Can you configure an Altera Stratix without the nStatus line?

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Hello all,
I recently bought one of the Parallax Stratix "SmartPack" boards on
eBay. It was a good deal, and the FPGA works fine, but I've run into a
bit of trouble with the PX loader program.

I'm not clear whether it is a problem with the loader itself, the
serial port. I don't suspect the PIC microcontroller, as the initial
default configuration loads. The trouble is, I don't understand the
failure, or the protocol. I know from the docs that the binary data is
RLE compressed, but I don't understand the handshaking stuff. I'm
working on finding a workable configuration, but so far it hasn't gone
too well.

In the event that I can't get the PX stuff working, I thought about
just depopulating the PIC, and dead-bugging an appropriate
configuration memory to the board. The problem is that the nStatus line
may not be available. I do have access to nCONFIG, DEV_CLRn, CONF_DONE,
DCLK, and DATA0.

I'm curious to know what would happen if one wired in, say, an EPCx
device, and left the nCS line tied active. In theory, if you don't
reuse the bit in the design, shouldn't it be harmless? Will this
confuse the EPCx?

Thanks!


Re: Can you configure an Altera Stratix without the nStatus line?
Re: Can you configure an Altera Stratix without the nStatus line?

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That's a good link, but not applicable. I can download designs over the
JTAG port, and they work just fine, which implies that the problem
isn't in the configuration bitstream. Note, I used the supplied sample
.qsf file as a reference, so I see the "ES" part in the device
selection page.

The problem is that when I use one of the onboard com ports, the PX
loader  "hangs" midway through the transfer, requiring me to kill the
process. It seems to always occur at 76 bytes, which is curious.

I've also tried it with a USB serial adapter, and the transfer does
seem to complete; but the same design that worked just fine when loaded
via JTAG fails when loaded via PX. I've been nervous about supplying
the /P parameter, to program the onboard EEPROM.

I'm still trying various things, but right now I don't suspect an error
in generating the programming file. It also occurred to me that this
could be why the board was returned in the first place...


Re: Can you configure an Altera Stratix without the nStatus line?
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While it would still be nice to know if the nStatus line can be tied
off during configuration, it appears that the problem was with my PC. I
tried another PC, and the PX loader works just fine.


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