In “ARM Cortex-M, Interrupts and FreeRTOS: Part 1” I started with the ARM Cortex-M interrupt system. Because the ARM implementation cann be very confusing, I confused myself and had to fix and extend the description in Part 1 :-). Thank for all the feedback and comments!
Originally I wanted to cover FreeRTOS in Part 2. Based on the questions and discussions in Part 1 I thought it might be a good idea to provide visual examples.
I kind of hoped that after “Why I don’t like printf()” and all my other articles about printf and semihosting, that topic would be 200% handled and I won’t have to deal with any more. Well, I was wrong and underestimated how the Kinetis SDK is interfering with semihosting. And I underestimated how many of my readers are still using semihosting (even as there are other and better alternatives), so I keep getting questions and requests for help. That’s ok, and I hope I can help :-).
So here is yet again another post about how to turn on semihosting with Eclipse, GNU ARM Embedded and the Kinetis SDK v2.0. This time with the FRDM-K64F board:
Smartwatches are around for a while now. To me it is still questionable how useful the ‘big’ ones for iOS and Android are. But there are definitely the crowd funded smartwatch projects which caught my attention. Maybe it is about the ‘do-anything’ with connectivity? One of these gadgets is Hexiwear: a hackable open source device
While it *could* be a kind of smartwatch, the value of this thing is more that it includes a plethora of sensors with two microcontroller, and I can use Eclipse with GNU tools to build my firmware :-).
Alert: Hackster.io is giving away 100 Hexiwears, but you need to hurry up (submission until July 15th 2016)!
Sometimes things don’t go well, especially with bringing up a new board design. I always sweat blood that first minute when I try to connect with the debugger to a new design: Will it work? After the optical inspection, performing electrical tests (no shortcuts? voltage levels ok?) the inflection point is when I’m connecting the first time with the debugger to the new board: either it will properly connect and program the device (hurrah!) or it will fail and potentially difficult hours of investigations have to follow.
More and more of my students are using Microsoft Windows 10 machines, and my computer has been upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of week ago too. From my work and experience, a new operating system causes always some challenges, and Windows 10 is no difference. And no, this is not about Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Linux, this post is about addressing a potential and painful problem which I have observed with Windows 10 machines, and to my understanding it could happen with any other operating system too. The problem is that somehow on several student machines the bootloader and OpenSDA application on their FRDM boards did not work any more.
FRDM-K64F (top) programming the OpenSDA Bootloader (bottom)
A bootloader shall be small and concise. I very much like bootloaders which do not need a ‘special’ program on the host, so I prefer a simple terminal for this. While porting my serial bootloader to the NXP FRDM-K64F board, I have found RealTerm which offers a lot of cool features:
3.5″ Diskette Drives are not widely used any more: CDs, DVDs, memory/thumb drives and downloads from the web are the usual distribution method these days for software. Back a few years ago, software was distributed on one or many 3.5″ diskettes, and even before that time on 5 1/4″ floppy disk drives. So what to do with all these not-used-anymore hardware? Play music with it 🙂
My wife tells me that I have too many boards on my desk. That is only *partially* correct: there are many, but not *too* many. But I’m working on too many tasks, but that’s a different aspect :-). I’m using more and more the Kinetis SDK V2.0, and as a result of this I have multiple SDKs installed on my machine. Because with the SDK V2.0 I get a download for each device/board installed (see “First NXP Kinetis SDK Release: SDK V2.0 with Online On-Demand Package Builder“). So my list of SDK folders is growing, as shown with the ‘New SDK 2.x’ wizard in Kinetis Design Studio:
Multiple Kinetis SDKs
The same time, the amount of free disk space is reducing. What if I could combine all these SDK’s?
One goal of this blog is to inspire engineers, in one way or another. And when I get reports back that things were useful, I like to share it :-).
So here is something what a team of young undergraduates (Przemyslaw Brudny, Marek Ulita, Maciej Olejnik) did for theirs Master Thesis work at the Politechnika Wroclawska, Poland: a very cool flying machine controlled by two Kinetis K66, having many sensors (on own designed boards) with a custom debug/programmer board similar to the tinyK20, developed with the NXP Kinetis Design Studio:
“Learning-by-doing” is one of the core principles of my embedded systems and robotics course at the Lucerne University. For this the students apply what they learned using a robotics platform. In earlier semesters we did a Sumo battle at the end. This time the challenge was to build a remote controller plus to add the ability to explore and solve a line maze:
I’m using FreeRTOS in most of my applications. There were only a few exceptions where an RTOS has to be used in safety critical systems: there usually it is not permitted to use any dynamic memory allocation because this adds the risk that a memory allocation could fail at runtime because of memory fragmentation or memory leak. And FreeRTOS uses a dynamic memory (heap) for the task stacks and the RTOS resources including semaphore, mutex and queues.
This is now a thing of the past. This week a new FreeRTOS Version 9 was released which does not need any dynamic memory allocation anymore: it is possible now to build completely statically allocated systems with FreeRTOS :-).
Dynamic and Static Memory Allocation in FreeRTOS V9.0.0
The challenge with the selection of a microcontroller for a project is: which one has the required number of UART, I2C, SPI? Combine this with the desired package (48pins, 64pins? LQFN?), the needed FLASH and RAM size and then even the hundreds of available microcontroller shrink to a handful only. And many times I need to make compromises: such as I need two hardware I2C, but the microcontroller matching all my other needs has only one I2C hardware. So I might end up with bit-banging the slower I2C bus. Doable, but not ideal.
What is cool that some of the newer NXP Kinetis microcontroller come with an interesting hardware: FlexIO. A peripheral hardware which allows me to implement a custom protocol, including driving WS2812B (Adafruit NeoPixel) LEDs with a FRDM-KL43Z board:
I mentioned the hands-on sessions on FreeRTOS I do this week at NXP FTF Tech Forum in Austin in my previous post. What we are using in the session is an Eclipse plugin in Kinetis Design Studio showing all kinds of FreeRTOS information:
NXP FTF Tech Forum in Austin has been a blast! I’m running another FreeRTOS hands-on session (FTF-DES-N2048) this afternoon which yet again is fully booked. But we will squeeze in as many as possible from the waiting list.
One very exciting thing we are going to use is FreeRTOS thread awareness in Eclipse/Kinetis Design Studio: to see and debug the FreeRTOS threads in Eclipse using the Segger GDB and it will show the list of threads in the Debug view: