4 responses to “Development Kits 101: What Makes A Good Dev Kit”

  1. Chris McClelland

    What irritates me is electronic devkits which are brilliantly designed pieces of hardware, but which are let down by their supporting firmware and/or software. Even worse is if the software is good but either single-platform, closed-source or comes with licensing restrictions which mean it cannot be used in a real product.

    Much as I like Digilent’s products, they do fail in this regard. Their software is poorly-designed, closed-source, and licensed so you may only run it on Digilent hardware. So you only find out you’ve got a Show Case Dev Kit after you’ve invested time and effort using it.

    For this reason I made FPGALink[1], a cross-platform open-source library, firmware and VHDL reference design for Digilent’s Nexys2 and Atlys boards (and any others using the Cypress FX2LP for USB communication). You can JTAG-program the FPGA and then communicate with it, all over USB.

    [1] http://bit.ly/fpgalnk-blog

  2. gasstationwithoutpumps

    Windows-only code is a no-go for me.

    All the code that comes with a development kit should be open source and well documented.

    Actually, I prefer not using cutting-edge parts that need custom development kits. Far better for me to use technology that has been around long enough to be thoroughly tested and with lots of development help already available. But if you need the latest stuff, you’re stuck with whatever crap the manufacturer throws together to make deadline.

  3. Hudson

    My post isn’t about Dev KITS so much as as similar past experience with a micro-controller. In one of my classes, my professor switched from the Pic to MSP430. I found the MSP430, despite being developed by TI and having an endless amount of sample codes available online, had poor documentation. For many first time programmers, orienting yourself is impossible.

    I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of what needs to be in a kit, and I would like to add that documentation that is concise and obvious (don’t leave anything to assumption) to even a first time Dev Kit user. Thanks for sharing!

  4. School vs. Work (by Carmen Parisi) | Engineer Blogs

    […] — Not long after I started work, I completed my first schematic for an eval board. I remember thinking it would be ready for layout relatively quick as I sent it off to other […]