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Hackaday Supercon 2019 Badge: Gateware & 'OS' & SDK


If you see anything wrong or missing, either here in the documentation or in the gateware or software, do not hesitate to file an issue, or even better, change it and file a push request.


This project contains the FPGA configurations for the badge, in the form of a SoC containing the processors and all peripherals. It also contains the software responsible for bootup and app selection and loading (boot and IPL) as well as the SDK you can use to create new apps.


If you are hacking on the badge hardware, gateware or software. You can find fellow hackers in multiple places. Ask questions and share your projects in those channels.

If you know of any other FPGA badge related communities and resources please add them here

How to use

In order to use this repository, aside from the badge itself, you'll need a toolchain compiled for your OS:

You will also need a Micro-USB cable to connect to the badge, as well as 2 AA's (or another way to supply it with power, e.g. using the JTAG connector) to power it. Note that while the badge has a JTAG connector, using this should not be necessary in normal use, even if you want to change the FPGA load. An 3.3V USB-to-serial cable or board may be useful, the JTAG connector (J1, on the back of the badge) carries serial debug signals that allows you to use e.g. gdb in case of a crash.

After you have a toolchain, you'll need to set up this SDK. Clone this repository and grab the submodules, if you haven't already:

git clone --recursive
cd hadbadge2019_fpgasoc

From here, you can start hacking:

  • You can just use the hardware and start your new design from scratch.
  • You can modify the existing SoC to incorporate your own peripherals.
  • Modifying the IPL is useful if you want to change the look of the menu or add extra features there.
  • Finally, if you are happy with the existing hardware, you can write an app to make use of it.

Repo directory structure

  • blink contains a trivial blinker project, useful to make sure your setup works.

  • apps-sdk contains the SDK you can use to build apps that can be loaded by the IPL.

  • app-helloworld contains a bare-bones test application that the IPL is able to load and execute.

  • app-basic contains a Basic interpreter that can be used to run .bas files.

  • app-audiodemo

  • app-invaders

  • app-flappy

  • app-midi

  • Other app-* directories contain example projects.

  • soc contains the actual SoC that is the main FPGA load.

The soc folder at this point is a bit of a mess: it contains most of the 'base' Verilog code, as well as code for simulation of parts using Icarus, or the entirety using Verilator. Apart from this, the contents of the directories are:

  • jtagload is a nearly-trivial program to convert a binary executable file into a svf file that can then be sent to the FPGA using OpenOCD. At the moment, the boot ROM only invokes a mode compatible with this when it doesn't find a proper IPL in flash.

  • boot contains the bootloader, to be embedded in bram in the FPGA image. At the moment, it tests the SPI memory (takes a few seconds), then initializes the flash and loads the IPL from there. If it doesn't see a valid IPL, it waits for an app to be uploaded over JTAG.

  • ipl contains the Initial Program Loader, aka IPL. The IPL mostly contains driver code, to be called through a syscall jump table at the beginning of the binary. It also has logic to load an initial program, and to use USB to set up the internal flash as a mass storage device so an attached PC can access it directly. It also contains a flash translation layer as well as a fatfs driver, so you can also access the files dropped by the PC programmatically. Finally, it contains the menu you see when the badge starts up, that allows you to select an app to run.

  • hdmi contains all Verilog for the hdmi output.

  • picorv32 is a submodule containing the PicoRV32 RiscV core.

  • qpi_cache is the cache for and interface to the external SPI PSRAM.

  • video contains the renderer and sequencing logic for the framebuffer.

  • pic contains a PIC16F84 core which is intended to drive the attached LEDs.

  • usb contains an USB device core.

  • audio contains the audio subsystem.