FreeRTOS on Kinetis E Cortex M0+ : easy porting tutorial

FreeRTOS is a popular, open-source operating system that can run on a variety of microcontrollers. This post shows how to make a minimal working setup with two tasks on a new MCU without starting from a complete demo code or code generators (like Processor Expert) on an inexpensive development board FRDM-KE06Z from NXP. All examples use static memory allocation. Most of the procedures and tips mentioned here apply equally well to all Cortex-M microcontrollers.
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XMEGA power down mode for battery powered devices

This post describes how to implement firmware-controlled device power switching on an XMEGA. I am working on a portable device that is powered from a Li-Ion cell, has an USB socket for charging, MCU, couple of LEDs and a button. I wanted to keep the design as simple as possible, so there is just one button connected to the MCU and no separate power switch. Most of the information applies equally to all AVR MCUs.
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Kinetis – relocating variables to upper SRAM

NXP Kinetis microcontrollers have an inconvenient architectural feature – split RAM. The memory is split into two areas of equal size. You can run into this issue when the size of all RAM variables (data+bss) approaches half size of available SRAM. It manifests itself with a linker error looking similar to this:
ld: region `m_data' overflowed by 132 bytes
I will use an MK22FN512 as an example, but this post applies equally to all Kinetis K-series MCUs.
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XMEGA USART driver with TX DMA

This is a quite universal, non-blocking UART driver for XMEGA. It supports both transmission (with optional DMA) and reception. Receive side can deliver callbacks whenever a complete line (terminated with \n) is received or received bytes can be retrieved one-by-one from a ringbuffer (more useful for GPS units). This driver can support multiple hardware USARTs in a single application.
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XMEGA high-performance SPI with DMA

I developed an universal SPI driver for XMEGA line of MCU for a battery powered device, where power efficiency was important. To get anything started on new hardware I have started with a simpler code first which uses interrupts and then I began looking at using XMEGA’s DMA controller (that was totally new to me) to improve speed and make the MCU sleep longer. This is a complete driver that can work with any kind of SPI peripherals.

It is also a nice practical introduction to DMA, because XMEGA DMA controller is one of the most simple you can find in microcontrollers (comparing let’s say to Kinetis Cortex-M), yet has all the necessary features.
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XMEGA and HD44780 LCD

Character LCD are one of the easiest and cheapest way of adding output to a microcontroller system. The world of character LCDs has mainly standarized on HD44780 controller chip, which was designed to be interfaced with the rest of the system by a parallel bus, but today simple bit-banging does the job.

One of the obstacles to using HD44780 with XMEGA are different supply voltages. Displays usually require 5V, while XMEGA is 3,3V-only. Continue reading “XMEGA and HD44780 LCD”

Reliable storage of settings in EEPROM

Embedded systems often require permanent storage of some configuration parameters eg. radio channel, volume in a radio etc. All settings must be saved and read reliably, otherwise the device may become unpredictable. Imagine a variable frequency drive (an “electric motor controller”) set to a certain speed, that after a power cut reads bad data from it’s memory and overspeeds an expensive piece of moving machinery leading to physical damage.
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