SiLabs EFM32 Happy Gecko starter kit – first impressions

More unboxing. It includes a CR2032 coin cell in the box. Handy when the product line’s premise is ultra low power. It includes two usb cables, one mini, one micro. What the hell. why are you using mixed connectors?! (One for debug, one for user, similar to the original STM32F4 discovery)

Nice looking board, nice screen. Factory demo software is space invaders! Nice demo of touch buttons, physical buttons and the screen. Startup screen shows the debugger state as well. Expansion header seems to have a full silkscreen with correct positioning. Debug connector for connecting your own debug hardware is the full ARM Cortex with trace header, 2×10@1.27mm pitch. This is somewhat unusual, I’ve never had one that broke out the full ETM pins.

The kit user guide implies that there’s a USB flash drive in the box, containing simplicity studio. Thankfully that’s not the case. That would have been really wasteful. (Yes, yes, helpful for some people with shitty internet, but incredibly wasteful for everyone else)

The onboard JLink OB also presents a mass storage device, with a (broken) mbed link, a link to the starter kit’s home page, and a link to simplicity studio’s homepage. Rather shitty filenames, but I guess that helped someone’s day :) Bit lame about the mbed link not working though. It looks like something that mbed setup to be permanent, but someone overlooked somewhere: (Update: It might actually work, but mbed’s website was hacked at the time of writing….)

The rest of the kit user guide doc is rather sparse, (to be polite) simply containing some screenshots of how to run demos and get more information from within Simplicity studio. The kit home page does have a link to download the schematics though, that’s nice.

Doesn’t work with OpenOCD at the time of writing, but very basic preliminary support is proposed in

Atmel SAMD10 Xplained mini board review

Got a pile of dev boards for some testing. Some first impressions of the ATSAMD10-XMINI. First off, it’s nice and cheap, $9 or so. Comes in a really small cardboard box, with absolutely no documentation beyond some links on the box. Totally fine, no need for anything else these days. The board is a somewhat unusual shape, with the micro usb connector for the onboard DDBG (CMSIS-DAP) protruding out the back. Whatever. At first glace, the board appears well labelled. A closer glance….. well…

The user guide for this board refers to all the headers as JXXX. The J number is NOT in the silk on the board. The userguide has a picture of the board, and marks some of the J headers, but not all. The rest you have to just sort of figure out. This seems like a really amateur oversight. Fixing the silk would have been ideal, but at least the documentation could have a better overview of the board! (The userguide does manage to include screenshots of how to install atmel FLIP, which seems like a total waste of space for this document)

The user guide refers to the pins with J200-1, -2, -3, etc. The silk on the pad arrays is just numbered 1..5, and A..P. There’s silk on the back describing some pins, no idea why some and not others. There’s a big box of silk on the back that seems to be describing some pins, but no idea which, or what order.

There’s a specially boxed off section of pads in the top right, 2×10. It’s unlabeled. No idea what it’s for. (Update, turns out this is for Xplained Pro addons, the userguide covers this, and actually uses the grid array notation that matches the board.)

The user guide does (un)helpfully include arduino pin numbers, for the arduino compatible pin arrays, but there’s no mention of arduino software, or linked anywhere, so who cares about that. The column in the table that includes this is unlabeled as well.

The factory firmware is a morse application. Connecting to the CDC-ACM uart provided by the EDBG module lets you blink out letters, and tapping in keys on the user button prints them to the uart. It resets every few seconds idle and prints some help text. Neat enough.

The user guide does NOT include the schematic of the board. This is a serious omission. Particularly given the poor documentation/silk screen match up, but also as these boards are often used as examples for your own projects. A snippet of the power supply section is included, but again, the labels don’t match the board. I went back and forth through the user guide a few times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. However, the software package download, which I skipped initially, actually includes no software. It includes all the schematics and proper board diagrams that should have been in the user guide. Pretty poor form Atmel :|

No comments on the tools or device itself yet, that’s for a much later date :)

Terminus Tech 7 port usb 2 “high speed” hub teardown

7 port usb 2.0 “high speed” hub, with per port power switches and leds. Only shows up as full speed in lsusb. Leds on ports are very bright, power switches only cut vbus line, rather flaky construction, shaking or bumping can cause disconnects. Seems to consume too much power, without external 5V (not included) vbus can be very low. Available on ebay, tmart,…

The fe1.1s chips are meant to support high speed, so…?

Update: When I had it open, connected to a different computer, it showed up reliably as high speed. Back on the original computer, disassembled, still high speed. Case closed up again, it would show up normally as full speed fallback, and only occasionally as high speed. Further testing indicated that the front panel usb socket is the actual cause. Connecting this hub to another high speed hub showed up reliably as high speed.

The sexy input cap is 200uF, 10V. The rocker switches are KCD11, rated 3A 250VAC, or 6A, 125VAC! The crystal is umarked, but must be 12Mhz from the datasheet.




version control of tools – part 2

Oh look! again! Remember kids, it’s not just compilers that you should keep around, but libc/binutils, and all libraries you’re ever going to use.

