a great deal of support circuitry (boot memory, gazilion supply voltages etc..) so that is a fair bit of effort too.

At some point it might be easier to just simply buy a <100$ FPGA dev board and go with that.
 

Offline chickenHeadKnob

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Re: Devices containing repurposable FPGAs
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2022, 05:46:12 am »
Search terms:
 EBAZ4205  - these are the reclaimed head controllers for crypto miners. At one time available from taobao at like $7 bucks a piece. very nice.
                      The supply is waining and they   are more expensive now.

Colorlight lattice ecp5 - these also are good.

As Berni says most boards are not worth it due to the amount of reverse engineering needed. The two boards I listed above have relatively good documentation.
 
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Offline voltsandjolts

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Re: Devices containing repurposable FPGAs
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2022, 08:35:42 am »
The rev-eng'd schematic for the Kingst LA1016/LA2016 logic analysers is available on the sigrok site:
https://sigrok.org/wiki/Kingst_LA2016
It has a Cypress EZ-USB mcu connected to a Cyclone 4 (EP4CE6, probably usable as EP4CE10) with 1Gb DDR2.
It could be repurposed as some other fpga-to-usb type device.

But there are cheaper dev boards available that would achieve the same thing while being more convenient.

So, is re-purposing hardware actually worth all the effort of creating schematic etc.?
Maybe in some specific cases but in general I think not.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Devices containing repurposable FPGAs
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2022, 08:50:05 am »
the controllers for LED screens are typically a FPGA, SRAM, a couple of ethernet PHYs and lots of buffered digital outputs. Not sure what FPGA they're using these days.
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Online thinkfat

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Re: Devices containing repurposable FPGAs
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2022, 09:29:25 am »
Search terms:
 EBAZ4205  - these are the reclaimed head controllers for crypto miners. At one time available from taobao at like $7 bucks a piece. very nice.
                      The supply is waining and they   are more expensive now.

Colorlight lattice ecp5 - these also are good.

As Berni says most boards are not worth it due to the amount of reverse engineering needed. The two boards I listed above have relatively good documentation.

This! The EBAZ4205 have a Zynq-7000 SoC and you get a dual-core Cortex-A9 coupled with some smaller Virtex (I think) FPGA and a lot of break-out connectors, too. Some small modifications necessary (one Schottky diode for the power supply to be added, and maybe a crystal for the ethernet PHY). You'll need the Xilinx Vivado suite, but you get a free license after registration.
Everybody likes gadgets. Until they try to make them.
 


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