Wednesday, 5 November 2014

FPGA : A minor hiccup

So I was happily working on my FPGA for a while on my Linux system. One day, due to some work I had to do on a piece of software that only worked on Windows, I had to boot into my windows partition.

When one of my friends came over to take a look at the FPGA I plugged it right into the laptop because I already had a binary config file in the FPGA and all I needed was for the board to be powered up. Big mistake. The moment I plugged the fpga in, the red light on the board (which usually only comes on when the board i being programmed) came on and stayed on. And no matter how many times I re installed the drivers, the board just would not cooperate. I didn't really think much of it at the time. I thought that this was just a minor issue with the drivers on the windows side and thought that everything would be fine when I plugged my board in when I booted back into my Linux partition.

The next day, I booted back into Linux and the board was doing the same thing. The red programming led was coming on but the board wouldn't work.

I have no clue what happened but I wonder if it is related to that recent incident where the FTDI company pushed a driver update to windows that would brick fake ftdi chips that acted as a USB to UART bridge. The funny thing is, the Numato labs board doesn't have an ftdi chip on board. I think it has a PIC microcontroller programmed to do the USB to UART bridging. I wonder if the PIC device was emulating the ftdi chip? Or it could just be a coincidence. Whatever the case, the board was bricked.

I sent an email to the Numato labs customer service people about the issue without really expecting a response. To their credit however, not only did they respond, they offered to replace my board with a new one if I shipped my bricked board back to them! :D Never expected that! So the new board arrived today and I plugged it in and everything seems to be working fine.

Time to resume work on that project! :D