Remote Board Debugging: J-Link Remote Server with Eclipse

For a CubeSat project we only have a single board available. But multiple universities and developers need to have access to that board for developing and debugging the firmware. We cannot easily ship around the board: that takes a lot of time and during shipment nobody can use the board.

There is a nice feature in the Segger J-Link software which allows to share the debug connection over the network: the J-Link Remote Server. It even works nicely between different networks without complicated firewall setup:

Connected in Tunnel Mode

Connected in Tunnel Mode

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“No source available”, or how to Debug Multiple Binaries with GDB and Eclipse

When working and debugging a bootloader, debugging can be a challenge: During debugging the bootloader, a new binary gets loaded into the microcontroller address space which is unknown to the debugger. As soon as I step into the newly loaded binary, I only see assembly code, with that ugly “No source available” in Eclipse:

No Source Available, debugging in assembly

No Source Available, debugging in assembly

But wait: GDB is able to do pretty much everything you can imagine, so here is how to debug multiple binaries with GDB and Eclipse, and to turn the above into something which is easy to debug:

Debugging with Symbolics

Debugging with Symbolics

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Reprogramming the Mikroelektronika Hexiwear Dockingstation

The Hexiwear docking station would have a nice feature: it has embedded a debug circuit (OpenSDA). That way I would not need an external debug probe to debug the Hexiwear. However, a debug probe is required to reprogram the docking station itself:

Repgrogramming the Mikroelektronika Docking Station

Repgrogramming the Mikroelektronika Docking Station

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Flashing and Restoring the Hexiwear Firmware

The Hexiwear device is a great and versatile device with two microcontrollers on it. Developing firmware on a Hexiwear means changing what was originally on it. And sometimes it happens that I’m not sure if the changes are for good. Or that I accidentally destroyed the firmware on the NXP Kinetis KW40 BLE microcontroller :-(. So I had to find a way to restore the original firmware, and this is what this post is about.

Restoring the Hexiwear Firmware with a Segger J-Link

Restoring the Hexiwear Firmware with a Segger J-Link

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Tutorial: Updating Embedded Linux on Toradex i.MX7 Colibri Module using SD Card

My Toradex i.MX7Dual module comes with a preflashed Linux distribution (see “Tutorial: First Steps with NXP i.MX7 and Toradex Colibri Board“). As with any other things, Linux gets updated from time to time, and Toradex publishes new firmware. In this article I’m documenting how I can update Linux in the external FLASH on that module.

NXP i.MX7Dual Module

NXP i.MX7Dual Module

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First Steps with Ozone and the Segger J-Link Trace Pro

From time to time I face some problems which are really hard to find. Mostly these kind of bugs are very timing sensitive and depend on interrupt execution order. Maybe a dangling pointer is overwriting memory, code is running wild, or some functions are not reentrant as they should be. For these kind of bugs, good tools are worth their weight in gold. The Percepio FreeRTOS+Trace and the Segger SystemView have helped me many times to narrow down such kind problems in my applications. Another ultimate tools is hardware trace: Now I have a Segger J-Trace Pro for ARM Cortex-M in my arsenal of bug extinguishing weapons on my desk:
Dear bugs, look what I have on my desk. Your hiding time is over! 🙂

tracing-cortex-m4-with-j-trace

tracing-cortex-m4-with-j-trace

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Eclipse and GDB: Process Properties, Arguments and GDB Traces

To me this was new, and thanks to Liviu I know now how to inspect the command line passed to the GDB server (see “Semihosting (again!) with NXP Kinetis SDK V2.0“) 🙂

Process Properties

Process Properties

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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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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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Segger J-Link OpenSDA Firmware with Virtual MSD

Sometimes it is very convenient to load a new firmware to a board without the need for a hardware debugger. This is usually done with a bootloader. The NXP Freedom and Tower evaluation boards have on-board debug device/microcontroller (OpenSDA) which can load different firmware implementations like CMSIS-DAP/mbed, P&E Multilink or a Segger J-Link OpenSDA applications. Both mbed and P&E implemenations support to program the board with drag&drop: simply send a file to a virtual MSD (Mass Storage Device) to get it programmed. The latest Segger OpenSDA firmware has this ability added now too: Programming the board with a virtual MSD device:

Virtual MSD Device

Virtual MSD Device

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Programming S-Records with GNU ARM Eclipse Debugger Plugins

By default I’m programming the Elf/Dwarf (.elf) file present in the GNU ARM Eclipse debug configuration:

Elf File to be Downloaded

Elf File to be Downloaded

But how to program the board with something different from the .elf file?

