Rapidly-designed boards get redundant systems to customer, yet allow future upgrades.
Around 2001, I designed a complement of boards in a matter of weeks to quickly get redundant converter systems into a customer’s hands.
Initial units used only FPGA logic to avoid firmware development. I designed the display board and logic board to stack using inexpensive 0.1″ pitch connectors, allowing maximum flexibility to change the logic board if needed, and add a future microcontroller board.
Once initial units were shipped to the customer, I more leisurely completed a microcontroller board and firmware. When the micro board was stacked on, it could re-configure the FPGA via firmware. It also added serial communications for monitoring and control, and the ability to upgrade board logic via software.
My idea for the stacking design cleverly allowed us to supply a customer very quickly, yet upgrade them in the future. We ended up using the controller board stack in a number of simple redundancy applications for SatCom.