Terasic P0082 DE0-Nano FPGA Development Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Terasic P0082 DE0-Nano FPGA Development Kit

Author: ricartokersch

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: null

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The space to access the buttons and switches is too small. It is not possible to access it with your finger, you need a tool.

Detailed Review:

Review for the Terasic P0082 DE0-Nano Development Kit

 

Introduction

I intend to report here my experience in using the DE0-Nano Development Kit. I will talk about the product's Unboxing, the contents of the Kit, its features, the resourses available online for this Kit, the specifications of this Kit and the experiment I performed with it. Sorry my bad English, I do not speak English natively.

 

Unboxing

The process of shipping the product was faster than I expected. It is important to point out that I am in the south of Brazil and the product had to go a long way to get here. Product box is quite appropriate, protecting the product during transportation and still serving to store the product later during use.

The following image shows the box in which the product was delivered, internally and externally.

 

 

What's in the Box

It is possible to observe in the image below that in the box besides the DE0-Nano Development Board also came a USB cable and a set of documents.

 

The USB cable that comes with the KIT is of excellent quality. It has a retractable system that facilitates its use.

The first document that comes with the KIT is the DE0-Nano Quick Start Guide. This manual presents all elements of the KIT, as well as other elements that can and should be downloaded from the internet. Such as the DE0-Nano User Manual.

The second document presents a series of accessories available for the DE0-Nano Development Kit by Terasic, describing its main features. This document also presents several other development kits produced by this manufacturer.

The third document presents the characteristics of several products manufactured by Texas Instruments that are used in the DE0-Nano Development Kit.

The fourth and final document presents the ISSI electronic components manufacturer, highlighting its products for Embedded Systems.

 

Online Resources

The documentation that comes with the Development Kit is only introductory. Complete documentation must be obtained from the internet. The following image shows the suggested address to obtain the complete documentation, as well as the other resources made available by the manufacturer.

 

 

The manufacturer's website provides all the documentation required to use the KIT. A complete set of tools is also available. The following image shows the page of this kit on the manufacturer's website.

 

 

On this page, the manufacturer provides a lot of information in the form of tabs. The most important tab, in my opinion, is the "resources" tab, flagged in red in the previous image.

In the resources tab you can download the necessary material, see the following image.

 

The first download is the User Manual. This manual is very complete, explaining the operation of all the elements of the Kit and the tools available to use with it.

The second download is an application called System Builder. This application allows you to structure the entire project, easily configuring all the peripherals you want to use. See the following image.

 

The third download is a compressed file with several interesting elements. The following image shows the contents of this file.

 

Included in this file are the datasheets of all the important components used in the Kit. Several demonstration projects are also included. The schematics of the kit are also available.

The tools and user manual are also included in this file.

The fourth and last download available on the site is an application called Control Panel. This application allows you to manipulate all the peripherals of the Kit through the computer. The following image shows this application.

 

 

Several links to the FPGA programming tools are also available on the Kit manufacturer's website in addition to downloads. These links are a bit outdated. A more up-to-date version of this software tools can be found at http://dl.altera.com/17.0/.

There are also several links to demonstration videos and improvement courses on this site.

The most important tool can be downloaded for free and is required to program the DE0-Nano Development KIT FPGA is the Quartus Prime Lite Edition. A more complete paid version is available, but for this kit the free version is sufficient.

The following image shows the interface of this tool.

 

 

This tool allows, among other things, to describe the FPGA program in various hardware description languages. It also allows to perform the simulation of the generated circuit of the compilation. The recording of the program in the Kit's FPGA is also performed by this tool.

These are the main tools and documents made available online by the manufacturer for this Development Kit, but there are several others.

 

DE0-Nano Development Kit Features

 

The DE0-Nano Development Kit has as its main component is an FPGA Cyclone IV model EP4CE22F17C6N with 22,320 Logic elements, 594 Embedded memory (Kbits), 66 Embedded multipliers, 4 General-purpose PLLs and 153 FPGA I/O pins.

The Kit also has an on-board USB-Blaster circuit for programming and Serial Configuration Device (EPCS) for data retention.

The connectivity of the Kit is via two 40-pin Headers (GPIOs), two 5V power pins, two 3.3V power pins and four ground pins. One 26-pin header provides 16 digital I/O pins and 8 analog input pins.

A 32MB SDRAM and a 2Kb I2C EEPROM are available as external memories.

The user can interact with the Kit through 2 debounced push-buttons, 4 dip switches and 8 green LEDs.

The main peripherals available in the Kit are: a 3-axis accelerometer with high resolution; an A/D Converter with 8 12-bit Channels; and an 50MHz clock oscillator.

The power supply for the kit is through an USB Type mini-AB port (5V) or two DC 5V pins of the GPIO headers (5V) or 2-pin external power header (3.6-5.7V).

 

Using the DE0-Nano Development Kit

 

The DE0Nano development kit was used by me to an important experiment for my studies for obtaining the Doctor degree in Computer Engineering. I don't want to get into here, but the research I am conducting is a compiler that generates code in VHDL language from a program written in a high-level language that we are developing, calling LingPON-HD. In this language, the developer describes the behavior of the circuit through a set of attributes and rules and the compiler creates a circuit described in VHDL that runs these rules.

For this experiment was developed a hexapod robot controller. This robot must be able to travel following a dark line drawn on a light surface. The robot consists among other things of 18 servo motors and two optical sensors. The sensors send information to the controller about the color of the surface under the robot, the controller for your time handles the 18 servo motors, distributed on 6 legs, to make the robot walk in the right direction.

The following image shows a representation of this robot.

 

An important feature of this project is that the robot wasn't built physically. This robot was simulated through a robot simulation software. The simulation software used was the V-REP. This software can simulate in computer the physics and the dynamics of a real robot.

The connection between the DE0-Nano Development Kit and the computer, that simulated the robot, was performed through a Bluetooth link. The following image illustrates this architecture.

 

The following image shows the equipment used in the realization of the experiment.

 

You can see in this picture the DE0-Nano Development Kit, a battery used to power the circuit and a board that was developed to connect the Bluetooth module to the Kit.

Several features of DE0-Nano Development Kit contributed to the realization of this experiment. Initially the possibility of powering the circuit directly from a battery. As can be seen in the following image, the Kit has an external power supply connector.

 

This connector allows the use of a power supply from 3.6 to 5.7 V, so you do not need a regulator circuit.

Another important feature of DE0-Nano Development Kit is the low power consumption. The following image shows the consumption of the Kit running a typical application. You can see that are consumed only 129.4 mA.

 

The following image shows the assembly, where the battery and the board with the Bluetooth module are connected to the DE0-Nan0 Development Kit.

 

The experiment worked, the controller could control correctly the hexapod robot simulated on the computer with the V-REP Simulator. The following image shows the interface of the V-Rep robot simulator during the execution of the experiment.

 

The DE0-Nano Development Kit worked perfectly, allowing interact with the controller through their keys and switches, and allowing to see the signs of the controller through its LEDs.

 

Conclusion

 

The DE0-Nano Development Kit is a very good platform for developing FPGA applications. The ability to power it with batteries makes this kit ideal for embedded applications. The peripherals included in the kit enable the development of a wide variety of applications. The FPGA used in the Kit have a good size, allowing the development of projects with high complexity, including embedded processors. The set of documents and tools made available for this Kit make it very easy to use.

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