I was looking for a cheap dev board for the Altera/Intel MAX 10 parts. There's an Altera branded 10M50 board for about $200 with a mass of stuff on it but I don't usually find very complex dev boards to be helpful. I'm interested in the MAX10 - not a whole load of other stuff. They do have a very cheap and commendably simple 10M08 board ($49 but I didn't find that in time !).

I did find the MAXimator board and bought one - it arrived quickly and without any problems, cost was £58.15 (actually billed to credit card so includes a bit for the euro to £ conversion). They have  web site: maXimator - Altera MAX10 FPGA development board

 

 

It looks like this when it arrives:

 

 

The bits you get are:

 

 

That's a MAXimator board, a plug in board with the display, a couple of buttons and two multi colour LEDs, a separate "Blaster" (Altera USB programmers are known as Blasters for some bizarre historical reason) and  a couple of leads.

 

The web site has a schematic, a nice colour pin out chart thing and a user manual. Enough documents to get going. The MAXimator has a slightly odd set of on board  connectors:

 

An Arduino compatible set of IO with 3.3V to 5V conversion - so its truly Arduino shield compatible.

It also has VGA and HDMI connectors - these are intended to be driven by the FPGA so serious code is needed to make them do anything useful. There is a micro SD socket as well. The VGA connection doesn't have DACs so the range of colours isn't going to be great (8 including black). If you can code it the HDMI is digital so not restricted. The only pins available for the user are those on the Arduino headers - this isn't very many and the lack of free IO pins will limit the use of the board - the Altera board does much better in this respect but of course it doesn't have the application specific connectors.

 

So that's it as far as the basic kit is concerned.

 

If you want to do anything with it you'll need to download Altera's development software  - there is a lot of tutorial stuff on the website but these FPGA toolsets are huge and complex - it will take you serious time to get the hang of it.

 

Kamami offer some examples on their website

 

I was very unimpressed by these. They are poorly documented so of very little use as a learning tool - and they use a lot of TTL logic equivalent blocks in block diagram top level designs - this is an ARCHAIC design approach (I thought it went out of favour 20 years ago !!!!).  To make this clear, I have nothing against using  a block diagram for the top level of the design - I do it all the time. It's  having blocks called 74192 and 74153 that I'm concerned about.

 

My reason for getting the board was to play with the Altera tools and the chip - the MAXimator was fine for that.

 

I wrote my own little project to drive the display (to show how I think it ought to be done  ). I don't have time right now to explain it here but I'll add it later.

 

To sum up, this is a nice kit of hardware for the money. The examples aren't much good - but there is plenty of stuff on the web from other sources. The 5V pins are really nice if you need them. It's a real shame that they haven't taken more pins out to headers.

 

MK