Is the Papilio the Arduino of the FPGA world?

The Papilio has been designed from the very beginning with the intention of doing for the FPGA community what the Arduino did for the microcontroller community. The goal all along has been to try and recreate the same characteristics that has made the Arduino so compelling:

  • Simple,  inexpensive, and Open Source circuit board.
  • Expandability – Arduino uses Shields and the Papilio uses Wings.
  • IDE that makes development easy – The Papilio has adopted the Arduino IDE.
  • Most importantly is that it provides a spark that lights the imagination with the potential of all the things you can do with this little board.

Now the Papilio has a long way to go before it can be considered the “Arduino for the FPGA” but we are striving every day to make it a reality. We have managed to accomplish the first three goals with the Papilio One and the AVR8 soft processor. The Papilio One is inexpensive, modular, and Open Source while the AVR8 soft processor provides the compatibility that allows the Arduino IDE to be used with little modification to the existing libraries. All together it is a system that is as easy to use as an Arduino but puts all of the potential of an FPGA at your fingertips! All the things you’ve wanted to do, are possible with an FPGA. What we are missing is that final bullet point, lighting that spark that lets people see the potential of what they can do with the Papilio.

In the coming days we are going to be working overtime to provide examples of what can be done with the Papilio. We’ve started with the following projects:

  • Papilio Barcode Genie kit – This kit is the first example of building something useful out of Wings and tying it all together with a simple sketch. The thing that is compelling about this kit is that it is easy to expand and to hack in any functionality that you want. With three 8-bit slots open you can add any hardware module that you need and the FPGA gives you the flexibility to interface with anything.
  • Papilio Arcade kit – This kit shows what the FPGA is actually capable of by accurately recreating classic arcade games like Pac-Man. This is not emulation, this is studying the original motherboards and defining the same chips that were used on the motherboard inside the FPGA. The end result is hardware that acts exactly like the original hardware did. Right now Pac-Man works and we hope to get developers on board to port Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Space Invaders, and even the Atari 2600 and NES.
  • “Sump” Logic Analyzer – The “Sump” Logic Analyzer is a 32 channel Logic Analyzer that can capture at speeds up to 200Mhz and is the same project that the OpenBench Logic Sniffer is based on. The project currently works with the Papilio One but the challenge now is to port all the features we added to the OpenBench Logic Sniffer to the Papilio One. Coming soon will be faster serial speeds and data depths of 24K for 8 channels.

As we strive to show what can be accomplished with the Papilio we hope people will agree that this little board can become the “Arduino” of the FPGA.

Papilio Platform Quickstart Guide

Papilio Quick Start Guide


Welcome to the Papilio Quickstart Guide and the exciting world of FPGA development made easy. This guide covers the basics of installing the software and drivers needed to load the various projects that you create for or download to the Papilio Platform hardware. It also covers loading a basic, “Hello World” bitstream that blinks pins and outputs an ASCII table over the serial port.

Continue reading “Papilio Platform Quickstart Guide”