The Influence of Software and Tools on ARM Cortex-M Microcontroller Vendor Selection

For me, the available software and tools are the primary key decision factor why I select a particular silicon vendor. Without good software and tools, a microcontroller only ‘sand in plastic case’, even if it is the best microcontroller in the world. I do have several probably excellent microcontroller boards, and they are only getting touched by more durst over the months and years.

Undusted LPC824 Board

Undusted LPC824 Board

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Simulating Space on Earth: Irradiation Tests at the Paul Scherrer Institute

Space is a hostile environment. Sending hardware to space means putting it under irradiation tests: exposing the object to radiation and see what happens :-). For this, under the lead of the ETHZ (Mathematical and Physical Geodesy), we had the opportunity to put the CubETH payload board under a proton beam. The test facility is at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland:

Control Room at PSI

Control Room at PSI

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What is “Realtime Debugging”?

Questions from students or readers of my articles are a great source for all kind of articles. And here is the ‘question of this week’: “What is realtime debugging”?

It’s a good question because the topic of ‘realtime’ and ‘debugging’ was a topic in the lectures this week. So this question gives me the opportunity to combine the two things of ‘realtime’ and ‘debugging’, I love it :-).

Debugging Setup

Debugging Setup

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Zephyr: Thoughts and First Steps on the ARM Cortex-M4F with gcc, gdb and Eclipse

The concept of Linux (Open Source, broad developer base and broad usage) is a success story. While there is a lot of diversity (and freedom) in the Linux world, Linux is Linux and again Linux :-). And the world has (mostly) standardized on Linux and its variants on the high embedded system side.

On the other side, the ‘middle and lower end’ Embedded world is fragmented and in many aspects proprietary. So it was no surprise to me when the Linux Foundation announced the ‘Zephyr’ project back in February 2016:

“The Linux Foundation Announces Project to Build Real-Time Operating System for Internet of Things Devices. Open source Zephyr™ Project aims to deliver an RTOS; opens call for developers to help advance project for the smallest footprint IoT devices.

Ζεφυρος (Zephyros) is the Greek good of spring and the west wind. Obviously this inspired the logo for the Zephyr project:

Zephyr logo

Zephyr logo (Source: https://www.zephyrproject.org/)

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Building the NXP BLE Stack with Open Source GNU and Eclipse Tools

One of the biggest road blocks (beside of closed source) using the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) stack from NXP is that it requires expensive tools to compile and build the stack. The good news is that I have now the NXP BLE stack for the Mikroelektronika Hexiwear ported to Eclipse and GNU gcc build tools for ARM 🙂

NXP BLE Stack in Eclipse

NXP BLE Stack in Eclipse

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Failure with Solder Points and Mechanical Pressure

The good thing with failure is: it is an opportunity to learn :-).

So here is a case: For a STEM roadshow (see “MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?“), we have produced in a rush an autonomous robot with a shiny printed 3D cover:

LED effect in blue

Prototyp with LED Effects

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Thank You for Commenting, Thoughts and Feedback!

This post is a bit off-topic. No, this is not one of my deep technical tutorials. It is not about all the muddy bits in hardware, and it is not about shiny and great tools. This post is about you all: WordPress counted 15’000 comments for McuOnEclipse!

15000 Comments on McuOnEclipse

15000 Comments on McuOnEclipse

I highly appreciate your thoughts, questions, requests, ‘likes’ and feedback you give. Please keep them coming!

Happy Commenting 🙂

PS: special thanks to Kevin P. and Jim T.: this blog would not exist without you!

ARM Cortex-M, Interrupts and FreeRTOS: Part 2

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.

NXP KV58F ARM Cortex-M7

NXP KV58F ARM Cortex-M7

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Survey: After 0x8888888 Seconds, What’s Next?

When I have hit ‘publish’ for this post, the McuOnEclipse blog exists for exactly 0x888888 seconds. Or almost. I admit there might be a latency of a few seconds. But hey, that’s still a good (hexadecimal) number! :-).

What Next

What Next?

I would like to reach out about what you would like to see on McuOnEclipse in a not too distant future:

  • What do you like the most?
  • About what should I write more?
  • Any other subject or topic you would like to see?

Add a comment if you have anything else on your mind.

Thank you!

Happy Polling 🙂

 

Bricking and Recovering OpenSDA Boards in Windows 8 and 10

Getting a board from a distributor like Farnell/Element14/Mouser (add your own distributor) means that chances are high that the default firmware on it is written years from now because the inventory has not been updated, or because boards are still produced with that original firmware (because of testing?). So what happens if I use board with a firmware developed pre-Windows 8/10 area?

Freshly Unboxed NXP FRDM-KL25Z Board

Freshly Unboxed NXP FRDM-KL25Z Board

It might work, but chances are high that the bootloader and firmware is not ready for the ‘modern age’, and as a result the board might be bricked. If you still have a Windows 7 machine around (I do!), you are lucky. If not, then you need to read this article….

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Tutorial: Blinky with the FRDM-KL27Z and Kinetis SDK v2

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:

FRDM-KL27Z with Box

FRDM-KL27Z with Box

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Are ARM CMSIS-Pack the Future of Software Components?

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.

CMSIS-PACK in Eclipse

CMSIS-Pack in Eclipse

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Forces of Nature: Video of Destructive Rockslide

Overnight it was raining a lot in the central part of Switzerland. Additionally it is warming up so it adds water with all the snow melting in the higher areas. As a result, a dangerous rock- and mudslide went down today nearby in Moutathal, damaging bridges and power lines. A video records the destructive power of nature:

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First NXP Kinetis SDK Release: SDK V2.0 with Online On-Demand Package Builder

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:

NXP Kinetis Expert with Kinetis SDK

NXP Kinetis Expert with Kinetis SDK

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Blaze: Miniature, Powerful, Hackable Display with Touch

I’m not much monitoring what is happening on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, only for time reasons, but maybe I should? For a while I’m looking for the next level for the tinyK20 project: better and more powerful microcontroller with touch display/graphic LCD. And when I see a Freescale/NXP Kinetis microcontroller on a crowd funding platform like this one, I hardly can resist 😉 :

Blaze Board (Source: http://kck.st/1S0HyUp)

Blaze Board (Source: http://kck.st/1S0HyUp)

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Renaming Eclipse CDT Projects

When I create a project in Eclipse (e.g. in Kinetis Design Studio with the GNU ARM Eclipse plugins), I have to specify the name of the project during creation time:

Project Name in Eclipse

Project Name in Eclipse

But what if I change my mind later on and want to use a different name? How to rename the project?

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From Zero to NOOBS: Starting with Raspberry Pi Zero

My Raspberry Pi Zero arrived last week (see “A Raspberry Pi for $5! What are your decision factors?“), and finally I have found an hour to try it out. Because the ‘bare board’ $5 version was sold out at that time, I ordered a package with 8GB SD card, micro USB cable and mini HDMI adapter. That way I had all the needed cables, including the mini HDMI adapter cable:

Raspberry Pi Zero

Raspberry Pi Zero

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