The Raspberry Pi Pico RP2040 is a very versatile microcontroller. It is not the least expensive or the most powerful microcontroller, but it is one which is available and has an excellent software and tool ecosystem.
This article shows how to use the Raspberry Pi Pico-W with BLE and optional WiFi, running with FreeRTOS.
Most embedded developers have probably used ‘semihosting’. And yes, it is generally seen as a bad thing. Maybe you have used it, without realizing what it really is and what it does. It is simple to add a printf() to the code (again: you should not use printf), and with the right standard library, it magically it shows up in a console view:
That looks great, but what is behind this, to make it happen? Actually, it is really amazing technology. And it can be used for better things than just printing text.
On my host machine I have many different development environment installed. From different make, cmake and python versions up to different versions of GNU tool chains. Adding them to the PATH environment variable on Windows is really a bad thing: instead I want to keep my PATH as clean as possible. If I need to set up a different environment with different tools, then I prefer to have a ‘local’ environment.
One of the biggest fears of embedded systems developers are stack overflows. FreeRTOS includes a cool feature to monitor and catch task stack overflows. But what about the MSP (Main Stack Pointer) on ARM, or the interrupt stack? What if not using an RTOS and running a bare-metal application?
There is a simple way monitoring stack usage at runtime, and for this I want to share the routines and what is now available inside the McuArm module.
Every embedded system developer should know by now, that using printf() is not a good thing for smaller systems. Printf() and the like are not only problematic from a code and data size perspective, they are infamous for vulnerability attacks too.
In this article I’ll show you multiple ways how to ban printf() or anything similar you want to avoid.
If doing embedded development, then the debugging solution is probably the most important single tool in the development chain. Because very debugging probe has its pros and cons, I usually have at least three different debug probes on my desk, simply to get the job done in all aspects.
What is true for the hardware debugging probes, is true for the gdb client and server side. I’m using mostly the P&E, SEGGER and CMSIS-DAP plugins (e.g. NXP LinkServer) and OpenOCD from the Eclipse IDE side. But there are more choices, for example pyOCD.
The ARM Cortex M architecture has many features which are underused, probably simply because engineers are not aware of it. SWO (Single Wire Output) is a single trace pin of the ARM Cortex-M CoreSight debug block. trace pin uses the ITM (Instruction Trace Macrocell) on ARM Cortex. It provides a serial output channel, at a high speed higher than the usual UART, because it is clocked at half or a quarter of the core clock frequency, depending on the core and implementation.
As such, it is an ideal high speed output channel to send text or data to the host. This is how it is usually used, but what is unknown to many: it can be used in a bidirectional way with the help of the debugger.
The topic of this article: how to redirect standard I/O like printf() or scanf() using the SWO ITM console: means both sending *and* receiving data over the SWO debug channel: that way I can use it as a kind of UART with a single pin only.
The RP2040 Pico board comes with 2 MByte onboard FLASH memory. While this is plenty of space for many embedded applications, sometimes it needed to have more storage space. Having the ability to adding an extra SPI FLASH memory with a useful file system comes in handy in such situations. This makes the RP2040 ideal for data logger applications or otherwise store a large amount of data. In this article I’ll show you how to add an extra 16 MByte of memory to the Raspberry Pi Pico board, running FreeRTOS, a command line shell and using LittleFS as the file system.