Carte Blanche is an Apple II FPGA based peripheral board that allows existing and new Apple II cards to be recreated and used in Apple II, II+, IIe, IIGS and III systems. The programmable Xilinx XC3S250E or 500E provides a plethora of logic resources to capture the most complex of Apple II expansion card designs, or to accommodate complex new technologies that can be brought to the Apple II to continue its useful and interesting life. Additional expansion is provided by the on-card standard Nanoboard style peripheral board, giving the card a range of existing technologies ready to simply be plugged in. Carte Blanche comes with standard common peripherals on board, which includes an SD IO Card, memory, Clock, Flash, IDE hard disk interface and SVGA interface. Carte Blanche expands the soft Apple concept by not only making available an easy medium for reproducing existing designs, but also by bringing powerful new peripherals to the Classic Apple II. Carte Blanche is set up, designed and debugged in the soft Apple development environment, before becoming a complete independent Apple II peripheral board ready to be plugged straight into a real Apple of your choice.
Carte Blanche I FPGA Peripheral Board (2009)
The Nanoboard, as part of its design environment, has available various peripheral boards that can be used with Carte Blanche. Some examples of boards available to use in this way are PB12, an audio/video card; PB02, a Mass Storage/Compact flash/SD card; PB05, a wireless Ethernet, Zigbee and Bluetooth board; PB03, a USB, 10/100Mb Ethernet Interface and IrDA board; and PB13 an HDMI Interface board.
Carte Blanche features:
Either a Xilinx XC3S250E, 250,000 logic gate FPGA or a 500E, 500,000 logic gate FPGA for processing, combinational logic and interface
All required power supplies contained on card
Standard JTAG interface with both hard and soft JTAG chains
An Apple Mini SVGA interface
Nanoboard style IO expansion card support
SDIO Interface for SD or SPI Wireless Ethernet, memory cards and devices
Standard 40 pin 2.54mm IDE/EIDE Interface
8Mbit onboard flash for bitstreams and ROM images
On board 256K x8 8ns high speed SRAM for cache and ROM images
On board 14.31818MHz (Standard Apple Bus) global clock
External additional 5VDC power jack
Standard Apple II card footprint
May be used as an Apple II plug in card or as an independant design without needing to be interfaced to the Apple II bus (ie - a complete independant Apple II system on the board)
Reserved area for IO and cable connections
Bus power status LED indicators (+5/-5/+12/-12)
Two layer, single sided low cost design
Easily hand-assembled by experienced assembler
The Carte Blanche (2009) run was completed successfully and had several examples built to demonstrate the capabilities of the board. Examples include the popular Microsoft Z80 Softcard, the Stellation II 6809 Mill card and a standard VGA video card.
The Carte Blanche II (2015) run followed with 60 boards manufactured and shipped. A number of CBII projects have been listed on this site for open use.
The original FPGA based Apple II compatible peripheral board
Carte Blanche and the Apple II Slots board in an FPGA based Apple II motherboard.
Carte Blanche is capable of recreating existing cards as well as enabling new peripheral cards. We are exploring new options and the capabilities of Carte Blanche as we develop test applications and demonstrations for the card. For a summary of Carte Blanche's ability to replace existing cards please see "Carte Blanche AII replacement cards.pdf".
Carte Blanche is batch manufactured with either 250K or 500K gate FPGA devices.
Carte Blanche assemblies ready for diagnostics and programming.
Final Carte Blanche assemblies going through burn-in testing.
Although Carte Blanche schematics and source documents detail a particular set of IO peripherals as a fixed standard, Carte Blanche is able to program most of its IO to be any of the common logic interfaces available today. For example, through software programming an Input can be reconfigured as an Output or vice versa. Expected logic signalling levels are selectable from 3.3V, 2.5V and 1.8V (for speed only). Output drive current, such as 16mA, 12mA, 8mA etc are also selectable. Additional features such as programmable PullUp resistors, or PullDown resistors are available on all IO's, making interface and experimenting easy.
For information regarding Carte Blanche's FPGA capabilities, see the following reference documentation from Xilinx;
UG332 - Xilinx Spartan-3 Generation Configuration User Guide
XAPP453 - The 3.3V Configuration of Spartan-3 FPGAs
An example would be the Carte Blanche SVGA port, which is configurable. To the FPGA it is a group of generic pins capable of being whatever the designer would like them to be. SVGA, VGA, PS2, I2S Audio, SPI, I2C, PWM, JTAG, UART, SD Card, etc or a combination of any of these. As long as there are enough physical pins on a particular connector to interface to the device you wish to connect to, then the FPGA will be able to accommodate the right electrical setup and direction for most pins. The only exclusion is for 5V devices, which require some form of level translation. This can be as simple as a resistor in most circumstances.