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    SubjectRe: driver development tool
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    From: Randy Scott <scottr@belle.bork.com>

    >>> 2) access to PCB manufacturing
    >>> 10 pieces of a 4-layer PCB cost ~$1200 and need 4 weeks
    >>> for processing.
    >
    > I have access to simple two-sided PCB manufacturing facilities.
    > PCB layout on the other hand is hard to come by...

    The PCB layout is no problem. I know someone who can do it with Orcad.

    >>> Current dream: a big FPGA connected to ALL the ISA pins, programmable
    >>> on the fly by the PC itself; a fast 32-bit micro with very fast comm
    >>> ports (ST20450) and a 32-bit bus with a standard 72-pin DRAM SIMM module
    >>> (4-16M); 4 RS-232 ports; USB (Universal Serial BUS) controller; MIDI...
    >>> Of course not all is needed by everyone, only the FPGA can be mounted
    >>> in a minimal version, and it can be a PGA, so no trouble soldering it.
    >>> You can easily implement any kind of UART in a reasonabily big chip.
    >>> Probable costs (for the user):
    >>> development and testing ... $0
    >>> FPGA ... $50-$100
    >>> PCB ... $1200/n_users
    >>> uP(20450) ... $40
    >>> uP(56000) ... $0
    >>> RAM ... see your local store/get from an old PC
    >>> Connectors, glue logic ... $10
    >>>
    >>> Any feedback?
    >
    > Hmmm.. I just attempted a project like this for as my "Senior Design
    > Project." It failed miserably. Primary reasons: PCB layout software
    > is too expensive and possibly difficult to use (this may not be an
    > issue if you are sending it somewhere to have done), and designing a
    > DRAM/bus controller in an FPGA is a b*tch (really, its no picnic).
    >
    > Also, an FPGA that is designed to interface with all of the sh*t (excuse
    > me) that have piled on that board is going take HOURS (and hours, and hours)
    > to design and test. This project would be difficult enough (IMHO) if
    > you just had a pile of 64kx8 DRAM chips and a simple dumb logic circuit.

    That is not a problem, because an experienced hardware designer
    (not me!) will design the board. The only serious problem would
    be assembly. The PCB design will be donated. PCB manufacture is
    troublesome, but 4-layer boards can be built if enough people
    are interested.

    If you want a board, all you need to do is:
    Request it.
    Wait for the design.
    Pay for the PCB & misc. parts (about $200 I guess)
    Get some RAM.
    Solder the board.

    That assumes enough people want boards.

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