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.
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.
If you are in the electronics or microcontroller business: you very well know the problems with chip and silicon availability. What was supposed to last maybe for a few months starting with COVID-19 is still a problem in 2022: chips are not available or the price has skyrocket.
We at the Lucerne University are using NXP Kinetis micro controllers which seem to be affected by the silicon shortage somewhat more than any other devices? When looking that the usual sources, it was clear some are still available, but in a rather exotic WLCSP package. So the question is: can it be useful?
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.
Modern MCUs like the NXP Kinetis have security features which prevent reverse engineering, but can ‘brick’ devices too. Depending on the settings, it prevents read-out from the FLASH or reprogramming the device. While some of the protection is (mostly) not by-passable by design, in many case the devices looks like ‘bricked’ but still can be recovered. In this article I’ll get you some ways for a (hopefully) successful recovery.
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.
While developing applications, it can happen that things go wrong. And in my case I ended up with two LPC55Sxx EVK boards on my desk, which seemed not to be usable any more. The issue: the boards were not accessible with the debug probe, because right after main they muxed the pins in a wrong way :-(.
The standard GDB debug connections (both on-board and off-board) were not able to regain access of the board, because the MCU was running into the fault condition pretty much right out of reset.
Luckily, after a lot of trial-and-error, I have found a way to recover them.
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.
And in case you want to use that board or device with semihosting, I have you covered.
I’m now in the middle of the university fall semester exam season with writing exams and grading student work, and the same time the new semester courses need to be prepared. With the global silicon and board shortage, this will be again a challenge to equip all the labs with the needed infrastructure. The good thing is that there is no shortage on software and tools side of the infrastructure: NXP released last week their new flagship Eclipse based IDE: the MCUXpresso IDE 11.5.0. Time to check it out for the upcoming lectures and classes….
Spoiler Alert: It has a new view for FreeRTOS lovers, plus new features for energy/power measurements!
Split-flap displays are electromechanical display devices, which were common in airports or railway stations a few years ago.Unfortunately, most of them are gone and replaced by LED displays. Why not create a DIY version of it?