Archive for September, 2012

Moving to LPCXpresso

23. September 2012 13:47 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: ARM | Projects

I’ve made quite a bit of headway with the firmware for the GPS Tracker project but there are still some problems – mainly with the command parser and the USB CDC interface.

So I decided I needed some way of debugging the firmware. After looking at several options (they have to run on Mac OS X), I decided to get a LPC1347-based LPCXpresso.

The LPCXpresso consists of two parts:

  1. An LPC MCU with a minimal amount of support components: crystal, capacitors, an LED and a mini-USB socket with the required resistors and PNP transistor.
  2. The “LPC-Link” which is a programmer and JTAG debugger which connects to the computer by USB. The LPC Link can actually be severed from the MCU part of the board and will then work as a normal JTAG debugger which can be connected to MCUs (LPCXpresso or otherwise) using a 10-pin connector.

The LPCXpresso also comes with a free version of Code Red’s Eclipse-based IDE with built-in/preconfigured support for the GNU tool chain and standard C libraries and debugging views for inspecting memory and peripherals and whatnot.

Read more about the LPCXpresso here: and about the IDE here:

I prefer the LPCXpresso to the mbed because the MCU board contains no extra components (compared to what I will use on my own boards) and all code is standard C and CMSIS libraries (so no proprietary firmware environment and libraries) – and still I have the ability to debug code and inspect memory at will.

LPC11U24 + LPC1343 –> LPC1347

The LPCXpresso is available with a number of different LPC MCUs. I chose the LPC1347-based one.

Basically, the LPC1347 is a newer version of the LPC1343 and it has the same GPIO structure as the LPC11Uxx devices and the same USB ROM drivers and it now has EEPROM as well. Read this blog entry on for a comparison between the LPC1343 and the LPC1347.

I have decided to focus on only one ARM MCU instead of both the LPC11U24 and the LPC1343 – and that will be the LPC1347 (for now at least). Yes, it has a slightly higher power consumption than the LPC11Uxx but on the other hand it is faster and has a Cortex M3 core instead of a Cortex M0 core.

So the plan is:

  1. Make the necessary changes to compile the current firmware code for an LPC1347 (which shouldn’t be too much of a hassle since peripherals for the LPC11U24 and the LPC1347 are pretty much the same) in the LPCXpresso IDE (removing the current linker script and CMSIS files).
  2. Rebuild the breadboard prototype using the LPCXpresso.
  3. Debug, find the problems and fix them…
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GPS Tracker progress

2. September 2012 14:35 by Jens Willy Johannsen
Categories: ARM | Projects

For the GPS Tracker project I’ve been working on – struggling with, actually – getting all the communications subsystems working. I need to use UART for communication with the GSM module, soft UART (since the LPC11U24 has only one hardware UART port) for the GPS module and USB CDC for command and debugging.

And apart from the occasional programming blunders (like forgetting to increase a pointer when iterating elements in an array) I’ve had lots and lots of weird problems. But I finally got UART and soft UART working together and then I took a really long, hard look at the example USB CDC code I’ve been working with.
And it turned out that I needed to change a couple of things:

  1. The linker script (which should be for an LPC11U24 device) specified a RAM size of only 4 KB. This has been fixed to specify an SRAM size of 6 KB.
  2. The USB interface was initialized with a memory buffer at what was, in effect, an arbitrary place in the SRAM memory. The original code used usb_param.mem_base = 0x10001000 and usb_param.mem_size = 0x1000.
    For an LPC11U24, location 0x10001000 is at two thirds up in the SRAM area (which is from 0x1000000 to 0x10001800).
    This has now been changed to use usb_param.mem_base = 0x20004800 and usb_param.mem_size = 0x0800 pointing to the top of the USB RAM area with a size of 2 KB (which is the size of the USB RAM).
  3. My USB_CDC_send() function calls the WriteEP directly. This has been changed to copy data into a serial fifo buffer and calling WriteEP from the VCOM_bulk_in_hdlr() function when the USB host requests data. And the max packet size is also observed now.

And with these changes in place I was rewarded with the following session on the USB CDC terminal connection:

sys test
OK - Response from SYS TEST
sys version
OK - b155 on 2012-09-02 13:34:17 +0200, git 31db1bb904695fc5347a136dbf2c819520162099
gps status
OK - GPS status: 1, sats: 6/12, time: 121246.854, lat: 5538.7522N, lng: 01233.1385E

Nice :)
Next steps are getting the ADC working for monitoring the battery level and implementing the interface for the GSM module.

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