I was searching the internet for an open source network stack for my nRF24L01+ transceivers. But these stacks were either too heavy or had a restrictive or not really non-open source license behind it. I was very reluctant to start with something I think already should exist. Two weeks ago I decided that I just do it from scratch, and here I am: I have the basics working
Yes, I have been busy with all the different ARM Cortex Mx cores I’m using in my projects. But beside of the ‘ARM domination of the world’, there are other interesting processors out there. While the ARM cores have added DSP (Digital Signal Processing) capabilities blurring the boundaries between pure MCU and DSP processors, there is still a place (or niche?) for specialized DSP processors. The power of such processors is in the domain of fast signal processing, e.g. for intelligent power switches or for advanced motor control.
For the Eclipse and Processor Expert lovers of this world: there is another Eclipse based IDE you can use: ThunderBench made by Emprog:
They support a range of ARM based devices, including the Freescale ones I’m using. So I downloaded the v3.24 30 day trial from their download page last week. Finally I have found some time to try it out. Could this be an alternative to use my Freescale FRDM boards with Processor Expert?
The FRDM-KL25Z is a great board: inexpensive (around US$15), small form factor, has easily accessible pins, and has a low power (capable, at least) microcontroller, and comes with an embedded debugging interface. So why not using this board right away ‘as is’ for a low power battery operated device? Great idea, you think? Yes, I thought too. Only to find out that the board needs 20 mA out of the box.
The good news is: It is possible on a week-end to get this 150 times better down to 132 μA, with an RTOS running all the time :-). I invite you to join a journey with board modifications, jumpers, schematics and many multimeter pictures ;-)….
The ARM Cortex specification includes the ‘SysTick’ (System Tick Timer): a dedicated system timer which is intended to be used as time base for an RTOS. While technically it would be possible to use any periodic interrupt timer, I’m using as well the SysTick for my FreeRTOS ARM ports. And because Processor Expert includes a nice timer interface, I’m using the TimerUnit_LDD:
While this is great for flexibility, it has its price in efficiency. That TimerUnit_LDD adds overhead. So I want to get rid of the TimerUnit_LDD and use a more efficient way.
So far I have covered in this tutorial series how to install ARM GNU gcc, adding Eclipse, followed by adding GNU GDB debugger, and then adding Processor Expert. I’m using FreeRTOS a lot in my projects, and luckily there is a Kernel Awareness Plugin available for FreeRTOS for GDB in Eclipse. This tutorial is about how to install and use it.
Summer finally has arrived in Switzerland. Yes, I live in a moderate climate zone, but if the outside temperature goes above 28-30° Celsius as these days, then sleeping at night is not that comfortable as it should be in my view. Luckily, I’m in a good constructed house with good insulation, so it takes a few days until it heats up. But I love to keep the temperature below 25° Celsius, especially at night. I do have a heating system which combines geothermal and solar heating. The question is: how can I use it for cooling during hot summer days? The solution: some extra plumbing, a Freescale Tower system and the Freescale FRDM-KL25Z board
The Freedom boards FRDM-KL25Z RevE and FRDM-K20D50M make it easier to use it as USB Host device, as they come with a special jumper to provide 5V to the USB device, so my earlier ‘hack’ is not needed any more :-). After I had USB MSD Host working for the FRDM-KL25Z, it was much harder to get the USB stack working for the FRDM-K20D50M board, because somehow the example Freescale provided with their USB stack refused to work properly on my board. After debugging it for several nightly hours, I decided to take my working Processor Expert project for KL25Z and added support for the K20. And the good news is: since tonight this is working :-).
While working on a project for the FRDM-K20D50M, I faced a problem: I was running out of SRAM for my application. The GNU linker reports: “section `.bss’ will not fit in region `m_data’”:
But my device has 16 KByte of SRAM, and I knew I use much less than 10 KByte. So what is the problem? Continue reading
It took me a while to find the time to upgrade to FreeRTOS V7.4.2, but finally it is done :-). What caused me to move from V7.2 to V7.4 is a low power application on the FRDM-KL25Z board. V7.4 comes with two major new features: Queue Sets and Tickles Idle Mode (see this article). The last one if of interest here.
FreeRTOS runs an IDLE task. This one runs when there is no other active task. That task calls an optional Idle task hook which is a perfect place to put the microcontroller into low power mode:
Freescale/Farnell/Element14 announced last week a new Freedom Board: the FRDM-K20D50M :-). As you can expect, I was not able to resist, and ordered one from my local Farnell store right away. So I did my first steps with it on this sunny and wonderful weekend (yes! we skipped Spring Time and entered Summer Time right away!).
I do not need to compare the board with the previous Freedom boards, as I have found an article here. I a nutshell: I get pretty much the same as with the FRDM-KL25Z, but instead of an ARM Cortex-M0+, it has an ARM Cortex-M4!
Finally I have found some time over the past week-end to enhance my Zumo robot. After I had my line following robot based on the Pololu Zumo chassis and the FRDM-KL25Z, I thought it should be easy and logical to solve a maze. Logical: yes. Easy: not that much. In fact it took me longer than expected. As always, there are a lot of tiny and important problems to solve (the maze alone was easy ).