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Jun 19, 2018

Project update 6 of 9

Production Unit Assembly Begins!

by Luke V

Production Unit Assembly Begins!

Hello TinyFPGA BX supporters! It’s been a few weeks since the last update and a lot has happened. Let’s get to it!

Schedule Update

FPGAs were shipped on June 12th and delivered to the assembly house on June 19th. This is two weeks later than expected and will delay shipping the boards to backers. However, we should still be able to ship boards in July.

Now that the FPGAs have arrived at PCBWay, they can prepare to assemble the boards. Their current estimate is 22 days from now to finish assembling all the boards and ship them to TinyFPGA.

There is still quite a bit of work and time before we will be able to ship boards to backers, but we are now well past the half-way mark.

Pre-Production Samples

I requested and recieved two bare production panels from PCBWay for the purpose of assembling some samples. The panels themselves look excellent.

The most difficult part of the PCB is the BGA footprint. Taking a look at the footprint under a microscope reveals all of the boards are well within tolerances and many are visually perfect.

I assembled 10 of these boards by hand. These samples serve multiple purposes:

  1. Samples for distributors to evaluate.
  2. Pre-production boards for me to use when developing guides and tutorials.
  3. Additional verification that the PCBs are correct and healthy.

I was expecting a few failures with 10 boards being assembled by hand all at once. However, I was fortunate that all 10 boards are healthy and passed the tester with flying colors.

Test-Jig Update

The test-jig has been upgraded with a small thermal printer. This printer is the same kind that’s used at stores to print a receipt. I am using the thermal printer to print out detailed test results and serial numbers for each board.

This hard copy of the test results is then packaged with the board itself. This helps ensure that only healthy boards will be shipped to backers. If a board fails any of the tests, the specific failures are printed out.

The test results are then packaged in a way that makes them easily visible.

Reference Cards

Reference cards have arrived and are looking sharp! I’m happy with out they turned out. I will be including one reference card for every TinyFPGA BX ordered. The reference cards contain a quick view of the pins and their different functions on the BX. For the most part, I don’t think it is necessary, but it will be helpful to get a quick overview of the board.

TinyFPGA BX Getting Started Guide

I developed a TinyFPGA BX Getting Started Guide using 100% open source tools. In the Guide is the recommended method for programming the TinyFPGA BX with Verilog. In order to enable this I added support for the BX in APIO. Please take a look at the guide and try it out. If you run into any problems getting the software installed let me know.

Using the Atom IDE and APIO allows us to write Verilog and program it to the BX with the click of a button.

More to Do!

There’s still more for me to do! I have a pull request for TinyFPGA BX support in Icestudio that needs to get merged, a TinyFPGA Computer Project board design to finish up for the BX, and a new project kit I am working on for the BX. Stay tuned, I’ll have more news in about two weeks!

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