Airstack Firmware Installation

This document describes how to flash the firmware on the AIR-T's FPGA with a new or updated image. Firmware images for the AIR-T are provided as part of the overall AirStack software package.


This software package is provided by Deepwave Digital, Inc.


To flash the firmware on the AIR-T you will need:

  • A host machine running Linux*
  • An AIR-T
  • A USB micro cable

* It is possible to flash the AIR-T firmware with Vivado on an operating system supported by Vivado, however this bash script only runs on Linux.

Linux Host Machine Requirements

We recommend running Ubuntu 16.04+ with the software outlined below installed.

Vivado for Linux

To flash the FPGA on the AIR-T, Vivado is currently required to be installed on the host. You may install full Vivado if you will be developing FGPA code. If you are just using Vivado to flash the FPGA, we recommend installing the lighter version, Vivado Lab Edition:

The flash_firmware install script will look for the Vivado Lab executable in:


which is the default installation location. If you choose to install Vivado in a different location, you must let the script know by passing the -v parameter.

Digilent JTAG Drivers for Linux

This is the driver for Linux to communicate with the USB JTAG module on the AIR-T. To set this up, install the following drivers on the host:

AIR-T Hardware Connections

USB to USB Micro Cable

The FPGA on the AIR-T requires a USB connection to the host from the JTAG module (U23). If the AIR-T is in its enclosure, you will need to remove the cover to get access to the JTAG module. If you are having trouble plugging in the USB micro cable to U23, you may either remove the board from the enclosure or use an angled USB micro cable, suck as the StarTech 90 degree Micro USB Cable - A to Down Angle Micro B.

Figure 1: Image of the AIR-T and the relevant interfaces highlighted.

Firmware Flashing Utility

The flash_firmware script has a help menu that defines the input commands:

$ ./flash_firmware -h
This script will flash the firmware on the AIR-T.
Author: Deepwave Digital, Inc.

Usage: sudo ./flash_firmware [options]
Program Options:
  -h              Display this help message
  -a [path]       Path to Airstack files (default=$cwd)
  -v [file]       Vivado / Vivado Lab executable (default=/opt/Xilinx/Vivado_Lab/2017.4/bin/vivado_lab)

Note: if you have installed Vivado in a non-default location, you must pass the location to the script using the -v option.

Flashing Procedure

  1. Install Required software on the host computer
  2. Set the FPGA Programming DIP Switch to 001 as shown in the image
  3. Connect a USB cable between the host and the FPGA Programming JTAG Module - U23 as shown in Figure 1.
  4. Boot the AIR-T so that power is provided to the FPGA.
  5. run $ ./flash_firmware from the host
  6. Follow the instructions at the conclusion of the install script, most notably to reboot the AIR-T following completion.

Post Installation Actions

Following the successful installation of the new firmware, check to ensure that the operating system is able to see the FPGA on the PCIe bus by typing the following command:

$ lspci

which should return:

00:01.0 PCI bridge: NVIDIA Corporation Device 10e5 (rev a1)
01:00.0 Serial controller: Xilinx Corporation Device 7024

Copyright (C) 2019 Deepwave Digtial, Inc - All Rights Reserved You may use, distribute and modify this code under the terms of the DEEPWAVE DIGITAL TERMS OF USE, which is provided with the code. If a copy of the license was not received, please write to:


Deepwave Digital, Inc

1430 Walnut St, Suite 317

Philadelphia, PA 19102

Last update: February 26, 2020