Zephyr: Thoughts and First Steps on the ARM Cortex-M4F with gcc, gdb and Eclipse


The concept of Linux (Open Source, broad developer base and broad usage) is a success story. While there is a lot of diversity (and freedom) in the Linux world, Linux is Linux and again Linux :-). And the world has (mostly) standardized on Linux and its variants on the high embedded system side.

On the other side, the ‘middle and lower end’ Embedded world is fragmented and in many aspects proprietary. So it was no surprise to me when the Linux Foundation announced the ‘Zephyr’ project back in February 2016:

“The Linux Foundation Announces Project to Build Real-Time Operating System for Internet of Things Devices. Open source Zephyr™ Project aims to deliver an RTOS; opens call for developers to help advance project for the smallest footprint IoT devices.

Ζεφυρος (Zephyros) is the Greek good of spring and the west wind. Obviously this inspired the logo for the Zephyr project:

Zephyr logo

Zephyr logo (Source: https://www.zephyrproject.org/)

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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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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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Semihosting (again!) with NXP Kinetis SDK V2.0


I kind of hoped that after “Why I don’t like printf()” and all my other articles about printf and semihosting, that topic would be 200% handled and I won’t have to deal with any more. Well, I was wrong and underestimated how the Kinetis SDK is interfering with semihosting. And I underestimated how many of my readers are still using semihosting (even as there are other and better alternatives), so I keep getting questions and requests for help. That’s ok, and I hope I can help :-).

So here is yet again another post about how to turn on semihosting with Eclipse, GNU ARM Embedded and the Kinetis SDK v2.0. This time with the FRDM-K64F board:

FRDM-K64F Board with lwIP running

FRDM-K64F 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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Debugging Multiple NXP Boards with GDB and P&E


In “Debug Multiple Boards with GDB at the Same Time” I have used the Segger J-Link to debug multiple boards, from the same IDE, at the same time. The remaining question in that article was: how to do the same the P&E Multilink/OpenSDA?

Debugging two NXP FRDM-KL27Z Boards with P&E Debugger the same time

Debugging two NXP FRDM-KL27Z Boards with P&E Debugger the same time

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Semihosting with Eclipse and the NXP Kinetis SDK V2.0


The world is changing, and the say is “change is good” :-). In the software and API world, change very often means that a change results into something broken. So I had battled with semihosting working on the NXP Kinetis parts, only to find out that it does not work any more with using the latest version 2.0. The semihosting output e.g. with P&E debug connection remains empty:

No Semihosting output

No Semihosting output

So how to fix this?

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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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NXP Kinetis Design Studio v3.2.0


For my classes I had so far asked the students to install the Kinetis Design Studio (KDS) v3.0.0 and then apply several updates and upgrades available. NXP has now released the v3.2.0 of their KDS (Kinetis Design Studio):

Kinetis Design Studio v3.2.0

Kinetis Design Studio v3.2.0

The v3.2.0 is including all the 3.x.x updates in a single installation which makes things easier to start with. And it now works for Mac OS X “El Capitan” and the latest GNU ARM Eclipse plugins :-).

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Tutorial: Blinky with the FRDM-KL27Z and Kinetis SDK v2


I’m using the FRDM-KL25Z in my classes, and that board is very popular: low price (<$15), reasonable features (48 MHz ARM Cortex M0+, 128 KByte of FLASH, 16 KByte of RAM), and many tutorials elsewhere and on McuOnEclipse :-).

For the next (Fall) semester I’m looking for alternative boards, and one is the Freescale (now NXP) FRDM-KL27Z:

FRDM-KL27Z with Box

FRDM-KL27Z with Box

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Renaming Eclipse CDT Projects


When I create a project in Eclipse (e.g. in Kinetis Design Studio with the GNU ARM Eclipse plugins), I have to specify the name of the project during creation time:

Project Name in Eclipse

Project Name in Eclipse

But what if I change my mind later on and want to use a different name? How to rename the project?

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Going to Mars: Building a DIY Eclipse IDE for ARM Embedded Microcontrollers


It has been a while since I published my ‘build my own DIY IDE’ (see “DIY Free Toolchain for Kinetis: Part 1 – GNU ARM Build Tools“). I have used that approaches in my classes successfully. Now a new semester is coming up, so time to update the instructions using the latest Eclipse IDE (Mars) and tools (GCC ARM Embedded (launchpad) with GNU ARM Eclipse).

Eclipse Mars Splash Screen

Eclipse Mars Splash Screen

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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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Using the Freescale Freedom (FRDM-KL43Z) to Debug other Boards


In “Unboxing the Freescale FRDM-KL43Z Board” I was using the FRDM-KL43Z board the first time. The FRDM-KL43Z board has an on-board debug interface (Kinetis K20, OpenSDA). In this post I show how to use the FRDM-KL43Z board to debug another ARM board.

FRDM-KL43Z Board debugging custom (tinyK20) Board

FRDM-KL43Z Board debugging custom (tinyK20) Board

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Tutorial: Adafruit WS2812B NeoPixels with the Freescale FRDM-K64F Board – Part 2: Software Tools


This is Part 2 of a Mini Series. In Part 1, I described how to set up the hardware (see “Tutorial: Adafruit WS2812B NeoPixels with the Freescale FRDM-K64F Board – Part 1: Hardware“). Now it is time to have the software tools ready. In this post I describe to have the IDE (Freescale Kinetis Design Studio) with the Freescale SDK installed, along with the correct firmware on the FRDM-K64F Board. The goal is to drive Adafruit’s NeoPixel (WS2812B) with the Freescale FRDM-K64F board:

Freescale FRDM-K64F with NeoPixels

Freescale FRDM-K64F with NeoPixels

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Unboxing the Freescale FRDM-KL43Z Board


I’m preparing for the next semester at the university starting in September this year. As part of that, I’m currently evaluating the Freescale Kinetis FRDM-KL43Z board:

FRDM-KL43Z Board Unpacked

FRDM-KL43Z Board Unpacked

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Automatic Variable, Expression and Memory Display with GDB and Eclipse


One of the great features in CodeWarrior for MCU10.x is the ability to read memory/variables while running (see “Live View for Variables and Memory“). This technology of ‘live view’ is based on the CodeWarrior debugger engine. How can I do something like this with stock GDB and Eclipse? What I need is a periodic update of variables/expressions/memory while the program on the board is running, without the need to stop the board with the debugger first:

periodic auto-display output

periodic auto-display output

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Semihosting for Kinetis Design Studio V3.0.0 and GNU ARM Embedded (launchpad)


Freescale has released the v3.0.0 version of the Kinetis Design Studio: this one comes with a great positive change: instead of a custom toolchain, it is coming with the standard GNU ARM Embedded (launchpad) toolchain from ARM. Beside of better code density and less RAM needed, there is one change which affects semihosting. Previously, semihosting was enabled by default in the V2.0.0 libraries. Now semihosting needs to be turned on. This post is how to do this.

Semihosting Console with Output in Eclipse

Semihosting Console with Output in Eclipse

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GDB Client and Server: Unlocking GDB


In case you face problems with launching GDB: Then I have a quick solution (well: workaround): kill the GDB server and or client process. The problem can show up in many way, but in general gdb is stuck or does not respond:

GDB stuck?

GDB stuck?

But it could be an error message like this too:

Error in services launch sequence
Starting J-Link GDB Server timed out.

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