iCEBreaker FPGA

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

Apr 02, 2019

Project update 7 of 14

March 2019 Production Update

by Piotr Esden-Tempski

Hey Everyone!

Welcome to the March update.

Some delays

As you might know we were hoping to have started shipping the Early Bird tier hardware by now. Unfortunately we are slightly behind schedule and what a month it has been.

First of all we had an unforeseen snow storm here in the Pacific Northwest that resulted in several days without power and almost a week without internet. The snow took down a lot of trees and the city had trouble dealing with all of the damage to get the power back on. But at least we had pretty snowy views out of our office window for several days. We spent some of this time working on getting our taxes ready and when we met with our tax guy he said most people did the same thing and they were swamped with paperwork much sooner than they anticipated.

Early Bird Tier Production

Our Pick and Place machine needed some care and attention. For a PnP machine to function you need compressed air and our compressor started making a horrible loud rattling noise. It was rattling so hard that it started to walk across the floor. We took the compressor in to a local power tool repair shop in the hope that they would be able to fix the issue quickly. After a week at the repair shop they called us to pick it up just to find out that during the repair the guy broke off the drainage spigot for the air tank, it took them another week to order and replace the part. After we got the compressor back to the shop it was running and sounding slightly better but was still not entirely fixed. It was clear something had broken inside the motor that we wouldn’t be able to access. So we ended up ordering a new compressor motor and mounted it ourselves. Now it’s running smoothly and the PnP machine is working again.

See full tweet thread here.

We now have a batch of assembled 7 segment LED Panel Pmods, and DIP-Switch Pmods. Piotr was diligently posting updates on every step of the production on Twitter and Instagram.

You can follow all the progress we made in this thread on twitter.

Next steps will be:

Piotr will keep you up to date on the progress through Twitter and Instagram.

LED Panel headaches

As you might remember from the previous update, we ran into some issues with the LED Panels that we ordered for the Early Bird tier fulfillment. They sent us displays with the wrong chip. We placed an order with a manufacturer that is promising to send LED Panels with the correct chip that we have requested. We are now waiting for their shipment to arrive so we can start shipping them out with the Pmods. This is also why we are scheduling the production of the LED Panel Pmods last, as they depend on the LED Panels themselves.

General tier part purchasing

In other news we finally received the correct and final price quotes from our suppliers. We ordered all of the smaller parts and most of the connectors. We are still waiting for a final confirmation to place the really big order that will contain the iCE40 FPGA and the FTDI chips that are the most expensive single parts of the project. We expect to place those orders later this week. Then we will just have to wait for the parts to be manufactured and delivered to us.

USB low level debugging

The open source FPGA and iCEBreaker community is also hard at work creating interesting content. This time our friend Sylvain Munaut created a new design for the iCEBreaker for USB debugging. He describes several ways of debugging USB in a really well put together video that among other things includes a new solution using the iCEBreaker. Check out the video here:


Piotr will be attending and presenting at a few conferences in the coming months. We’re always excited to meet other makers at events and spread the word about open source electronics.

So if you are coming to any or all of these events please make sure to find Piotr and say hello! :D

That’s it for now

We still have a long road in front of us but we are making progress every day. Early bird pledges will be shipping soon. Thank you all for your patience and interest in open source FPGA.

If you have any questions or suggestions make sure to drop by our Gitter channel or start a thread in our Forum. Talk to you soon!

Piotr and Danika

Sign up to receive future updates for iCEBreaker FPGA.

Subscribe to the Crowd Supply newsletter, highlighting the latest creators and projects