A2 Product Feedback


#1

So I have been messing around with the A2 board. I really like it, but there are three things that kind of annoy me.

  1. The JTAG on the board and programmer are backwards. It might just be me, but i expected to install some 90 degree headers and plug the A2 into the programmer with both top sides facing up. This is not the case and i have to check the orientation a lot.

  2. Possibly a feature considering the above, but it irks me that the programmer doesn’t power the board when connected. I can think of a dozen times when this would be bad, but it would be convient at first. Not really an issue.

  3. Easiest to solve. The example code for the A2 doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t blink a led. Especially annoying since using the internal oscillator is not super apparent to somebody who hasn’t already gotten three manuals deep into the documentation.

Just some thoughts. Also, sorry. I know I complain a lot.


#2

Did you see the A-Series Guide? I tried to make it prominent on the front page and product pages, but maybe I need to rethink its location.

As for JTAG orientation, the programmer board was originally designed to be stacked on top of the FPGA, but the SMD header connector worked so much better than the vertical header that I went with that on all the boards.

Power is not provided by the JTAG header because of potential polarity issues you alluded to as well as size constraints. I thought it would be ok since the official programmer cables also don’t provide 3.3 volts. If I were going to start all over on the A-Series I might have done it differently. The programmer board at least has 3.3v output that you could solder a pin to and use a jumper from the programmer to your breadboard.


#3

I know your FPGA boards are intentionally bare minimum. But it sure would be nice to have one I/O on an LED. Just enough to be able to confirm toolchain is working etc before starting to breadboard.


#4

Also, thanks for the feedback and don’t shy away from providing useful criticism. It’s easy for me to lose sight of the issues unless I get that constant feedback.


#5

This is something that has a very good chance of being added to the next run of A-Series boards. Something like a power LED as well as a built-in user LED.

The B-Series boards might have this added sometime in the future, but it is a much tighter fit.

Future products will have these built-in.


#6

I totally agree, an smd led like anywhere on the board would be nice.


#7

@ssamuelcomeau, @mlyle: I’ll be ordering new boards to refresh my inventory soon. Do you prefer a single LED shared with one of the IO pins, or would you rather have both a power LED and user LED?


#8

Here’s current revision with two LEDs. One is connected to pin 1, the other is connected to 3.3v.

I’m currently considering adding power to the JTAG header as well, but that’s a bit more involved. It would require an extra row of pins and may force me to remove the JTAG signal name silkscreen.


#9

Ideally from my POV an LED on a non-exposed pin (then I can blink it independently and it won’t load an IO). I don’t need a power LED (it’s a nice to have).


#10

Currently all the pins on the FPGA package are exposed. If I change to a package with more pins on the A-series board it will be significantly more expensive.


#11

I didn’t realize all the IO was already brought out. I figured there were a ton of pins you couldn’t break out due to board size.

As far as power, if you had to add another row, I wouldn’t. I guess I thought you could put the power pins next to the jtag and move the other pins toward the top of the board. Making the board bigger to add two redundant pins is not worth it.


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