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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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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Enable Default FreeRTOS Debugging for LinkServer Debug Connections

Most of my projects are using FreeRTOS, and I’m using different Debug Probes (SEGGER, P&E and LinkServer) to debug NXP devices.

The NXP LinkServer debug connection is able to show the RTOS threads in Eclipse/MCUXpresso IDE which is incredibly helpful:

FreeRTOS Thread Aware Debugging with LinkServer Connection

FreeRTOS Thread Aware Debugging with LinkServer Connection

However, by default this is turned off. In this article I show how to turn this on by default.

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Listing Code and Data Size for all Files with the GNU size Utility in a Post-Build Action

The GNU size utility which is part of the GNU build tools shows code and data size for archive or object files. It is usually used as a post-build step in Eclipse CDT to show text, data and bss at the end of the build:

Detailed size information for each file

Detailed size information for each file

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.1.0

Right before Christmas 2019, NXP has released a new version of the MCUXpresso IDE, the version 11.1.0. This gave me time to explore it over the Christmas/New-Year break and evaluate it for the next university semester. There are several new features which will make my labs using it easier, so I plan to get the course material updated for it.

MCUXpresso IDE V11.1.0 Welcome Screen

MCUXpresso IDE V11.1.0 Welcome Screen

After the break you will find the highlights …

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Implementing FreeRTOS Performance Counters on ARM Cortex-M

When using an RTOS like FreeRTOS, sooner or later you have to ask the question: how much time is spent in each task? The Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE has a nice view showing exactly this kind of information:

FreeRTOS Runtime Information

FreeRTOS Runtime Information

For FreeRTOS (or that Task List view) to show that very useful information, the developer has to provide a helping hand so the RTOS can collect this information. This article shows how this can be done on an ARM Cortex-M.

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DIY ‘Meta Clock’ with 24 Analog Clocks

Human since 1982 claims

“Human since 1982 have the copyright to works displaying digital time using a grid arrangement of analog clocks…”

I’m not a lawyer, but without obligations (imho) I have removed the content.

Thanks for understanding,

Erich

Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – WiFi with Mikroe WiFi 10 click board

For this last blog in the series Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core I decided to explore the expansion features of the LPC55S69-EVK. This board has three expansion ports (PMOD, Arduino Duo, Mikroe click) and I picked the Mikroe expansion port. Why? Only because I had good experience with these boards with the Hexiwear project.

And because I have been doing some work this month with AWS IOT I wanted to get my LPC55S69-EVK onto my office WiFi network for the Christmas holidays. I know that the MCUXpresso SDK for lpcxpresso55s69 version 2.6.3 has a built-in WiFi example named qca_demo, and so that is what I am investigating today.

That WiFi example supports three WiFi shield boards, and I picked the Mikroe WiFi 10 click board. It’s part number MIKROE-3432 and available from all of the usual catalogue distributors.

WiFi 10 click board from Mikroelektronika
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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – Dual Core debug tutorial

In last week’s blog I explained that the LPC55S69 microcontroller from NXP has two Cortex® M33 cores, named core0 and core1. There was a lot of theory, and so this week I put it all into practice and show you how to debug 2 cores with MCUXpresso IDE.

Multicore Debugging Interface in MCUXpresso IDE showing 2 different projects
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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – NXP LPC55S69 has *two* M33 cores.

Throughout this series I’ve been using the LPC55S69 microcontroller from NXP as a platform to investigate the ARM Cortex® M33 core. NXP designed the LPC55S69 with two Cortex M33 cores and so this week I’m investigating these in more detail.

You’ll remember that when ARM launch a processor core it will have a number of optional features. This is shown very clearly on the LPC55S69. The 150 MHz primary core – cpu0 – is a full implementation of Cortex® M33 and includes the optional components FPU, MPU, DSP, ITM and the TrustZone® features.

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Investigating ARM Cortex® M33 core – DSP Acceleration 3 (PowerQuad FFT Tutorial)

I’ve always felt that the Fourier Transform (and in particular the embedded implementation Fast Fourier Transform) is the GOAT* of the DSP algorithms. The ability to convert a time-domain signal into a frequency-domain signal is invaluable in applications as diverse as audio processing, medical electrocardiographs (ECGs) and speech recognition.

So this week I’ll show you how to use the Transform engine in the PowerQuad on LPC55S69 to calculate a 512-point FFT. All of the difficult steps are very easily managed and the PowerQuad does all of the very heavy lifting.

Data from PowerQuad – 512-point real FFT on 400 Hz input signal with 1200 Hz harmonic
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OpenPnP Solder Paste Dispensing Video

OpenPnP (see “Building a DIY SMT Pick&Place Machine with OpenPnP and Smoothieboard (NXP LPC1769)“) is a cool open source framework to run Pick&Place machines. I have mentored and supported Tobias Mailänder who extended the PnP machine with the ability to dispense solder past on PCBs. Below a video (courtesy of Tobias Mailänder) which shows the machine in action:

It is still a prototype, but things are working very well.

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