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Author Topic: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output  (Read 1122 times)

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Offline FrankBuss

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mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« on: March 28, 2017, 08:12:19 AM »
I got this board: http://www.ebay.de/itm/232194910386 Does anyone know what it is? The PCB silk screen says Storm_IV_XX_V2.0. Might be some clone of one of these arcade boards with the VGA output and PS/2 input.

It was delivered with 2 DVDs. Can't read the files, only the directory structure, but this might be my drive, it has some problems with burned DVDs, which this seems to be, will try it tomorrow with another drive. But some of the content is hilarious :o



Same in a ModelSim SE directory, there is a keygen program, this is convenient. Of course I won't run it ::) and the Cyclone IV is supported by the free web edition of Quartus and the free version of ModelSim anyway. Now all I need is a schematic of the board, and best would be a Qartus QSF file for the pin assignments, and some sample code for using all the peripherals. I could reverse engineering this, all chips are TQFP, SSOP etc., no BGA, but this is some tedious work. I'll ask the seller first, if I can't find it on the DVD ROMs or nobody here has the information.
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Offline FrankBuss

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 12:18:36 PM »
Ok, meanwhile I got an LED blinking test working, see attached file for Quartus Prime Lite 16.1, just in case someone has the same problem (it is named pwm-test, because this is it what it is going to be later for my Nixie clock project). It uses the on-board 50 MHz oscillator and blinks D1 with 1 Hz. A SDC file for timing constraints is included. You can synthesize it and then upload the SOF file.

I'm using it in Linux and there was a problem with the access rights. This website: http://www.fpga-dev.com/altera-usb-blaster-with-ubuntu/ and the chapter "Fix USB driver permissions" fixed it. Now I can upload the SOF file from the command line with "quartus_pgm -m JTAG -o p\;pwm-test.sof" (the GUI programmer hangs in Linux, too, don't know why).

Next would be to create a JIC file to indirect flash the config flash. On the board is a M25P40, so it should work with an EPCS4, but when I try to flash it with a JIC file, it uploads the flash programmer successfully, but then I get the message "Error (209012): Operation failed". Maybe I missed some option or configuration when creating the JIC file, but this is already useful now with uploading the SOF file.

BTW, I have an USB extension cable. The USB Blaster that was included in the packet didn't work with it, said only it couldn't scan the JTAG chain. But without the extension cable it works fine. I guess you get what you pay for, but still very useful and cheap for hobby projects.
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Offline pieman103021

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 12:35:13 PM »
I wouldn't even put those disks in my computer. For anything from ebay/aliexpress that requires software, just err on the safe side and download the official software. In this case, whatever altera's software is (Quartus II it looks like).
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Offline ale500

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2017, 08:45:28 PM »
That board looks better than the one I bought some months ago:

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Altera-CycloneIV-FPGA-development-board-EP4CE6E22C8N-with-usb-blaster-set-/272565020222?hash=item3f7624263e:g:MQoAAOSwrklU~aNc

One of the problems is that it has almost no decoupling caps !. Another one is the amount of pins used for VGA output, 16 bit color ?... 9 would suffice for such a board, not a single free pin....

Make a VM with Virtualbox, read an image of the CD/DVD there, get the schematic out, and throw the rest out of the window, so to say.
 I'd trace the PCB with a multimeter, it is a TQFP-based board, it is not *that* difficult. Anyways I do not trust the delivered schematic, something is not right with the given PINs for the VGA output...).
 

Offline Ultrawipf

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2017, 08:07:45 PM »
I am also currently looking for an inexpensive fpga board like that and i am deciding between the zrtech and the mysterious one in the first post.
How many free pins does it have? I don't need the serial port and on the zrtech it looks like half of the pins go to the vga.
Having all pins on headers is nice but makes no sense if every pin is already connected to something...
Also it seems like the big one has a dac and adc which would be a plus and the zrtech only an adc?
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 03:36:18 AM »
Meanwhile I could read the DVDs from another computer. The content is useless. On one DVD is just a RAR file with the same content as unpacked on the other DVD, but an additional UltraEdit directory, probably a cracked version of this program too, and both have just the cracked versions of ModelSim and Quartus with keygens and nfo files for a Russian cracker group, and some drivers for USB serial port chips, which you all don't need to use the board.

I started the refund process on eBay, asking the seller again for the documentation, they ignored my first question. Maybe this will expedite the process of sending me the documentation. If not, I guess they won't care for the shipping cost (in the auction text is written, that the seller pays for return shipping) and I would have a free board :) and with a some work, I could reverse engineering the connections between the chips.
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Offline james_s

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2017, 03:04:58 PM »
That looks like a nice little board. All you need to do is work out what pins connect to what, then just use Quartus, no need for the software they sent.
 

Offline ebclr

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2017, 03:31:26 PM »
Ask they to send you german documentation, or hold their money....

You get what you paid for. Be reasonable product is with documentation, you are the one that does not know Chinese

It's quite easy to use google translator probably 3/4 of content are Chinese teaching content

The only thing that is useful on the CD is pin assignment file
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 06:13:01 PM »
You get what you paid for. Be reasonable product is with documentation, you are the one that does not know Chinese

It's quite easy to use google translator probably 3/4 of content are Chinese teaching content

The only thing that is useful on the CD is pin assignment file

Do you have this product? I couldn't find any documentation on the CD, not even in Chinese, except what looks like a short description how to use the keygen programs to crack Quartus and ModelSim, and no pin assignment file. Maybe a CD was missing? Both CD names say "...B", so there might be a CD with "...A"?

But maybe I missed it, the content of the CDs are not really sorted, multiple copies of Quartus etc., no readme in the root directory what is on the CD. And right, I can use this with the free web edition of Quartus, I already reverse engineered some pins and used it for a PWM test, and I could upload a configuration stream with the outer JTAG port. Don't know what the inner JTAG port does.

https://hackaday.io/project/20474-antique-nixie-clock/log/56827-pwm-test
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Offline ebclr

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2017, 06:57:22 PM »
Altera boards normally have 2 programming ports AS and jtag

One writes directly to FPGA and is volatility ( like a ram turn off power program goes )

The other writes on external Flash and is permanent
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2017, 07:08:05 PM »
The eBay seller answered, said the supplier doesn't provide technical support. I did a Google image search with all the words in the article description, found an Aliexpress board which looked the same, asked the seller and got the documentation :) Was on a one-drive link, I uploaded it to my website:

http://www.frank-buss.de/tmp/Storm_IV_E6_E10_MINI_V1.0.rar  (500 MB file)

It says V1.0 and the board says V2.0, but apparently in the schematic directory is a PDF for the V2.0 board as well (and v.13), I'll attach it here for reference. It is all on one side, but you can zoom-in and on the left navigate to the parts you are interested it. In the RAR file are lots of Quartus sample projects for each hardware on the board.
quadro copter flying, electronics, retro computing and other geeky things: https://www.youtube.com/user/frankbuss/
 
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Offline pieman103021

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Re: mysterious FPGA board with VGA output
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2017, 12:03:10 AM »
Awesome, glad to hear you tracked down some good documentation. Hope to see it put to good use now. :clap: :clap:
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