To me, software and tools are by far more important than the microcontroller. Because the silicon is a ‘one time kind of thing’, where the software has to be maintained and working over a longer time. And at least my software usually needs to be ported to a new device, so portability and available software and tools are critical to me.
The combination of MCUXpresso SDK (formerly Kinetis SDK) and Processor Expert is unfortunately not supported by NXP. But I have found a way to get them work together in a nice way, and this article is about making that combination possible :-).
SDKv2 Project with Processor Expert which is supposed not to work together
The Hexiwear (see “Hexiwear: Teardown of the Hackable ‘Do-Anything’ Device“) is a small and portable sensor node with built-in BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) transceiver. In a research project we try to use multiple Hexiwear in a classroom environment and to collect sensor data on a Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B running Linux has an on-board BLE transceiver too, so why not binding them (wirelessly) together?
Raspberry Pi 3 connected with Hexiwear over BLE
Well, things seemed easy at the beginning, and as always, there are many things to learn on a journey like this…
It seems to me that not many developers use hardware trace? ARM indicates that maybe only <5% of developers are using trace. Too bad! Why are all the ARM Cortex microcontroller vendors putting a powerful hardware (and complicated!) trace engine into their devices, if only few developers are using it? Seems like a waste of silicon and an unnecessary price adder? Well, hardware trace can be a life saver: Because only with hardware trace the most complicated bugs and problems can be solved. And maybe because only the best are using it ;-).
As a standard procedure, I add some console functionality to my embedded applications. That way I have a command line interface and can inspect and influence the target system. One interesting hardware feature of ARM Cortex-M is Single Wire Output (SWO): it allows to send out data (e.g. strings) over up to 32 different stimulus ports, over a single wire.
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
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….
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
The same time, the amount of free disk space is reducing. What if I could combine all these SDK’s?
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:
We are using robots to teach advanced embedded system programming at the Lucerne University (see “Sumo Robot Competition“). Students can buy the kit, and we are running out of available hardware. Time to produce a new series of robots :-). It took us a while to get to the next revision of the Zumo Robot, but finally the first one has been produced and assembled, and I think it is looking good :-).
In “openHAB RGB LED Light Cube with WS2812B and NXP Kinetis” I started experimenting Kinetis boards, a LED cube diffuser and Adafruit WS2812B NeoPixel LEDs. That worked well, but I was not to very happy about the visual effect. So here is my next version: I wanted to have control over each side of the cube. For this I have built a cube inside the cube with a 3D printed structure:
Sometimes it is all about doing fun stuff: to carry and store the tinyK20 (NXP/Freescale Kinetis K20) boards needed for next course, I wanted to build something geeky: a MUFG capsule to store and duplicate Kinetis boards 🙂
One of the most important aspects for developing complex realtime applications is get insights into what is going on the target. Segger just has released a free tool which gives an incredible useful insight view and visualization:
This link gives me the opportunity to download the very helpful Kinetis Software Development Kit (SDK) along with the Integrated Development Environment which includes the toolchain Kinetis Design Studio. Let us talk a bit about the Kinetis SDK in this blog. So what does Kinetis SDK is responsible for? In simple terms, it is just software framework which helps us in developing applications across all Kinetis Microcontrollers. It is a package of pre-written code that developers can re-use in order to minimize the amount of unique code that they need to develop themselves.
Here is my second blog about the Kinetis MCU development boards, introducing you to the new and more informative Getting Started process for Kinetis FRDM-K64F from Freescale. As a part of my internship I got the amazing opportunity to play with the ‘New Getting Started’ process and the most recent box of the FRDM-K64F development board from Freescale.
Freescale have been working all along to make the life of its customers easier. So, at the FTF 2015 we launched the new website: