For some projects it is not possible to have the device under debug available on my desk: the board might be in another room, on another site or in a place where physical access is not possible or even dangerous. In that case an IP-based debug probe (see Debugging ARM Cores with IP based Debug Probes and Eclipse) is very useful: as long as I can access its IP address, that works fine. It is an excellent solution even if the board is moving or rotating: hook it up to a WLAN access point and I still can use it as it would be on my desk.
But what if I have a debug probe only connected to USB? This article shows how to turn a USB debug probe into a IP-based debug solution: that way I can easily debug a board from remote, connected to the network:
But IP-based debug probes are more expensive than USB based ones.
Such a probe is a very good investment, but what if you don’t have one available?
The block diagram below shows how to set up a remote debug connection to a board:
A server PC is configured to run a GDB server talking to the local (USB) Debug probe. With this, any host PC with Eclipse and GDB Client can connect to it over TCP/IP and debug the board.
All I need is:
- A SEGGER J-Link or P&E Multilink debug probe. This can any external probe or using an evaluation board debug probe circuit (e.g. J-Link OpenSDA or P&E OpenSDA)
- A host machine attached to this debug probe. That host machine needs to be accessible on the network
- Eclipse CDT with a J-Link or P&E support, e.g. the GNU MCU Eclipse plugins (they are used e.g. in NXP Kinetis Design Studio) or the NXP MCUXpresso IDE (I’m using 10.3.1 in this article)
On the server PC I need to start the GDB server (see Command Line Debugging with GDB).
For Segger I can use the JLinkGDBServerCL (Command Line) or JLinkGDBServer (GUI). On Windows it uses a GUI which shows the configuration:
Then it will wait for a remote debugger connection:
For P&E I have to start the ‘pegdbserver_console’:
You need to know the hostname (or IP address) of the machine which runs the server in the next step. In my case the server machine has the following IP address: 192.168.0.112.
On the Host PC, using Eclipse CDT with the GNU MCU Eclipse plugins, uncheck ‘start the J-Link GDB Server locally’ and enter the remote IP address (default port is 2331):
In MCUXpresso IDE 10.3.1 enter the IP address, use manual server startup with ‘start server’ option disabled:
For P&E there is a similar setting here:
With this I can debug the remote target as it would be connected locally. The SEGGER Server will show the connection status like this:
And with this I can do remote debugging 🙂 :
💡 Do not use the ‘blue’ debug icon in the MCUXpresso IDE: use the ‘Debug’ button in the launch configuration instead.
It is very easy to do IP-based remote debugging. I need to run the P&E or SEGGER GDB server on a machine and then I can connect from everywhere to that server and debug that board, without having physical access to it. This is especially useful with sharing a board on a machine or if that board is not accessible otherwise. The price (instead using a real IP-based debug probe) is that I need a remote host machine. If there is no IP-based debug probe at hand, this should be a very doable solution. Of course with high latency networks this will impact debug performance, but this is expected.
💡 The approach described here needs a network connection which usually is available inside a company network, but not to the outside world behind the firewalls. For debugging boards beyond the firewall I can use a SEGGER server, see Remote Board Debugging: J-Link Remote Server with Eclipse
Happy IPing 🙂
- Debugging ARM Cores with IP based Debug Probes and Eclipse
- Command Line Debugging with GDB
- Remote Board Debugging: J-Link Remote Server with Eclipse
- GNU MCU Eclipse
- MCUXpresso IDE: http://www.nxp.com/mcuxpresso/ide
- MCUXpresso IDE V10.3.1 available
- SEGGER: http://segger.com/
- PEMicro: http://pemicro.com/