Three months ago I was staring at the Cyclone II FPGA Breakout board from SparkFun wondering what in the world I needed to do to make it work. If you’re wondering the same thing right now, well then you’ve come to the right place.

In this post I’m going to put together a list of all the materials you’ll need to purchase in order to take the helpless Breakout Board from SparkFun, and turn it into a useful working device.

Enough blabbing, time for the Bill of Materials. I’ve put together all the items, with links and prices along with a nice image to show you the layout:

Cyclone II break out board materials

Materials Assembled

Bill of materials:

Part# Name Price
BOB-08596 Altera Cyclone II Breakout Board $79.95
PRT-00114 5V Breadboard Power Supply $9.95
PGM-08705 Altera FPGA Compatible Programmer $14.95
TOL-00298 Wall Adapter Power Supply – 9VDC 650mA $5.95
CAB-00064 Parallel Cable DB25 M/F – 6 Foot $4.95
PRT-08535 2×5 Pin IDC Ribbon Cable $1.50
PRT-00444 Standoffs – Plastic Short $1.95
PRT-00447 Screws 4-40 Thread $0.95
ECS-2200B-240 24 MHz Clock $2.63
LT1084CT-3.3#PBF 3.3V Linear Regulator $8.00
LT3080ET#PBF Adjustable Linear Regulator (1.2V) $4.38
PRT-09140 Jumper Wires Premium 6″ M/F Pack of 10 $3.95
PRT-00116 Break Away Headers – Straight $2.50
*Resistors and Capacitors:
1uF, 2.2uF, 10uF, 22uF
120kΩ, 100Ω
Total $143.61

The Cyclone II breakout board comes pre-soldered down so you don’t have to worry about that, the 5V Breadboard power supply requires about 10 minutes of simple soldering, and everything else can be used on a breadboard/protoboard.

Overall it’s a pretty small component count. The price is a little high at this time, but there is plenty of room for optimizing, and cheapifying. I’m currently working on building a cheap USB solution that, if everything works out, will also be able to configure the FPGA, therefore you shouldn’t need the programmer/DB-25 cable. The regulators I picked out are pretty expensive, and we could probably cut that price in half.

The eventual goal is to build a custom PCB, very much like the Arduino “Shields”, that will mate with the Breakout Board. I’ll then be building secondary shields for my different projects, all which will be used in combination with a primary power/usb/clock shield. This will give the maximum amount of flexibility that the off-the-shelf FPGA demo boards can’t offer. Maybe I can even spin a few boards for fellow hobbyists. I doubt my FGPA Shields will ever get as much traction as the Arduino, due to the relative complexity between Wiring and Verilog/VHDL.

Be sure to check out my previous posts where I discuss why these parts have been picked out, or why they are required to make the system work. Plus, be sure to check back in for an upcoming blog post about how to generate and configure a “Hello World” example.