Visual Studio Code for C/C++ with ARM Cortex-M: Part 8 – xPack C/C++ Managed Build Tools

This is a new article in my series about using Microsoft Visual Studio Code: After installation, project setup, building, debugging, setting up a kit, IntelliSense and FreeRTOS. This one is about setting up and using the xPack Extension to build cross-platform-multi-tool project with a project manager.

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Standalone SWO

SWO (Single Wire Output) in ARM cores is probably one of the most under-used features. Which is surprising, because SWO can be very useful. In a nut shell: SWO is a single wire output pin/signal channel which can provide lots of different data, like PC sampling for coverage information, interrupt tracing data or ‘uart-like’ text packets.

SWO output from application
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Optimized Vinyl Cutting G-Code Tool Path with DXF2GCODE

G-Code (or RS-274) is a widely used protocol for CNC machines. I have added vinyl cutting capabilities to the Shapeoko desktop CNC recently (see DIY Vinyl Cutting Drag Knife for Desktop CNC), however cutting vinyl with a drag knife is whole different story compared cutting materials like wood or aluminum. As with many other things, it is about handling all corner cases properly.

Expected and not expected results cutting vinyl
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DIY Vinyl Cutting Drag Knife for Desktop CNC

A desktop CNC is a great addition to any 3D printer or laser cutter. I consider them ‘the trinity’ for any maker garage. While a desktop CNC is great for wood and some metals like aluminum or brass, it would be great to extend the infrastructure with something more: vinyl cutting. And with this the idea to have cool sticker on my laptop lid:

CNC cut-out design on laptop lid
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Position-Independent Code with GCC for ARM Cortex-M

Welcome to ‘Alice in Wonderland‘! For a university research project using an ARM Cortex-M33 we are evaluating position-independent code as way to load applications or part of it with a bootloader. It sounds simple: just add -fPIC to the compiler settings and you are done.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. That option opened up a ‘rabbit hole’ with lots of wonderful, powerful and strange things. Something you might not have been aware of what could be possible with the tools you have at hand today. Leading to the central question: how is position-independent code going to work with an embedded application on an ARM Cortex-M?

Let’s find out! Let’s start a journey through the wonderland…

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Visual Studio Code for C/C++ with ARM Cortex-M: Part 7 – FreeRTOS

This is a new article in my series about using Microsoft Visual Studio Code: After installation, project setup, building, debugging, setting up a kit and IntelliSense. This one is about setting up and using FreeRTOS:

Microsoft Visual Studio Code with Debugging FreeRTOS application on ARM Cortex-M
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Finding Memory Bugs with Google Address Sanitizer (ASAN) on Microcontrollers

Dangling pointers and memory corruption problems are nasty issues for any developer, and usually hard to find and locate in the code. Luckily Google has developed an open source tool to solve such issues: the Address Sanitizer (ASAN). The tool is available for x86 and other desktop style architectures, including Android and Linux. This article describes how ASAN can be used for an embedded target, e.g. ARM Cortex-M4 or similar.

Catching memory errors on ARM Cortex-M4F with ASAN
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Placing Code in Sections with managed GNU Linker Scripts

Managed linker scripts are great on one side: the simplify the otherwise complex GNU linker script handling. On the other side it requires knowledge how to tweak them in case ‘non-standard’ behavior is needed.

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Visual Studio Code for C/C++ with ARM Cortex-M: Part 6 – IntelliSense

The previous parts were about installation, project setup, building, debugging and setting up a kit. This one is about setting up IntelliSense for Cross Development in Visual Studio Code which allows for browsing symbols or code completion:

Code Completion in Visual Studio
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