Question about FPGA and signal reception / ADS-B

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Question about FPGA and signal reception / ADS-B

Post by jmaurin » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:11 pm


I'm interested in learning about FPGA and signal reception. I already have some systems for audio and ADS-B reception, but I would like to build my own based on FPGA. The idea is to build something like Plane Finder, FR24 and FlightAware does: a processor board (beagle bone or raspberry) connected to a FPGA board working like a 'dongle'. I would like to learn how FPGA receive and proccess received signal and how it's transfered to board and processed there.
I was looking into KiwiSDR, but it uses a different FPGA than most of learning board....I would like to go for something like Altera Cycclone IV or III, I think it's a common and not so price FPGA. Am I right?

Where I can find information and articles/examples/instructions to learn about this?!
I'm already a C developer and I have some experience (not too much) with ADS-B and dump1090 (I've made some modifications to learn/test, but nothing related to FPGA).

Thank you!

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Re: Question about FPGA and signal reception / ADS-B

Post by aurgathor » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:32 am

First, you need to understand how programmable logic (PLD, FPGA, etc.) works. That's not very complicated.

Next you need to get a development kit and need to learn how to program an FPGA. I haven't done any FPGA work lately, but previously, I used Verilog to write code for it, then used the manufacturer provided silicon compiler (Max+Plus II in my case) to create a bitstream that can be used to program the FPGAs. VHDL is another popular language, but I haven't used that one. It may take a little while to get proficient in either one of them. And then you also need to understand signal processing.

eBay is a good place to find all sort of FPGA dev-kits, but you need to make sure:
1. they come with a complete SW package
2. they have enough examples for self study
3. I'd look for something made/supported by the FPGA maker (Xilinx, Altera, Atmel, etc.) or by a reputable 3rd party such as Digilent. (Disclaimer: I have a couple of Digilent kits)

At your level, I don't think the actual FPGA would matter that much, but if you can find some open source FPGA code relevant to what you want to do, it is likely to be easier to reuse it using the same FPGA, or an FPGA from the same family.

There's are bunch of Cyclone kits here: ... -kits.html (select Cyclone and sort by price)
and here: ... e&_sacat=0

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