In the previous post I mentioned the Open World Design Contest launched by ST and others. The participants who make it into the second round will get free development tools, notably the EvoPrimer platform.
This platform is actually a very interesting set of tools developed by Raisonance under the name of Open4 (read as �Open for ��). The system is very open indeed and schematics and source code can be downloaded for free. A system consists of a base, a kind of multimeter-sized pod, and target boards that slide into the pod. The base offers the human interface like a color touch screen, a joystick, buttons, LEDs, audio I/O, IrDA, accelerometer and a li-ion battery with charger, the target board offers the applications.
Open 4 dissection...
Several target boards are available, with 8-bit and 32-bit processors from ST, but you can also develop your own. When you open the base you get access to a connector for extension cards that can slide through an opening under de joystick (if you remove the cover). This connector is the main way to go for those who want to add something to the system.
Software development is done with the Ride7 IDE, also from Raisonance, using GCC. The free version lets you compile and flash any size of code and debug executables of up to 32 KB. You have to pay for unlimited debugging. The IDE connects directly to the base through a USB port, without the need for additional programming or debugging pods. Ride7 also offers an ARM simulator.
Instead of writing all the GUI code yourself, you should (but you are not obliged to) built your application on CircleOS. It is not clear to me who the owner is of this OS, but the main thing is that it is free and open source software. CircleOS handles the display, the touch screen and all other hardware that is built in the EvoPrimer base. It also calls the user application on a regular basis and it lets the application interact with the OS to obtain button states etc. Applications are stored in a special memory area and there is room for several of them. The OS will allow the user to select the application from a menu. The application memory available depends on the target board you are using.
Ride7 is a nice IDE indeed!
Although Raisonance and their tools seem to concentrate on microcontrollers from ST, the Ride7 IDE can also be used for ARM-based controllers from other brands. It happily supports many NXP and TI (Luminary) models and if you look in the Ride7 installation folders you will find more supported processors than that the IDE lets you choose from. If you don�t like Eclipse (who does?) and if you don�t mind debugging the hard way, this is a very nice IDE for ARM development. My next Sceptre project will probably be done using this IDE.
Oh, did I mention the price of an EvoPrimer kit? About 100 euros for a base with target board!