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Pipistrello - "Papilio on steroids"

fpga DVI HDMI

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#1 magnusk

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 09:34 AM

Pipistrello came about as I needed a board with HDMI interface, lots of RAM for buffering, high-speed USB for data streaming and SD-card for data storage. In the past I have used the Papilio boards and really like them but for this project I needed something like a "Papilio on steroids". The Papilio Plus sounded interesting but wasn't available when I started this project and did not have any of the needed interfaces on-board. The Avnet LX9-microboard was also a possibility but the limited user-I/O and the lack of HDMI on-board killed that idea.

So the only option left was to make my own board - basically merging the fpga and LPDDR from the LX9-Microboard with the formfactor, wing interface and tool-set from Papilio, then adding all the needed interfaces on-board (and then some more to make it more interesting). The biggest challenge was the 324-ball BGA package which forced me away from the hobbyist PCB vendors (like Seeed studio and OSH Park) to the more traditional (and expensive) PCB vendors that offers the PCB geometry needed for this board (5 mil trace width/spacing, 8 mil holes, 4-layes).

In my professional life I have used PCB Universe (http://www.pcbuniverse.com/) for many boards with great success and they have very reasonable prices and an on-line quote and ordering system so it's easy to place an order (disclamer: I have no business interest in PCB Universe, just a happy customer). The quote for this board was $450 for 50 boards, more than I like to spend but still a bargin compared to other options.

So far all circuits on the board have been tested OK except for the USB host interface which really need Linux up and running first. The board came out perfect - no cuts or jumpers needed so far.

Posted Image

Read more about the board features here:http://pipistrello.saanlima.com

My plan is to make this an open-source project once all features on the board have been verified.

Magnus Karlsson
Saanlima Electronics

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#2 neslekkim

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 11:38 AM

Hamster's dvi-d test used 640x400 resolution, how of the capabilities of the chip will be used (if possible) to run full hd on this?
Will it be possible to reproduce full-hd video? (or hi-resolution games.. )

oh, saw this now:
some games one don't want in high-res of course, it takes away some of the charm. :)


btw, an question that is probably related to both Papilio and Pipistrello, the mounting holes, are they arranged on an 5mm grid? too much stuff around is created either without mounting holes (raspberry pi), or with random holes (arduino), and some have 5mm grid (netduino go), an standard on this makes it easier to reuse standard mounting plates, like Tamiya etc.

#3 Jack Gassett

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 03:51 PM

btw, an question that is probably related to both Papilio and Pipistrello, the mounting holes, are they arranged on an 5mm grid? too much stuff around is created either without mounting holes (raspberry pi), or with random holes (arduino), and some have 5mm grid (netduino go), an standard on this makes it easier to reuse standard mounting plates, like Tamiya etc.


The mounting holes on the Papilio One are actually meant as "anchor" points for the Wings. The idea is to have the same hole on Wings, then a spacer can be placed between the Wings and the Papilio One and a nylon screw can be used to secure the Wing to the Papilio One. They can also be used as mounting holes for an enclosure or something, I'd use nylon screws though or something to prevent metal screws from rubbing off the solder mask and shorting traces.

With the Papilio Plus and Pro I put standard mounting holes on all the corners.

Another option is to get threaded spacers and superglue them to the bottom of the Papilio One.

Jack.

#4 neslekkim

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 03:56 PM

I bought an bucket full of nylon spacers on ebay (well, atleast a lot of them), only use those, a bit safer than the metal ones.
Anyway, lot of stuff is created today without proper mounting points, which is sad, since it's very easy to short something. (Who have an clean desk without any tools?? :) )

Sorry to steal the thread for this :)

#5 bug

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:24 PM

It's a valid point, since the PCB clearly has enough room for at least 3 corner holes.

Anyway, I wonder whether or not the Plus' hardware already makes an HDMI wing feasible ?
Not that this board isn't really quite cool, only that some projects might not need all of those peripherals.

#6 hamster

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:35 PM

I think the specs for HDMI make it hard to implement on a wing due to signal integrity issues such as trace lengths and drive impedances.

As the wing system hasn't been designed with HDMI in mind I don't think will give reliable quality results - HDMI/DVI requires over 1Gb/sec at 1080p

It might be possible to use lower resolutions just by hacking a cable apart a HDMI cable and using LVD drivers that are on the Spartan 3E...

#7 Jack Gassett

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:38 PM

I've been meaning to give HDMI output a try on the Papilio Plus/Pro for months now, just never seem to find the time. I think we should be able to do lower resolution stuff with just a cut off cable and eventually a low res Wing.

Jack.

#8 fuzzy

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 08:09 AM

Any news on this fantastic board ?

#9 Jack Gassett

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 03:41 PM

Hello fuzzy,

Are you asking about news on the Pipistrello or the Papilio Pro? For the Pipistrello I don't know, the BGA footprint will make this board expensive to produce, it sounds like Magnus has some bare PCB's available still..

For the Papilio Pro, we just overcame the last technical hurdle, Macronix SPI Flash, so the board is ready to start the manufacturing process. I will be making a manufacturing package in the next week to submit to Seeed Studio. Hopefully we will see the Papilio Pro in a month or two.

Jack.

#10 alex

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 10:32 AM

Jack, just wondering if it would be commercially viable to strike a deal with the creator of the pipistrello and start offering a design based on that. The reason I mention that is because it seems that Magnus already has a working board layout that escapes the BGA324 footprint and connects to a SDRAM. From the picture, it also looks like he's taken care of the high speed aspect of the design (the squigly traces) by length matching the traces from the FPGA to the SDRAM.

Contrast this with the P.pro where there are huge differences in trace lengths to the SDRAM (just type "run length dq* a*" in eagle) where DQ0 has a trace length of 8.27mm but DQ8 runs at 19.95mm, more than double. This means that when trying to run the SDRAM at max speed, the signals on the data bus will arrive at different times. Same with the address lines. This will then limit the max speed you can run the SDRAM at reliably.

Additionally the LX6 does not have have a memory controller block due to the low pin count, I think from memory the MCB becomes availabe in BGA packages only so attaching a SDRAM to the LX6 means one has to program an MCB in HDL.

Finally, Magnus has also hooked up a FT2232H to the FPGA, which was another feature request by some users but you didn't have enough pins on the P.pro.