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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FreeRTOS V10.4.1 with SEGGER SystemView V3.12

Amazon has released in the past week the FreeRTOS version V10.4.0. Time to upgrade, actually the most recent version 10.4.1! The same time the SEGGER SystemView V3.12 was released back in April this year. No surprise: with the FreeRTOS changes they don’t work out of the box: but no worries, I have you covered and applied all the needed patches and changes to have them working again together: the latest FreeRTOS v10.4.x with Segger SystemView v3.12:

Segger SystemView 3.12 with FreeRTOS 10.4.2

Segger SystemView 3.12 with FreeRTOS 10.4.2

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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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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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New Version

I’m making progress with the new ‘Billion Light‘ modules (aka V2): the new design is more modular and easier to build and assemble and still looks awesome with the moving lights and clock hands:

Different Enclosure and Arrangement

Different Enclosure and Arrangement

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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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From C to C++: Converting Eclipse C Projects

Creating a new project with Eclipse for a microcontroller these days is fairly easy, and I have the choice if I want to start the project with C or C++:

Choice of C and C++ for a new project

Still the embedded microcontroller world is dominated by C and not C++. So while it is easy to start with a C++ project, most vendor provided example or tutorial project are C projects. So how can I transform such project to C++?

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How to use Eclipse CDT Environment Variables in C/C++ Code

When using a logging framework it is useful to use the current file name or line number. The ANSI C/C++ standard defines the __LINE__ and __FILE_ preprocessor macros for this.

But what about the project name, if it is a release or debug build, the microcontroller used or other things like the operating system which was used to build the binary?

Target Chip Name

Target Chip Name

This (and even more) can be easily provided by Eclipse to the C/C++ application being built with CDT.

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How to get Data off an Embedded System: FatFS with USB MSD Host and FreeRTOS Direct Task Notification

This is a follow-up article of my earlier project presented in “FatFS, MinIni, Shell and FreeRTOS for the NXP K22FN512“. I wanted to extend it with a USB MSD (memory stick) device: The USB storage device gets automatically mounted, and depending on a configuration (.ini) file on the memory device I can perform various actions, for example automatically copy data from the SD card to the USB device. For example the system logs data, and to get the data I insert the memory stick, it copies the data on it and automatically unmounts it, and I can remove the memory stick.

FRDM-K22F USB Host Mode with Memory Sticks

FRDM-K22F USB Host Mode with Memory Sticks

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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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“60 Billion Lights”: 2400 RGB LEDs and 120 Stepper Motors hiding behind Canvas Art

It is one thing to create something ‘cool’ or technically interesting. But it is a completely different story to convince your girlfriend, partner, wife, family (or whatever you can name it) to hang something on a wall in our house or office. Then it is not about technology: it is more about design and art. So here is my attempt to solve that challenge:

Displaying current temperature

Displaying temperature with a painted canvas, stepper motors and 2400 RGB LEDs

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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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First experience with OKdo E1 board

This week I’m sharing my experience “getting started” with the OKdo E1 board. This board, featuring the NXP LPC55S69 150 MHz, dual Cortex M33 core microcontroller was a joy to use. OKdo have provided an online Getting Started guide, and I’ve field-tested this for you. My video tutorial recorded as I follow the guide is less than 7 minutes long… it may take you a little longer if you need to download MCUXpresso IDE or the lpcxpresso55s69 Software Development Kit (SDK) but I am confident that you will quickly have the board up-and-running.

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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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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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Copyright Law for Makers and Educators

Maker spaces and ‘FabLabs’ are popular and accessible in many areas. 3D printers are on the cheap, and powerful laser cutters are in the range of the fearless hobbyist. You can get dirty-cheap PCBs from China in less than a week (ok, probably not right now because of Corona virus) and it is easy to SMD solder parts these days with a DIY SMD PnP machine and OpenPnP. With the right equipment and skill set it is possible to build many cool projects. It is very rewarding and a great learning thing. Blog about it so other can learn too. And it even could get featured on Hackaday.

But: The risk is that someone might send you letter about a ‘Copyright Infringement’. Sadly, this is what happened to me for one of my recent projects. I don’t think that ‘take down’ letter was justified, but I learned a great deal what I should have done differently to avoid that situation. So in the end, it was a learning opportunity, which I believe is worth to share. In essence: what can a maker or educator do?

hackaday building a giant meta-clock made of smaller clocks

Hackaday: building a giant meta-clock made of smaller clocks (image: original image from Hackaday)

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Tutorial: Maximum Clock Frequency for Kinetis using MCUXpresso Clock Tools

The tinyK22 board with the NXP K22FN512 is a bread-board-friendly small board with a 8 MHz external oscillator:

tinyK22 Board

tinyK22 Board

This tutorial is about how to use the NXP MCUXpresso Clock configuration and configure the board to the maximum clock frequency of 120 MHz. The same steps apply to many other boards, including the FRDM-K22F one.

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