For hobbyist and makers, exploring FPGA ( Field Programmable Gate Array ) is a major milestones as a maker. My experience with FPGA was when I was working for a web acceleration company that uses FPGA to accelerate web connections and DDoS prevention.
My reasons to start exploring FPGA was when I was designing a hardware that requires me to support multiple hardware and sensors and ability to detect and use those hardware seemlessly.
As a maker, we always find the lowest cost method to get the best bang for the buck and secondly, it MUST be open source and not using any proprietary software as much as possible.
While exploring and searching for my FPGA, several FPGA brands appear quite often like Xilinx, Altera and Lattice. After much more digging, I found out that Lattice have very good support for open source hardware as they were the smallest of the 3 trios.
A few FPGA development boards caught my attention and one was really interesting ( and low cost too ), it was actually a LED Driver ( read more details in the link) called ColorLight 5A-75B with a Lattice ECP5 with 25k LUT, lots of pins, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet and external RAM. The reason I like this FPGA board is because during that time, I was also exploring and driving LED Panels with 64x64 pixels.
After some trial and errors, I managed to program the ColorLight to drive an actual 64x64 LED Panels. First time successfully program a FPGA.
|ColorLight with LED Panels|
The ColorLight was program using a FT2232 board that comes with 2 UART ports and commonly used in Lattice official development board.
|FT2232 with ColorLight|