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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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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Visual Studio Code for C/C++ with ARM Cortex-M: Part 4 – Debug

The previous parts were about installation, project setup and building. This one is about debugging an ARM Cortex-M Microcontroller with Visual Studio Code:

Cortex-M4 (NXP K22FN512) Debugging with Visual Studio Code
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Debug Firmware Switching for the LPC4322

In “Freelink LPC4322JET100 based Debug Circuit on NXP i.MX RT1064-EVK Board” I described how to change the factory firmware from OpenSDA to the LPC-Link2 one.

Debug Circuit on i.MX RT1064
Debug Circuit on i.MX RT1064

Now it is possible to use a Segger J-Link firmware too, or to switch back to the factory default one.

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“java.net.SocketException: Connection reset”: Check your Windows Updates!

One of the most frustrating part developing embedded applications is if the debug connection fails somehow: with all the different factors like operating system, virtual machines, USB ports and hubs, debug probe and firmware a ‘connection failed’ is my nightmare. And this is probably the most frustrating parts for my students (and myself!)

I do have a growing list of tips & tricks in “Debugging Failure: Check List and Hints“, so check this list. What I just have added is an entry for

java.net.SocketException: Connection reset

It occurred for a few students when they wanted to use the on-board CMSIS-DAP LinkServer debug connection on the NXP LPC845-BRK.

NXP LPC845-BRK Board

NXP LPC845-BRK Board

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Tutorial: GNU Coverage with MCUXpresso IDE

If you are developing Linux or desktop applications with GNU tools, you  very likely are familiar with gcov: the GNU coverage tool. It collects data what parts of the code gets executed and represents that in different formats, great to check what is really used in the application code or what has been covered during multiple test runs.

Coverage Information with gcov

Coverage Information with gcov

line never executed

line never executed

GNU coverage is possible for resource constraint embedded systems too: it still needs some extra RAM and code space, but very well spent for gathering metrics and improves the firmware quality. As I wrote in “MCUXpresso IDE V11.3.0 for 2021” things are now easier to use, so here is a short tutorial how to use it.

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assert(), __FILE__, Path and other cool GNU gcc Tricks to be aware of

It is always good to have a close look what ends up in a microcontroller FLASH memory. For example using EHEP Eclipse plugin to inspect the binary file:

Source File Name in Binary Image

Source File Name in Binary Image

Obviously it has path and source file information in it. Why is that? And is this really needed?

What about:

  • Privacy: the path or file name might expose information (secret project name?) or might be used for reverse engineering?
  • Size: The strings add up to the final data/FLASH size, so this increases the need for ROM space?

So let’s have a look what is the reason for this and how it could be avoided or at least reduced.

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Hey Google: Find ‘Error from StubMonSemihost: “monitor” command not supported by this target.’

Something what I say quite often is: “Google is your friend”. It means that the answer to many questions can be found with an internet search engine. And I have to admit that I have to ‘google’ my own articles to find solutions for problems I feel I have seen in the past too :-).

But for the one problem below I did not find anything: not on my own blog, and not anywhere else in the internet:

Exception

Exception

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.3.0 for 2021

I’m in the middle of the university exam season: means writing exams and do grading. The same time the new semester is approaching too and I need to prepare the new course material. For the classes using NXP parts I’m using the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE, and I just received the announcement that a new version V11.3.0 is available: time to check out what is new.

MCUXpresso IDE v11.3.0 (Build 5222)

MCUXpresso IDE v11.3.0 (Build 5222)

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