Getting Started: Raspberry Pi Pico RP2040 with Eclipse and J-Link

In this time where many micro-controllers have 100+ weeks estimated delivery time, it makes sense to look at alternatives. So it is not a surprise that the Raspberry Pi RP2040 gets used more and more in projects. It is not only inexpensive, it is (at least for now) available which makes all the difference. The RP2040 is the first microcontroller from Raspberry Pi: a dual-core ARM Cortex-M0+ running up to 133 MHz, 264 KByte on-Chip RAM and up to 16 MByte external FLASH.

Raspberry Pi Pico with J-Link, with a NXP sensor board

It is a very versatile microcontroller, with a rich eco-system and set of tools. It can be easily used with C/C++ or MicroPython, and the Raspberry Pi Pico board only costs around $5. There are plenty of tutorials out there, for example how to use the Pico board as debug probe to debug another Pico board. While this is great, there is an easy way to use any existing J-Link and Eclipse IDE too, so this is what this article is about.

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Are WLCSP the Solution during Silicon Shortage?

If you are in the electronics or microcontroller business: you very well know the problems with chip and silicon availability. What was supposed to last maybe for a few months starting with COVID-19 is still a problem in 2022: chips are not available or the price has skyrocket.

Cost-effective usage of NXP LPC804 with WLCSP20 Package

We at the Lucerne University are using NXP Kinetis micro controllers which seem to be affected by the silicon shortage somewhat more than any other devices? When looking that the usual sources, it was clear some are still available, but in a rather exotic WLCSP package. So the question is: can it be useful?

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Choosing GNU Compiler Optimizations

Tool chains like the GNU compiler collection (gcc) have a plethora of options. The probably most important ones are the ones which tell the compiler how to optimize the code. Running out of code space, or the application is not performing well? Then have a look at the compiler optimization levels!

However, which one to select can be a difficult choice. And the result might very well depend on the application and coding style too. So I’ll give you some hints and guidance with an autonomous robot application we use at the Lucerne University for research and education.

INTRO Sumo Robot
INTRO Sumo Robot
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Tutorial: Creating and using ROM Libraries with GNU Build Tools

You might never heard about ROM Libraries, and you are probably not alone. Some might thing that this refers to the boot ROM modern MCUs have built in, which is kinda close. But the thing here is about to build your own (possibly constant) ROM library, program it to your device of choice, and then use it from the application running on the device.

So the concept is to have a (fixed, stable) part with code and data on your device, which can be used by a (possibly changing) application: Think about a stable LoRaWAN network stack in the ROM, with a changing application using it: Would that not be cool?

ROM Library Concept

This not only adds flexibility, but as well allows smaller updates, as only a part of the program has to be changed or updated.

The question is: how to create and use such a ROM Library with the normal GNU build tools?

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Installing Processor Expert into MCUXpresso IDE

With the new MCUXpresso versions out, and because it has been a while I showed how to install Processor Expert into Eclipse, here is an update how to do this.

Processor Expert in MCUXpresso IDE
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Using Custom Source File Extensions with Eclipse CDT Gnu Make Builder Projects

One great thing with the Eclipse Gnu Make Builder (aka ‘auto make’ or ‘auto build’) feature: just add source files (*.c, *.cpp, …), and with kind of magic, they all get compiled and linked properly.

But for something easy and convenient: is it hard to use custom file extensions? So what if I want to use a different file extension for my source files, different from the standard ones? Actually Eclipse CDT can do this too, it just takes two settings to recognize, compile and link source files with custom extension.

Custom file extension with Eclipse auto-build
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MCUXpresso IDE 11.5.0

I’m now in the middle of the university fall semester exam season with writing exams and grading student work, and the same time the new semester courses need to be prepared. With the global silicon and board shortage, this will be again a challenge to equip all the labs with the needed infrastructure. The good thing is that there is no shortage on software and tools side of the infrastructure: NXP released last week their new flagship Eclipse based IDE: the MCUXpresso IDE 11.5.0. Time to check it out for the upcoming lectures and classes….

NXP MCUXpresso IDE Version 11.5.0

Spoiler Alert: It has a new view for FreeRTOS lovers, plus new features for energy/power measurements!

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DIY Split-Flap Display

Split-flap displays are electromechanical display devices, which were common in airports or railway stations a few years ago.Unfortunately, most of them are gone and replaced by LED displays. Why not create a DIY version of it?

2×10 Split-Flap Display
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McuOnEclipse Components: 26-Dec-2021 Release

I’m pleased to announce a new release of the McuOnEclipse components, available on SourceForge. This release includes several bug fixes, support for more devices, and updated components like FreeRTOS, MinINI, Percepio Tracealyzer and SEGGER SystemView.

SourceForge

SourceForge

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Key-Value pairs in FLASH Memory: file-system-less minINI

Many embedded systems application need to store some kind of data in a persistent way: calibration values, settings or log information. For a smaller amount of data, using an external memory or file system is an overkill. In many system I’m using minINI to store key-value pars in in a ‘ini-file’ way, but it requires the use of a file system of some kind. minINI is great and efficient, and makes getting and storing data really easy. But for simple cases, a single FLASH memory page or sector is just all what I need. Instead managing that page directly, why not using minINI without a file system?

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