Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Short Update


I now have almost 100% of the parts for the board and have verified my PCB layout with the QFP208 pattern used by the Xilinx XC3S400 FPGA. I will immediately send the board design files out to be made. It is a 4 layer board measuring 5"x6" with top side silk screen and top/bottom solder mask. All components are on the top side. The most difficult SMT components are the FPGA (QFP208, 0.5mm pitch) and the Cypress FX2 chip (QFP128, 0.5mm pitch). Resistors are all 0805 size and caps are 0805 and 1210 sizes.

The only part that I do not have is the Xilinx XC3S400 FPGA. It is on backorder for 3-4 weeks (or so they claim). It seems that there are just no Spartan 3 chips available right now. What is the problem Xilinx???


I have been doing a little work with using mono on Windows and Linux. I was able to compile SharpDSP using SharpDevelop targeting the mono runtime and mcs compiler. I compiled SharpDSP into a library (dll) then copied it over to the Linux machine. I compiled a test C# program that uses the Managed.Windows.Forms in mono to test the SharpDSP library. Both the test program and the dll worked perfectly under both Windows and Linux *without* having to recompile either file that was compiled under SharpDevelop on Windows. This means that I should be able to create a dedicated SoftRock 40 console that will run on both Windows and Linux using SharpDevelop for development (or alternately, MonoDevelop under Linux). The Windows version will continue to use PortAudio. The Linux version will use Jack.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

FPGA_USB Board, DipTrace, and Mono

FPGA_USB Board and DipTrace:

I have been using a program called DipTrace to do the schematics and board layout for the FPGA_USB board. After completing my first PCB layout with DipTrace I am very impressed with this program. Questions to the developers are answered very quickly. It has a very intuitive user interface and small learning curve. I had to create a few patterns for smt components that were not in the supplied libraries - the pattern editor is very easy to use. I highly recommend this software if you are looking for a powerful, yet low cost schematic entry/PCB design program. You can download a 30 day evaluation at

The FPGA_USB board design is now complete. I have ordered the parts for the prototype boards and will soon send the design files to the board house to have the PCBs made. I will post more details about the project soon.


I have been doing a little work with Mono ( on both Windows and Linux. It is very impressive to be able to write a C# program with a GTK# GUI and have it run in Windows and Linux without having to recompile. I am considering recompiling SharpDSP to use Mono and then evaluating the performance of SharpDSP running in Linux. I am using Mono with Suse 9.3

Monday, August 08, 2005

Just an update


There is a new build of SharpDevelop available at:

Not a lot of changes - just bugfixes...


Check out this new low cost Schematic Editor/PCB Layout program at:

I have tried Eagle, PCBExpress, and others... DipTrace has then all beat in ease of use. You can dowload a fully functional 30 day trial from the website. Or there is a freeware version also. The developers are very responsive to suggestions for features/improvements. I highly recommend this software.


I received the SoftRock40 with PCM2900 CODEC from Tony Parks this weekend. I will start on modifying the SharpDSP enabled console to make a specific release for the SoftRock40. I will also correct the sample offset bug in the PCM2900 CODEC.


I am in the process of laying out the PCB. I am using DipTrace for the Schematic entry and PCB layout. This will become a open source hardware/firmware SDR project. Stay tuned to my website for more info...