Getting Started: Raspberry Pi Pico RP2040 with Eclipse and J-Link

In this time where many micro-controllers have 100+ weeks estimated delivery time, it makes sense to look at alternatives. So it is not a surprise that the Raspberry Pi RP2040 gets used more and more in projects. It is not only inexpensive, it is (at least for now) available which makes all the difference. The RP2040 is the first microcontroller from Raspberry Pi: a dual-core ARM Cortex-M0+ running up to 133 MHz, 264 KByte on-Chip RAM and up to 16 MByte external FLASH.

Raspberry Pi Pico with J-Link, with a NXP sensor board

It is a very versatile microcontroller, with a rich eco-system and set of tools. It can be easily used with C/C++ or MicroPython, and the Raspberry Pi Pico board only costs around $5. There are plenty of tutorials out there, for example how to use the Pico board as debug probe to debug another Pico board. While this is great, there is an easy way to use any existing J-Link and Eclipse IDE too, so this is what this article is about.

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Custom ${user} with C/C++ Code Templates

The Eclipse Editor has a very cool feature named ‘Code Templates’: With such templates files are created with specific pre-filled content. For the templates, variables like ${user} for the user name can be used, see Custom C/C++ Headers with Eclipse:

Eclipse Code Template Editor
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Choosing GNU Compiler Optimizations

Tool chains like the GNU compiler collection (gcc) have a plethora of options. The probably most important ones are the ones which tell the compiler how to optimize the code. Running out of code space, or the application is not performing well? Then have a look at the compiler optimization levels!

However, which one to select can be a difficult choice. And the result might very well depend on the application and coding style too. So I’ll give you some hints and guidance with an autonomous robot application we use at the Lucerne University for research and education.

INTRO Sumo Robot
INTRO Sumo Robot
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Eyeglasses Case created with CNC and Laser Cutter

In many cases I prefer wood as material: it has a warm feeling and with its texture it makes things unique and special. For some time I was thinking about creating a wooden case for eyeglasses as a gift. And here is a first version of it:

Oak Wood case for Eyeglasses
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Tutorial: Creating and using ROM Libraries with GNU Build Tools

You might never heard about ROM Libraries, and you are probably not alone. Some might thing that this refers to the boot ROM modern MCUs have built in, which is kinda close. But the thing here is about to build your own (possibly constant) ROM library, program it to your device of choice, and then use it from the application running on the device.

So the concept is to have a (fixed, stable) part with code and data on your device, which can be used by a (possibly changing) application: Think about a stable LoRaWAN network stack in the ROM, with a changing application using it: Would that not be cool?

ROM Library Concept

This not only adds flexibility, but as well allows smaller updates, as only a part of the program has to be changed or updated.

The question is: how to create and use such a ROM Library with the normal GNU build tools?

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Include .bin Binary Files in a GNU Linker File

Sometimes it is needed or desired just to add or link a piece of data or BLOB (Binary Large OBject) to the application. For example I have created a .bin file of my code and constant data, and I need to add it to an application using the linker file. How to do this?

added BLOB to application
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Installing Processor Expert into MCUXpresso IDE

With the new MCUXpresso versions out, and because it has been a while I showed how to install Processor Expert into Eclipse, here is an update how to do this.

Processor Expert in MCUXpresso IDE
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GNU Coverage (gcov) with NXP S32 Design Studio IDE

The open-source GNU tools provide a rich set of tools to help developing software. Some are clearly more for the high-end application development. But many of the tools are applicable for the more restricted embedded software development process as well. One is gcov, or the GNU Coverage Tool. Coverage is essential for the testing phase, as it tells you what part of code have been used and ‘covered’. This article describes how GNU coverage can be added the NXP S32 Design Studio IDE.

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Using Custom Source File Extensions with Eclipse CDT Gnu Make Builder Projects

One great thing with the Eclipse Gnu Make Builder (aka ‘auto make’ or ‘auto build’) feature: just add source files (*.c, *.cpp, …), and with kind of magic, they all get compiled and linked properly.

But for something easy and convenient: is it hard to use custom file extensions? So what if I want to use a different file extension for my source files, different from the standard ones? Actually Eclipse CDT can do this too, it just takes two settings to recognize, compile and link source files with custom extension.

Custom file extension with Eclipse auto-build
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Silicon Shortage and Semihosting with NXP MCUXpresso SDK on FRDM-KE02Z

The silicon shortage is still going on. While the NXP Kinetis KE devices might not be my first choice, they still seem to be available, in at least in lower quantities. This has been recognized by others, as I’m getting more and more questions and requests for the KE and KV family. This is why I un-dusted my old FRDM-KE02Z to be used with the latest MCUXpresso SDK and IDE.

FRDM-KE02Z Board

And in case you want to use that board or device with semihosting, I have you covered.

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