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Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
1,312 Views

Programming cyclone III & IV using a custom USB Blaster

Hi all, 

I'm trying to make a USB blaster circuit.  

I'm prototyping with a cyclone III connected to an FTDI IC. 

This combination is effectively the same as you might find in devkits that have embedded USB blaster in the PCB. 

I am also using the FTDI for other purposes, so VID and PID of the FTDI are different than the ones in use by the Blaster's FTDI (and perhaps other parameters as well) - 

And these cannot be changed. 

 

Trouble is, that the quartus II programmer doesn't recognize the FTDI as "USB Blaster". 

 

 

Is there a way to configure the quartus II programmer? does it have a configurable API that I can set to recognize my FTDI? 

Do you have any other ideashttp://www.alteraforum.com/forum//images/icons/icon3.png

 

Really appreciate your help, 

Thanks, 

David
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7 Replies
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

FTDI's "ft_prog (http://www.ftdichip.com/support/utilities.htm#ft_prog)" utility will allow you to read the contents of an FTDI IC and program it into another. So, providing you have a USB-Blaster, it will allow you to 'clone' the FTDI part of it. 

 

I'm more curious as to how you intend to implement Altera's propitiatory CPLD design that forms the brains of the USB-Blaster. What are you putting in your Cyclone III? 

 

Cheers, 

Alex
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

Thanks Alex, 

But I want to use the FTDI - **AS IS**, and not clone Altera's Blaster's FTDI's innards, because my FTDI is already a part of another working system. 

So, is there a way you can suggest to make it work under these conditions? 

 

As per your inquiry-  

I think that if I use .rbf files, I could manage to download them onto a target device (i.e. program it). 

Transferring raw data from FTDI to JTAG pins is a managable task with a CPLD or FPGA, in my opinion. 

 

Thanks again, 

David
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

You can't use your FTDI device 'as is'. The Quartus programmer, or more specifically the driver, is looking for a particular Vendor & Product ID (VID & PID), stored in the FTDI device, before it'll recognise it as a USB-Blaster. Only then will the driver decide it knows how to control it. So, unless you reprogram you FTDI device the driver is never going to recognise it as a USB-Blaster or interact with it. 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

Transferring raw data from FTDI to JTAG pins is a managable task with a CPLD or FPGA 

--- Quote End ---  

 

Indeed, it is a manageable task - the USB-Blaster does this with a CPLD. However, this is where you'll struggle - I referred to Altera's propitiatory (secret) CPLD design. 

 

 

--- Quote Start ---  

I think that if I use .rbf files, I could manage to download them 

--- Quote End ---  

 

Again, yes - in theory. However, unless you know how the FTDI device presents the data to the CPLD or FPGA - which is dependent on what the driver sends to it, including whatever protocol is used - then you won't solve this. 

 

Yes, you get embedded USB-Blasters on dev kits. However, they are manufactured by Altera or their partners, who are trusted with the CPLD design required. 

 

Cheers, 

Alex
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

this is... providing alternate lower cost usb- blaster? this is no open source design right?

Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

this is... providing alternate lower cost usb- blaster? this is no open source design right? 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

I wonder if it's time to make the Programmer protocol/interface (FTDI <> CPLD) public.  

At the end of the day, we're using Altlera device.  

Terasic version is US$50 and Altera Byteblaster is >$200. (And Clone version is $5 :D) 

After so many years is just ridiculous. 

Com'on Altera, I want to make FPGA dev kit as popular as Arduino. 

:D
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

I guess you noticed that that there are various reverse engineered USB Blaster CPLD sources on the internet as well as microcontroller based USB Blaster clones. 

 

State-of-the-art would be however USB Blaster II.
Altera_Forum
Honored Contributor I
103 Views

 

--- Quote Start ---  

I guess you noticed that that there are various reverse engineered USB Blaster CPLD sources on the internet as well as microcontroller based USB Blaster clones. 

 

State-of-the-art would be however USB Blaster II. 

--- Quote End ---  

 

 

Yeah, I noticed. 

I tried two clones. One works, the other crashes my PC and gives the blue screen :D