If you want to buy a FPGA board, then the good news is that you have a lot of options these days. There was a time when FPGAs were a niche thing, and you had to contact the manufacturer and ask for information from about authorised resellers – but now, thanks to the explosion of hobbyist tech via the Arduino and Raspberry Pi, awareness of more advanced electronics – such as FPGAs – has grown too.
FPGA starter boards online
You can pick up FPGA starter boards online quite easily – even ones that are made by Actel or Xilinx. There are Spartan starter boards for sale on Amazon, for example, and you can pick up baords on ebay as well. If buying online without advice is a little intimidating ofr you, then it’s likely that you could walk in to your local MakerSpace and get recommendations there – some bigger cities may even have stores in the Maker Space that sell starter kits based on common boards, so that you can work with VHDL at home and start making your own projects.
Cheap development board
Cheap development boards are easy to come by. If you don’t need external memory or a lot of I/O options, then you can probably pick up a board for as little as $30. If you do want to work on more expensive and complex projects then you might end up spending more like $250, but even so, for that money you will get something that allows you to work on skills that employers would find desirable, and you will be ready to work on digital cameras, ultrasound machines, avionics and so much more, should you decide that you want a career in engineering.
Communicate with a Starter Board
You will need a computer to communicate with a starter board and program it, but the software used for transfering the VHDL scematics to a board is not particularly demanding and should run on any machine that has the right ports (usually USB these days), and that can connect to the internet. This is a low cost hobby to get started with, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also something that you will never stop learning with, and that really challenges you mentally – so if you’re bored with simple circuits, and want to try something new, pick up an altera fpga board online, and start brainstorming your next exciting electronic project.