ULX3S

by Radiona.org / Zagreb Makerspace

A powerful, open hardware ECP5 FPGA dev board

Crowdfunding Page History

This page is an archive of the original crowdfunding campaign for this project. It may not be up-to-date with the latest updates and product availability. Return to the current project page.

$109,508 raised

of $15,000 goal

730% Funded! Order Below

Pledge Now

$36

Expansion Boards

A set of three expansion boards for ULX3S: one dual-USB board with support for IR send and receive, one Digital Video board for GPDI input or as a second GPDI output, and one OV7670 camera connector.


$99

ULX3S with ECP5 12F (Early Bird!)

ULX3S development board with a Lattice ECP5 (LFE5U-12F-6BG381C) FPGA. 12k LUTs and a whole lot more.


$115

ULX3S with ECP5 12F

ULX3S development board with a Lattice ECP5 (LFE5U-12F-6BG381C) FPGA. 12k LUTs and a whole lot more.


$135

ULX3S with ECP5 45F

ULX3S development board with a Lattice ECP5 (LFE5U-45F-6BG381C) FPGA. 45k LUTs and a whole lot more.


$155

ULX3S with ECP5 85F

ULX3S development board with a Lattice ECP5 (LFE5U-85F-6BG381C) FPGA. 84k LUTs and a whole lot more.


$999

Ten Pack - ULX3S with ECP5 12F

Ten ULX3S development boards with Lattice ECP5 (LFE5U-12F-6BG381C) FPGAs. 12k LUTs apiece. Outfit the team for a large project, deploy your creation within a business, or stock up for that engineering curriculum.


$10

ULX3S Bare Board

Unpopulated ULX3S PCB


$5

Support Us!

Help fund future work by Radiona. (Thank you!)


$135

ULX3S with ECP5 85F (Early Bird!)

ULX3S development board with a Lattice ECP5 (LFE5U-85F-6BG381C) FPGA. 84k LUTs and a whole lot more.

Details

Recent Updates


As Featured In

Geeky Gadgets

"Electronic enthusiasts and developers may be interested in a new powerful, open hardware ECP5 FPGA development board which will soon be available via Crowd Supply and takes the form of the ULX3S"

diarioelectronicohoy

"Con un bajo consumo en modo standby, esta placa FPGA para desarrolladores puede llevar conectada directamente una pantalla de pequeño tamaño."

CNXSoft - Embedded Systems News

"The company has also released the workshop materials on Github with instructions for Linux and Windows. Support is available on Gitter where you can chat with other members of the community."

LinuxGizmos.com

"Linux is enabled by running SpinalHDL’s RISC-V based VexRiscv softcore CPU...which won the 2018 RISC-V Soft-Core CPU Contest"

Hackster News

"This is a really awesome dev board option that a newer FPGA developer can definitely grow into, and more experienced developers can really do some amazing things with."

Hackaday
eenews-embedded-logo

ULX3S is a fully open source, compact, robust, and affordable FPGA dev board equipped with a balanced selection of additional components and expansions. Although it was designed primarily as a teaching tool for mastering the principles of digital circuit design, ULX3S incorporates a wide array of features and interfaces that allow it to serve as a broadly useful module for installation in complex devices.

Built around a powerful Lattice Semiconductor ECP5-series FPGA chip and supported by the latest open-source toolchains, ULX3S is one of the most powerful and desirable platforms available for FPGA enthusiasts. It comes equipped with onboard Wi-Fi, display, buttons, LEDs, and storage. Flash it with an over-the-air (OTA) update using the Wi-Fi connection or take advantage of the onboard OLED display and buttons to browse the contents of an SD card and select a bitstream.

Energy Efficient, Versatile, and Easy to Program

Due to its battery-backed RTC, ULX3S can power down completely and wake up only in response to certain events. This feature makes it perfect for use in low-power applications such as battery-powered remote sensor nodes.

And if you’re not the low-power type, on-board peripherals like SDRAM, USB, digital video out, FM/ASK antenna, ADC, and DAC make it an audio/video powerhouse for signal processing and synthesis, motor control, and SDR use cases. It can emulate arcade machines and retro computers like the Minimig (Amiga) or modern systems like the F32C (MIPS/RISCV). It has 56 GPIO pins, all routed as differential pairs, and a PMOD compatible pinout, which opens it up to a wide range of expansion options.

Finally, if you are just starting out with FPGAs, you can use the Arduino IDE to program ULX3S in seconds.

