RTOS Trace: TraceX with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX)

Having visibility and insights into a running system is highly valuable or critical: not only for optimizations but as well to verify the system design and behavior. In Getting Started with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX) I showed how to quickly run Azure RTOS. This article is about getting trace out of an ThreadX application and show it in TraceX.

Azure RTOS TraceX

Azure RTOS TraceX

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Steps to use FreeRTOS with newlib reentrant Memory Allocation

Reentrancy is an attribute of a piece of code and basically means it can re-entered by another execution flow, for example by an interrupt or by another task or thread. This is an important concept and still a lot of code ‘in the wild’ does violate reentrancy. As a result the application crashes immediately in the best case. Worse it crashes randomly or even worse it behaves incorrectly 😦 .

Reentrancy is always a concern if using standard library functions, including printf() or malloc(). FreeRTOS offers a reentrant wrapper to the standard malloc() and free() (Memory Scheme 3)

Running FreeRTOS with reentrant newlib

Running FreeRTOS with reentrant newlib

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Getting Started with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX)

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you probably know that I’m using FreeRTOS in most of my applications, for obvious reasons. But clearly this is not the only RTOS out there. After Microsoft had acquired Express Logic back in April 2019 things kept quite for a while. To me the crown jewel of Express Logic is the ThreadX RTOS. But recently Microsoft is pushing more and more the ‘Azure Sphere’ and trying to monetize the ‘IoT’ (I apologize for mentioning that overused acronym) application space and providing it now free for devices from selected partners which includes NXP now.

Debugging with ThreadX in MCUXpresso IDE

Debugging with ThreadX in MCUXpresso IDE

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Debugging Bootloader and Application with one Debug Session

If having a boot loader running on a micro-controller, it is very useful if both the boot loader and the loaded application can be debugged together:

Bootloader with Application Code

Bootloader with Application Code

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Power Measurement with the PEmicro Multilink Universal in Eclipse

Implementing low power in embedded applications implemented can be challenging. Measuring current consumption is a first step to see if the software changes indeed have an effect on the current consumed. The PEmicro Universal Multilink FX debug probe comes with a useful feature to provide power to the target and the same time to measure the current consumption and to show the current used in the Eclipse IDE:

PEmicro power measurement

PEmicro power measurement

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tinyK22 Board Rev 1.3 released

The tinyK22 board is a tiny micro controller board we use at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. It is used in many research project, used in lectures and labs and used in most student projects. Because there was no small and breadboard friendly NXP Kinetis board with a debug interface available, we developed one featuring the NXP K22FN512, named the ‘tinyK22‘. Because of the success and high demand we stated a new large production run and used this to upgrade the board to the new Rev 1.3: you might notice already the color change :-).

tinyK22

tinyK22

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FreeRTOS and Eclipse Indexer for >5K Lines Source Files

Eclipse has a great built-in source code parser and browser (aka ‘Indexer’). It is basically a built-in compiler which parses the source files and assists the user with code completion and navigation help, making Eclipse this awesome productivity tool. On the downside this background parsing could potentially slow down things, and therefore Eclipse has some default settings to prevent this. Unfortunately, the FreeRTOS Kernel ‘tasks.c’ file is above-and-beyond of a ‘sane’ source file and will hit the default limits: as a result the ‘tasks.c’ file is not indexed and things like ‘Open Declaration‘ might not work for the file ‘tasks.c’.

Open Declaration

Open Declaration

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Grouping Eclipse Projects with Working Sets

Typically I have many, many projects listed in the Eclipse Project Explorer, usually more than 100 projects: from example projects, projects on git, lecture module projects, research projects or just some hobby projects I’m working on. With the default Eclipse settings, all these projects are listed in a ‘linear’ list. What I found really useful is the ability to group them into ‘Working Sets‘:

Grouped Projects in Eclipse Project Explorer

Grouped Projects in Eclipse Project Explorer

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Tweaking MCUXpresso IDE Black Theme

‘Dark’ or ‘Black’ themes are on vogue: some love it, some do not care. The good thing is that we all have a choice. Things are getting improved on the host OS (Windows/Linux) side, but the challenge is still on the application side, but things are getting better. This is true for the Eclipse based IDEs too, with the NXP MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1 just recently released: it comes with improved Dark Theme support:

Tweaked MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

Tweaked MCUXpresso IDE Dark Theme

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1

I have started the semester and labs using the MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.0 which has been available from July this year. The past week I received the notification that the update V11.2.1 is available: time to check it out….

MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1

MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.1

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FreeRTOS V10.4.1 with SEGGER SystemView V3.12

Amazon has released in the past week the FreeRTOS version V10.4.0. Time to upgrade, actually the most recent version 10.4.1! The same time the SEGGER SystemView V3.12 was released back in April this year. No surprise: with the FreeRTOS changes they don’t work out of the box: but no worries, I have you covered and applied all the needed patches and changes to have them working again together: the latest FreeRTOS v10.4.x with Segger SystemView v3.12:

Segger SystemView 3.12 with FreeRTOS 10.4.2

Segger SystemView 3.12 with FreeRTOS 10.4.2

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Import Projects from git into Eclipse

As a VCS (Version Control System) I’m using git in all my projects. And not only for software or firmware projects: I’m using it for hardware design (KiCAD, FreeCAD, …) or for documentation (LaTeX, …) too.

The nice thing with the Eclipse IDE is that it supports nice git integration, making importing projects from git repositories easy.

Import Projects from git

Import Projects from git

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.2.0

At the university the end of a semester means that you have to get ready for the next semester. I always tend to use the latest and greatest tools for the labs. This week I received the notification that a new version of the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE is available, time to check it out for the next semester.

MCUXpresso IDE 11.2.0

MCUXpresso IDE 11.2.0

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New Version

I’m making progress with the new ‘Billion Light‘ modules (aka V2): the new design is more modular and easier to build and assemble and still looks awesome with the moving lights and clock hands:

Different Enclosure and Arrangement

Different Enclosure and Arrangement

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Eclipse Gems, Tips & Tricks: Faster Debugger Start

This article is part of a ‘mini series’ about hidden gems, tips and tricks around Eclipse.
The topic of this one is how to accelerate the start of the debugger.

Nothing to be done

Nothing to be done

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From C to C++: Converting Eclipse C Projects

Creating a new project with Eclipse for a microcontroller these days is fairly easy, and I have the choice if I want to start the project with C or C++:

Choice of C and C++ for a new project

Still the embedded microcontroller world is dominated by C and not C++. So while it is easy to start with a C++ project, most vendor provided example or tutorial project are C projects. So how can I transform such project to C++?

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