Feasibility Study on the Use of the UP3 Board
as a Digital Pattern Generator
ECE 2031: Digital Design Laboratory
Length: Body of report not to exceed 10 pages
Point Distribution: 500 points
Report Due Date: Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 (in your lab section)
Required Consultations: 9/15 – 9/26 (students are required to sign up for an
appointment with their GTA to review a FULL rough draft of
the report; you will receive more info about scheduling an
appointment in lab the week of 9/8)
A digital pattern generator is an instrument that is used to output time-varying digital patterns (parallel bits, or ―words‖). A user can specify the patterns and the rate at which they change. For example, one
such pattern could be four bits that count 0000, 0001, 0010, 0011, …, 1111, 0000, 0001,…at a specified
rate of 1 MHz (where the count changes every microsecond). A reasonable definition of a digital pattern
generator with more detail can be found in the Wikipedia entry at
Read that description before continuing.
A feasibility study is a particular type of research report in which the author attempts to show, with little
or no actual development effort, that something is possible. It typically relies upon thorough study of
applicable prior work in the area, and a complete knowledge of problem constraints. The purpose of a
feasibility study is often to lay the groundwork for a full proposal to begin development. For example,
Georgia Power might be interested in whether it is possible to build a geothermal power plant in north
Georgia, so they might direct an engineer to write a feasibility study. The engineer would have some
knowledge of constraints (geographical location, expected power output, expected profitability) and
would then begin research into several areas, including latest technology, typical construction costs,
government regulations, and current tax incentives for building such ecologically friendly facilities.
Writing Assignment #1 is not directly tied to any of the laboratory exercises, although it assumes a
working knowledge of the UP3 board. It does not require any hardware or software development,
although it is possible that some students will produce superior results by doing so (but remember that the
intent of a feasibility study is only to perform minimal actual development).
The assignment is to write a feasibility study on the use of the UP3 board as a digital pattern generator.
The constraints are that a finished device would
? Work equally well on a UP3-1C6 board or a UP3-1C12 board (i.e., with either version of the
? Not require any external hardware other than (at most)
o A power supply
o A PC for programming/downloading (and optionally for control during operation)
o The normal attached 2-line LCD
o The normal monitor, accessible through the KVM switch
o Keyboard and/or mouse
o Cables for connecting the above, including the possibility of serial (RS-232), parallel, or
? Provide all pattern outputs on J1, J2, and/or J3, with some suitable cable(s)
? Be implementable by a team of 2031 students (hint, hint)
It is not possible to perform this study without fully understanding the UP3 manuals, available at
That’s your only background research tip. Cite these and other references that you end up using.
It is expected that you may make some naïve assumptions about the usage of features with which you
have no prior experience. In an attempt to minimize that, note the following:
? The USB interface on the UP3 is really only accessible if you go through the trouble of
implementing the embedded NIOS processor in the FPGA, which is an advanced topic that will
not be covered in 2031, requiring knowledge of another tool equally as complex as Quartus II.
? The VGA output is severely limited in terms of the complexity of display. There is, for example,
not enough memory in the FPGA to support a full screen of memory-mapped graphics at even
low resolutions. Instead, the color of each pixel needs to be computed or looked up quickly by
some algorithm. You should base the complexity of any possible VGA usage on textbook
examples or demonstrations at the author’s web site: http://users.ece.gatech.edu/~hamblen/UP3/
? Mouse or keyboard interfacing is not too difficult. Again, see textbook examples or the Hamblen
web site as models of feasibility. There is only one PS/2 port, so using both a keyboard and
mouse would merit some discussion of how that would be feasible.
Structure and Content of Feasibility Reports:
The goal of a feasibility report is to determine whether or not something is possible. Simply put,
feasibility reports answer ―yes‖ or ―no‖ to the problem at hand.
The sections of feasibility reports are as follows:
? Executive Summary
? Alternatives and Rationale
The information below is intended to help you determine what technical content is appropriate for this
assignment and how to most effectively organize this content so that you can produce a report that is both
thorough and cohesive. Keep in mind, however, that simply including the technical content listed here
DOES NOT ensure a passing grade. You must provide a context for this information, discuss the
concepts clearly, and present findings so that substantial conclusions can be drawn.
Title: The title of your report is ―Feasibility Study on the Use of the UP3 Board as a Digital Pattern Generator.‖ Note that titles of technical documents are descriptive.
Executive Summary: The Executive Summary summarizes the entire document in approximately half a
page and in one paragraph. Even though this is the first section of the report, it is written last. It’s hard to
summarize something that you haven’t written. The ES clearly states the purpose of the study and
summarizes the findings. You’re not writing a mystery novel here; let the reader know your findings up
front! Executive Summaries are self-contained and do not refer to or include tables, figures, or citations
As you write the ES, it may help to ask yourself some questions:
? If a busy executive picks this up to read just the Executive Summary, with no knowledge of my
task, will it be clear why I did this study? Will he or she want to read more?
? What is the impact of the feasibility study? Was the answer ―Yes?‖
Introduction: This section should clearly state the problem being studied (purpose of the study) and list
Background: This section summarizes the prior art—what others have done in relation to the problem.
The Background provides the reader with ―the big picture‖ and puts the study into a larger context so that
the reader understands the alternatives being presented in the report. All sources (websites, textbooks,
manuals, journal articles, data sheets, etc.) must be cited using IEEE citation guidelines. The Background
section shows the reader that you are up-to-date on the subject and that you have done the research
necessary to present the findings.
Alternatives and Rationale: This is where you present your technical findings. In this section, you will explain what is feasible in terms of the use of the UP3 board as a digital pattern generator. Your
discussion will include the number of bits, how fast they can change, and how sophisticated the user
interface can be. In this section, you will present and evaluate the alternative(s) and explain why they
work. Anytime you can show information rather than write about it, do so. Figures, tables, and diagrams
are key elements of all technical reports. You may be wondering if we want you to present more than one
alternative. It's up to you. If you think all expected variations are generally similar, then describe it as a
single alternative. But if you see more than one distinctly different approach, with no reason to discard
the additional ones, it would be worth describing them. And this places some burden on you of listing
some of the merits and disadvantages of each, WITHOUT going into the exhaustive detail of making a
choice as you would do in a proposal.
Conclusions: The Conclusions section is not a recap of the report. This section answers the question,
―What can I conclude about these findings?‖ That is, what is the significance of the findings. In a
feasibility report, you are answering whether or not something is possible. The answer should be stated
explicitly and should include a brief summary of the alternative(s). You will NOT recommend any
particular alternative. This is a feasibility study, not a proposal or recommendation report.
? When in doubt, ask! Dr. Collins and I and the GTA writing consultants are available to help you
with this and all writing assignments in this course.
? WARNING—Do not plagiarize! Without proper attribution, you should not copy definitions or
explanations of key concepts (or anything else for that matter) from websites, textbooks used in
previous courses, the lab manual, your friends or fellow classmates, or any other sources. If you do
use any information from any source, you must cite the source using IEEE documentation guidelines.
A link to the IEEE website is available on the UPCP 2031 page.
? The Executive Summary is the only section of the report on a separate page. All other sections are
continuous. Begin the Introduction on page 2; if the Introduction runs a page and a half, begin the
Background section immediately after the last paragraph of the Introduction by double spacing and
placing a heading, bold, flush left.
? Use 11 or 12-point font and double-space the entire report.
? Proofread your report carefully! Spell check!
? GTA writing consultants are available to assist you during any stage in the writing process. Please
make use of these very valuable resources. All GTAs hold office hours in the Professional
Communication Studio, Van Leer 448. You can make appointments through TutorTrac. GTAs will
go over the process of scheduling a consultation in lab next week. YOU WILL LOSE POINTS IF
YOU DO NOT SCHEDULE AND ATTEND A CONSULTATION WITH A GOOD DRAFT IN
HAND. Realize that this class is large. Do not wait until the last minute to seek help – there may be
a long line!