Designing Custom, Low-Cost Instrumentation for Test and Measurement Using Off-the-Shelf FPGA Modules
by Jake Janovetz, President, Opal Kelly Incorporated
Designing for industrial applications presents many challenges, but it also allows an engineer to be creative, spread her wings, and explore new technologies to solve the task at hand. Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and, in particular, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) FPGA modules can be just the ticket to attack industrial applications that used to be a much more difficult challenge. Development that previously required multiple hardware iterations, taking weeks or months to complete, can now be completed in days by leveraging the rapid prototyping capabilities of FPGAs. One interesting benefit, advocating the use of FPGAs, is that these unprecedented levels of integration allow designers to incorporate custom instrumentation directly into their project. This results in both improved observability and enhanced functionality of the system.