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Simple to use ultimate IO interface for your Arduino, Pi or PC. Self-test and rewire your circuitry or use your own FPGA code.
Simple to use ultimate IO interface for your Arduino, Pi or PC. Self-test and rewire your circuitry or use your own FPGA code.
Simple to use ultimate IO interface for your Arduino, Pi or PC. Self-test and rewire your circuitry or use your own FPGA code.
118 backers pledged €9,063 to help bring this project to life.

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iolinker FPGA boards: Rewire and extend microcontroller IOs

€9,063

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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

009c179582df3940dd123049ad52d2da original

Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

iolinker boards are flexible IO interfaces, controlled via UART, SPI or I2C, that offer

  • IO extension,
  • IO linking,
  • and PWM generation.
  • Up to 127 iolinker boards can be chained, to allow for enormous IO extension where needed. (They each have their own address, encoded with 0K resistors.)

IO Extension

The FPGA board presented here features 49 GPIOs, all usable for IO extension with an easy to use library, on Arduino, Raspberry and on your PC. For a quick introduction on how to use it, check out our Instructable.

A matrix keypad can be plugged into the iolinker board directly with this.

A Raspberry Pi connected to the iolinker board and a keypad
A Raspberry Pi connected to the iolinker board and a keypad

 

IO Linking

This is what gives this product its name. When you link two GPIOs, say P5 to P1, pin P1 turns into an input, and all incoming signals are forwarded to the output pin P5. (Essentially creating a matrix of IO connections.)

 

If you are an embedded developer, you will be excited with these new opportunities!

  • Ultra flexible IO interfaces.
  • Transferring the circuitry of your digital signals to the iolinker chip; keeping circuits within your software.
  • Perfect version control.
  • Self-testing: iolinker chips can be used to verify the digital levels on all of their pins, and detect plus locate short-circuits. This is a dream come true for product design.
  • Simplified bus design: You want to hook up several chips, and simplify your life? Let iolinker hook up any of two UART devices on the fly; and switch to the next one afterwards. For example connect 24 Arduino UARTs to the iolinker adapter ontop of your first Arduino -- that can now decide who talks to whom.
  • Complex, self-testing plug'n'play bus: Verify signal levels and check for short-circuits, before you hook up new devices with your shared bus.
  • Less tedious jumper cable wiring.

Enjoy easier to see through prototype designs.

Less hardware changes reduce cost and time effort.

Create bus designs more easily, with simplified software.

Make self-testing end products.

IO linking  works for digital signals up to 29.56 MHz.

This allows you to do neat things such as these:

Example application with four Arduinos and a Raspberry Pi
Example application with four Arduinos and a Raspberry Pi

Check out the article.   

PWM Generation

Want to control the brightness of an LED or control the speed of a DC motor? Our PWM functionality is very basic for now, but maybe suits your needs.

FPGA reprogramming

The features described above do not require you to reprogram the FPGA. If you are an FPGA developer or intend to become one, you can reprogram the board however and reuse it for another application.

The FPGA boards feature a JTAG interface that you can use for flashing. Use a Lattice HW-USBN-2A compatible USB cable (21€ on eBay) and the free Lattice Diamond software to get the job done! A short introduction on how that part works is online already.

Visuino support

We will be working with Mitov Software to make a more elaborate GUI interface for the programming of the iolinker FPGA boards happen soon. Configuration of the IO circuits and full integration with Arduino will be easily available. This will entail configuration of the iolinker GPIOs at first. Verilog / VHDL export is on our goal list as well!

The Visuino Programming Environment
The Visuino Programming Environment

 

Sustainability

Flexibility in your hardware designs will save you time and costs. And it will reduce electronics waste.

The products 

The products
The products

This Kickstarter campaign is about our first two iolinker products:

1) A Lattice FPGA board, with 49 GPIOs, that is using a 4300 LUT LCMXO3L-4300E-5UWG81CTR50 chip. The FPGA runs internally at 1.2V, but the GPIO voltage is 3.3V. You can connect your 3.3V devices directly.

The preprogrammed software we will ship with has the following features:

All 49 GPIOs can be used for IO extension and IO linking, and 10 of them for PWM output as well. Note that the interface is UART, SPI or I2C and specific to the software version you chose. 

2) We provide you with a level shift adapter that acts as an Arduino shield adapter at the same time! You can use the adapter with or without Arduino to level shift the 49 GPIOs from your FPGA board to 5V. When put ontop of an Arduino, our Arduino library allows easy interfacing of the iolinker GPIOs. Check out our Github repository at https://jvm123.github.io/iolinker/. The adapter connects the UART, SPI or I2C interface of your FPGA board to the Arduino. There are 0K resistors in place to quickly change connections.

