AVNET MiniZed Dev Board - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: AVNET MiniZed

Author: MARK2011

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?: There are some development boards based on Xilinx "brains". Arty, Artix. Zynq-7 is implemented in PicoZed and bigger MicroZed.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: I had some hesitations regarding Vivado installation, particularly selection of downloading options issues and attempt to avoid multiple download when working on independent stations... all described below.

Detailed Review:

Introduction

At the beginning I would like to thank for giving me chance to deal with such outstanding device.

AVNET MiniZed Dev Board proved to be perfect tool to start unusual adventure in the FPGA world.

Here I must admit, that before that roadtest I knew field-programmable gate array in the theory mostly.

Frankly some time ago, I had also funny association of modern attempt to employment of ancient TTL gates mixed with intricate verilog language understable by vizards only...

Thanks to experiments with Minized and after deep exploration of Vivado program suite I understand how powerful environment is the subject of our roadtest.

As the Minized Board have perfect documentation published on Xilinx and AVNET sites including comprehensive multimedia materials, I hope I don't need to duplicate these material.

I found that more convenient solution, specially for those who would honoured me using this R-T as small guide will be selection of links to useful sites I visited and found helpful.

Honestly, on the other hand, after googling" Zynq" "minized" or "Vivado" you would get many (too many) links and your navigation to best and most informative sites could be frustrating.

That is also my first experience and impression but finally and quite soon I learned how to use that ocean of information.

Most information are available at:

MiniZed | Zedboard

 

 

Product Description

Good description of the board I found on Xilinx page let me use the citation below:

MiniZed™ is a single-core Zynq 7Z007S development board. This compact design features on-board connectivity through USB, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Peripherals can be plugged into dual Pmod-compatible connectors, the Arduino-compatible shield interface or the USB 2.0 host interface.

JTAG circuitry is incorporated onto the MiniZed base board, so with a single micro- USB cable to your laptop you are already up and running.

User LED’s, a button and a switch allow for a physical board interface.

Micron memory solutions are presented for QSPI flash, DDR3L memory and on-board eMMC instead of an external SD card.
The Murata Type 1DX wireless solution incorporates 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4.1, which provides both Bluetooth Classic and Low Energy (BLE).
The integrated power supply from Dialog generates all on-board voltages, while an auxiliary supply input can be used to power designs that require additional current.
From STMicro there is an on-board motion and temperature sensor, as well as a digital microphone.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Dialog Semiconductor PMIC
  • Micron 512 MB DDR3L,128 Mb QSPI flash, 8GB eMMC
  • Murata Bluetooth 4.1 plus EDR
  • Murata Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • On-board USB to JTAG and debug UART circuit
  • ST Micro Accelerometer & Temperature sensor
  • ST Micro Digital MEMS microphone
  • USB 2.0 host (Microchip PHY), 2 x Pmod, Arduino interface
  • User button, switch, 2 x OSRAM bi-element LEDs
  • Xilinx Zynq XC7Z007S SoC

 

What's Included

  • Micro USB cable
  • MiniZed development board
  • Voucher for SDSoC license from Xilinx
At this point I wish your forgiving me for lack of unboxing phase of the roadtest. Sorry but repeating and duplicating photos of (cute and handy otherwise)
the box with the board wouldn’t be interesting anymore. Minized is secured with esd bag and lay on the foam. I’m sure the journey
was safe and comfortable with these condition. What else: usb cable and the short instruction (details later)
and even Xilinx Licence for SDSoC Development Environment

 

Rodtest documentation and manuals

I've start from collecting of manuals and reading documentation. Avnet materials are free, anyway, the registration is mandatory.

I quickly realized that very convenient for me learning path should be following tutorials collected in SUPPORT section of AVNET page

| Zedboard

 

Tutorials are prfectly prepared. Detailed instructions lead step by step to te succesful finish ot the experiment.

I felt very comfortable conducting test exercises.

 

Here I need to remark one epizode from the beginning of the adventure with Minized.

 

funny mistakes

After unboxing I took small leaflet instruction and decided to conduct the first experiment described there.

At the beginning everything went smooth:

Looks simple and it's easy to implement except... the communication speed.

you can see results of my first moments with our wonderful board.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/kvVZj0h7S2NgW-CBwDFRtXxjOL1n5yCkf2lcQl6O17PT8YUsgZCFWk8rofpokoPNt6R4NKxILsNo0cW_YhlOYyhDNYhuZFWG-YeI1GUsp0l-xnWyhciRyynZcZBC6jEWktnalI5A

As I wrote in comments to our roadtest : I knew, it uses "strange language" but I' didn't suppose as much... odd.

Well the solution comes quick, thanks to Element14 members - the baud rate should be 115200.

Be careful the leaflet 5239-QSC-XC7Z007S-1CLG225C-V6a.pdf with wrong settings is still available in the net it is probably still distributed together with the board.

But now, everything works fine:

Using the terminal I could write simple linux commands, tricolor LED modulates according to voices gathered with the microphone, life became beautiful again!

onboard sensors readouts below:

 

Vivado installation

The Vivado Design Suite could be used for designing, integrating, and implementing systems
using the Xilinx devices. It is open for modern Xilinx devices equipped with
a variety of new technology. The Vivado Design Suite offers design analysis
capabilities at each design stage. This allows for design and tool setting modifications
earlier in the design processes where they have less overall schedule impact, thus reducing
design iterations and accelerating productivity.

above is the part of detailed description from there:

https://www.xilinx.com/products/design-tools/vivado.html

 

following scereens show my steps and selections during the installations

 

 

You can see, when I started that roadtest the Vivado 2017.4 was available, presently - 2018.1 version is ready to install.

