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[FAQ] Getting Started Information for TI DLP® Pico™ EVMs

Genius 17620 points

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FAQ Table of Contents

 

  • What are EVMs?
    • EVM stands for evaluation module. TI sells EVMs in order to enable easy evaluation of our ICs (integrated circuits). The DLP® Products group sells a wide variety of EVMs to enable easy evaluation of our technology. Most DLP Pico™ EVMs come with complete projection optics, an illumination driver, a front end video IC, and an accompanying software GUI to control the EVM from a PC. Some DLP EVMs are simpler and lack projection optics, illumination drivers, etc.

  • Why purchase a DLP Pico EVM over an end product?
    • Unlike end products, EVMs are generally released with a complete schematic, layout, BOM (bill of materials), and software to help developers get started. Additionally, various additional components (such as test points) are included to facilitate signal probing and system modifications. While EVMs replicate most of the basic functionality of an end product, they are not designed for consumer use. Modifications an engineer would need to make to the EVM design in order to create an end product would include removing certain test points, adding an OSD (on screen display), creating customer friendly packaging, obtaining certification to consumer FCC and other regulations, and more.

  • Is it difficult to get started with EVMs?
    • It is our goal to make use of an EVM as easy as possible and to provide a great out-of-box experience. However, our EVMs are intended for engineers to use for development projects. These are not consumer projectors. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals purchasing our EVMs have some technical background to take full advantage of their feature set. We are happy to answer questions about using our EVMs on the E2E Forums.

  • What functionality is generally included in the EVM and what can be easily modified?
    • DLP chipset (DMD, controller, and PMIC): Provides the core projector functionality.
    • Optical engine with LEDs: Used to illuminate, project, and focus the image generated on the DMD
      • Flex cable: Used to connect the optical engine to the system electronics.
      • Note that it is possible to reuse an optical engine with different system electronics if the pinout is compatible and if the resulting DLP chipset (DMD, controller, and PMIC) are supported by TI.
    • Front end processor (e.g. IT6801): Converts external video data (usually from an HDMI interface) to an interface the DLP controller accepts (usually a parallel interface).
    • Flash memory: Stores the DLP controller firmware that is required to run the projector. Users can update this firmware with the latest TI-provided firmware available on TI.com and are often able to make some custom changes as well. Firmware contains controller embedded software, splash images, initialization configuration information, and more.
    • Cypress IC: Used as a USB to I2C and USB to SPI converter. This enables a PC to connect to the EVM and send commands on the I2C and SPI bus. I2C is used to communicate to the controller and SPI is used to rewrite the flash.
    • MSP430: Automatically configures various settings over I2C (such as setting up the front end processor or changing DLP controller registers). Users are free to modify the MSP430 program to change its functionality. By default at startup the MSP430 acts as the I2C master configuring and controlling both the ITE IC and DLP controller in order to display images from the HDMI port. Whenever the GUI connects to the EVM, the GUI performs a handshake protocol with the MSP430 when sending I2C commands to become the I2C master. The MSP430 also processes on-board push-button keypads to cycle through various display modes. One can refer to the respective EVM user guide on the push-button related functions. Source code for the MSP430 on our EVMs is generally provided on TI.com.

  • Can EVMs be bought in volume and incorporated in my end-product?
    • We do not sell EVMs for use in end products. However, customers are encouraged to use our reference designs in order to build their own end product. Alternatively we have many design partnerswho may sell products based off of our EVMs in high volume.  

  • Where can I find the EVM design files (e.g. schematics, board layouts, etc.)?
    • Our EVM design files are published as reference designs on ti.com. A link to the reference design can be found on the EVM home page. An example link to one of our EVM pages is www.ti.com/tool/DLPDLCR2010EVM.

  • What is difference between Display and Light Control EVMs? Which is suited for my application?
    • Generally speaking, Light Control EVMs are a superset of Display EVMs in terms of features. Light Control EVMs offers additional functions such as more pixel accurate image recreation (from video source to DMD mirrors), higher frame rates, external synchronization with cameras through input and output triggers, and software support to more easily enable Light Control applications. Light Control applications include 3D printing, 3D scanning, spectroscopy, and more.

  • What type of power supply is needed for EVMs?
    • Most DLP Pico EVMs utilize a 2.5mm DC power jack connector at either 19VDC or 5VDC. The user must provide this input from an external source (usually an AC to DC power brick converter). The exact requirements for each system can be found in the corresponding EVM user’s guide. It is important to not use a power supply with an output voltage higher than the specified amount as the components on the power input rail could become damaged. Lower voltages will not cause damage; however, the EVM may not operate properly. If an EVM is damaged, it may be possible to fix it by replacing the components that were exposed to the higher voltage (often the PMIC or an external regulator); however, this is not guaranteed to fix the problem. If you are unsure of what power supply to use with your system, reach out to us on the E2E forums.

  • Can I get a flex cable replacement or other replacement parts?
    • TI does generally not sell EVM specific replacement parts (such as flex cables). Some ICs may individually be purchased form TI or third parties. Please view the relevant website for the desired replacement IC to see if individual orders are possible.

  • Where can the EVM be repaired?
    • Certain issues may be covered if the EVM is still under warranty. TI does not offer an EVM repair service. However, we will be happy to provide debugging support as needed to on the E2E Forums in the event your EVM becomes damaged. Note that using the incorrect power-supply or operating the EVM at a very low or very high temperature is likely not covered under warranty.

  • Can I get Zemax file or optical details of the optical engine used in EVM?
  • Where can I get software for the EVMs?
    • Please view the EVM page and look for the desired EVM firmware. A specific link example is www.ti.com/tool/DLPDLCR2010EVM. There is often additional software such as a GUI (to enable communication with the EVM from your PC) and the MSP430 source code.

  • What are the different options available to modify the firmware/image file released for the EVM?
    • Many software changes can be done by sending various I2C commands to configure the EVM as desired. Certain EVMs also enable the firmware image to be modified with different options in the GUI. These options could include changing the splash screens, modifying an autoinitialization file, changing the RGB LED duty cycles, etc. After the change is made via the GUI, the new firmware can be flashed to the EVM. Various changes (such as changing DMD pin mapping, changing the supported PMIC, etc.) must be made by TI. These changes are only needed when modifying the design (such as for your end product). You are free to use the unmodified or modified firmware in your end product under the applicable license(s).

  • What should I do when the EVM doesn’t connect to the PC/Desktop?
    • Please ensure you have the latest EVM GUI and accompanying drivers (often bundled with the GUI installer) installed on your PC. Most of our GUIs are designed for Windows 7 or Windows 10. Other operating systems may not work. In case of GUI failure, always try to troubleshoot with different USB cables and/or PCs to ensure the problem is related to the EVM. If you still have trouble, feel free to reach out on the E2E forums.

  • What should I do when the EVM doesn’t display the video from the HDMI port?
    • Please change the input source in the EVM GUI to “external video mode” and ensure the source resolutions are properly configured. Additionally, ensure your video source is properly outputting video. This may require configuring your external monitor setup if using a PC as your video source.

1 Reply

  • If you have any additional questions not addressed in FAQ please feel free to search the E2E forums or ask a new question! 

    Thanks,
    Kyle

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