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Adam Taylor’s MicroZed Chronicles, Part 212: Building an IoT Application with the MiniZed Dev Board

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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By Adam Taylor


Avnet’s Zynq-based MiniZed is one of the most interesting dev boards we have looked at in this series. Thanks to its small form factor and its WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, it is ideal for demonstrating Internet of Things (IoT) applications. We are now going to combine the FLIR Lepton camera module with the MiniZed and use them both to create a simple IOT application.






The approach I am going to follow for this demonstration is to update the MiniZed PetaLinux hardware design to do the following:


  • Interface with the FLIR Lepton camera module
  • Implement a video-processing pipeline that supports a 7-inch touch display connected to the MiniZed’s Pmod ports


The use of the local 7-inch touch display has two purposes. First, it demonstrates that the FLIR Lepton camera and the MiniZed are correctly working before I invest too much time in getting WiFi image transmission working. Second, the touch display could be used for local control and display, if required in an industrial (IIoT) application for example.


Opening the existing MiniZed Vivado project, you will notice it contains the Zynq (for the first time a single core Zynq) and an RTL block that interfaces with the WiFi and Bluetooth radio modules. This interface uses processing systems’ (PS’) SDIO0 for the WiFi interface and UART0 for Bluetooth. When we develop software, we must therefore remember to define the STDIN/STDOUT as being PS UART1 if we need a UART for debugging.


To this diagram we will add the following IP Blocks:


  • Quad SPI Core – Configured for single-mode operation. Receives the VoSPI from the Lepton.
  • Video Timing Controller – Generates the video timing signals for display output.
  • VDMA – Reads an image from the PS DDR and converts it into a PL (programmable logic) AXI Stream.
  • AXI Stream to Video Out – Converts the AXI Streamed video data to parallel video with timing synchronization provided by the Video Timing Core.
  • Zed_ALI3_Controller – Display controller for the 7-inch touch-screen display.


The Zed_ALI3_Controller IP block can be downloaded from the AVNET GitHub. Once downloaded, running the TCL script within the Vivado project will create an IP block we can include in our design.


The clocking architecture is now a little more complicated and includes the new Zed_ALI3_Controller block. This module generates the pixel clock, which is supplied to the VTC and the AXIS to Video blocks. Zynq-generated clocks provide the reference clock to the Zed_ALI3_Controller (33.33MHz) and the AXI Networks.


This demonstration uses two AXI networks. The first is the General-Purpose network. Te software uses this GP AXI network to configure IP blocks within the PL including the VDMA and VTC.


The second AXI network uses the High Performance AXI interface to transfer images from the PS DDR memory into the image-processing stream in the PL.





The complete block diagram




To connect the FLIR Lepton camera module, we will connect it as we did previously (p1 & p2) to the MiniZed shield connector, making use of the shield’s I2C and SPI connections.


The I2C pins are mapped into the constraints file already used for the temperature and motion sensors. Therefore, all we need to do is add the SPI I/O pin locations and standards.


The FLIR Lepton camera’s AREF supply pin is not enabled. To power the camera on the shield connector as in the previous example, we take 5V power from a flying lead connected to the opposite shield connector’s 5V supply and the back of the FLIR Lepton camera.





FLIR Lepton Connected to the MiniZed in the Shield Header




We’ll need both Pmod connectors To output the image to the 7-inch display. The pin-out required appears below. The differential pins on the Pmod connector are used for the video output lines with the I/O standard set to TMDS_33.






Pmod Pinout




With the basic hardware design in place all that remains now is to generate the software builds. Initially, I will build a bare metal application to verify that this design functions as intended. This step-by-step process stems from my strong belief in incremental verification as a project progresses.




  • You need to install the MiniZed board definition files into your Vivado /data/boards/board_files directory to work with the MiniZed dev board. If you have not already done so, they are available here.


  • This blog welcomes Daniel Taylor, born today.




Code is available on Github as always.



If you want E book or hardback versions of previous MicroZed chronicle blogs, you can get them below.




  • First Year E Book here
  • First Year Hardback here.



MicroZed Chronicles hardcopy.jpg 



  • Second Year E Book here
  • Second Year Hardback here



MicroZed Chronicles Second Year.jpg

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