Field Servicing using the Viewer Edition of Altium Designer

Frozen Content

For a Field Application Engineer, or Service Engineer out in the field, access to the GUI of a Custom Instrument, embedded within an FPGA design, could not be simpler. A trusty laptop computer loaded with the Viewer Edition of Altium Designer is all that is needed.

Custom instrumentation, as well as various other virtual instruments can be accessed without Altium Designer or the Viewer Edition of Altium Designer, using the standalone Altium Instrument Dashboard.

Simply connect your laptop to the target in which the design is currently running – which could be one of Altium's off-the-shelf Deployment NanoBoard solutions – start the Viewer, and access the Devices view. While the Viewer does allow access to the Devices view, the only functionality that can be accessed in terms of NanoBoards, Hard and Soft devices, is that of the Custom Instrument component. The type of NanoBoard you are connected to will appear in the NanoBoard chain of the view, but all other devices and components will appear as generic entities. You can not access the Process Flow for a physical device and therefore cannot program any devices from the view.

Only the instrument panel associated with the Custom Instrument can be accessed, by double-clicking on the icon for the instrument in the Soft Devices chain of the view.

It is important to note that in order to access and use the Custom Instrument at run-time from the Viewer, the instrument must have been configured (in Altium Designer during the design phase) such that the Configuration Retrieval option is set to From FPGA. This ensures that the configuration information for the instrument is downloaded with the design to the physical device (and stored in Block RAM).


Figure 1. Accessing the associated panel for the Custom Instrument from within the Devices view (within the Viewer Edition of Altium Designer).

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