On-Board ESP32

Software engineers, embedded developers, and programmers learning Verilog will enjoy having a built-in ESP32 that can work cooperatively with or independently of the FPGA. Program the ESP32 natively using C/C++ with the Arduino IDE, the Visual Micro extension for Visual Studio, or the Espressif IDF commandline toolchain. You can also configure the ESP32 for use with MicroPython, Espruino, the JavaScript SDK, NodeMCU, LUA, mruby, .Net C# nanoFramework, and more!

Stable Design

ULX3S has been actively developed since 2016 and is the result of a collaboration between Radiona.org / Zagreb Makerspace and FER – the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing – at the University of Zagreb in Croatia.

Our PCB design was authored by Electronic Mechanic Aerodynamic Research & Development (EMARD).

Features & Specifications

  • FPGA: Lattice ECP5
    • LFE5U-85F-6BG381C (84 K LUT)
    • LFE5U-45F-6BG381C (44 K LUT)
    • LFE5U-12F-6BG381C (12 K LUT)
  • USB: FTDI FT231XS (500 kbit JTAG and 3 Mbit USB-serial)
  • GPIO: 56 pins (28 differential pairs), PMOD-friendly with power out 3.3 V at 1 A or 2.5 V at 1.5 A
  • RAM: 32 MB SDRAM 166 MHz
  • Flash: 4-16 MB Quad-SPI Flash for FPGA config and user data storage
  • Mass Storage: Micro-SD slot
  • LEDs: 11 (8 user LEDs, 2 USB LEDs, 1 Wi-Fi LED)
  • Buttons: 7 (4 direction, 2 fire, 1 power button)
  • Audio: 3.5 mm jack with 4 contacts (analog stereo + digital audio or composite video)
  • Video: Digital video (GPDI General-Purpose Differential Interface) with 3.3 V to 5 V I²C bidirectional level shifter
  • Display: Placeholder for 0.96" SPI COLOR OLED SSD1331
  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: ESP32-WROOM-32 supports a standalone JTAG web interface over Wi-Fi
  • Antenna: 27, 88-108, 144, 433 MHz FM/ASK onboard
  • ADC: 8 channels, 12 bit, 1 MS a/s MAX11125
  • Power: 3 Switching voltage regulators: 1.1 V, 2.5 V, and 3.3 V
  • Clock: 25 MHz onboard, external differential clock input
  • Low-Power Sleep: 5 µA at 5 V standby, RTC MCP7940N clock wake-up, power button, 32768 Hz quartz with CR1225 battery backup
  • Dimensions: 94 mm × 51 mm

