I'm playing with a FPGA starter kit board and decided to blog about my learning process. I got the board from Jared at Sharebrained, thanks! The board I have is a Spartan-3 Board from Digilient. It has a Xilinx FPGA on it. It also came with a JTAG-USB cable which could end up be useful with other projects?
First step is to get a dev environment set up so I can upload example code.
Grab the drivers for the JTAG-USB cable http://www.digilentinc.com/Products/Catalog.cfm?NavPath=2,66&Cat=12 here. This also contains the software you need to load binaries onto the board. It is called Adept. This is painless as long as the USB hub you are plugging into is actually powered on. ;)
Download the WebPack from here. This is a slightly painful process that requires an account with Xilinx and a lot of harddrive space. But after it is installed it is no big deal.
There's a good tutorial here.
It's for an older version, but it is close enough to figure out the newer version. Just do section one, then in ISE select the project and in the processes pane, just run the "Generate Programming File" task.
Finally, use Digilent Adept to upload the .bit file that is generated to the PROM. QED!
Next up, VGA output!