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Solution for OpenOCD “Cannot communicate… target not haltet”

Related to my earlier article about using OpenOCD, I want to share something I have learned (again) with OpenOCD v0.10.0:

I was running often into the following error:

Warn : Cannot communicate... target not halted.
Error: auto_probe failed
Error: Connect failed. Consider setting up a gdb-attach event for the target to prepare target for GDB connect, or use 'gdb_memory_map disable'.
Error: attempted 'gdb' connection rejected
OpenOCD cannot communicate

OpenOCD cannot communicate

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Flashing many ARM Boards without a Host PC

So here I have 50 new NXP Kinetis K22 Robot boards (see “Zumo Robot with Magnetic Encoders“), and they all need to be programmed with the first firmware on the bench:

Programming Robot Boards

Programming Robot Boards

The challenge is: how to do this in a fast an efficient way, without the need for an IDE or even host PC machine?

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Data Logger with tinyK20 Board

First off: The tinyK20 project is progressing fine and is now on Hackaday.io :-).

For a research project we would like to use the tinyK20 to log gyro sensor data. For this I have created a quick-n-dirty project to explore how feasible it is. The tinyK20 has all the pins on the outside of the board, so I’m able to put it on a bread board:

tinyK20 on Breadboard

tinyK20 on Breadboard

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SWD Debugging the FRDM-KL43Z

It is possible to use the Freescale FRDM-KL43Z to debug another board (see “Using the Freescale Freedom (FRDM-KL43Z) to Debug other Boards“). The FRDM-KL43Z has an on-board debug probe integrated, the OpenSDA. But it is easily possible to debug the board directly with a SWD debug probe like the P&E Universal Multilink or the Segger J-Link.

Debugging the FRDM-KL43Z with SWD

Debugging the FRDM-KL43Z with SWD

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Aligning S19 Records to 64-bit Boundaries

Many tool chains and linker are able to produce S19 files, such as with the GNU tools it is the ‘objcopy‘ which does this job (see “Binary (and S19) Files for the mbed Bootloader with Eclipse and GNU ARM Eclipse Plugins“). But these tools usually cannot handle the special cases. For example on the Freescale Kinetis K64F my serial bootloader (see “Serial Bootloader for the Freedom Board with Processor Expert“) had a problem with these lines in the S19 file:

Not aligned S19 file entries

Not aligned S19 file entries

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Programming Kinetis with CodeWarrior from the DOS Shell

In “CodeWarrior Flash Programming from a DOS Shell” I showed how to program a device from the DOS shell. Because that example was for ColdFire and CodeWarrior for MCU10.2, here is the same for a Kinetis (FRDM-KL25Z) and CodeWarrior for MCU10.6. In my workspace (c:\tmp\wsp_10.6) I have a project folder (FRDM-KL25Z).

I’m using the ‘Flash Programmer’ to sneak the needed commands:

Sneaking Commands from Flasher

Sneaking Commands from Flasher

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Updating Segger Tools in Eclipse Kinetis Design Studio

Segger releases often new application and firmware updates. If I install an IDE like the Freescale Kinetis Design Studio, it comes with that firmware version available at that time. How to take advantage of a new Segger release?

Segger Download Page

Segger Download Page

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Batch Programming with GDB: Segger J-Link and P&E Multilink

I need to program several boards with a firmware: a number too small for serious batch/factory programming, but a number too high doing this with the debugger. I want this:

  1. Connect the board with the debug probe and power it
  2. Run a script to flash the program and run it
  3. Disconnect and restart step 1.
First set of sensor nodes with two programming adapters

Need to program a few boards…

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