Legend

Comparison Table

ULX3SLattice ECP5 Evaluation BoardLattice ECP5 VersaTinyFPGA EXFleaFPGA 'Ohm'KONDOR AXTrellisBoard
Model ECP5 12F, 45F, or 85F ECP5 85F ECP5 45F ECP5 12F, 45F, or 85F ECP5 25F ECP5 85F ECP5-5G 85F
LicenseOSHW Proprietary Proprietary OSHW OSHW Proprietary OSHW (MIT)
Price Range$99 - $155 $100 $250 Unreleased$45 $1500 - $2000? $500 - $1000
Schematics Published?Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Design Files Published?Yes No No Yes No No Yes
Physical Dimensions94 × 51 mm 180 × 100 mm 165 × 110 mm 61 × 18 mm 65 × 30 mm 180 × 130 mm 200 x 112 mm
FPGA
LUT Capacity12 K – 84 K 84 K 44 K 12 K – 84 K 24 K 84 K 84 K
Embeded Memory (Kbits)3744 (on 85F) 3744 1944 3744 (on 85F) 1008 3744 3744
Peripherals
USB-Serial JTAGFT231X FT2232H FT2232 None FT230X FT2232 FT2232H
Programming Over...USB-JTAG, EXT-JTAG, Wi-Fi-ESP32-JTAG, SD-ESP32-JTAG USB-JTAG, EXT-JTAG USB-JTAG, EXT-JTAG USB-bootloader, EXT-JTAG USB-JTAG, EXT-JTAG USB-JTAG, EXT-JTAG USB-JTAG
Direct USB to FPGAYes No No Yes Yes No via EHCI
User IOs56 178 Up to 29 42 29 365 104
Differential Pairs28 9 UnknownNo 12 Unknown36
Single-Ended5 178 Unknown42 29 Unknown22
SERDES0 9 1 0, 2 (only EX85-5G variant) 0 4 4 (PCIe x2 and m.2 x2)
PMOD Connector Placeholders4 1 No No No No 2
User Buttons7 3 2 1 No 2 4
DIP Switches4 8 8 No No 10 8
User LED8 8 8 1 1 8 12
Indicator LED3 9 10 1 No 6 13
Onboard Clock25 MHz 12 MHz, 50 MHz, 200 MHz 100 MHz 48 MHz, 200MHz 25 MHz 100 MHz 12 MHz, 100 MHz, programmable
Flash32–128 Mbit QSPI 128 Mbit QSPI 128 Mbit QSPI 64 Mbit QSPI 8 Mbit SPI 64 Mbit QSPI 128 Mbit
Onboard RAM32 MB SDRAM No 1024 MB DDR3 up to 16 MB HyperRAM 32 MB SDRAM 512 MB DDR3 1 GB
Video OutDigital (GPDI), Analog Composite PAL/NTSC (3.5 mm jack) No No No Digital (GPDI) Digital (HDMI) DVI via TFP410
Audio OutDigital S/PDIF (3.5 mm jack), Digital (GPDI), Analog stereo (3.5 mm jack) No No No Digital (GPDI) Digital (HDMI) No
ADCMAX11125 No No No Sigma-Delta No No
StorageMicro-SD No No Micro-SD Micro-SD Micro-SD, 8 GB eMMC Micro-SD
EthernetVia ESP32, USB No Yes No No Yes Gigabit (RGMII)
DisplayPlaceholder for 0.96" SPI color OLED SSD1331 No 14-segment LED No No No No
Antenna27, 88–108, 144, 433 MHz FM/ASK onboard No No No No No No
RTC (Real-time Clock)MCP7940N, Low Power Sleep, Wakeup No No No No No No
Power
Power InputUSB 5 V 12 V 12 V USB 5 V USB 5 V 12 V USB-C 5 V, barrel jack 12 V
GPIO Bank Voltage Levels3.3 V, 2.5 V (jumper selectable) 3.3 V 3.3 V 3.3 V 3.3 V 3.3 V 3.3 V, 2.5 V, 1.8 V
Power Reserve to Drive External Circuits3.3 V at 1 A, 2.5 V at 1.5 A UnknownUnknownUnknownUnknownUnknown3.3 V, 2.5 V, 1.8 V at 2 A
Software
Open Source ToolchainYes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Arduino Support (FPGArduino)Yes Not yet Not yet Not yet Yes Yes No
Confirmed Working Retro Games ConsolesYes No No No Yes No No

Support & Documentation

You will find setup and configuration guides, tutorials, and sample code in our FPGA Odysseus repository on GitHub. Additional resources are available in our Community Projects repository, or you can also reach out to other ULX3S developers through our Gitter community.

Manufacturing Plan

We are currently looking at four different production companies, all of which are more than capable of manufacturing ULX3S. We will likely wait until we have a better sense of the initial batch quantity before we settle on a provider, but we are confident in the reliability of all four options, and we do not forsee any surprises when it comes time to fabricate and assemble your ULX3S boards.

Fulfillment & Logistics

Once we have tested and verified all units, the entire batch will be sent to the US for distribution to backers via Crowd Supply’s fulfillment services.

Delivery within the US is included in the listed price, while delivery outside the US will incur the international surcharge specified for the relevant pledge level. Deliveries to EU countries, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada will have VAT and customs duties paid in advance, so backers in these countries will have no need to deal with Customs.

See Crowd Supply’s article on Ordering, Paying, Shipping: The Details for more information on delivery, VAT payments, etc.

Risks & Challenges

As mentioned above, we are working with well-respected vendors and production facilities, and we have identified alternative providers, just in case. Shipping comes with its own set of risks, of course: component shortages, damaged boards, and shipping delays, to name just a few. We intend to manage quality control in-house, however, we’ve given ourselves enough of a buffer to feel confident in our delivery estimates.

Naturally, we will keep backers appraised through project updates should any setbacks occur during manufacturing or fulfillment.


Credits

Radiona.org / Zagreb Makerspace

Radiona.org / Zagreb Makerspace works to enhance the visibility of makers' open source culture and sustainable production, as well as to help connect all possible fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM).


EMARD

Marko Zec

Goran Mahovlić

Deborah Hustic

Damir Prizmić

Marko Jovanović

Boris Vidošević

Marvin Sinister

Igor Brkić

Mato Ilijic

Zvonimir Domazet

gojimmypi


Watterott

Components and Hardware Sourcing

Končar

Electrical Engineering

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