Category: electronics

First Steps with the Tang Nano FPGA Development Board

The Tang Nano is a very very low cost FPGA development board by Sipeed featuring a GW1N-1-LV FPGA produced by GOWIN Semiconductors. GOWIN is another Chinese chip manufacturer entering the FPGA arena, like Efinix and Anlogic.
The GW1N-1-LV is the smallest member of GOWINs “Little Bee” series, which consists of small footprint instant-on FPGA devices for IoT and interfacing solutions.

The Tang Nano FPGA development board

Gigabit Transceiver(s) for a Cheap FPGA Development Board

There are a lot of FPGA development boards out there to buy. Official vendor boards with the latest advanced devices on it can easily cost several thousand Euros.
Hobbyists and makers are more interested in FPGA development boards within an affordable price range (roughly << 100 $/€). The logic resources and feature set of the FPGA devices on these boards is not that important on the other hand. The main application for makers/hobbyists is small projects and self-learning, I assume, and not rolling out their own 5G equipment.

First Steps with the iCEBreaker FPGA Development Board

The iCEBreaker board is the first FPGA development board with a fully open-source toolchain, which allows to go all the way from HDL code to configuration bitstream. All the schematics and hardware information is openly available at no extra cost.

USBasp driver for Windows 10

In the past I used USBtiny and USBasp programmers to flash Atmel microcontrollers. Under Windows 10 the programmers did not work, even though Windows 10 seemed to detect them correctly.
It turns out Windows 10 does not use/fetch the correct drivers.
To make things work again most folk use Zadig a tool which automatically installs some legacy drivers typically used for USB programmer dongles.

USB driver installation with Zadig

After the drivers are installed Windows 10 finally detects my USBasp programmer dongle as it should.


Anlogic TANG PriMER dev board

Recently I purchased a Sipeed TANG PriMER development board featuring an Anlogic EG4S20 FPGA (codenamed Eagle S20). The only reason I bought the board was to see what Anlogic FPGAs are capable of, since I had never heard of that FPGA vendor before. No need to think twice when the board costs less than 20$.

Sourcing in Shenzhen (China)

For everyone who wants to know how to source electronic parts or produce a product cheaply in China, two of the best summaries on how to do this.

The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen



USBasp in Windows 10

Unfortunately Windows 10 does not accept the standard drivers for the USBasp programmer. The reason is that the drivers have no valid signature from Microsoft (as required by Windows 10).

The only way around this problem seems to be to temporarily disable signature checking and then install the drivers (if you are fine with the security risk). This is described in detail here.

Electronics 101: Standard Resistor Values

When we learn the theory behind electronic circuits we often calculate the exact value a certain resistor, capacitor or inductance should have.

However, in reality there is no 23.94 Ohms resistor available as standard off-the-shelf (SOTS) electronic part. Go and check it if you don’t believe me.

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