iCEBreaker FPGA

The first open source iCE40 FPGA development board designed for teachers and students

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Aug 14, 2019

Project update 11 of 14

August Production Progress

by Piotr Esden-Tempski

Hi Everyone,


Production is going well, we produced 240 iCEBreakers and shipped out 182 main batch orders during the month of July. The LED Panels are now ordered and should ship to us any day now.

Production progress

Production is going well and has been pretty smooth. We did run into one issue during assembly. Piotr used up a reel of green LED, after the reel was empty he started using a new reel that we got for the rest of the production. After assembling 60 iCEBreakers with the new green LED we were ready to test them. To our surprise the LED were ultra bright, way too bright. It turns out we made a mistake when placing the order for the LED and they were 200 mcd (millicandela) at 4 mA instead of 40 mcd at 20 mA.

We were able to remedy the problem by ordering a new reel of different green LED, it only delayed us by three days, but still… Now the boards have less retina burning LEDs and everything is back in business. None of the boards going out to backers will have the bright LEDs. We will continue production and fulfillment, so more and more of you should be getting shipment notifications as we continue packing orders.

We were posting quite a few short clips from iCEBreaker production on Piotr’s twitter. Some people really enjoyed those so Piotr recorded a full iCEBreaker assembly cycle and posted it to YouTube. Enjoy the nice soothing robotic sounds. :)

LED Panel situation

As you might remember we had a lot of issues sourcing RGB LED Matrix panels for the main batch fulfillment. We’ve now reverse engineered the schematics of all the panels we got from multiple vendors. All the schematics are now available on GitHub.

After a lot of back and forth with multiple manufacturers we managed to seal a deal with one of them. The supplier is currently producing several hundred of the panels for us and they should be shipping them very soon. As soon as we receive them, we need to validate what we got. We will also test every single panel before we send them out to you. This means we are getting closer to shipping out the rewards that contain LED Panels.


Besides Early bird rewards, we have now completed fulfilling rewards that contained the following main production batch reward tiers: iCEBreaker, iCEBreaker WTFpga, iCEBreaker LED Panel Driver Kit, iCEBreaker Workshop 10-pack. Next in line are iCEBreaker HDMI Kits, iCEBreaker LED Panel Driver kit with LED Panels and iCEBreaker Everything kits. So things are going forward, we have internally quite an aggressive time plan to fulfill all the remaining rewards, so if everything goes well you should get a shipping confirmation fairly soon. Thank you all for your patience and support, and let us know if you have any questions regarding your reward.

Workshop Materials and Examples

Some of you were asking where you can find the WTFPga workshop materials. The repository with the WTFPga workshop materials are now forked in the iCEBreaker GitHub organization. There is also a separate workshop we developed for CrowdSupply Teardown in July. In that workshop you are developing a stopwatch. To do that workshop you will need two 7segment display Pmods. If you need an extra one you can order them from the 1BitSquared store in the US as well as Germany.

We also keep growing the collection of example projects for the iCEBreaker. We have examples for Verilog, icestudio, migen and nmigen. If you happen to write your own small test cores and would like to share them with other iCEBreaker users we would love to add them to the collection. Just create a pull request on the existing repositories. Same applies to typos or mistakes that you happen to run into.

If you decide to use some other hardware description language to make your first FPGA steps in, we would love to add more example repositories in the iCEBreaker organization. Just let us know we would love to host your examples under the iCEBreaker github organization.

For additional reference, tnt continues creating new IP cores for the iCEBreaker in his ice40-playground repository. This is where you will find his amazing LED panel driver IP that can accept video streams at 30mbit over USB via the FTDI chip and 50mbit over SPI. He hangs out in the iCEBreaker gitter channel so if you have any questions you can drop in and ask him there.

That’s all for this update. We are looking forward to getting the remaining iCEBreaker rewards shipped out and to hear about your FPGA adventures. Talk to you all soon.

Piotr and Danika

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