Microcontrollers are the heart of many DIY projects, but there are some situations where a CPLD or FPGA is more appropriate. There are many development boards available from Terasic, but I wanted to try something different. I’ve heard “no-name Chinese FPGA boards” can often be more trouble than their worth, but I decided to take a chance with a rather inexpensive CPLD one.
This is a fairly bare bones Altera MAX II development board from a seller on AliExpress named “EDA Board”. It took over 5 weeks to arrive, so I wouldn’t recommend purchasing this if you want to work with it any time soon. It’s a good deal for the price as most similarly-priced development boards are merely breakout boards without any on-board components. This board has two 4×7 digit LED displays, eight LEDs, five input buttons, a buzzer, and unpopulated breakout pins for the remaining pins on the MAX II. It comes with a USB Blaster clone and power cables too! Unfortunately there are no schematics availble and contacting the seller has proven to be difficult, but I determined the pins used by the LED displays to be as follows:
|Pin Description||CPLD Pin|
|D1||95 (left), 89 (right)|
|D2||92 (left), 96 (right)|
|D3||91 (left), 86 (right)|
|D4||97 (left), 85 (right)|
The silkscreen lists the pins used by the LEDs, buttons, and buzzer on the board, but the 4th LED from the bottom incorrectly says “PIN_55” when it’s really pin 54. My board also had a zero ohm resistor across the “on” pins instead of a power switch as shown in the item pictures.
Putting these minor inconveniences aside, I think this board will be good for simple CPLD projects. However, I’ll probably stick with something from Terasic if I wanted to work with a Cyclone FPGA in the future.