BrightStar FPGA Project

The work was done in 1999 between commercial projects. The Altera FPGA used the Leonardo tools for VHDL design entry. The 16K gate FPGA was supported by free software and loaded via the Motorola 823 PowerPC over several I/O lines. The PowerPC included a Linux port and source code for the tools to load up the FPGA.

BrightStar ipEngine FPGA board

BrightStar Engineering’s ipEngine1 FPGA and PowerPC board

Warehouse Project

The board was bought for a warehousing project. The FPGA was going to be used for several serial ports running RS-485 multi-drop. The second serial port on the PowerPC could not read in a barcode, but it could be written to. We briefly looked at the kernel source code, but it was not going to be a rush job. BrightStar Engineering sold the board as a pre-manufactured board with a wire wrap board for customers to experiment with before developing their own base boards. They did not supply circuit diagrams for the main module, or source code for the boot loader, or details for the initial Flash load of a monitor. They had never promised source or circuit diagrams, but to develop local hardware would need to start off with this information as it would be too expensive to develop from scratch.

The warehouse changed to using “wedge” barcode readers that interfaced to the PC’s PS-2 keyboard port. We could have developed the interface fairly easily with the FPGA but the project went back onto the back burner.

Related information

See BrightStar in the PowerPC section for files that can be downloaded.

LCD Interface

BrightStar Engineering’s ipEngine1 FPGA driving a LCD. We used previous software that ran on our RTOS on 68000 boards, with some modifications for Linux.

The LCD was driven in 4-bit mode over an 8-bit interface with a test pattern shown here. To be realistic, dark warehouses would require a proper computer screen with at least 320×240 resolution.

BrightStar ipEngine LCD interface