You can also connect your PC directly to the adapter board, using a USB 3.3V  TTL cable (http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/Cables/USBTTLSerial.htm), and control one or many iolinker boards.

iolinker software: New features ahead

The FPGA software is complex, and uses up the hardware of the FPGA entirely. We can offer different features and there will be more product versions in the future. But you can also reprogram the FPGA with the other software versions. Among our ideas for those are:

  • A specialized PWM version, with 49 PWM outputs.
  • More PWM features.
  • Versions that allow for extra UART or SPI interfaces, and communication with those from the UART / SPI / I2C interface used for configuring the iolinker chip.
  • Versions that translate Low / High to Tristate / High or Low / High to Low / Tristate output, for parallel bus designs.
  • A board with microcontroller (cheap ATtiny / ATmega?) on it as well, that stores default pin configuration in its EEPROM, and integrates the self-test part (i.e. verify digital levels and test for short-circuits), to save the user application the extra work.
  • Your feedback decides what else we make.

By adding 20 EUR extra to your pledge, you get free lifetime access to iolinker software versions compatible with your FPGA board! Rather than buying specialized board versions, you can reflash and make it into another. This is a special offer for Kickstarter backers.

From our opensource library and web interface, you will profit either way.

Stretch Goals

Stretch Goals
Stretch Goals

Prototypes for these boards are very costly to manufacture; but we did design a few more that may be of interest. With your help we can test and offer these as well -- and opensource their hardware designs. Prototypes so far:

  • A very cheap board with 64 IOs, that could be used for first FPGA tryouts and IO extension (TQFP-100, 256 LUTs, LCMXO256C-3TN100C)
  • A super cute board with 14 IOs (WLCSP-36, 1300 LUTs, LCMXO3L-1300E-5UWG36CTR50)
  • A big board with 192 IOs (CABGA-256, 1300 LUTs, LCMXO3L-1300C-5BG256C)
  • An Arduino shield with 104 IOs (CABGA-256, 1300 LUTs, LCMXO3L-1300C-5BG256C)
The other boards we designed
The other boards we designed

 

Timeline

We plan to begin production of the initial two boards in early April, and to ship in late May.

Shipping

Delivery time should be about 2 weeks, and VAT / custom duties may apply, depending on where you live. Customs may cause extra delay in the shipment process. Production & shipping origin is in China.

Also find us on...

 

              
 

 

 

 

Social media and ways to support us

Web | Facebook | TwitterInstagramPinterest

 If you want to write about us, contact at prk@jinvent.de or check out our press kit.

Risks and challenges

iolinker prototypes are tested and working in their UART version. SPI and I2C software versions should be done after one or two weeks of development, that can proceed in parallel to the board production.

We have acquired manufacturers and have taken care of fulfillment.

Yet, there are always risks:
* Slight modifications will be made to the boards we want to deliver to you, to make the product even more useful: 3.3V power will be generated on board, to avoid trouble. The changes shouldn't cause any problems. But in the unlikely case that they did, it would cause up to 6 weeks delay.
* The chips used in this product can have high lead times. We accounted for average lead times. (Moderate risk, but we are talking of only 2 weeks delay or similar.)
* We do not have backup for every individual involved in this project. In the worst case, finding replacements could cause a few weeks delay. (Low risk)
* Things can always get lost or delayed when shipping. The shipping prices are for tracked air parcel, that should get to you within two weeks and keep costs low. Customs may cause extra delay. Please inquire if you would like to afford for faster shipping.

We'd like to bring this to you in combination with an excellent software & documentation experience, but if we lack behind, please bear with us, ask us, give us a chance to better prioritize and to help you out personally.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €5 or more About $5

    Cool iolinker USB stick!

    USB stick with PCB designs and other project files. You're free to reuse and reproduce boards as long as you mention us.

    The USB stick looks like the FPGA board! You won't be disappointed.

    Includes:
    • 8GB USB stick with files
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    3 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge €10 or more About $11

    Social Media Shoutout

    You can have your name added to a list of project backers on our webpage, or enjoy a social media shoutout, or both. Write us.

    USB stick included!

    Includes:
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
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    2 backers
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  3. Reward no longer available

    Pledge €18 or more About $19

    EARLY BIRD: 1 FPGA board

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 23 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge €25 or more About $27

    1 FPGA board / 0 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    10 backers
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  5. Reward no longer available

    Pledge €32 or more About $34

    EARLY BIRD: 1 FPGA board, 1 adapter

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 21 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge €46 or more About $49

    1 FPGA board / 1 Arduino adapter

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    25 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge €46 or more About $49

    2 FPGA boards / 0 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge €65 or more About $69

    2 FPGA boards / 1 Arduino adapter

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    15 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge €158 or more About $168

    4 FPGA boards / 4 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    8 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge €181 or more About $192

    8 FPGA boards / 1 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge €292 or more About $310

    8 FPGA boards / 8 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge €335 or more About $356

    16 FPGA boards / 2 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • 16× FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge €1,526 or more About $1,621

    50 FPGA boards / 50 Arduino adapters

    Headers are attached for self-assembly.

    Includes:
    • 50× FPGA board (49 GPIOs)
    • 50× Level shift / Arduino adapter board
    • 8GB USB stick with files
    • Social Media Shoutout
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
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Funding period

- (29 days)