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Compatibility issue or bad Altera USB blasters?

terecatu
New User
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Hi,

I am attempting to flash EP4CE6 (Cyclone IV) using a precompiled .jic from an open source project - SonicSurface (see https://github.com/upnalab/SonicSurface, https://www.instructables.com/SonicSurface-Phased-array-for-Levitation-Mid-air-T). In their demonstration, they suggest the Quartus 13.0sp1 and an Altera USB blaster to program the FPGA.

I have attempted to use their provided .jic and a usb blaster on Quartus 13.0sp1  and Quartus Prime Lite 23.1 on different machines on both Windows 11 and Windows 10. I have also attempted to use 23.1 on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. Each of these different combinations gives errors including can't access JTAG chain and JTAG server can't access selected programming hardware. I have tried using two separate USB blasters and two EP4CE6 boards.

I have verified the JTAG cable connections between the EP4CE6 board and the USB blaster using a multimeter and ensured both boards are correctly powered.

What is most likely to be my issue? That there is an OS-Quartus-Altera USB blaster compatability issue or that the two USB blasters I have bought are no good?

Many thanks in advance for any advice

 

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12 Replies
AnttiLukats
Novice
1,213 Views

you have really funky FAKE clone USB blaster. No one knows if they work.

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NurAiman_M_Intel
Employee
1,113 Views

Hi,


May I know if you purchased the USB Blaster and the Cyclone IV from our authorized distributors? If no, we cannot guarantee the functionality of the devices.


Regards,

Aiman


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FvM
Valued Contributor III
1,054 Views

USB Blaster clones are known not to work with recent drivers. See previous forum discussions, e.g. https://community.intel.com/t5/Intel-FPGA-Software-Installation/USB-Blaster-Not-Found-In-Quartus-Prime/m-p/1571621
Problem is most likely caused by newer FTDI drivers (CDM version >= 2.11) that actively block non-FTDI devices mimicking FTDI.

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NurAiman_M_Intel
Employee
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We do not receive any response from you to the previous answer that I have provided. This thread will be transitioned to community support. If you have a new question, feel free to open a new thread to get the support from Intel experts. Otherwise, the community users will continue to help you on this thread. Thank you


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FvM
Valued Contributor III
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Out of curiosity, I did some tests with a recent fake "Altera" US Blaster from the market, probably the same CH552 based device shown in post #1 in hardware jpg.

My findings are (with Windows 10 OS):

1. Running the device with recent USB Blaster driver (FTDI CDM version >= 2.11), installed with Quartus 17.1 or later, breaks JTAG server operation, probably due to FTDI driver behaviour. 
2. After uninstallung USB Blaster drivers and installing Quartus 13.1 drivers (FTDI CDM version 2.04) the device is installed as USB Blaster.
3. The device has still problems to recognize the JTAG chain of most FPGA boards, but works with some, apparently due to signal quality problems.
4. Using an additional buffer (a JTAG optical isolator) allows operation with more boards.

There are at least three different versions on the market, with identical case, CH552, STM32 and PIC18 based. The signal quality problem must not  necessarily be the same for all types.  

AnttiLukats
Novice
840 Views

@FvM thanks for detailed report, very interesting. Well we have not had a cheap USB blaster on our desk yet. Funny there are so many illegal clones available on the asian market.

 

But it is not only the asia who does do USB blaster emulation, uLab Kiwi is promoted by Altera Innovations Lab:

https://www.crowdsupply.com/altera/innovation-lab

 

and the uLab Kiwi emulates USB blaster using PIC18! So Altera is advertising a product that will force the end user to violate FTDI drivers  license. 

 

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FvM
Valued Contributor III
829 Views
Not sure if emulating USB Blaster interface violates FTDI licenses. I rather assume that USB Blaster driver is licensed by Intel. But as it's a renamed 1:1 copy of FTDI driver, the built-in anti counterfeit features are in effect.
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AnttiLukats
Novice
661 Views

FTDI_License.png

Well you can emulate FTDI only if you do not use FTDI drivers. But that the all point of emulation. I am pretty sure that using FTDI drivers with non-FTDI IC is violation of the drivers use license by FTDI, see screenshot above.

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_AK6DN_
Valued Contributor II
779 Views

Not quite accurate. 'Altera Innovation Labs' is NOT in any way an official Altera and/or Intel site.

It belongs to CrowdSupply.

From the description: "Welcome to Altera Innovation Lab at Crowd Supply, the place to find out about the latest and greatest Crowd Supply projects built on FPGAs from Altera."

 

So 'Altera' is NOT promoting the clone uLab Kiwi USB Blaster design in the CrowdSupply site. CrowdSupply is.

 

The clone USB Blaster I use is the TerAsic one ... https://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&CategoryNo=74

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FvM
Valued Contributor III
736 Views
Terasic USB Blaster is more than a clone. It's obviously an authorized second source. Also my preferred Intel programmer.
AnttiLukats
Novice
663 Views

Terasic is licensed to produce USB Blaster compatible products. They for sure do not use FTDI emulation devices!

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AnttiLukats
Novice
663 Views

Well Altera is promoting "Altera Innovation Lab", so indirectly Altera is promoting also the uLab Kiwi!

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