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Topics - Andy Brown

Hardware projects / An STM32F042 development board
November 07, 2015, 04:53:54 am
I wasn't particularly happy with the development boards available for ST's F042 MCU. I really wanted one that supported USB device development on the highly cost effective TSSOP20 package and so I created my own.

As usual schematics, gerbers and a bill of materials is provided for you to create your own.
stm32plus C++ library / stm32plus 4.0.3 released
November 02, 2015, 11:33:44 am
It's been a while since the last release so I thought it about time to release 4.0.3. The features and fixes are detailed in the github release.
General discussion / Andy's Workshop has moved!
August 16, 2015, 10:49:59 am
Today I completed the migration of the entire website and forum from a shared host located in the American mid-west to a VPS located in NYC. I apologise for any glitches that you may have experienced today as the DNS changes trickled out across the internet.

If you have any issues logging in to these forums then please clear all your browser cookies associated with *andybrown.me.uk
stm32plus C++ library / stm32plus code snippets
July 26, 2015, 10:35:54 am
As I write more and more stm32plus code I thought it might help people if I share small snippets of code to do common tasks in the spirit of the github gist. Feel free to contribute snippets yourself and/or comment on others.
I've just posted a new article in which I document the build process for a new reflow controller that uses an android app to communicate using bluetooth with the controller. The board is designed to be simple to build using (nearly) all through-hole components.

As usual all the gerbers and firmware source are made available for people that want to build their own and there's a lengthy how-to-build video that accompanies it.
Despite my own advice to the contrary I've been buying too-cheap-to-be-true ICs from China again. Check out my blog entry to see how I got on with an investigation into whether I'd been sold counterfeits or not.
I'm going to prepare a release of the ATtiny85 source code for the long range IR emitter shortly. For now though, here's the compiled hex file ready for flashing to the ATtiny85 attached to this post.
stm32plus C++ library / stm32plus 4.0.2 released
May 03, 2015, 06:41:07 am
I've just released version 4.0.2 of stm32plus. This release collects together a number of bug fixes and small features that have been made since 4.0.0.

There was, briefly, a 4.0.1 release but since I forgot to update the build version number in stm32plus.h it was quickly abandoned so 4.0.2 is the latest release as of today.
I frequently receive emails from people asking if I could do a step-by-step guide for beginners wanting to get into STM32 development. When you've been doing this for years it's easy to forget that there can be a significant learning curve involved for those that want to get started with the open source route and that's a shame because you can create a powerful development environment that's easily a match for the commercial offerings.

Anyway, I spent some time over the weekend with a freshly minted Windows 7 x64 virtual machine and did everything from scratch, documenting each step as I went along. You can read the article here. It'll guide you through the entire process and at the end you'll have a totally free compile/edit/debug environment ready to go off and make your own projects.

This article covers Windows; after all there's only so many hours in a weekend. I do plan to follow up with the same process for Linux, probably targeting Ubuntu unless anyone feels strongly that Ubuntu's not a popular Linux development platform.
stm32plus C++ library / stm32plus 4.0.0 is released
March 23, 2015, 02:45:26 pm
In case you hadn't already seen it, stm32plus 4.0.0 is released. This major milestone marks support for USB devices on the F4. If you've got any questions, please feel free to ask.
I just published an article documenting a little project that's designed to bring powerful graphics display abilities to the 32Kb Arduino Uno R3 by using an STM32 F0 as a graphics coprocessor. As usual there's full documentation, videos, source code and gerbers available for you to build your own shield.
A few people have asked me if I was willing to extract the BIOS image from my Z800 revision 003 motherboard, the idea being that the image would contain the important bootblock that permits flawless booting from the Westmere X56xx series of hex-core Xeon's.

After doing a bit of research it became clear that BIOS images are mapped into physical memory with the location being dependent on the chipset and the size dependent on the SPI flash device that holds the BIOS image.

Fortunately a very useful utility exists for linux, called flashrom. I ran that on a physical installation of Ubuntu (it won't work properly in a VM) and it seemed to extract an image. Here's the log:

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sudo flashrom -p internal -r bios.bin
flashrom v0.9.6.1-r1563 on Linux 3.13.0-32-generic (i686)
flashrom is free software, get the source code at http://www.flashrom.org

Calibrating delay loop... OK.
Found chipset "Intel ICH10R". Enabling flash write... WARNING: Setting 0xdc from 0x2 to 0x3 on ICH10R failed. New value is 0x2.
WARNING: SPI Configuration Lockdown activated.
PR0: WARNING: 0x001f0000-0x001fffff is read-only.
Please send a verbose log to flashrom@flashrom.org if this board is not listed on
http://flashrom.org/Supported_hardware#Supported_mainboards yet.
Writes have been disabled. You can enforce write support with the
ich_spi_force programmer option, but it will most likely harm your hardware!
If you force flashrom you will get no support if something breaks.
PROBLEMS, continuing anyway
Found SST flash chip "SST25VF016B" (2048 kB, SPI) at physical address 0xffe00000.
Reading flash... done.

The 2Mb BIOS image is attached to this post. I hope someone can make use of it and would really like to hear any experiences.
Now that I've had every available PCB colour from the usual prototype services I thought that I'd write a short article giving what I consider to be the pros and cons of each one. It's all opinion of course and I've included very high res photographs that have been colour-corrected to help you make an informed choice for yourself.

Feel free to disagree, share your opinions and your own photos.
stm32plus C++ library / Version 3.6.0 released
January 04, 2015, 02:33:18 pm
stm32plus 3.6.0 has been released. This release brings the library up to speed with all the bug fixes and features introduced since 3.5.0. Click on the link to see a full list of changes.

This will probably be the last 3.x release before 4.0.0 that will feature USB device support on the F4.
General discussion / Forum font and size changes
December 27, 2014, 06:34:47 am
I was never really happy with the default Questrial font used throughout the forum so I've changed it to Open Sans which I find to be much more readable and matches the font used in my site's blog articles.

I've also increased the font size slightly to make it more readable. I don't know about you but I was finding the default size a little hard to read, particularly in the quoted text blocks.
I hope you all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to the 2015 new year celebrations! I've just published an article that I've had in development for a few months now. In this article I document the development and testing of a development board for the Micrel KSZ8091RNA RMII ethernet PHY.

The schematic and gerbers are all available for you to improve and adapt to your own project and I've included the necessary changes to get it working with the TCP/IP stack in stm32plus.
In a temporary departure from hacking little things I thought you all might like to see how I hacked a very large thing (the HP Z800 workstation dual Xeon motherboard) into a standard PC case:


Definitely not as straightforward as I thought it would be when I first ordered the board on ebay but I refuse to be beaten and the outcome was a good one.
stm32plus C++ library / Version 3.5.0 released
November 01, 2014, 03:34:05 am
Version 3.5.0 of stm32plus has now been released.

Please do take the time to review the linked release notes because there is a runtime breaking change for projects that have been built against previous releases. I know breaking changes are painful but this one is quite trivial to fix and does enable integration with other frameworks and RTOS systems.
I honestly thought I'd released the gerbers for this project months ago but due to an oversight on my part it looks like I didn't do it. Anyway, they're available now so please do visit the downloads page if you fancy building your own PCBs.
I just thought I'd drop by to announce the release of my latest project, an open source FPGA sprite graphics accelerator. It's definitely my most ambitious project yet and I hope that you find it interesting. It took me several months of evening and weekend hacking to complete this one but it was definitely worth the effort.

There's a video to go with it and of course all the source code, this time including C++ and VHDL, is available on github.