Devel board combines logic analyzer, micros, etc.

The PLAICE development board
Combining the features of a FLASH Programmer, In-Circuit Emulator, and High Speed Multi-Channel Logic Analyzer, the PLAICE is a fertile platform to learn FPGA programming, Verilog, VHDL, microcontroller interfacing, and many other useful electronics-related skills.

Not only is this a really full-featured development board for learning FPGA programming and microcontroller use, but it also serves as a 200MHz logic analyzer and in-circuit emulator. Both the logic analyzer and ICE functionality are worth hundreds of dollars (minimum), but by combining the features with the other learning aspects, the board is an incredible learning tool. uClinux is the operating system on the board, and lets you control:

PLAICE Hardware Features:

* 32-bit Harvard RISC MicroBlaze
* Xilinx Spartan-3E FPGA with 500K Gates
* 10/100 Ethernet
* JTAG
* USB – Device Port
* 9-pin RS-232 Serial Port
* 64 MB DDR SDRAM
* 16 MB Parallel FLASH
* 2 MB SPI FLASH
* 16 character – 2 Line LCD

Logic Analyzer Features:

* up to 200MHz sampling rates
* up to 32 input channels

Flash Programmer Features:

* programs FLASH Devices In-Circuit and Out

Logic Analyzer JAVA Client Features:

* support for up to 200MHz sampling rates
* user controlled filtering operations
* time line in diagram
* meta data (size, rate, trigger position) stored in files
* ID command for device identification
* configurable serial port transfer rate
* user configurable drawing modes: logic level, hex value and scope
* JAVA client access via almost any PC with a serial port
* developed with jdk 1.4.2
* JAVA client uses the RXTX serial library with support for 34 platforms including Linux, Windows and Solaris

JAVA Client Plug-Ins:

* SPI and I2C Bus protocol analyzer
* timing analysis to state analysis conversion
* post-processing functions

FLASH Emulator Features:

* operates in-circuit
* replaces external memory devices during firmware development
* speeds firmware development
* easily plugs in place of the ROM through the emulator’s target adapter

The hardware design is licensed under the Gnu Public License, so you can use the plans in other projects freely as long as you contribute changes back to the community as dictated in the terms.

For $149, this PLAICE looks like an exceptionally cheap and functional way to get learning about FPGAs, microcontrollers, logic analyzers, or any other associated electronic goodies. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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