I don’t know if it is the same for you. But for me, configuring the pins on these new ARM microcontroller is a challenge: Most pins can do multiple functions, such as be used as I²C, UART or GPIO pins.
Configuring the pins ‘by hand’ is difficult, error-prone and usually the first thing I need to do for a new project/device. NXP developed a new tool for this task and previewed it at FTF 2016. It is available now both as web (online) and desktop (locally installed) tool. At FTF it was possible to play with an engineering release: time to get my hands on the public release :-). And as more and more student projects will start using that tool for their boards, I better have a tutorial for it :-).
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:
Time is passing fast, and many components have been updated to make the compatible with the NXP Kinetis SDK V2.0. As a highlight, besides of FreeRTOS the following components are now usable with the NXP Kinetis SDK:
The world is changing, and the say is “change is good” :-). In the software and API world, change very often means that a change results into something broken. So I had battled with semihosting working on the NXP Kinetis parts, only to find out that it does not work any more with using the latest version 2.0. The semihosting output e.g. with P&E debug connection remains empty:
It has been already two months after the Feb 2016 release, and so much things are going on, so a new release was overdue. Today I have released a new version of the McuOnEclipse components on SourceForge with the following main changes and features:
Kinetis SDK v2 with Processor Expert: Now many components can be used even with the Kinetis SDK v2.0 even with the Kinetis SDK not having Processor Expert included.
Updated Segger SystemViewer to v2.32a with post-mortem and static buffer support
Updated Segger RTT to v5.10u and fixed an issue with interrupts on Cortex-M4
For my classes I had so far asked the students to install the Kinetis Design Studio (KDS) v3.0.0 and then apply several updates and upgrades available. NXP has now released the v3.2.0 of their KDS (Kinetis Design Studio):
Kinetis Design Studio v3.2.0
The v3.2.0 is including all the 3.x.x updates in a single installation which makes things easier to start with. And it now works for Mac OS X “El Capitan” and the latest GNU ARM Eclipse plugins :-).
I’m using the FRDM-KL25Z in my classes, and that board is very popular: low price (<$15), reasonable features (48 MHz ARM Cortex M0+, 128 KByte of FLASH, 16 KByte of RAM), and many tutorials elsewhere and on McuOnEclipse :-).
For the next (Fall) semester I’m looking for alternative boards, and one is the Freescale (now NXP) FRDM-KL27Z:
I’m using Processor Expert components for nearly every Freescale (now NXP) projects: for S08, S12, ColdFire, DSC and especially all the different NXP Kinetis devices. Not only because it makes software development fast and easy and allows re-use of software, but as well because Processor Expert has a good way to pack and distribute software components. Unfortunately Processor Expert is not any more included for the new Kinetis devices (see “First NXP Kinetis SDK Release: SDK V2.0 with Online On-Demand Package Builder“). So I have looked into an alternative and hopefully vendor neutral way to build and distribute software packages using CMSIS-Pack.
There are plenty of different software packages available for microcontroller these days from all the silicon vendors. Finding a good software package is one challenge, getting what I really need is another one. Freescale is now part of NXP since December 2015, so this is probably the first release of the former Freescale part now as NXP: The NXP Kinetis SDK Version 2.0.
It comes with an interesting distribution way: instead of downloading huge packages with all-and-everything in it, I can build it ‘on demand’ online and get what I need, on demand from a web-based front end:
One of the most important aspects for developing complex realtime applications is get insights into what is going on the target. Segger just has released a free tool which gives an incredible useful insight view and visualization: