Kit for designing logic circuits?

Discussion in 'Electronics & Electrics' started by Mau1wurf1977, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    13,706
    Location:
    Country WA
    Sorry but I don't know the correct terms so I'm just trying to explain as best as I can.

    Looking to start an electronics / digital logic course. I don't want to do the traditional soldering / PCB etching with discrete components, but more interested in logic like starting with the basic logic gates, moving to counters, flip flops, driving 7 segments LEDs and Matrix displays. Doing binary calculations and things like that.

    When I went to school we had this kit that allowed you design logic circuits on on the PC (Windows software) and simulate them. Then you would upload it onto this board with a chip on it (Xilinx oder LipsLSI or something like that). The board had pins for input and output and if all went well it did what you wanted it to do.

    So rather than buying heaps of discrete parts (which might be a logistical nightmare) and mucking around with breadboards, I'm wondering if I can buy such kits and design the circuits through software?
     
  2. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,823
    Location:
    Canberra
    Sounds like you want a basic FPGA development kit.

    I haven't kept track of what Xilinx ISE is doing these days, but back in version 10 they had an adequate schematic editor included; otherwise you could create the circuits in Verilog or VHDL (probably more suitable for complex systems).

    You can get lots of cheap Xilinx development boards here. The CoolRunner-II will probably limit you before too long, but something like the Basys 2 should have enough space for lots of development work.


    Other FPGA companies include Altera, Lattice, and MicroSemi. Suitable Altera development kits are available from Terasic, and Lattice sells their own development kits here. I haven't looked for MicroSemi boards, and I haven't tried the schematic editor in any of the non-Xilinx software packages.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    13,706
    Location:
    Country WA
    The The CoolRunner-II looks nice :)

    Easy of use / low learning curve would be a huge plus. I like that this board has 7 segment displays and switches and buttons on-board. Plenty you can do with that alone :)

    Good documentation with ready-to-go tutorials and projects would also be nice.
     
  4. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,823
    Location:
    Canberra
    The Basys 2 has buttons and the seven-segment display too.

    The big limitation on the CoolRunner is that it's a CPLD board. What this means is that it's got a small number of large logic blocks (256), while the FPGA on the Basys 2 has a large number of small logic blocks (960) with much more space dedicated to flexible interconnections between the blocks.

    Apart from that, most tutorials are written for FPGAs rather than CPLDs, and will be optimised for them.

    I started with a Nexys 2 and that was great. For my purposes it has almost unlimited resources, which makes learning easier.


    The big issue you'll have with tutorials is that most of them are written for HDLs rather than schematics. Xilinx's tutorials (eg. here) include one sample schematic project, but that's about all. With that said, once you're comfortable with the schematic editor there's no need to stick to Xilinx-specific tutorials - just find a textbook on digital logic and implement the examples from that on the FPGA.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    13,706
    Location:
    Country WA
    Cool, thanks for all the help :D
     
  6. mtma

    mtma Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Messages:
    4,707
    Yeah, the visual programming in Xilinx XSE can be a bit of a hit and miss for beginners. You can also follow logic design exercises in general for it, most equivalent logic blocks that you'll encounter (same as 4000 and 7400 logic IC's). Once you know what gates are what F1 works well though, most of the stuff is documented sufficiently.

    There are underlying things that will catch you because there are structural limitations (particularly in the case of the CPLD) of how the actual logic functions are implemented behind the scenes. For no seemingly plausible reason something will break or you will suddenly encounter a 'can't be done' error because the output pins you've chosen don't work well with the actual implementation (macro-cells and output pin routing are related behind the scenes).

    If you want to learn more about the logic and not so much how the architecture is implementing it underneath, larger will be better than smaller and FPGA will be better than CPLD.
     
  7. Foliage

    Foliage Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2002
    Messages:
    32,058
    Location:
    Sleepwithyourdadelaide
    Multi sim is useful for doing basic simulations, lots of templates though it doesn't take lots of things into account.

    Altium is harder to use but more thorough and gives more realistic results.

    edit: you are talking about digital logic, my bad though you just meant general circuits.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    13,706
    Location:
    Country WA
    I'm going with Arduino now.

    I can some discrete electronics using standard components and will just use MMLogic for doing the logic stuff. And Arduino will cover the programming side of things.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    13,706
    Location:
    Country WA
    Quick update!

    Started playing with the Arduino Kit and really enjoying it so far! Can't wait to learn more and see what other sensors are available and what devices you can interface with.

    I made a short video just because I enjoyed it so much :)

     
  10. Paronga

    Paronga Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    Messages:
    1,406
    Location:
    Morrabbin, Victoria
    looks like LOTS of fun :D
    the song added to the child like fascination of it :)
     
  11. zero_velocity

    zero_velocity Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    QLD
    Mau if you want to upgrade i have one of these I want to part with (bought it for a uni course, got my HD, done and dusted and doesnt get used anymore....
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    13,706
    Location:
    Country WA
    Hang on to it! Otherwise you will look back in 10 years time and regret selling it :) Happened to me :/
     

Share This Page