Element14 Design Center Helps You find a Development Board and Tools for Your Project

Element14 has just launched a Design Center, currently in beta version, which let’s you do parametric searches for development kits, debuggers, software tools, by tools vendor, silicon manufacturers, board features, and processor architecture / type. So for example if you want to work on a low power Linux based gateway with Ethernet and Zigbee, you may search for a board with Ethernet and Zigbee, and comes with an ARM Cortex A5 processor. In this example, the website returned four SAMA5D3x evaluation kits from Atmel which support Ethernet, as well as Zigbee via an external module. Then if you want to find which tools are available from Atmel, you can select “Emulation and Debugging”, “IDE & Compiler”, and “Operating Systems & Stacks”, as well as “Atmel” and “ARM” core architecture which will return Atmel Studio 6, and a JTAG emulator. It’s not quite perfect, as the only features you can search […]

ARM Introduces DSP ‘Lab-in-a-Box’ For Education Combining STMicro STM32F4-Discovery Board and Wolfson Audio Card

DSP (Digital Signal Processing) courses at University have traditionally used software simulation packages (Matlab), or hands-on labs using development kits costing around $300 per student. In order to reduce costs, ARM University program and their corporate partners have launched a DSP ‘Lab-in-a-Box’ so that university students can learn DSP and audio systems with hardware selling for about $50, or over 80% cheaper than previous educational hardware. A typical DSP Lab-in-a-Box (LiB) would come with: STMicroelectronics ARM Cortex-M4-based STM32F4 Discovery MCU board Wolfson Microelectronics and Farnell element14 Wolfson Audio Card. ARM Keil MDK-Professional development tool with a 1-year renewable software license. Teaching materials such as lecture slides, code samples, and hands-on lab manuals. STM32F4-Discovery board features an STM32F407VGT6 MCU (ARM Cortex-M4F core) with 1 MB Flash, and 192 KB RAM, sensors (motion and accelerometer), a digital microphone, and audio DAC, a micro USB connector, and various buttons and LEDs. The Wolfson […]

How to Extract a Device Tree File from Android Firmware Files

Up to now, all our cheap Android devices were based on older Linux kernel (3.0.x, 3.4.x) that still used board files (arch/arm/board, but we’ve recently seen companies like Amlogic and Rockchip release source code with Linux kernel 3.10.x. One of the key differences between these version are the move from board files to flattened device tree and multi-platform support. If it is fully implemented, a single kernel image should be able to boot multiple hardware platforms, and all low level configuration handled by the device tree file. Since I’ve connected the serial port of Tronsmart Vega S89 for debugging, and it’s a slow news day, I thought I might try to boot the Linux kernel I compiled myself, but one of the challenge was to get the device tree file. I’ll show how to extract it from the firmware. It should also be possible to get it directly from the […]

How to Upgrade Firmware in Amlogic S802 Devices

Shenzhen Tomato has finally sent me an updated firmware (password: 17r0) for M8 / TM8 Android TV box powered by Amlogic S802. This firmware is rooted, and adds support for Google Apps (Play Store, Gmail and so on), among others things. So it’s a good time to try out and write about the firmware update instructions which are very similar to AML8726-MX firmware instructions. Bear in mind that firmware is usually specific to a given hardware platform, and if you try it on another non-compatible S802 TV box, you may brick your device. Standard “OTA” Method Any Windows, Mac OS, Linux computer or even your own Android device should be able to handle is as you just need to download, extract and copy files to an SD card. I’ve done the procedure from a computer running Ubuntu 13.04: Download the firmware (e.g. TM8 ap6330_03102014A_0410_ROOT.rar), and extract it Copy the files […]

Binwalk Utility Helps You Analyze and Reverse-Engineer Firmware Files

Binwalk is a “firmware analysis tool designed for analyzing, reverse engineering and extracting data contained in firmware images”.  This tool written in python supports Linux, and somewhat Mac OS X, can scan firmware files for files signature, and can be useful for hacking firmware files, and finding hidden information. Let’s install binwalk first. It’s very easy in a Debian or Ubuntu machine, as you just have to download the package, and run a script for installation:

If you have another Linux ditributions, it’s just a little more complicated. You still need to download and extract the release package as above, but you’ll have to install the following package depending on the features your need: Minimal installation – python 2.6 or greater, and  python-magic To generate entropy plot graphs – python-matplotlib For automated extraction: Packages – mtd-utils zlib1g-dev liblzma-dev gzip bzip2 tar unrar arj p7zip p7zip-full openjdk-6-jdk Build and install […]

Gumstix Alto35 Customizable Touchscreen Board

A few months ago, Gumstix introduced Geppeto, a web platform that allows you to design and order your own baseboard for Gumstix Overo systems-on-module within minutes. The company has just announced Alto35, an expansion board built entirely with Geppetto. The Alto35 replaces Palo35 Overo-series expansion board with the same features, but adding the possibility of customizing the board via Geppetto. Alto34 expansions board features the following: 3.5″ LCD resistive touch screen Stereo audio in/out jacks 3D accelerometer (STMicro LIS33DE) RC servo USB – 2x USB mini-B ports, including console port (FT232RQ USB UART) LEDs in 4 different colors, 2 tactile switches. 2×70-pin AVX Headers compatible with Overo COMs. Power – 3.5V-5V All Overo computers-on-module are compatible with Alto35 board, so you can just use existing software solutions such as Linaro Ubuntu, Robot Operating System, and the Yocto Project. Alto35 is available for $89 including the display (not the Overo module), […]

Using ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5) Streamline with MK802II mini PC

MK802-II is an Android 4.0 mini PC powered by AllWinner A10 (ARM Cortex A8) with 1GB RAM and 4GB flash. Instructions are also available to run Ubuntu, or other Linux distributions. ARM Development Studio 5 (ARM DS-5) is software development tool suite for ARM processors that can be used for both Linux and Android debugging, and available in 2 versions: professional edition and community edition, the latter being free of charge. I’m writing about both today, because Bob Peng, Technical Marking Engineer for ARM China, recently wrote a blog post in Chinese [Update: An English version is now available] showing how to use MK802-II, preloaded with the required drivers and daemon, with DS-5 Streamline Performance Analyzer with is part of both versions. The community edition may be missing some features of Streamline however. Streamline Performance Analyzer allows you to: Find out which modules or functions to take up most of […]

Gumstix Introduces Geppetto Web Platform to Design Custom Embedded Boards

Gumstix, the company behind the Overo computers-on-module (COMs), has recently announced an online platform called Geppetto that allows anybody with a proper web browser (e.g. Chrome or Firefox) to design and order a complete baseboard for the Overo COMs. You don’t need to know anything about schematics, PCB layout, or other lecrtical engineering knowledges. The program lets you set the board size, add modules (e.g. USB, HDMI, Ethernet…) as you wish, tells you which connections are required, and once the board is done, you can see your 3D rendered board. You can then save it to the cloud with an option to share it with the community, and you can just order it. The learning curve is very short, and once you know how to use it, it probably takes around 10 minutes to design a complete board. Your fearless CNXSoft had to give it a try… First, point your […]

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