Hexiwear: Teardown of the Hackable ‘Do-Anything’ Device


Smartwatches are around for a while now. To me it is still questionable how useful the ‘big’ ones for iOS and Android are. But there are definitely the crowd funded smartwatch projects which caught my attention. Maybe it is about the ‘do-anything’ with connectivity?  One of these gadgets is Hexiwear: a hackable open source device

Hexiwear Device

Hexiwear Device

While it *could* be a kind of smartwatch, the value of this thing is more that it includes a plethora of sensors with two microcontroller, and I can use Eclipse with GNU tools to build my firmware:-).

Alert: Hackster.io is giving away 100 Hexiwears, but you need to hurry up (submission until July 15th 2016)!

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FatFS with Adafruit MicroSD Breakout Board and NXP FRDM-KL25Z


Breakout boards are great: they allow me to explore functions quickly, without to build my custom board: all what I need is some wires and ideally a bread board.

Adadfruit MicroSD Card Breakout Board

Adadfruit MicroSD Card Breakout Board

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Board Bring-Up Tips, GDB Logs and Traces in Eclipse


Sometimes things don’t go well, especially with bringing up a new board design. I always sweat blood that first minute when I try to connect with the debugger to a new design: Will it work? After the optical inspection, performing electrical tests (no shortcuts? voltage levels ok?) the inflection point is when I’m connecting the first time with the debugger to the new board: either it will properly connect and program the device (hurrah!) or it will fail and potentially difficult hours of investigations have to follow.

First PCB under Debug

First PCB under Debug

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How to Recover the OpenSDA V2.x Bootloader


More and more of my students are using Microsoft Windows 10 machines, and my computer has been upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of week ago too. From my work and experience, a new operating system causes always some challenges, and Windows 10 is no difference. And no, this is not about Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Linux, this post is about addressing a potential and painful problem which I have observed with Windows 10 machines, and to my understanding it could happen with any other operating system too. The problem is that somehow on several student machines the bootloader and OpenSDA application on their FRDM boards did not work any more.

FRDM-K64F (top) programming the OpenSDA Bootloader (bottom)

FRDM-K64F (top) programming the OpenSDA Bootloader (bottom)

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McuOnEclipse Components: 25-June-2016 Release


SourceForge

SourceForge

A new release is available on SourceForge, with the following main changes:

  • Support for FreeRTOS and Cortex-M7
  • Segger SystemView updated to V2.38
  • Components for NXP Kinetis SDK V1.3
  • Fixed bug in Wait component (register handling for GCC and ARM)
  • FatFS supports FreeRTOS V9.0.0 with static memory allocation
  • FreeRTOS shell and task list with static memory allocation
  • Floating point conversion routines in Utility
  • FreeRTOS component shows NVIC mask bits

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Switching the Microcontroller Package, Device and Family


One of the major benefits of Processor Expert is that I can easily switch the device or processor used in a project. For example I can do my concept with a larger device with more FLASH and RAM, and then at the end easily switch to a smaller or even completely different device very quickly. For example I have a project working with the 64KByte FLASH version of the KE02Z (KE02Z68VLH2):

MKE02Z64VLH2

MKE02Z64VLH2

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First steps: ARM Cortex-M7 and FreeRTOS on NXP TWR-KV58F220M


For a university research project I need a fast microcontroller with lots of RAM and FLASH memory. I have ordered a TWR-KV58F220M board from NXP which arrived yesterday. The special thing is that it has on of these new ARM Cortex-M7F on it:

TWR-KV58F220M Box

TWR-KV58F220M Box

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Swiss Army Knife of Terminal Program for Serial Bootloaders


A bootloader shall be small and concise. I very much like bootloaders which do not need a ‘special’ program on the host, so I prefer a simple terminal for this. While porting my serial bootloader to the NXP FRDM-K64F board, I have found RealTerm which offers a lot of cool features:

RealTerm

RealTerm

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Tutorial: Making Music with Floppy Disk Drives


3.5″ Diskette Drives are not widely used any more: CDs, DVDs, memory/thumb drives and downloads from the web are the usual distribution method these days for software. Back a few years ago, software was distributed on one or many 3.5″ diskettes, and even before that time on 5 1/4″ floppy disk drives. So what to do with all these not-used-anymore hardware? Play music with it:-)

Floppy Music

Floppy Music

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Combining Multiple NXP Kinetis SDKs into One


My wife tells me that I have too many boards on my desk. That is only *partially* correct: there are many, but not *too* many. But I’m working on too many tasks, but that’s a different aspect:-). I’m using more and more the Kinetis SDK V2.0, and as a result of this I have multiple SDKs installed on my machine. Because with the SDK V2.0 I get a download for each device/board installed (see “First NXP Kinetis SDK Release: SDK V2.0 with Online On-Demand Package Builder“). So my list of SDK folders is growing, as shown with the ‘New SDK 2.x’ wizard in Kinetis Design Studio:

Multiple Kinetis SDKs

Multiple Kinetis SDKs

The same time, the amount of free disk space is reducing. What if I could combine all these SDK’s?

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Tutorial: Muxing with the New NXP Pins Tool


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:-).

Desktop Version of Pins Tool

Desktop Version of Pins Tool

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A Flying UAV Drone Full of Sensors


One goal of this blog is to inspire engineers, in one way or another. And when I get reports back that things were useful, I like to share it:-).

So here is something what a team of young undergraduates (Przemyslaw Brudny, Marek Ulita, Maciej Olejnik) did for theirs Master Thesis work at the Politechnika Wroclawska, Poland: a very cool flying machine controlled by two Kinetis K66, having many sensors (on own designed boards) with a custom debug/programmer board similar to the tinyK20, developed with the NXP Kinetis Design Studio:

Plane Model

UAV (Source: Thesis of Przemyslaw Brudny)

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INTRO FS2016 Semester Closing with Robot Maze Challenge


“Learning-by-doing” is one of the core principles of my embedded systems and robotics course at the Lucerne University. For this the students apply what they learned using a robotics platform. In earlier semesters we did a Sumo battle at the end. This time the challenge was to build a remote controller plus to add the ability to explore and solve a line maze:

maze solving robots

maze solving robots

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McuOnEclipse Components: 29-May-2016 Release


Major changes in this new release:

  • FreeRTOS V9.0.0 with static memory allocation.
  • Shell with single character I/O function.
  • FatFS File System with extra shell commands for memory dump and file creation.
  • Segger SystemViewer library updated to V2.36a
Segger SystemViewer V2.36a

Segger SystemViewer V2.36a

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FreeRTOS V9.0.0 with Static Memory Allocation


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

Dynamic and Static Memory Allocation in FreeRTOS V9.0.0

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