Israeli hobbyist electronics specialist µLab is preparing to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the Kiwi, a development board that combines a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) with an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller.
"FPGA development can be challenging for beginners, in large part because it’s quite different than microcontroller development," the company notes in support of its impending launch. "Our Kiwi board provides a clever solution. It integrates an ESP32-S2-WROVER (ESP32), which is now commonly used amongst hobbyists, and is programmable through the well-known Arduino IDE."
"This provides the unique ability to develop your projects with the familiar ESP32, then move on to the FPGA for the more complicated tasks. For example, creating a logic analyzer on an FPGA alone can be quite hard. The ESP32 makes it much easier to process the data and display it."
Aimed at hobbyists, makers, students, and tinkerers, with a nod to professionals looking for an easy prototyping platform, the Kiwi is built around an Intel Altera MAX10 FPGA with 8k logic elements, comes with an on-board USB blaster for programming, a CP2104 USB-UART bridge for the ESP32, a 50MHz oscillator, and two 40-pin general-purpose input/output (GPIO) headers — one for the FPGA and one for the ESP32.
On top of this is a selection of on-board inputs and outputs, designed to get people started as quickly as possible: Eight LEDs, three seven-segment LED displays, four slide switches, and two buttons. Despite this wealth of hardware, the footprint of the board is just 8×5cm (around 3.15×1.97in).
The Kiwi has a sibling, too: The Kiwi Lite features the same FPGA, USB blaster, clock, LEDs, and buttons, but drops the ESP32, slide switches, seven-segment displays, and the second 40-pin GPIO header — though makes up for the lack of the latter by adding three 12-pin PMOD connectors in its pace.
"A huge problem we encountered when first learning about FPGAs was the lack of information and tutorials on the subject," µLab adds. "To counteract that, we will provide detailed tutorials and open source code for anyone to use, along with the Kiwi boards."
"No more struggling to define each GPIO pin, or any other other onboard peripherals. Our µLab Project Generator software defines all pins automatically, creates the project files, and provides a sample Verilog file, which makes it fast and simple to start programming."
More information on the project is available on the project's Crowd Supply page, where you can sign up to be notified when the campaign goes live.