Cubic Cyclonium

March 24, 2004

So early last week, I received the coolest thing from a guy at Altera. It’s called the Cubic Cyclonium, and it makes one heck of a paperweight. In essence, it’s a small system designed around an Altera Cyclone FPGA and includes a bunch of cool stuff (168 LED array, 1MB of SRAM, VGA out), all embedded in a block of clear Lexan plastic. It draws power over a USB cable, includes software to program it to do a variety of neat demos (defaults to displaying time and date, can display a scrolling marquee text message, stock quotes, and several games/screensavers including tetris, pong, life, etc). The VGA also sends out a basic Altera video demo (Altera logo, rotating 3D cube consisting of dots, etc). They’ve also included all sorts of documentation and source code for all the demo software/designs. Here’s a little picture from some of the documentation:

Cubic Cyclonium

Hopefully I’ll get around to taking some better pictures tomorrow including some showing off the LED array. I haven’t yet figured out what cool thing I want to program it to do, but the Cyclone should be able to do all sorts of stuff. From what I understand, I should even be able to get one of their soft core Nios processors to compile onto it and do some interesting stuff with that (although I’m not sure what software I need to do that and if it’s freely available or not).