Hi Zygot, Dan, Notarobot, JColvin and xc6lx45,
Appreciate your response on this post. You guys have brought forward many critical points which requires a lot of reflections on my part. I can't even summarise the points and come to a cohesive conclusion! But let me try to put this old rusted mind in order with these summary -
You don't need to jump into Zynq platform if all I wanted is learning FPGA programming
There are many FPGA development boards around that does not combine both the FPGA and Arm processor (like Zynq) which complicates the entire learning process due to additional resource allocation and configuration. There are cost effective development boards (Artix, Zybo, Microzed, Syzygy, Deo Nano)
You need to burn your weekends and weekdays to have make meaningful progress. Otherwise, don't start.
You need actual real life projects, otherwise, it will be like learning to drive using a simulator. Or signing up for a trail run but only training through a treadmill.
The prime motivation for this sudden urge to learn FPGA is pretty simplistic -
I feel handicapped at work by my inability to test various components/peripherals/functionality of the boards that my company is developing. We do have a lone FPGA engineer which are tied up with many other projects and things do get complicated when something doesn't work and there is no way to prove that it is NOT a hardware issue. If we are using a ucontroller, I would have independently written a bare firmware to communicate with various modules and verify that all is in order. With the Zynq, I can't even make a pin goes high or low without him providing the bitstream. Things can get very frustrating after wasting a few days of troubleshooting to find that certain pins are not asserted or assigned accordingly. We are using Zynq 7000 series, which explains why Zedboard.
Expanding my skill set in order not to be irrelevant in the company. Mortgage still has a long way to go while age is fast catching up.
I have my reasons for asking this question in the forum -
I was warned that FPGA programming is difficult. But I refuse to believe it's complexity will defeat me considering I have been surviving the workplace in the past 2 decades self learning all different skills.
I have my roles and responsibilities in the company and this limits my time to explore and learn during work day. Even weekends, I could only possibly spend 5 hours.
All learning will be on my own time and cost. So when i saw the price tag of the Zedboard, I know I would be shattered if I failed to make full use of it after a period of time. I would have jump right in if the Zedboard is the price of a Raspberry Pie.
Most udemy tutorial needed a Zed board.
Would like to thank all who responded. I would look into some of the development boards mentioned (especially those that utilise Zynq but cheaper versions).
Good day to all.