DIY Portable Video Conference, Sharing and Teaching Device

COVID-19 is by far not over, and in Switzerland the infection rate is going up again (2nd wave?). During the spring 2020 semester university lock-down we moved pretty much everything to a ‘distance learning’ setup. With that experience and with the request to prepare for the fall semester, I have constructed a DIY conference and teaching device which should make things simpler and easier: a combination of video camera, speaker phone and a muting device:

Desk with Communicator

Desk with Communicator C2020

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Bricking and Recovering OpenSDA Boards in Windows 8 and 10

Getting a board from a distributor like Farnell/Element14/Mouser (add your own distributor) means that chances are high that the default firmware on it is written years from now because the inventory has not been updated, or because boards are still produced with that original firmware (because of testing?). So what happens if I use board with a firmware developed pre-Windows 8/10 area?

Freshly Unboxed NXP FRDM-KL25Z Board

Freshly Unboxed NXP FRDM-KL25Z Board

It might work, but chances are high that the bootloader and firmware is not ready for the ‘modern age’, and as a result the board might be bricked. If you still have a Windows 7 machine around (I do!), you are lucky. If not, then you need to read this article….

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Proof of Concept: Open Source ARM SWD Debug and General Purpose Board

The Teensy is a great and tiny board (see “USB CDC with the Teensy 3.1 Board“), but it lacks real SWD/JTAG debugging capabilities (see “Hacking the Teensy V3.1 for SWD Debugging“). The Freescale Freedom boards are great, but for many applications too big, and have potentially too many components on it. So what about building a breadboard friendly tiny board which *has* SWD debugging ability *and* can be used to debug another boards?

So here is a working prototype based on the FRDM-K20D50M:

FRDM-K20D50M used as debug probe

FRDM-K20D50M used as debug probe

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Illustrated Step-by-Step Instructions: Updating the Freescale Freedom Board Firmware

I have received a bunch of Freescale FRDM boards to be used in an Embedded Systems programming crash course. There are multiple issues with the boards coming from the factory:

  1. They come with an old bootloader which is not compatible with Windows 8.x
  2. They have an old and outdated firmware on the board only supports a MSD bootloader

This post is a step-by-step instruction how to update Freescale FRDM boards (e.g. FRDM-KL25Z) to the latest firmware.

FRDM Board

FRDM Board

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Showcase of Student Project Exhibition 2014 in Horw

Yesterday Friday afternoon, the students at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Horw showcased their last semester project work to the public at the university. There were many, many interesting projects, so here are a few to give an idea what has been accomplished …

Part of the Exhibition Area

Part of the Exhibition Area

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New P&E OpenSDA Firmware v114

Good news for everyone having Windows 8.1: P&E has released Dec 11th 2013 a new FRDM board firmware which solves the bootloader issue found with Windows 8.1. The new firmware can download from https://www.pemicro.com/opensda/.

New PnE OpenSDA Firmware

New PnE OpenSDA Firmware

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Kinetis Unique Identification Register

For my RNet stack I need a way to identify nodes in the network using a unique address. What I need is Media-Access (MAC) address. Base on such a unique address I can assign short addresses (e.g. with a DHCP or similar protocol to automatically assign shorter network addresses). So how to uniquely identify my network nodes?

The Freescale Kinetis microcontroller have nice feature: they have a Unique Identification Register (UID) which would be a perfect fit for a MAC address :-).

UID Output

UID Output

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FRDM Board Bootloader fails with Windows 8.1 Preview

Microsoft has released the Windows 8.1 Preview. So you can try out the next update of Windows 8. In short: Do NOT use Windows 8.1 Preview if you are using a Freescale FRDM board! Otherwise you will not be able to change the OpenSDA firmware (MSD or debug application).

❗ Update: P&E has released a new firmware v114 which combines USB CDC, MSD bootloader and debug application, and this firmware fixes the issue described in this post.

Well, I have not used it personally: I never use ‘test’ or ‘preview’ versions on my ‘production’ machine. It is ok to try things out on separate ‘scratch’ machines, but not on something I need to have stable for my work. Well, some of the students in my INTRO class were not able to resist and downloaded and installed Windows 8.1 Preview on their machines. With the result that the OpenSDA Bootloader does not work with Windows 8.1 Preview:

❗ It seems that the problem exists as well with the Windows 8.1 ‘final’ release.

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FRDM Board not responding? Check your Virus Scanner!

In case you have this problem with the FRDM boards: You are using the FRDM bootloader mode (it shows up as BOOTLOADER) or the MSD mode (e.g. it shows up as FRDM-KL25Z) (see OpenSDA on the Freedom KL25Z Board) and it does not respond any more, or does not work as expected, then read on…

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The Freescale OpenSDA Trap: “No Device Available”, or something like that….

Self-Motivation: I write this post in the hope to cut the number of ‘please help me’ emails in my inbox ;-):

If you want to debug one of the Freescale boards with OpenSDA (FRDM-KL25Z, FRDM-K20, FRDM-KL05Z, FRDM-KL46Z48M, FRDM-KL02Z, TWR-KL47Z48M, …), and if you get this dialog …

No Device Available

No Device Available

… then read on.

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