NEW APP: Bus Pirate CPLD/FPGA programmer

Posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 in BP v3, Bus Pirate, CPLD, FPGA, JTAG by Ian

It’s easier to program CPLDs and FPGAs from the Bus Pirate with a new firmware and PC application.

The Bus Pirate has done JTAG with OpenOCD for a long time. OpenOCD is usually overkill for a simple CPLD or FPGA project though, and many find it difficult to get started.

Clear back in Bus Pirate firmware v0c there was a simple JTAG programmer called an XSVF player (PDF). XSVF is a set of instructions that tell a programmer how to wiggle pins in such a manner as to enter the firmware into a JTAG device. The v0c programmer wasn’t very user friendly, and involved dumping a binary file into the terminal.

The XSVF player is back as a new bonus firmware. We also whipped up a PC utility for loading XSVF files directly from the command prompt.

We programed an XC9572XL and XC2C64A using XSVF programming files exported from the Xilinx Impact utility. It isn’t limited to Xilinix chips though. There are utilities that convert normal SVF files from any chip vendor into compressed XSVF files. If you test it please let us know if it worked.

Get your own handy Bus Pirate for $30, including world-wide shipping. Also available from our friendly distributors.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 11:51 am and is filed under BP v3, Bus Pirate, CPLD, FPGA, JTAG. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “NEW APP: Bus Pirate CPLD/FPGA programmer”

  1. Graham Bloice says:

    Those cables look neat, do you have a source?

  2. tbo says:

    Bus Pirate is not $30 including worldwide shipping as above. I am in the UK and it’s a minimum of $41 USD to ship it here according to seeed. Don’t believe the hype.

    • Ian says:

      Hi tbo,

      I’m sorry about the problem ordering the Bus Pirate. Which shipping method did you choose? The standard method should be $2.85 for the Bus Pirate, worldwide, for a total of $30USD. If you had a problem ordering please let me know, nothing has changed as far as I know.



  3. tbo says:

    Ian, please feel free to test using my account if you like – using the email associated with this post and not my previous. The minimum shipping cost it defaults to is $41.32 by UPS Worldwide Expedited. Fortunately I found someone in the UK that has one!

    • Ian says:

      Hi tbo – thanks for the update.

      Only the standard “air mail” option is covered in the $30 price, it usually takes 4-7 days to reach the EU. UPS is a more expensive option.

      I’m glad you found a Bus Pirate somewhere though, sorry we couldn’t sell you one.

      Thanks again,


  4. tbo says:

    I think you are missing the point. Its not available for me for $30 by any shipping option. I just logged in to check, and it still costs $41.32 with no cheap shipping option like you mention (OK store pick-up is cheaper, but I am not in the USA).

    The CPLD programming functionality is great and I look forward to tinkering with it :) Many thanks for this.

  5. Alex says:

    Hey, will this work with the Altera cpld’s? I’m looking at the EPM1270 line specifically.

    • Ian says:

      If the compiler will output .xsvf files (of SVF files you can convert with a utility to XSVF) then it should work. It really depends on the Altera IDE and tools.

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