Electronics builder Just4Fun has merged two different development boards — an STM32-based Arduino and a Cyclone II FPGA — into one for use with Verilog or VHDL SoC hardware languages, as well as Multicomp, which lets you run a VHDL SoC with some old school 8-bit CPUs like the Z80, 6809, and 6502. The Thing is based on Just4Fun’s earlier CPLD Fun Board, which featured the same STM32, only it was paired with an Altera Max II CPLD platform.
“The Thing is the ‘natural’ evolution of the CPLD Fun Board. The idea was to make an FPGA board using cheap and easy to find components, with an STM32 Arduino used as ‘stimulus generator’ or ‘companion’ processor for the FPGA, and with a 512KB SRAM and common I/O as GPIOs, VGA and a PS/2 keyboard to ‘run’ HDL SOCs.”
The Thing is outfitted with an STM32F103C8T6 MCU, which is easily programmed using the Arduino IDE via a USB connection. It’s also equipped with five push-buttons — RST, BUT, USER1, USER3, and PB1, plus a GPIO header, and a host of LED indicators. On the Cyclone II FPGA side, there’s a four digit 7-segmented display, along with six push-buttons — DEV-CLRn (clear all internal FFs), nCONFIG, and a series of user-defined buttons. The board even allows for soldering either a legacy SD socket or micro SD if needed.
To configure the Cyclone II FPGA, you’ll need the Quartus II IDE and a USB Blaster dongle, which can be utilized through a JTAG or AS connector. Just4Fun provides a detailed overview of The Thing development board on his project page, as well as the schematics and code needed to get up and running on GitHub for those looking to recreate his build.