Hey there. If you've ever dealt with an SDK-85 or similar type of trainer, boy are you gonna realize how far modern technology has come. On those things, you had to enter a program manually -- that is, you entered a memory address and threw a "latch memory" switch. Then you'd enter the byte code for the processor and press the "latch data" switch. And you would perform these actions over and over again for every byte in your program. When you'd finally finished entering your masterpiece, you would execute a "JMP" ("jump unconditionally") command back to the first memory address in your program, and it was off to the races!
Yeah, I am getting old, but what I'm about to tell you beats the heck out of that whole setup.
So, starting where we left off in my previous blog, let's plug in our XEM3005 FPGA/USB module into the computer (pro tip, make sure the other end of the cable is already connected to the computer from which you'll be working).
At this point, the green power LED should be lit on the XEM board. Now, this may vary based on OS and on what all you've installed, so please bear with me a bit. I have two versions of Opal Kelly's "FrontPanel" SDK/API (Software Development Kit / Application Programming Interface) on my machine. The first is the version that shipped with my XEM card. The second is the one I downloaded from Opal Kelly when I updated drivers, etc. Assuming you went with the default install, the Opal Kelly software should be installed in "C:\Program Files\Opal Kelly." In this directory (or "folder," if you prefer), you will find a sub-directory called "Frontpanel" or "FrontPanelUSB" (I have both). The FrontPanelUSB is the newer version, but on my machine they both seem to work fine, except that the FrontPanelUSB's samples directories seem to be empty of compiled bit codes (a bit code file is what is used to configure the FPGA).
In the FrontPanel directory, you'll find more directories containing the API, Drivers, HDL (including precompiled IP), samples, and so on. In your "Start" menu, you should find a new item -- "Opal Kelly" -- with a "FrontPanel" tab. In there, you will find links to samples, documentation, and the FrontPanel executable itself.
So, let's start up FrontPanel. Click "Start -> Opal Kelly -> FrontPanel -> FrontPanel." This should cause the FrontPanel utility to appear on the screen as illustrated below:
Let's talk about this for a second. If your XEM device is connected, you'll see information about it to the left. To the right are three large icons. The gear on the far right lets you set the PLL clocks on the XEM board to whatever speed you choose (this may potentially be important later). Clicking the middle icon allows you to select the bit code for the device. Lastly, clicking the left-most icon allows you to open up a FrontPanel GUI (graphical user interface).
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