EIM Technology is back on the crowdfunding circuit, seeking to once again lower the barrier to entry for field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development with an educational bundle built around its STEPFPGA development board — and now including a revamped guidebook to getting started.
"In June 2022, we launched the STEPFPGA board on Kickstarter, and the results were extraordinary, especially in such a niche field," EIM's Zhendong Cao says of the company's prior experience. "In 2024, we're thrilled to announce our latest work, which once again harnesses the innovative power of the STEPFPGA board. You might wonder, what's been newly added to bring this back? Well, this project highlights an upgraded version with multiple enhancements aimed at enriching the learning experience in digital electronics."
Those upgrades aren't to the STEPFPGA itself, which retains the same specifications as in 2022 with a Lattice Semi MachXO2 MXO2-4000 FPGA at the heart of a breadboard-friendly development board, but to the resources surrounding it. "The 2022 edition of Tutorial for FPGA Beginners was the original writing piece and laid a solid foundation," Cao explains. "With more feedback collected from readers, we're excited to announce its new edition, Fundamental Digital Design with FPGA, where we've taken everything to the next level."
The new book is joined by an improved browser-based integrated development environment (IDE), which now includes a simulation tool built on Altera's Multisim. "With this tool, users can study and debug digital signals before implementing into the hardware, making your design process more professional," Cao claims. "Besides the simulation, we have also added more commonly used modules in the library for learning and quick designing purposes."
The hardware bundles have been improved, too, minimizing the amount of soldering required and doing away with some of the more laborious projects in favor of a move to modular components. "Since this kit is designed for beginners," Cao says in support of the move, "a smooth and accomplishing learning curve is more important, therefore we made this change aiming to have users better focus on the learning process of digital design, and less obstacled by other factors."
The crowdfunding campaign is currently live on Kickstarter, with physical rewards starting at CA$59 for the tutorial book or CA$169 for a bundle with the book, hardware kit, and a STEPFPGA board (around $44 and $125 respectively); those who already have a STEPFPGA can upgrade to the new book and kit for CA$119 (around $88). All hardware is expected to ship next month, after the close of the crowdfunding campaign, says EIM.