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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Tutorial: Blinky with Kinetis SDK V1.3 and Processor Expert

This tutorial goes through the steps how to create a blinking LED application, using Kinetis SDK and Processor Expert, using the TWR-KL43Z48M board from Freescale (now NXP):

twr-kl43z48m

twr-kl43z48m

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Enclosure for the Remote Robot Controller with LCD Display

The first enclosure for the INTRO robot remote controller board (see “INTRO Robot Remote – First Production PCB“) is ready, and it is looking good:

Enclosure for the Remote Controller Board

Enclosure for the Remote Controller Board

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McuOnEclipse Components: 31-July-2016 Release

Time for a new major update of the McuOnEclipse components, with the fillowing main features and changes:

  • FatFS component updated to R0.12 with patch 3 and exFAT support
  • Extended support for Cortex-M7
  • Extended support for Kinetis SDK V2.0
  • USB component support for Kinetis SDK V1.3
  • Improved FreeRTOS for NXP FreeRTOS TAD plugin
  • Added C++ wrappers to multiple components
  • Many smaller fixes and improvements

    SourceForge

    SourceForge

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impulse: Segger SystemView in Eclipse

I’m using the Segger SystemView in many of my applications to get insights of the running application. A reader of my blog pointed me to the company ‘toem’ (http://toem.de/) based in Germany which offers powerful data viewer (‘impulse’) for Eclipse. I have tried this out, and it is really an amazing piece of technology with lots of potential. It allows me to view Segger SystemView data 🙂

Segger SystemView Data in Eclipse

Segger SystemView Data in Eclipse

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NXP Pins Tool: Understanding Data for Offline Usage

I’m using the NXP Pins tool (see “Tutorial: Muxing with the New NXP Pins Tool“) now in several projects, and I think it is time to share a few tips and tricks.

Pins Tool

Pins Tool

So join me on a journey through the internals of the NXP Pins tool :-).

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FatFS with Adafruit MicroSD Breakout Board and NXP FRDM-KL25Z

Breakout boards are great: they allow me to explore functions quickly, without to build my custom board: all what I need is some wires and ideally a bread board.

Adadfruit MicroSD Card Breakout Board

Adadfruit MicroSD Card Breakout Board

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Swiss Army Knife of Terminal Program for Serial Bootloaders

A bootloader shall be small and concise. I very much like bootloaders which do not need a ‘special’ program on the host, so I prefer a simple terminal for this. While porting my serial bootloader to the NXP FRDM-K64F board, I have found RealTerm which offers a lot of cool features:

RealTerm

RealTerm

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Tutorial: Making Music with Floppy Disk Drives

3.5″ Diskette Drives are not widely used any more: CDs, DVDs, memory/thumb drives and downloads from the web are the usual distribution method these days for software. Back a few years ago, software was distributed on one or many 3.5″ diskettes, and even before that time on 5 1/4″ floppy disk drives. So what to do with all these not-used-anymore hardware? Play music with it 🙂

Floppy Music

Floppy Music

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Combining Multiple NXP Kinetis SDKs into One

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

Multiple Kinetis SDKs

The same time, the amount of free disk space is reducing. What if I could combine all these SDK’s?

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Tutorial: Muxing with the New NXP Pins Tool

I don’t know if it is the same for you. But for me, configuring the pins on these new ARM microcontroller is a challenge: Most pins can do multiple functions, such as be used as I²C, UART or GPIO pins.

Configuring the pins ‘by hand’ is difficult, error-prone and usually the first thing I need to do for a new project/device. NXP developed a new tool for this task and previewed it at FTF 2016. It is available now both as web (online) and desktop (locally installed) tool. At FTF it was possible to play with an engineering release: time to get my hands on the public release :-). And as more and more student projects will start using that tool for their boards, I better have a tutorial for it :-).

Desktop Version of Pins Tool

Desktop Version of Pins Tool

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A Flying UAV Drone Full of Sensors

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:

Plane Model

UAV (Source: Thesis of Przemyslaw Brudny)

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INTRO FS2016 Semester Closing with Robot Maze Challenge

“Learning-by-doing” is one of the core principles of my embedded systems and robotics course at the Lucerne University. For this the students apply what they learned using a robotics platform. In earlier semesters we did a Sumo battle at the end. This time the challenge was to build a remote controller plus to add the ability to explore and solve a line maze:

maze solving robots

maze solving robots

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McuOnEclipse Components: 29-May-2016 Release

Major changes in this new release:

  • FreeRTOS V9.0.0 with static memory allocation.
  • Shell with single character I/O function.
  • FatFS File System with extra shell commands for memory dump and file creation.
  • Segger SystemViewer library updated to V2.36a
Segger SystemViewer V2.36a

Segger SystemViewer V2.36a

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FreeRTOS V9.0.0 with Static Memory Allocation

I’m using FreeRTOS in most of my applications. There were only a few exceptions where an RTOS has to be used in safety critical systems: there usually it is not permitted to use any dynamic memory allocation because this adds the risk that a memory allocation could fail at runtime because of memory fragmentation or memory leak. And FreeRTOS uses a dynamic memory (heap) for the task stacks and the RTOS resources including semaphore, mutex and queues.

This is now a thing of the past. This week a new FreeRTOS Version 9 was released which does not need any dynamic memory allocation anymore: it is possible now to build completely statically allocated systems with FreeRTOS :-).

Dynamic and Static Memory Allocation in FreeRTOS V9.0.0

Dynamic and Static Memory Allocation in FreeRTOS V9.0.0

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NXP FlexIO Generator for the WS2812B LED Stripe Protocol

The challenge with the selection of a microcontroller for a project is: which one has the required number of UART, I2C, SPI? Combine this with the desired package (48pins, 64pins? LQFN?), the needed FLASH and RAM size and then even the hundreds of available microcontroller shrink to a handful only. And many times I need to make compromises: such as I need two hardware I2C, but the microcontroller matching all my other needs has only one I2C hardware. So I might end up with bit-banging the slower I2C bus. Doable, but not ideal.

What is cool that some of the newer NXP Kinetis microcontroller come with an interesting hardware: FlexIO. A peripheral hardware which allows me to implement a custom protocol, including driving WS2812B (Adafruit NeoPixel) LEDs with a FRDM-KL43Z board:

Four NeoPixels with FlexIO

Four NeoPixels with FlexIO

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Tutorial: FreeRTOS with NXP Kinetis SDK V2.0 and Processor Expert

In “Tutorial: Blinky with NXP Kinetis SDK V2.0 and Processor Expert” I used Processor Expert components with the NXP Kinetis SDK to blink some LEDs. This tutorial extends the earlier project and adds FreeRTOS.

FreeRTOS running on a NXP FRDM-K22F Board

FreeRTOS running on a NXP FRDM-K22F Board

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