ctxLink Open Hardware WiFi Debug Probe is based Black Magic Probe (Crowdfunding)

Last month, we wrote about Blip nRF52840 dev board that also included an STM32F103 MCU running the open source Black Magic Probe (BMP) firmware for debugging and programming.

Based on the original Black Magic Probe hardware product page, BMP is a JTAG and SWD adapter used for programming and debugging ARM Cortex MCUs, and does not require intermediate programs such as OpenOCD or STLink server. Instead, you can run GNU Debugger (GDB) and select the virtual COM port offered by the debug board.

ctxlinkThe reason I’m bringing BMP again today, is because a new open source hardware wireless debugging probe for Cortex-M based on Black Magic Probe has been launched in the last few days.

ctxLink key features and specifications:

  • Microcontroller – STMicro STM32F401RE Arm Cortex -M4F MCU at up to 84 MHz
  • Connectivity – 802.11b/g/n WiFi via Microchip WINC1500 module
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for connection to host computer and/or power
  • Debugging Features
    • Implements SWD and JTAG interfaces
    • Supports ST, Atmel, Nordic, NXP, and others Arm Cortex-M targets
    • Built-in GDB Server compatible with most IDEs
    • Target voltage range  – 1.7 V to 5 V
  • Power
    • Input
      • From the target  – 3 V to 5 V only
      • 5V via micro USB port
      • 3.7V LiPo battery (not included).
    • Output – Can be used to power the target up to 100 mA regardless of whether ctxLink itself is powered from a battery or through USB
  • Dimensions – 89 x 33 mm (4-layer PCB)

The probe works with Windows, Mac, and Linux since it works with GDB. You’ll find the source code and a Wiki (WIP) on Github, and support is also available via BMP Discord channel.

ctxLink has launched on Crowd Supply with a $4,000 funding goal. There’s a single reward for $99 that includes the WiFi debugging probe with one SWD/JTAG ribbon cable and one serial cable. Shipping is free to the US, and $8 to the rest of the world. Delivery is scheduled for mid-February 2020.

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10 months ago

Where is the link to Crowdfunding?

10 months ago

Looks very expensive for what it is.

Can’t they just port BMP to an ESP32?

10 months ago

I think it should be possible to do a probe with wifi and ethernet based on Linux + OpenOCD + GDB for less than $150.
You’d have enough cpu/memory to do a proper web interface to do chain scanning, running scripts etc too.

10 months ago

I doubt it’s the STM32 that’s keeping the price up — BMP21 (STM32F103, sans wifi) by 1bit^2 goes for 60 bucks.

Rogan Dawes
Rogan Dawes
10 months ago

Realistically, you can run BMP software on a $2 BluePill, so it is not the hardware that is expensive, either. What you get for your money from the genuine BMP is support, and ongoing development of the product. And yes, they are also supporting people using the BluePill, but there needs to be a balance between improving firmware, and also getting some money back for it. The developer of this product is also active on the BMP Discord server, so is not simply riding on the coat tails of the existing developers. So, making some money on a small run… Read more »

10 months ago

True. I just realized I might have some sub-$10 equipment in a drawer of my desk that could do just that (I just don’t have a suitable target to debug). But I concur with your point — it’s not the hw that dictates the price of these devices.