An Introduction To FPGA and CPLD

This course is meant to create a pathway into learning about FPGA and CPLD electronics, for people who are scared of the code, tools and general trickery that usually comes with it. A hands-on approach is taken in this course through a combination of lecture and experimentation to teach you about the different features of both the development tools and languages used in the world of FPGA. Additionally, visuals are used throughout lectures like step-by-step schematic building and line-by-line code explanations so that everything gets explained.

  1. Lesson 1: The Intro

    Lesson 1: The Intro

    Want to learn about FPGA and CPLD? Please start here! This lesson explains the course content, what expectations you should have and what parts are needed for the course.

    • Lesson 2: Hardware Hello World

      Lesson 2: Hardware Hello World

      Building a ‘hello world’ application signifies a time honored approach to learning how to program. In this lesson, we will explore the first steps necessary for building and loading images onto a CPLD.

      • Lesson 3: Input and Output

        Lesson 3: Input and Output

        All FPGA and CPLD devices have general purpose input and output pins, often called GPIO. Here we will take a look at how to build a CPLD image and hardware to accept push-button input in order to affect output LEDs.

        • Lesson 4: Combinatorial Logic

          Lesson 4: Combinatorial Logic

          In the Introduction to Digital Electronics course, we explored AND, OR, NOT, NOR and other logic gates. Now we’ll harness the power of programmed logic to dynamically create and use these gates in a CPLD.

          • Lesson 5: Procedural Logic

            Lesson 5: Procedural Logic

            FPGA and CPLD devices offer a separate type of logic which happens in series. This is called procedural logic and it uses a clock source to drive the logic contained within the procedure.

            • Lesson 6: Design A Binary Timer

              Lesson 6: Design A Binary Timer

              We built a binary counter using all hardware components in the Digital Course, but now let’s build a binary counter by programming it using VHDL code.

              • Lesson 7: Parallel Hardware

                Lesson 7: Parallel Hardware

                A powerful tool of CPLD and FPGA design is being able to create multiple modules that perform operations in parallel. Let’s explore how this is done and why it is so awesome.

                • Lesson 8: LED Dimming Via PWM

                  Lesson 8: LED Dimming Via PWM

                  We have used PWM in many other courses before, but creating PWM in an FPGA or CPLD requires a different way of thinking. Let’s make our own PWM output module to change the brightness of some LEDs.

                  • Lesson 9: Design A Handheld POV

                    Lesson 9: Design A Handheld POV

                    A very fascinating effect called persistence of vision can easily be created by repeatedly telling a single row of LEDs to output a message. Let’s build a POV with a secret message!

                    • Lesson 10: VHDL vs Verilog vs Schematic

                      Lesson 10: VHDL vs Verilog vs Schematic

                      There are many ways to create a CPLD or FPGA image. The most common methods are with VHDL, Verilog or schematic capture. In this lesson we’ll explore and compare all three.


                      Generally, electronics is a difficult subject mathematically, however theoretically it's actually not as bad if you take a hands-on approach and create vivid imagery to demonstrate what is going on. Using this approach, virtually anyone with a basic math background and a desire to know more about electronics can get started. So the following prerequisites are necessary for this course:



                      This Introduction To FPGA and CPLD course will be split up into 10 lessons with the lecture video for each lesson hosted on youtube. The lectures will be to 8-12 minutes in length so that you have enough time to see the information and can go over it twice to perform any of the experiments while following along with the video. Each lecture will contain 4 main sections: an introduction, theoretical explanation, experiment(s) and real world example(s). In addition, each lesson video will be hosted at PyroEDU with downloadable offline information and material like homework, schematics, formulas and parts information.

                      Course Content

                      1. Introduction (Live!)
                      2. Hardware Hello World (Live!)
                      3. Input and Output (Live!)
                      4. Combinatorial Logic (Live!)
                      5. Procedural Logic (Live!)
                      6. Design a Binary Counter (Live!)
                      7. Parallel Hardware (Live!)
                      8. LED Dimming via PWM (Live!)
                      9. Design a Handheld POV (Live!)
                      10. VHDL vs Verilog vs Schematic (Live!)


                      This course is meant to take you, the learner, from a blank slate to a more informed individual by teaching about electronics in a hands-on way, as the lecture videos will emphasize and guide you with experimentation. You should expect to learn the basics for designing and implementing FPGA and CPLD designs using Altera development tools. Beyond that, you should also expect to get experiencing building digital hardware and controlling it using FPGA code.

                      Additional information

                      This course and its additional material is located at:


                      From there you can access all of the lectures (as we do them) and download homework, schematics, formulas and extra parts information.

                      Teacher qualifications

                      Hello! Aside from building many electronics tutorials and projects, and posting their full hardware schematics and source code on PyroElectro.com, I studied computer and electrical engineering at university and have Bachelor's + Master's degrees in the subject. My work is typically more slanted to digital hardware, however the basics are the same no matter if you're an analog designer or a digital designer.

                      Latest Update
                      Sensors Course - How To Sense Sound Lesson (2015-06-04 21:38:11)

                      "Hello Students!

                      Time to use some sound sensors in our new PyroEDU Introduction to Sensors course. This is a lesson about interfacing with sound sensors, here's a quick overview of this lesson:

                      We all hear and use sound in our daily lives, so we must also learn how to detect sound electronically. In this lesson we will use an electret microphone to convert sound from an acoustic wave, into an electrical signal.

                      Lesson 6 Link: http://www.pyroelectro.com/edu/sensors/sound/

                      Chris @ PyroElectro.com"

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