Debugging ARM Cortex-M0+ HardFaults


To me, one of the most frustrating things working with ARM Cortex-M cores are the hard fault exceptions. I have lost several hours this week debugging and tracking an instance of a hard fault on an ARM Cortex-M0+ device.

Next assembly step will cause a hard fault

Next assembly step will cause a hard fault

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Upgrading to Sharp 128×128 Pixel Memory Display


In “Low Power LCD: Adafruit Breakout Board with Sharp Memory Display” I used a 96×96 Sharp Display (LS013B4DN04) with the Adafruit breakout board, but because that one seems to be EOL (End Of Life), I searched for a replacement. I have found the 128×128 pixel version (Sharp LS013B7DH03), and best of all, it is pin compatible :-). With a small tweak of the driver, it works :-):

Sharp Memory Display 128x128

Sharp Memory Display 128×128

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Building the NXP BLE Stack with Open Source GNU and Eclipse Tools


One of the biggest road blocks (beside of closed source) using the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) stack from NXP is that it requires expensive tools to compile and build the stack. The good news is that I have now the NXP BLE stack for the Mikroelektronika Hexiwear ported to Eclipse and GNU gcc build tools for ARM 🙂

NXP BLE Stack in Eclipse

NXP BLE Stack in Eclipse

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DIY IKEA Wireless Qi Charging for the Hexiwear


The Achilles Heel of the Mikroelektronika Hexiwear is its charging: the charging and USB connector are only designed for a limited number of plug-unplug cycles, and it does not have a wireless charging capability like the Apple iWatch. Until now! I have built a DIY wireless charging system for the Hexiwear 🙂 :

Wireless Qi Charging the Hexiwear

Wireless Qi Charging the Hexiwear

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Hexiwear with Raspberry Pi and OpenHAB Home Automation


This is yet another milestone on my journey to combine the Hexiwear with the Raspberry Pi: now I can send take over control of the Hexiwear with openHAB running on the Raspberry Pi:

Controlling Hexiwear with OpenHAB

Controlling Hexiwear with openHAB

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Disabling EzPort on NXP Kinetis to Solve Power-On Issues


I’m using the NXP FRDM-K64F board in several projects: it is reasonably prices, has USB, Ethernet, micro SD card socket and connectors for Bluetooth classic and Nordic Semiconductor nRF24L01+ 2.4 GHz transceiver:

NXP FRDM-K64F Board

NXP FRDM-K64F Board

But one issue I have faced several times is that the board works fine while debugging and connected and powered by a host machine, but does not startup sometimes if powered by a battery or started without a debugger attached. I have found that the EzPort on the microcontroller is causing startup issues.

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Tutorial: BLE Pairing the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B with Hexiwear


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

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…

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Prototype of tiny Hexiwear Docking Station


For a research project we are using Hexiwear to measure the effectiveness of teaching and learning. The Hexiwear is used as a networking sensor device in that project. For that project we needed a docking station with wireless capabilities:

Mini Docking Station for Hexiwear

Mini Docking Station for Hexiwear

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NXP MCUXpresso Software and Tools with Clocks Tool


About a year ago, on December 7th 2015, Freescale and NXP have announced the completion of their merger.  Now it is Qualcomm which wants to acquire NXP? It looks like these mergers are happening faster and faster. The reality is that merging products take more time than anticipated, and nearly one year later I can see the outcome of what comes out of the marriage between Freescale and NXP or between Kinetis and LPC: NXP has announced the MCUXpresso software and tools for Kinetis and LPC microcontroller:

Introducing MCUXpresso

Introducing MCUXpresso (Source: NXP video)

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Making-Of Sea Shell Sand Clock


The year is coming to an end, the Holiday season is approaching. In case you are looking for a nice present: I have completed my version of a sand clock: a clock writing the time into sand:

Sandclock

Sandclock

If you are interested to build your own version, I have documented the different steps with tips and tricks…

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MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?


How to fascinate kids for technology? Show them that engineering is fun :-). At the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts we have created the ‘MINTomat’: a robotics system for STEM activities rewarding interaction with bubble gums:

MINTomat

MINTomat

Yes, pretty over engineered compared to a normal bubble gum automata, but that’s part of the fun :-).

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Tutorial: Getting ETM Instruction Trace with NXP Kinetis ARM Cortex-M4F


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 ;-).

In this article I proudly present my research how to get instruction trace out of the ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller on a NXP TWR-K64F120M board with a Segger J-Trace for ARM:

J-TRACE tracing NXP TWR-K64F Board

J-TRACE tracing NXP TWR-K64F Board

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McuOnEclipse Components: 30-Oct-2016 Release


A new McuOnEclipse components release was long overdue, so I’m pleased to announce that a new drop is available with the following major changes:

  • Segger SystemView library with kernel time reporting
  • GenericTimeDate supports different hardware RTC devices
  • Utility with little endian packet handling functions
  • Shell Standard I/O handlers for USB CDC, Segger RTT and Bluetooth
  • FreeRTOS and stack size reporting
  • printf() support in Shell component
  • Various small bug fixes and improvements
SourceForge

SourceForge

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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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Tutorial: Running FreeRTOS on NXP i.MX7Dual Cortex-M4F


In my previous article (see “Tutorial: First Steps with NXP i.MX7 and Toradex Colibri Board“) I have booted the i.MX7 on a Toradex CPU module. In this post I’m showing how to run a FreeRTOS application on that board.

UART-A and UART-B Connections

UART-A and UART-B Connections

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Tutorial: First Steps with NXP i.MX7 and Toradex Colibri Board


I’m using in several projects different variants of Raspberry Pi boards: they are great and providing a lot of processing power. However, they are not suitable for any hard realtime systems. For a different class of projects I’m currently evaluating the NXP i.MX7 processors: the cool thing with these is that they have up to two ARM Cortex-A7 running at 1 GHz, plus a Cortex-M4 running at 200 MHz. And here things get really interesting: I can run a realtime application and FreeRTOS on that M4, while running Linux on the A7 :-).

i.MX7 on Colibri with Iris Carrier Board

i.MX7 on Colibri with Iris Carrier Board

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Tutorial: Using Single Wire Output SWO with ARM Cortex-M and Eclipse


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.

swo-pin-on-arm-debug-header

swo-pin-on-arm-debug-header

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FreeRTOS Kernel Awareness with Ozone


In my first post about Segger Ozone (see “First Steps with Ozone and the Segger J-Link Trace Pro“) I missed the fact that it includes support for kernels like FreeRTOS. So here is how to show the FreeRTOS (or any other RTOS) threads with Ozone:

freertos-threads-in-ozone

freertos-threads-in-ozone

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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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Tutorial: RFID Tags with the NXP NFC Controller PN7120 and Eclipse


Playing with RFID and NFC is definitely fun :-), and they are everywhere! For a research project I’m exploring different RFID tags and solutions. I several types around for a long time, but never found the time to actually work on it, so last nightI thought I give it a try, and I have it working with GNU ARM and Eclipse, powered by the NXP FRDM-K64F board 🙂

NXP NFC PN7120S

NXP NFC PN7120S with a FRDM-K64F Board

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