For a project with one of our larger clients, Codethink engineers had been using a 3rd party debugging board, purchased by the customer. Engineers found that the debug board features were quite limited. Due to the delicate design of the board, the lead time for production was long and as a result, supplies were running out. It was clear that an alternative solution was needed. There was a desire to be able to automate the changing of debug settings on the board. Previous boards were using manual switches to change debug and boot modes.
To address the deficiencies of the board used, Codethink engineers, with the trust of the client, developed their own bespoke debugging board. This was created specifically for use for the customer project and their IVI. This was referred to as the ‘Ben Debug Board’ or the ‘Benbug Board’, named after the engineer primarily responsible for development.
Codethink reviewed the initial design of the debugging board and the connections in use in order to understand how the solution worked. Our team then identified improvements that could be made, selecting compatible parts based on data availability and Linux support.
“The initial prototype used a SPI GPIO expander and some small logic to do various debug controls. The second prototype moved to an Atmel ATMega device to provide more IO, a basic command line interface and some programmable reaction to IO changes.
The ATMega was chosen as there was already support for avr-gcc in Debian and it gave us enough code space to do what we wanted.
Having a control system that could be connected to via a serial terminal allowed the customer to use it as their engineers used Windows laptops which did not allow custom driver loading.” - Ben
The board is in use at customer site and Codethink's offices. Further development on a later iteration of the board, with added robustness is ongoing in the background of other work being carried out. The developments allow for reset and boot mode control as well as JTAG access to system logic devices.
The board was initially designed using Eagle. This was used for the first two revisions due to familiarity. Once KiCad v5 was released, using the Eagle import tool, the work was transferred to KiCad. This free and open source software was used for further development and allowed engineers to move to using a four layer board. It also aligns with our objectives to use open source technology wherever possible.
KiCad is a tool which has been trusted in other cases for PCB layout design and schematic capture in work carried out by Codethink engineers.
The overall bill of materials for the Codethink-developed board works out to be cheaper to produce than the original debugging board yet with greater functionality, demonstrating the effectiveness of the creative approach Codethink engineers took to the issue. This approach was enabled by the trust we had earned from the customer.
- RISC-V: A Small Hardware Project
- Why aligning with open source mainline is the way to go
- Build Meetup 2021: The BuildTeam Community Event
- A new approach to software safety
- Does the "Hypocrite Commits" incident prove that Linux is unsafe?
- ABI Stability in freedesktop-sdk
- Why your organisation needs to embrace working in the open-source ecosystem
- RISC-V User space access Oops
- Tracking Players at the Edge: An Overview
- What is Remote Asset API?
- Running a devroom: FOSDEM 2021 Safety and Open Source
- Meet the codethings: Understanding BuildGrid and BuildBox with Beth White
- Streamlining Terraform configuration with Jsonnet
- Bloodlight: Designing a Heart Rate Sensor with STM32, LEDs and Photodiode
- Making the tech industry more inclusive for women
- Bloodlight Case Design: Lessons Learned
- Safety is a system property, not a software property
- RISC-V: Codethink's first research about the open instruction set
- Meet the Codethings: Safety-critical systems and the benefits of STPA with Shaun Mooney
- Why Project Managers are essential in an effective software consultancy
- FOSDEM 2021: Devroom for Safety and Open Source
- Meet the Codethings: Ben Dooks talks about Linux kernel and RISC-V
- Here we go 2021: 4 open source events for software engineers and project leaders
- Xmas Greetings from Codethink
- Call for Papers: FOSDEM 2021 Dev Room Safety and Open Source Software
- Building the abseil-hello Bazel project for a different architecture using a dynamically generated toolchain
- Advent of Code: programming puzzle challenges
- Improving performance on Interrogizer with the stm32
- Introducing Interrogizer: providing affordable troubleshooting
- Improving software security through input validation
- More time on top: My latest work improving Topplot
- Cycling around the world
- Orchestrating applications by (ab)using Ansible's Network XML Parser
- My experience of the MIT STAMP workshop 2020
- Red Hat announces new Flatpak Runtime for RHEL
- How to keep your staff healthy in lockdown
- Bloodlight: A Medical PPG Testbed
- Bringing Lorry into the 2020s
- How to use Tracecompass to analyse kernel traces from LTTng
- Fixing Rust's test suite on RISC-V
- The challenges behind electric vehicle infrastructure
- Investigating kernel user-space access
- Consuming BuildStream projects in Bazel: the bazelize plugin
- Improving RISC-V Linux support in Rust
- Creating a Build toolkit using the Remote Execution API
- Trusting software in a pandemic
- The Case For Open Source Software In The Medical Industry
- My experiences moving to remote working
- Impact of COVID-19 on the Medical Devices Industry
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Codethink
- Codethink develops Open Source drivers for Microsoft Azure Sphere MediaTek MT3620
- Codethink partners with Wirepas
- Testing Bazel's Remote Execution API
- Passing the age of retirement: our work with Fortran and its compilers
- Sharing technical knowledge at Codethink
- Using the REAPI for Distributed Builds
- An Introduction to Remote Execution and Distributed Builds
- Gluing hardware and software: Board Support Packages (BSPs)
- Engineering's jack of all trades: an intro to FPGAs
- Bust out your pendrives: Debian 10 is out!
- Why you should attend local open source meet-ups
- Acceptance, strife, and progress in the LGBTIQ+ and open source communities
- Codethink helps York Instruments to deliver world-beating medical brain-scanner
- Codethink open sources part of staff onboarding - 'How To Git Going In FOSS'
- Getting into open source
- How to put GitOps to work for your software delivery
- Open Source Safety Requirements Analysis for Autonomous Vehicles based on STPA
- Codethink contributes to CIP Super Long Term Kernel maintenance
- Codethink creates custom USB 3 switch to support customer's CI/CD pipeline requirements
- Codethink unlocks data analysis potential for British Cycling
- MIT Doctor delivers Manchester masterclass on innovative safety methodology
- Balance for Better: Women in Technology Codethink Interviews
- Introducing BuildGrid
- Configuring Linux to stabilise latency
- Full archive