FPGA evaluation kits

Lattice ice40 iCEstick

Embedded Micro Mojo
I got a pair of FPGA evaluation kits, thanks to Hack Manhattan
holding affordable workshops and the kindness of John A Connor.

The FPGA (field programmable Gate Array) is an amazing versatile device.
Instead of breadboarding thousands of logic gates,
the chip contains thousands (or millions) of logic elements that are "wired up" by programming.

FPGAs are now mainstream high performance computing devices, along with CPUs and GPUs.
Financial institutions use FPGAs integrated into the NIC (Network Interface Cards)
to process network traffic BEFORE hitting the computer's CPU or main memory
for FPGA-Based Acceleration for High-Frequency Trading.

2020 update: CPU with tightly coupled FPGA is the latest-and-greatest thing.
That's why Intel acquired Altera and AMD acquired Xilinx for integrated CPU & GPU & FPGA
Microchip's PolarFire is a Multi-Core RISC-V SoC FPGA.
The PolarFire SoC FPGA Icicle kit is a low-cost development platform running Linux.

Meet The Family (of logic arrays)

The FPGA is the latest technology for programmable logic devices.
Citing wikipedia: A programmable logic device (PLD) is
an electronic component used to build reconfigurable digital circuits.
Unlike a logic gate, which has a fixed function, a PLD has an undefined function at the time of manufacture.
Before the PLD can be used in a circuit it must be programmed, that is, reconfigured.
Previous technologies for implementing programmable logic devices (PLD) are Related to Programmable Logic Devices (PLD) are logic devices that cannot be reprogrammed.
They are wired during the manufacturing process

Lattice ice40 iCEstick Evaluation Kit

Lattice ice40 iCEstick Evaluation Kit (also from Mouser).
Hack Manhattan held a wonderful workshop that overcame my fears of learning FPGAs
with one that is cheap and ready to use with Linux open source tools.
Just type "make" and it's all done!
(The price is now $50, introductory price was $25).
What's inside:

The Embedded Micro Mojo FPGA development board

a gift from John A Connor:
the Mojo FPGA with 8x16 color LED

The Embedded Micro Mojo FPGA development board includes
The microcontroller comes with Arduino compatible bootloader
which will allow you to install future upgrades to the firmware without having to buy a programmer.
It also allows you to write your own code to run on the microcontroller using the Arduino IDE .

John A Connor posted his work on github The main board's schematic

The Embedded Micro Clock/Visualizer Shield includes
Driving the LED array is strange because there is no controller (see the schematic)
There are 16 transistors: one to each anode (row) of the 8x8 RGB LED matrix.
That means each array's 8: RGB LED cathodes are driven directly by the FPGA
for 8 pixels x 3 (RGB) x 2 modules = 48 leds per row!