I've been tasked with determining the suitability of using the FX2LP as a platform for implementing the USBTMC "Test and Measurement" class for a wide variety of instruments we design. The FX2LP would interface with a spartan 6 FPGA, which seems straightforward, and we'd obviously have to develp custom firmware for the FX2LP to implement the requirements of USBTMC. At first glance the FX2LP seems to have more than enough configurable endpoints to imeplement the standard.
I have a question about develpment tools however. It seems the development board kit for the FX2LP comes with a crippled version of the tools which are limited to a 4k output file. The website for the provided tools doesn't even have prices, which in and of itself a red flag, but other posts on the board indicate that the price for the un-crippled toolset is on the order of 2k/seat/yr, which is ridiculous.
Are there other development environments available? there was some talk in another thread about an eclipse-based toolset due out Q213? Is there any movement on that front?
Also, is anyone aware of any reference design which would help in implementing USBTMC on an FX2LP?
Thanks in advance,
Traditionally, scientific and engineering test and measurement instruments have been controlled remotely via interfaces like RS-232 and IEEE488 (GPIB). The USBTMC, and its subclass USBTMC-USB488 are defined USB device classes which provide services specific for remotely controlling test and measurement instruments. The standard defines endpoint requirements and message formats and a series of control messages necessary to synchronize the instrument and the controller.
I'm looking at the FX2LP to be the middleman between the USB controller and the FPGA which implements the T+M instrument. The FX2LP would intercept control requests and data messages from the USB controller and pass the data to the instrument in a standard formatt. The chip would then accept responses from the instrument and package them in the correct format for USBTMC.
I've now bought the FX2LP development kit and think it can work as I described. I'll hold off on buying the full version of the uVision2 tools until I hear more about the eclipse based tools.
Thanks for your suggestions Nikhil.
After buying the FX2LP development kit I got AN61345 going and was able to go from there was able to modify the firmware and implement the bulk of the USBTMC-488.2 standard.
I wanted to point out how disappointing it is to spend over $400 on the developer tools and get a development environment that is not only crippled in size (4k output), but can't even develop code for my standalone chip because it only places data in the external memory on the development board. I'm sure there's a way around this, it's just a pain in the neck and an unnecessary barrier to using the hardware.
Now that we're entering Q3 2013 is there an update on the status of the Eclipse based tools? Is there a way to get an evaluation or beta copy? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is. I really don't want to spend $2k on the full version of Keil.
Please refer to the latest version of the EZ-USB Suite from the FX3 SDK which includes support FX2LP firmware using the SDCC compiler. You can refer to the User Guide which will be installed in the SDK for steps on how to use the IDE to build FX2LP firmware.
Please also refer to the KBA on the low cost FX2LP kit which can be used for development.
Please create a tech support case to get the beta release of Eclipse based tool chain for FX2LP.
Please let me know if you need any help in creating a tech support case.
Please find the beta release of the Eclipse based tool chain for Windows, in the link provided below:
It would be great if you can provide your feedback on this tool chain. We will address that in official release to serve customers like you better.