 

 

Above picture shows my doubts related to range of installation. As Vivado user-beginner I wasn't sure if the SDK would be necessary etc.

Presently I know vell that SDK is "must have" part of the suite, additionally, DocNav seems to be also very convenient and worth to install.

 

 

 

Concerning adding suite details after primary installation.

I must admit that my first Vivado set was extremely indigent. When I discover the real needs, I hoped I would not have to reinstall/download again ~3,5G...

Fortunately I realized it works fine according to : https://www.xilinx.com/support/answers/60112.html "How can I install additional Devices or Options to an existing Vivado installation?"

 

"In Vivado 2014.1 or later, the installer can be re-launched to add to an existing installation in order to add device support or design tools.

This is also a way to upgrade the Vivado edition to a more complete edition."

but

"Note: there is no option to uninstall only parts of an install. During an "Add Design Tools or Devices" install,

the post "Installation Options" might only be completed if additional devices or tools are selected."

 

The only hesitation remained, concerns possibility of full download of selected range of the suite.

I noticed only two possibilities download of the "installation starter" and online installation of selected options or

full download of complete suite (all options) - huge, disk-free-space killer...

The problem could be neglected unless you need to work on multiple stations with poor internet connection

as below:

I found also some convenient connection issues solution described here:

https://www.xilinx.com/support/answers/60118.html

Supplementing the Suite

According to documentation and exercises manuals I realized I miss Board Definition File in my Suite.

Frankly the solution was simple as all demanding files was available at Avnet GitHub: https://github.com/Avnet/bdf

Few weeks later I found, that above files were added to the Avnet site:

Minized could be fully utilized in Vivado now!

Exercises, exercises e...

After above treatments I was ready to throw myself (accompanied with Minized and Vivado) into true experiments.

As stated at the beginning I'm not intended to duplicate, (otherwise very convenient and helpful) Vivado exercises and "official Minized experiments" I conducted.

All these tutorials and exercises gave me feeling of being more acquainted with Minized and Vivado. To be honest I hoped to become more familiarized with HDL issues.

I’ve started with “MiniZed Getting Started Guide” simple but giving full understanding of the Board. Very recommended for beginners!

Then I went through Tutorials from   http://www.minized.org/support/design/18891/146

You can find below few screens depicted my adventures:

 

Usage of Vivado

Create and Edit a Block Design:

Than SDK implementation

... and alternative translation of famous "Hello World" sentence...

Upper right window - the code

lower window - results ow Minized work visible in internal-Vivado-terminal.

 

Vivado - Matlab marriage

I found excellent field of implementation of Minized using Mathworks suite:

Using "Avnet MiniZed Support Package for Simulink" many Simulink features and facilities are available and convenient.

I tried to implement it according to (as usual) detailed instruction.

and step by step installation philosophy

 

 

unfortunately I realized soon that my licence do not cover some required modules in Matlab

Embedded Coder

MATLAB Coder

Simulink Coder

Fixed-Point Designer

That part of my plans failed at the beginning.

 

External sensors implementation

After small failure I decided to conduct exercise using external temperature/ humidity sensor connected to Minized board.

Among other protocols, there is possibility to use of i2c bus.

My work was performed according to perfectly written:

MiniZed_TE_HTU21D_PMODv1.pdf

 

after selection of board in Vivado

I build the system beginning from the Zynq:

adding I2C module:

Validation:

 

Preparation of constraint file and final generation of Bitstream

 

The work in basic Vivado module is done, I've completed the hardware platform.

It's time to switch to Software Development Kit (yet few weeks ago I was not sure if it would be anymore necessary...)

After import ot the HW platform

using files downloaded from the example tutor:

System is ready to program the FPGA device:

 

Results of the new program visible on the terminal

 

But honestly I have the problem with my sensor:

Conclusions

Despite almost three months passed, I’m afraid the roadtest still isn’t finished. On the other hand I cant state, that I loose time.

Getting familiar with VHDL language consumed many hours, unlucky, at the end I didn’t employed this knowledge yet.

I must confirm succeeding time, documentation especially AVNET tutorials are brilliant. It’s really pleasure to use it.

Minized is very pleasant to deal with. I didn't use its power yet as its possibilities in the meaning ot designing advanced system is outstanding.

With communication capabilities became very universal tool for challenging projects. My intention is to continue my work

reporting interesting impressions and developments. The communication immunity stage, which I planned to perform remains still undone.

I hope also to build the replacement of my old TTL logic gates project using HDL and implement it using Vivado and Minized.

That part of the roadtest is missing very much. I hope to learn how it should be conducted soon.

 

Bibliography

Xilinx Inc. papers and website      -          Xilinx Inc.  -  http://www.xilinx.com/

Avnet papers and website            -    Avnet, Inc.     https://www.avnet.com/

 

 

Thank you again for selecting me as the roadtester.

Marek

Anonymous
  • Nice review - thanks.

     

    And makes a point that some seemed to have been in doubt of:

     

    getting to grips with these chips is a big job and needs huge effort .

     

    I've been working on a transition from Lattice small and medium FPGAs to biggish (but not huge) Xilinx for some time now and it's hard work - the tools and support material are good, but huge - it takes time.

     

    Good luck with further developments - I look forward to reading about it.

     

    MK

  • Nice honest road test report.

     

    I look forward to seeing your continued learning experience with this board.

     

    DAB