Years ago (in 2004) my university got an Altera MAX-II devboard, but nobody used it. Now it's me who must teach students FPGA programming, but I still cannot get the board programmed. I faced the following issues, in order:

  • The board comes with ByteBlaster LPT programmer, but I have no LPT on my laptop. Is there a way I can make USB Blaster working with this board?

  • Okay, I found a computer with LPT, and installed modern Quartuas II 14.1 software on it. I was able to examine firmware from FPGA using ByteBlaster cable, but not to program it. Unfortunately, 14.1 supports EMP1270F256C5 chip only while my board has EMP1270F256C5ES (that stands for "engineering sample" which is kind of beta-version of the production chip); POF files for these chips are incompatible. Can I somehow install support for my old chip in modern Quartus?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, Altera has a university program and you may be able to get hardware donated. Failing that, a basic MAX10 EVK is $50. That may be a better use of resources than reviving an ancient development board. \$\endgroup\$
    – Damien
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 12:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Damien: you're right. Unfortunately, my university management is so lame and unprofessional, so it's barely possible to receive anything from abroad through the Russian customs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


Unfortunately no.

There is no way to modify Quartus to work with an unsupported device. You'd have to find an older version of Quartus which supports the device and use that.

Alternatively, and probably more sensibly, you could upgrade to a more modern device. There are for example many Cyclone V based dev kits that are pretty cheap, though I'll let you search for something.

If you are trying to teach FPGA based stuff, using an ancient device, especially one which is an engineering sample, is possibly not the best course of action - you'd spend more time battling bugs and glitches in the tools (if you can even get them set up) than you would teaching.

  • \$\begingroup\$ At the end of the day, your were right. The only way I was able to make this board working was installing Quartus 4.1 on Windows XP. BTW, thank you for making me aware about low-active pins and LEDs (it was a comment to the deleted answer). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ That, also the MAX II has internal flash that has a limited number of writes — the CycloneIV or CycloneV uses SRAM and can be programmed via JTAG without writing the configuration flash. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 21:55

Contact Altera for help, you need a very old version of their software.

Also Altera have asked the universities to stick at version 13 and not upgrade to 14.

Version 13 still has a simple waveform based simulator which is (very) good for teaching. It avoids having to jump in to use VHDL testbenches.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a comment, not an answer, please put comments in the comments section. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 18:29

For anyone still searching for the answer, it appears it is as simple as editing the .qsf file and recompiling as noted here:


It boils down to changing the .qsf file entry:

set_global_assignment -name DEVICE EPM1270F256C5 to set_global_assignment -name DEVICE EPM1270F256C5ES

It appears to work fine even in Quartus 18 under Windows 10.

Hope this helps someone!


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.