RedBear Duo First Impressions

Look what a little beauty the mailman brought! I participated the Red Bear Duo Kickstarter Campaign a while ago, and the folks at Redbear did a really professional job in delivering on the promises of that campaign.

Headline features include ARM Cortex M3 120 MHz microcontroller with plenty of RAM and flash, and of course dual WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Setting up the Duo was quite simple by following the instructions provided, once I realized I’ll need to use the Zadig tool as instructed in this sub-howto (Redbear guys: I think 4-5 separate pages to get one started on Windows is something that might be optimized), I got the firmware updated and everything set up. Basic outline of my installation was about this:

  1. Plug in the board and see LEDs light up
  2. Try to install the serial driver, only to realize I already had working serial (I probably have all usb serial drivers between heaven and earth installed due to encounters with various devboards)
  3. Connect to COM6, 9600 with Putty to verify it works as it should, note down device ID
  4. Install dfu-util, and wonder why I cannot connect to the device, even with the yellow LED (looked more like yellow-green though) was blinking as it should
  5. Use Zadig tool to install drivers when in DFU mode
  6. Successfully update firmware and stuff
  7. Reboot the board a couple of times and connect with Putty to COM6 to see the IP address
  8. Visit the IP address to see the LED demo is working as it should! Nice!

Particle.io Cloud Programming

Once I had the basics figured out, I wanted to try out the Particle.io cloud development platform. It seems like an Arduino on cloud steroids, meaning that instead of flashing the device over USB cable, you write the software in a web interface, and flashing the device will upload the sketch to your device using the active wifi connection on Redbear Duo (I believe the device is periodically polling Particle.io service to see if there is a new sketch to download).
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TI Stellaris Launchpad Test Run

My local electronics store Partco overdid themselves again. Believe it or not, while most of the people in US are still waiting their Stellaris Launchpads, this small Finnish electronics outlet had several in stock. Thanks to two generous donators of $11 and $1.5 respectively, I also had the financial leverage to acquire one. :)

The board came in a decent black cardboard box with a small quickstart booklet – see Hack-a-Day hands on coverage for details on the package. Even the board itself contains the URL where you can get the software package. I proceeded to download the 1.3 GB Code Composer Studio + StellarisWare package. It took 30 minutes to download, thanks to less-than-impressive transfer speeds from TI, and another 1 hour to install.

The guys at TI were generous enough to include working quickstart / driver installation guide with the package, and for once, I was actually able to walk through it without any “oh this doesn’t work anymore” -moments. Even the three drivers required were found under Software/ICDI in the setup package. Kudos! As a result of installing CCS and StellarisWare, I now had 3.75 GB and 63 872 files of additional hacking capability on my hard drive. Gone are the days where you could fit an IDE into four floppies like my Borland Turbo C++ 3.0!

Taking it for a test drive

I first followed TI’s quickstart tutorial to the end to get some blinky LED action, and even tried out the UART example – even that worked out of the box with Putty set to COM25 and 115 200 baud rate. Next I made my own project by shamelessly following the recent HaD Getting Started guide.

Sure enough, the LEDs were now blinking just like I wanted them to – and blinding me in the process: whoever thought that you need SMD LEDs that are bright enough to leave light trails on my retina must’ve been utterly mad. I recommend either wearing sunglasses (might not be enough – seriously) or placing something near-opaque (like a piece of white paper) between yourself and the Launchpad when working with the LEDs for any longer periods.

However, I couldn’t yet find much information about input side, so after some searching, I located the documentaion for StellarisWare peripheral drivel library, SW-DRL-UG-9453.pdf and started reading. Armed with that and the short “Stellaris LM4F120 LaunchPad Evaluation Board User Manual” that was found from Documentation/Board/EK-LM4F120-UM.pdf I quickly wrapped up something that was supposed to turn red and green LEDs ON when pressing user switches SW1 and SW2, respectively:
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