different people at different ages have different meaning of FUN.
Too my very surprise Xilinx Spartan3e Sample Pack has been proved itself to be fun for my younger son who is 3.5 years old and for myself. The Sample Pack comes with 2 designs loaded, first the running LEDs starts, on push of the button Dice game is loaded using the Multi Boot Feature. So while I was working with the board my son did come to look what I am doing, and he played with the board pretty long time showing real interest in it. I had the secondary design image in the top flash erased so each time my son triggered multi boot I had to reconfigure the FPGA manually with either the running LEDs or Dice game. I was doing it with Sample Pack standaalone utility that displays the LED status on screen in near realtime. So I explained to my son that the LEDs on the board are also displayed on screen so we pushed in turns and then looked to monitor to see the number of the Dice game. Also it was amazing to see how my son tried to figure it out, following the power supply cables from the board, then the JTAG cable from board to Cable IV and then to the PC. Like trying to follow the electrons without really knowing that.
All this play did keep my son interested way beyound I would have expected. Actually I got tired before he did. So even if that Rotating LEDs + Dice game looked a bit silly for me at the first look, it is not so bad choice, at least those of us with kids may find that the Sample Pack entertainment level is pretty good.
Now, lets see what fun has the board provided for me. First I did burn the board in with cheap power supply and had to replace the switching supply and the StrataFlash on the board. That wasnt fun. After that the board seemed to work. At least the running LED and Dice did work ok.
But in the matter of fact the FPGA was damaged as well. After figuring it out that the FPGA fabric is really faulty Iimpact verify says 460000 bits out of 560000 have verify errors !!!
I was able to rewrite my RTL code to be more fault tolerant and after that it works. So I fixed an faulty FPGA to work by re-implemnting a design. Doing that was FUN for me.
I hope that Spartan3e can provide some fun times for all ages and levels of expertize.
-- The faulty FPGA on my board doesnt mean that the Spartan3E are bad, actually it shows that FPGAs are very good and useable even on an board where almost all other silicon was severly damaged due to power surge. The FPGA survived at least partially and is still at least partially useable.