Use FPGAs the easy way with Alien Cortex AV


Hackaday reader [Louis] wrote in to call our attention to a neat project over at Kickstarter that he thought would interest his fellow readers. The AlienCortex AV is a pre-built FPGA board from [Bryan Pape] with gobs of ports and a ton of potential. At the heart of the board is an Xilinx PQ208 Spartan 3e 500k FPGA, which can be configured to perform any number of functions. The board sports a healthy dose of analog and digital I/O pins as you would expect, along with PS/2 inputs, VGA outputs, and even a pair of Atari-compatible joystick ports.

The AlienCortex software package allows users to easily load projects into the FPGA, which can run up to four different emulated microcontrollers at once. The software comes with half a dozen pre-configured cores out of the box, with others available for download as they are built. The default set of cores includes everything from a 32-channel logic analyzer, to a quad processor Arduino-sketch compatible machine.

Now, before you cry foul at the fact that he’s emulating Arduinos on a powerful and expensive FPGA, there’s nothing stopping you from creating an army of whatever microcontrollers you happen to prefer instead. We’re guessing that if you can run four Arduinos on this board at once, a good number of PICs could be emulated simultaneously alongside whatever other uC you might need in your next robotics project. A single board incorporating several different microcontrollers at once doesn’t sound half bad to us.