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Melon S3 FPGA Arduino & Raspberry Pi Compatible Board is Programmable over WiFi using ESP8266 WiSoC

Q-Wave Systems, an embedded systems company based in Thailand, has designed Melon S3 FPGA board powered by a Xilinx Spartan 3E FPGA with WiFi connectivity added through a ESP8266 module programmable with the Arduino IDE , and featuring two Raspberry Pi compatible headers. The FPGA bitstream can be updated over  WiFi, and does not require a JTAG debugger.

Melon S3 FPGA Prototype

Melon S3 FPGA specifications:

  • FPGA – Xilinx Spartan XC3S500E FPGA with 500K gates, 73Kb Distributed RAM, 4 Digital Clock Manager (DCM), 20 Multipliers (18×18), 360 Kb Block RAM
  • WiFi module – WROOM-2 with Espressif ESP8266 32-bit MCU @ 80 MHz supporting 802.11 b/g/n WiFi.
  • Storage – 4MB SPI flash in total with 1MB for ESP8266, 3 MB for FPGA
  • Expansion – 2x 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible headers; 3.3V tolerant
  • Debugging – Onboard USB-UART Silicon Labs CP2104 for configuration, debugging and power; 6-pin JTAG port for debugging/programming
  • Misc – 8x Users LEDs, 4x DIP switch user button, 1x reset button,  on-board 50 MHz FPGA clock
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 65 mm x 56.5 mm x 10 mm
  • Weight – 20g

Block Diagram for Melon S3 FPGA – Click to Enlarge

The board can be used in standalone, but it’s also compliant with Raspberry Pi HAT form factor, and can be inserted on top of Raspberry Pi boards with 40-pin headers, which in theory would allow you to run the Arduino IDE directly on Raspberry Pi to program Melon S3 FPGA board.

You can also program the FPGA  using development tools such as Xilinx ISE Webpack (free), MATLAB HDL Coder/HDL Verifier and National Instruments LabVIEW FPGA Toolkit, and upload the resulting bitstream using the board’s web interface.

Melon S3 FPGA Labview Programming with Raspberry Pi / Computer

The board is available via a sort of self-organized crowdfunding campaign, with at least 50 backers required by May 31. At the latest update, they had 74 backers, so the project will go ahead with mass production and shipping taking place in June. They’ll eventually post all documentation, hardware design files, and source code in Melon_S3_FPGA github repository (currently empty), but in the meantime you can get some information, including schematics in PDF, and a more details overview of the board and the way to program it in the product page in English, where you’ll also be able to order it for $79.99 plus shipping.  If you are based in Thailand, you can get it for 2,800 Baht instead.

All backers will also be invited to a free one day seminar to learn out to use the board, as long as you are ready to go to Bangkok  in Thailand.

  1. Martin
    May 26th, 2017 at 22:01 | #1

    Xilinx Spartan XC3S500E is not big enough …

  2. May 27th, 2017 at 09:47 | #2

    @Martin
    It’s limited, but I think they made the board mostly for training purpose.

  3. sandbender
    May 28th, 2017 at 03:22 | #3

    Part of me thinks this is really cool… then the other part of me looks at all the IoT/Router/Camera exploits that have surfaced recently, reads “programmable by WiFi” and thinks “Kill it… kill it with fire”. I get the convenience factor for developing and debugging but I hope they only support WPA/2 and there’s a way to turn it off (preferably a physical switch).

  4. Meth
    June 1st, 2017 at 17:57 | #4

    Could this be used for simulation of old computers? If so how do you get output to a screen? Via the 40 pin headers? And what about Ram? There must be a way to make cheaper Minimig type computers

  5. Amornthep
    July 6th, 2017 at 23:01 | #5

    All the informaiton has been posted on Github.

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