I have two separate problems involving FPGAs, but I have no experience whatsoever with them, so I thought it best to ask the experts.
My first is, I have an old (15 years) but very high-quality graphics tablet, but unfortunately the control circuit is 15 years old, and has a serial output. The system is running from an Xilinx XC3020A, fed by a 32-pin BIOS-like memory chip containing its instructions. My plan is to replace this old control board with a microcontroller-based solution instead which interfaces via USB, but is there any way to get useful information about the device through reverse-engineering of this FPGA and memory, or is this too complicated? The only other way of gaining knowledge of the tablet is through looking at the circuit diagram and a using a 'scope, and plenty of trial and error (manufacturer went bust ages ago, so no help there).
My second challenge is to take a 720P video signal from a HDMI cable, and re-scale and display the video on an LCD screen for which I have a full datasheet. From what I know, an FPGA is likely to be most feasible (or the only way? Perhaps a dsPIC could do this too? Anyone used both?), but I have no experience with FPGAs, and no development tools. How much do you suspect this would cost to do from nothing? Obviously I would need a reasonably powerful device to do video stretching at 30/60FPS and then convert that into monitor video signals. Is this a practical project for someone with little experience and a small budget, or is this beyond what I could realistically achieve?
Thanks in advance for any comments and suggestions,