Friday, September 23, 2005


Here is the soldering station that I use (older Weller EC2001):

And the tip:

A Hakko 936 is the backup:

(thanks to Ken N9VV for the link)

Boards and design files:

I do plan on offering boards from bare to fully assembled for this project. All of the design files will be available for those who wish to make their own boards. This is both a open hardware and software project. It will support both Windows 2k/XP and Linux.

Some Test Code for the FX2 using SDCC:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It Runs...

I was able to download the initial firmware into the FX2 microcontroller on the FPGA_USB board today and run a test program. I then recompiled the program with the open source SDCC and got it to run (the initial code was compiled with the Keil evaluation package from Cypress' site). After testing the FX2 a little further I will solder the FPGA onto the board and start developing the code for it. So far there have been no major problems...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Here is a picture of the FPGA_USB board after soldering most of the components:

Yet to be soldered is the FPGA, USB connector, and connection headers.

I soldered all of the components by hand. Soldering the 128 pin 0.5mm pitch Cypress FX2 microcontroller was much easier than I thought it would be. I need a little more magnification than the Bausch and Lomb 3.5x eye loupe has. I also have a Luxo magnifying fluorescent light that I use when soldering the other components. I am thinking about getting a 7x Bausch and Lomb loupe that clips onto glasses for soldering the 0.5mm pitch stuff. There is a seller on Ebay that sells stereo microscopes on a boom arm for about $260 that would be nice.

Basically I spread a lot of flux on the pads for the FX2 chip, tacked down the pins in the corners to keep the chip in place, and then proceeded to solder the pins using a drag technique with a conical tip on the Weller EC2001 soldering station. I then inspected each pin by lightly pushing sideways with a fine pointed tool to check for any pins that where not soldered down. I found 4 out of 128 and a light touch up with the soldering iron fixed those.

The other components were a piece of cake using the magnified swing-arm fluorescent light. I used 0.015" SN63PB37 Kester solder, SP-44 Kester Paste Flux, and a Weller ETU 0.01" x 0.4mm flat tip on the soldering station.

Next I will solder on the USB connector, apply power, connect to the PC, and see if the FX2 enumerates.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The HPSDR FPGA_USB Boards Have Arrived


The HPSDR FPGA_USB boards showed up today. I sent the design files off last week to PCBExpress and UPS delivered them today. They are 4 layer boards with silk screen and solder mask.

You can see some pics here:

Next I get to have fun soldering the 0.5mm pitch ICs...

Last time I reported that there was a long back order for the XILINX FPGA. Instead of 3-4 weeks as quoted I received my order in about 2 weeks. So I do have all of the components in hand.

I have had many emails from people asking me for more details on the FPGA_USB board. I plan to put up much more information on my website soon. Right now I need to concentrate on getting the prototype boards build up and debugged.

Real time Linux:

I decided to build a Linux From Scratch (LFS6.1) distro to patch with the latest from RTAI which is fusion-0.9. RTAI Fusion uses the ADEOS nanokernel. I got it done just before the boards arrived. It was a great learning experience. For LFS6.1 you basically use a host linux system (or the LFS Live CD) to build your system from source. You control exactly what software is installed and where. Next I customized it by adding Direct Framebuffer support
and Mono 1.1.9. This will be the stand-alone DSP processor running on a mini-itx motherboard which will boot from a flash drive. It will run a new version of SharpDSP under the Mono JIT written in, of course, C#.


I received a couple of samples of the Analog Devices AD9958 this week. It will be interesting to test them versus the AD9951/54 parts.

Stay tuned...