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This paper presents a course on digital signal processing with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) devices. The course integrates two separate disciplines, digital signal processing (DSP) and very large scale integration (VLSI) design, and focuses on the development of a sophisticated DSP design from simulation to fixed-point implementation. The structure and methodology used in the proposed course are oriented to the design and implementation of an fast Fourier transform (FFT) spectrum analyzer. This application covers most topics included in a DSP course and gives better results that those obtained with typical courses performing independent multiple simple experiments. The project is divided into modules that show specific learning necessities and determine the course contents and organization. Each laboratory part is dedicated to design and implements the block of the analyzer related to the theoretical content presented in the class. At the end of the course the students have designed all the pieces in the DSP project and have completed and verified the system. The used methodology enables students and engineers to understand and develop complex fixed-point applications, looking for the best signal processing algorithms on hardware implementations, and also results in more motivated and active students.