A quick update.

02Jul12

Been busy with general ‘life’ things for the last couple of weeks, so Pi stuff has had to take a back seat.

But today I’ve finally had a few hours to get some stuff done. I’ve got my Wixel/Pi hooked up, and a cross compiling/building setup up and running in Windows.

Raspberry Pi hooked up to Wixel

Pi with Wixel USB/Uart adapter hooked up

Sometime in the next week or so (when I get chance to write it up) I’ll put up a guide detailing how I got it working, so others can have a go at it.

Next thing on the list is to create a simple IDE type environment to ease the compile/build/load/test cycle. The IDE will consist of a context sensitive text editor, a (simple at first) project/solution manager and an in built serial upload/monitor tool. The idea being I can write code in the editor and then press a ‘Run’ button, and it take care of the build & upload and let me see the results.

Firstly I have to get a serial bootloader working. This will be based on the excellent work done by dwelch67, with some changes/additions done by myself to fit in with the way I like working.

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It’s here!!

19Jun12

Well it took a day longer than I thought, due to ParcelForce’s loose interpretation of ’24 hours’, but it’s finally arrived. So heres some pics.

Firstly…

Ohhh it’s a box, wonder what’s in it?

 

And then….

What a surprise, this was inside, brilliant.

Now all I have to do is check it works, putting a linux image onto SD card as I type.


The wait is finally over, just had my despatch email from RS/ParcelForce and my Raspberry Pi is on it’s way. Unfortunately as it’s Friday, and they don’t do Saturday deliveries, I’ve still got the weekend to wait (im)patiently.

Will (hopefully) be posting up pictures on Monday.


Decided it was time to post up the first photo on this blog, but unfortunately there is something missing, can you spot it??

That’s right everything’s ready to go now except my Raspberry Pi isn’t here yet, hence the gaping hole in the photo above. Some good news though my 2 Wixel’s arrived from Proto-Pic this morning, and you can see them at the bottom of the picture. This means that I’ve now got everything In need to get my Pi up and running, and my bare metal coding started, as soon as it arrives.

Come on RS, the wait is killing me 🙂

Will be spending the time till it arrives getting my head around the Wixel SDK, for some projects I’ve got in mind for the future.


Bare metal, or coding directly to the hardware rather than using an OS, is the most interesting part of the whole RPi experience for me. With modern PC’s it’s very difficult to do this, due to the complexity of the hardware platforms, and the lack of documentation provided by the manufacturers of the hardware components of PC’s, and whilst the alternative Micro-Controller based systems (such as Arduino, BeagleBoard etc.) do provide excellent platforms for low level coding/experiments the cost/power ratio on them is not brilliant.

For example I purchased an Arduino Uno board to have a play with and it is a really good piece of kit, great connectivity, very easy to code for, and great support from the Arduino community. However this board cost me £24.99 from my local Maplin, and for this I’ve got a 16Mhz processor, 2KB Ram, 32Kb Flash RAM  and a 1KB EEPROM to play with.

Compare this to the Raspberry Pi I’ve ordered from RS, this has cost me £30.87 including delivery, and then I’ve added a 16GB SD card from scan for less than £10, and that means for just under £40 I’ve got a machine with a 700Mhz processor, 256KB RAM & 16GB storage, with a whole bucketload of extras (LAN, USB, GPU etc.) that would have to be provided by shields on the Arduino platform, and thus increasing the cost. I’ve had a look at  other small board computers, and microcontroller based systems, and nowhere else can I get the same bang for the buck as provided by the RPi.

The downside to this is the RPi community is in it’s infancy, especially when compared to the Arduino (for example), so a lot of the nice tools available for that type of platform just aren’t available (yet) for the RPi. So we’re going to have to do a lot more work for ourselves.

So I’ve started an initial list of things I’d like to do, or at least start doing :), with regards to low level programming on the RPi.

1 – Get a cross compiler (c/c++)  for bare metal stuff up and running on windows. Been looking at the free Sourcery CodeBench Lite setup and looks like the easiest one to setup so far.

2 – Implement UART functions for RPi. Using the datasheet provided by Broadcom for the  main CPU on the RPi, get the basic UART communication functions working in a simple c library.

3 – Get a UART bootloader (similar to this one by dwelch67) up and running, and get my PC connected to the RPi via a USB/UART converter. We have to use an external controller/board to do this, because the RPi needs 3.3v TTL inputs, rather than the usual PC standard RS232 voltages, so I’m going to use a Wixel Wireless/USB/UART controller to do this. A little more expensive than a MAX232, or a basic USB/UART breakout board, but the Wixel (or more accurately a pair of them) will give me the ability to do some more interesting things in the future.

4 – Once the Bootloader is up and running properly, and thus the need to keep swapping SD cards is gone, I can get started on a SDK framework for all the peripherals on the device. The aim of this SDK will be to provide a similar type of environment to those provided when working on devices such as the Arduino and Wixel.

Quite a list, but hopefully once the UART/bootloader stuff is done, I should be able to get some SDK stuff up and running pretty quickly.


Starting to have a few ideas now on what I’m going to do with my Raspberry Pi when it finally arrives. Decided to split the ideas into two categories :

1 – Bare Metal : expirements/code etc. related to writing directly to the hardware without using any sort of OS. This is made possible by the way the RPi  boots. After doing some digging around on raspberrypi.org’s forum, I have been directed to dwelch67’s (excellent) Git repo and some of the code he’s already written, and more importantly the documentation he’s done on this method, on how to get this working. Looks very interesting indeed.

2- GNU/Linux : code, configurations etc. developed on top of one of the many linux distributions that people have ported, or are porting, to the RPi. Not as exciting (to me anyway) as the Bare Metal stuff, but still some interesting things that could be done with the RPi this way.

 


Welcome to my site dedicated to the Raspberry Pi, and the experiments I hope to do with mine, when it arrives.

Got my order invite through from RS, so now it’s ordered I need to decide what to do with it. But with the 3 weeks (minimum) it’s going to take to arrive at least I’ve got plenty of time to think about it 🙂