RTOS Trace: TraceX with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX)

Having visibility and insights into a running system is highly valuable or critical: not only for optimizations but as well to verify the system design and behavior. In Getting Started with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX) I showed how to quickly run Azure RTOS. This article is about getting trace out of an ThreadX application and show it in TraceX.

Azure RTOS TraceX

Azure RTOS TraceX

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Steps to use FreeRTOS with newlib reentrant Memory Allocation

Reentrancy is an attribute of a piece of code and basically means it can re-entered by another execution flow, for example by an interrupt or by another task or thread. This is an important concept and still a lot of code ‘in the wild’ does violate reentrancy. As a result the application crashes immediately in the best case. Worse it crashes randomly or even worse it behaves incorrectly 😦 .

Reentrancy is always a concern if using standard library functions, including printf() or malloc(). FreeRTOS offers a reentrant wrapper to the standard malloc() and free() (Memory Scheme 3)

Running FreeRTOS with reentrant newlib

Running FreeRTOS with reentrant newlib

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Getting Started with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX)

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you probably know that I’m using FreeRTOS in most of my applications, for obvious reasons. But clearly this is not the only RTOS out there. After Microsoft had acquired Express Logic back in April 2019 things kept quite for a while. To me the crown jewel of Express Logic is the ThreadX RTOS. But recently Microsoft is pushing more and more the ‘Azure Sphere’ and trying to monetize the ‘IoT’ (I apologize for mentioning that overused acronym) application space and providing it now free for devices from selected partners which includes NXP now.

Debugging with ThreadX in MCUXpresso IDE

Debugging with ThreadX in MCUXpresso IDE

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Debugging Bootloader and Application with one Debug Session

If having a boot loader running on a micro-controller, it is very useful if both the boot loader and the loaded application can be debugged together:

Bootloader with Application Code

Bootloader with Application Code

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Power Measurement with the PEmicro Multilink Universal in Eclipse

Implementing low power in embedded applications implemented can be challenging. Measuring current consumption is a first step to see if the software changes indeed have an effect on the current consumed. The PEmicro Universal Multilink FX debug probe comes with a useful feature to provide power to the target and the same time to measure the current consumption and to show the current used in the Eclipse IDE:

PEmicro power measurement

PEmicro power measurement

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tinyK22 Board Rev 1.3 released

The tinyK22 board is a tiny micro controller board we use at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. It is used in many research project, used in lectures and labs and used in most student projects. Because there was no small and breadboard friendly NXP Kinetis board with a debug interface available, we developed one featuring the NXP K22FN512, named the ‘tinyK22‘. Because of the success and high demand we stated a new large production run and used this to upgrade the board to the new Rev 1.3: you might notice already the color change :-).

tinyK22

tinyK22

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Tweaking MCUXpresso IDE Black Theme

‘Dark’ or ‘Black’ themes are on vogue: some love it, some do not care. The good thing is that we all have a choice. Things are getting improved on the host OS (Windows/Linux) side, but the challenge is still on the application side, but things are getting better. This is true for the Eclipse based IDEs too, with the NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1 just recently released: it comes with improved Dark Theme support:

Tweaked MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

Tweaked MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1

I have started the semester and labs using the MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.0 which has been available from July this year. The past week I received the notification that the update V11.2.1 is available: time to check it out….

MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1

MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.0

At the university the end of a semester means that you have to get ready for the next semester. I always tend to use the latest and greatest tools for the labs. This week I received the notification that a new version of the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE is available, time to check it out for the next semester.

MCUXpresso IDE 11.2.0

MCUXpresso IDE 11.2.0

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Eclipse Gems, Tips & Tricks: Faster Debugger Start

This article is part of a ‘mini series’ about hidden gems, tips and tricks around Eclipse.
The topic of this one is how to accelerate the start of the debugger.

