My posting this summer, due to outside obligations, has been ridiculously sparse. (Literally ‘outside obligations’: I’ve been landscaping my yard all summer). I’m starting to have a little more idle time now that the summer is winding down, and now my motivation has been completely revitalized by this little guy:

The DE0-Nano development board from Terasic. This little guy is exactly what I was aiming for with my Saturn Project. Looking at everything they pack in here for $79, I don’t think there was anyway I could have competed. I’m getting the feeling FPGA development in the hobby-space is still pretty limited, especially with the Cyclone II Breakout board being discontinued.

Follow this link to get the full specs on the board, but for a quick summary:

DE0-Nano Development and Education Board

  • Cyclone® IV FPGA
  • On-board USB-Blaster circuit for programming
  • Altera serial configuration device – EPCS16
  • Two 40-pin Headers (GPIOs) provides 72 I/O pins
  • One 26-pin Header
  • 32MB SDRAM
  • 2Kb I2C EEPROM
  • 8 green LEDs
  • 2 debounced push-buttons
  • 4 dip switches
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • 8-Channel, 12-bit A/D Converter

If you want to pick up one of these for yourself you have a few different options. From what I’ve read on various forums it’s really difficult (and actually more expensive in the end) to order directly from Terasic and ship to the US. Apparently, you have to pay with a money order and the shipping options are pretty limited out of Taiwan.

Another option is to cruise on over to Adafruit, they are selling it for $99. Finally, probably the best option is to pick this up from Digikey for $86.25, you’ll want to compare the shipping options and prices to find what’s best for you.

(If you’re a student you can get the board from Terasic at a significant discount that might make it worth the hassle buying through them.)

Using the board is super easy, in the first hour or two of getting the board I was able to run through both of the tutorials in the manual. The first project is a simple blinking LED project, and the second is dropping in a NIOS II softcore processor using the SOPC Builder tool.

The SOPC Builder tool is actually being replaced by the newer better Qsys tool. I’m going to start playing around with Qsys and see if I can make a comparable tutorial.

This board really is nano, check out this picture I snapped with my phone, using my hand to help put the size into perspective:

Looking forward to playing around with this little toy and blogging my progress.

Did you pick one up? Working on any fun projects with it? Leave a comment and let me know.

(Side note: I learned from watching one of their video’s that the company name Terasic is pronounced like Jurassic, and not like “tear-ASIC”)