Breadboarding on a Budget

You might wish to build a project with our chips that's unsuitable for breadboarding on the Evaluation Kit we offer. At the same time, you might not be ready to commit the funds required for a conventional Printed Circuit Board (PCB) process of design, layout, fabrication and assembly until you have tested and optimized your design with a simple breadboard. If you are that person, this page is for you!

Our Alliance with SchmartBoard™

SchmartBoard, Inc.

If you aren't prepared to handle the stencils, squeegees, solder paste and reflow oven or hot plate necessary for assembling surface mount boards yourself, hand breadboarding with modern SMT parts can be a grim undertaking with gruesome casualties. "Dead bug" soldering is all too often literally true with such parts as ours; even "tack soldering" to a QFN pin is tricky to do without melting the package.

Now, however, thanks to SchmartBoard and its wonderful "Electronics for Everyone" philosophy, we have been able to arrange a viable alternative. GreenArrays deeply appreciates the enthusiastic support of SchmartBoard, Inc. in helping us bring their useful technology to our customers, and we are proud to be a SchmartBoard|ez OEM Partner. Click here to learn more about SchmartBoard's solutions for hand soldering:

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SchmartBoard|ez for G144A12

SchmartBoard|ez for the G144A12 Chip

AN005 - Using SchmartBoard with G144A12 Chips Last updated 9/26/2011 Documents our project to validate use of the new SchmartBoard|ez P/N 202-0048-01 with our chips.

Or buy a board and a single chip!

SchmartBoard is offering a bundled deal consisting of one GA144 chip and one of the above boards for an attractive price ($34.95); please see SchmartBoard P/N 202-0048-02.

Suggestion for a Complete System

Although we have not built one yet, it appears that one way to build a minimal but complete system would be to assemble the above board, power it with a 1.8v power supply such as SchmartBoard P/N 710-0003-02 ($10.00), and for high speed serial communication use an FTDI Breakout Board from Sparkfun® Electronics ($17.50). This appears to be a complete, minimal system for less than $65.00 in parts plus some bypass capacitors, wire, and labor.

You will need to be careful with power usage since this power supply is good for only about 400 mW continuous. The FTDI board can be modified to use 1.8V I/O power so that it can talk directly to node 708 on the GA144. You will want to use twisted pairs for transmit, receive, request to send (reset), and power between the GA144 and the FTDI so that communications at 921,600 baud will be reliable. You will also need to obtain the configuration utlility for the FT232RL chip from Future Technology Devices International Ltd. and configure it starting with the templates included in the arrayForth software download. Once all this has been done, we would expect that you could begin programming your chip using the standard arrayForth system we distribute.

One limitation of the 2-layer technology in the SchmartBoard PCB is that it precludes power and ground planes; and because the board is generic for 1x1cm, 88-pin (.4mm) devices, it does not provide a way to place decoupling caps as near the chip as we commonly do (see artwork in the manuals for our evaluation boards.) This can lead to failures under the high dynamic loads you can program our chips to generate; please refer to AN005 cited above for more information.

Customer Support

Please e-mail routine questions, comments, or problems pertinent to our hardware, software or documentation to the GreenArrays Hotline for prompt attention by our Customer Support staff.

For questions about the SchmartBoard itself, please contact SchmartBoard by email or by telephone at (925) 362-0799.

Before contacting Customer Support, please acquaint yourself with all of the relevant documentation published on this website in the Documentation and Software and G144 App Notes pages. Especially, please check the Customer Support Central page, where the very latest releases of documents and software are announced and posted, along with active errata and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. This will be most efficient for all concerned.