Nothing to be done

Nothing to be done

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Disabling NMI (Non Maskable Interrupt) Pin

The NMI is a special interrupt on ARM Cortex-M architecture: as the name indicates, it cannot be ‘masked’ by the usual ‘disable interrupts’ flags (PRIMASK, BASEPRI), similar to the Reset signal.

cortex-m-vector-table

cortex-m-vector-table (Source: adapted from arm.com)

Dealing with the reset signal is kind of obvious, and most designs and boards have it routed to a reset button or similar. The NMI is less obvious if you don’t pay attention to it: most ARM-Cortex implementations and boards have the NMI signal routed to a pin and are ‘hiding’ it in the schematics behind a normal GPIO pin or port: if you don’t pay attention to the NMI functionality, the board might not work as intended.

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Behind the Canvas: Making of “60 Billion Lights”

As promised I’m going to share more details about the “60 Billion Lights” project. It is about a project to build a piece of electronics behind a 100×50 cm canvas to show animations or to display information like temperature, humidity, weather, time or just any arbitrary text.

Make it

Writing text

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McuLog: Logging Framework for small Embedded Microcontroller Systems

An essential tool especially developing larger applications or distributed firmware is to use logging. This article presents an open source logging framework I’m using. It is small and easy to use and can log to a console, to a file on the host or even to a file on an embedded file system as FatFS.

Log Output

Log Output

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Tutorial: Adding FreeRTOS to where there is no FreeRTOS

FreeRTOS is pretty much everywhere because it is so simple and universal, and it runs from the smallest to the biggest systems. But it still might be that for the microcontroller device you have selected there is no example or SDK support for it from your vendor of choice. In that case: no problem: I show how you could easily add FreeRTOS plus many more goodies to it.

Binky on NXP LPC845-BRK Board

Binky on NXP LPC845-BRK Board

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FatFS, MinIni, Shell and FreeRTOS for the NXP K22FN512

I’m using the NXP Kinetis K22FN512 in many projects, either with the FRDM-K22F or on the tinyK22: with 120 MHz, 512 KByte FLASH and 128 KByte it has plenty of horsepower for many projects. The other positive thing is that it is supported by the NXP MCUXpresso IDE and SDK. I have now created an example which can be used as base for your own project, featuring FreeRTOS, FatFS, MinIni and a command line shell.

FRDM-K22F with SD Card

FRDM-K22F with SD Card

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FreeRTOS Task Runtime Statistics for NXP i.MX RT1064

FreeRTOS has many cool features, and one is that it can report the CPU percentage spent in each task. The downside is that to get this kind of information some extra work is needed. In this article I show how to do this for the NXP i.MX1064.

FreeRTOS Runtime Information

FreeRTOS Runtime Information

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Dumping Variables and Arrays with GDB in Eclipse

Using the debugger to inspect the application data is a very convenient thing. But if the data grows and if the data set is large, it makes more sense to dump the data to the host and process it offline. GDB is the de-facto debugger engine and includes a powerful command line and scripting engine which can be used in Eclipse too.

GDB Debugger Console in Eclipse

GDB Debugger Console in Eclipse

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Tutorial: Rename, Copy or Clone Eclipse Projects with MCUXpresso

Especially in a lab or classroom environment it is convenient to start with a template project, and then explore different ways to shape the project for different needs. As for any IDE of this world, this requires an understanding of the inner workings to get it right. So in this article I show how to copy, clone or rename properly an Eclipse ‘template’ project in the MCUXpresso IDE.

Template Project

Template Project

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Optimized and Easy-to-Use Eclipse Toolbars and Menus

I love Eclipse because as an IDE it can do pretty much everything. Up to the point that some call it an ‘Eierlegende Wollmilchsau‘: something which can do anything. But with all the tools, menus and features, it can be daunting for a someone new to Eclipse. But the good news is: Eclipse is very versatile and can be customized to make it easier and simpler to use too. In this article I show how I’m tweaking it the way I want it, with just the menus and buttons I need:

Eclipse Optimized Menus and Toolbars

Eclipse Optimized Menus and Toolbars

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Visualizing Data with Eclipse, gdb and gnuplot

The gnuplot is a versatile and powerful tool to plot and visualize all kind of data. I wish there would be a plugin for it in Eclipse. But as this is not (yet?) the case, here is how I’m using it with gdb and Eclipse, using the MCUXpresso IDE as example.

Gnuplot with Eclipse

Gnuplot with Eclipse

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