Today it’s avr-libc, and this gem:

In file included from ../../common/FreqCounter.h:17:0,
                 from ../../common/FreqCounter.c:35:
/usr/avr/include/util/delay.h: In function '__vector_21':
/usr/avr/include/util/delay.h:246:2: error: __builtin_avr_delay_cycles expects a compile time integer constant

Apparently it was always actually a requirement in the notes, but everyone did it anyway. Now, you need to write a wrapper function like this sort of shit:

void do_what_I_say_delay_us(int us) {
     while (us-- > 0) {

Hooray, isn’t that better for everyone! See for more information, if you can read carefully enough :)

version control of tools

Ahh, it’s always the right thing to do, but normally it’s so heavy to check in things like GCC/Binutils versions into every project. It’s the sort of thing you do if you’re a big serious company, working on big serious things, with big serious support. Besides, I’m not relying on anything weird or esoteric right?


../../common/pjrc/usb_debug_only.c:96:45: error: variable 'device_descriptor' must be const in order to be put into read-only section by means of '__attribute__((progmem))'
static uint8_t PROGMEM device_descriptor[] = {

Thanks for nothing avr-gcc updates. I understand what you’re getting at, but still, this used to compile, and put things in PROGMEM. Now it fails the compile. GCC bug in question is, or at least, that’s where it came from. A nice case of, “everybody’s using this code, but it was never actually meant to work, so let’s make it fail for them all, like it was meant to anyway.”

Compilers are awesome.

Installing Eagle 7.3 on fedora 21 x64

So, as before, you need to symlink libssl and libcrypto, but this time, you need to do the symlinking in the normal 64bit lib path.

/usr/lib64$ sudo ln -s
/usr/lib64$ sudo ln -s

This is despite the eagle installer saying that it needs the 32bit libraries installed!

mosquitto in OpenWrt which versions are where

With more and more versions of OpenWrt and mosquitto being released with more dependencies and features, here’s a quick overview of what versions are available where.

This is the out of the box versions. An extra packages feed, is available for running mosquitto and it’s dependencies on older OpenWrt releases, should you need that functionality. At the time of writing, this feed contains mosquitto version 1.4.2, and libwebsockets 1.3.x.

I should clarify, this is what you get if you build your own images out of the box. Not the version that was available at release day.

Openwrt Backfire (10.03)

Attitude Adjustment (12.09)

Barrier Breaker (14.07)

Chaos Calmer (15.05)


Mosquitto version unavailable 0.15 1.3.5 1.4.2 1.4.2
libwebsockets n/a n/a n/a 1.3.x 1.4.x

Carlo Gavazzi EM210 coupled display panel teardown

The Carlo Gavazzi EM210 series [1] of 3 phase energy meters have a rather neat feature. You can mount them on a DIN rail or panel mount, with the same unit, and the display portion is simply detachable, and plugs back in on the reverse side. This is neat tech, and probably saves on inventory in a few distributor places at least, though I don’t imagine it makes any real difference for the end user, who will mount it once and leave it. Still, the display piece has the control buttons and the LCD display, no batteries, and no contacts. So I pulled it apart :)

I don’t know how it works really, it’s presumably the same method as NFC, by modulating the power draw from a capacitively or inductively coupled connection. It’s cool though. ATMega169 for the LCD control and buttons. Not entirely sure what the crystal is for, it’s marked “KDS3C” but I didn’t look further for a speed marking. Presumably you need a proper crystal to be able to synchronize the coupled connection properly? I don’t believe it’s an RTC crystal, as this is the detachable display portion. I always like seeing cutouts mid PCB for inserting big components.

The trimpot is an interesting idea. It’s used as a “lock”. With it turned all the way one way, the device is considered locked, and this screw access is on the back of the display portion. This portion also has tags for tamper seals, so I guess that’s one way of doing it on the cheap? Presumably just an ADC input to determine lock status.

The oddly slanted through hole parts on the left are the front panel buttons, nice alignment :)

ATMega169 for LCD control, coupled connection

ATMega169 for LCD control, coupled connection

[1] I’d link to them, but their website is junk and doesn’t let you link to products, and requires sign up to get a datasheet, that uses old names. The same sort of stupid games with redirecting you to different websites for different markets for the same device and all the usual terrible product management choices that lead engineers to ignore your products.

SELinux is teh suck – I’ve given up.

I tried, I really did. I let the selinuxtroubleshooter run, I added exceptions, I tried to do it’s bidding and be a joyful comrade marching forwards to a secure perfect future. I’ve given up. Fuck this shit. The last straw was installing nginx, to serve up a few virtual hosts in the form of /home/domain/subdomain/{site,logs}
Errors in the journal like SELinux is preventing /usr/sbin/nginx from getattr access on the file . and then how to run grep on a log and feed it an audit tool that generates exceptions. Oh yes, that’s actually how you’re meant to do things. From past experience I knew it would only allow the first layer of the onion to unpeel and I’d have to keep adding exceptions, so I looked into what it was really complaining about.

Missing labels on THE ENTIRE WEBROOT labelling them as “httpd_sys_content_t” Right. Go fuck yourself SELinux. chcon -Rt httpd_sys_content_t /home/blah/wop No. No. No. I get it, you were only trying to stop me from inadvertently starting a webserver and…. serving web content… Actually, no, that’s not it. I was very fucking explicitly trying to start a webserver. I’d installed nginx, I’d added configs for the virtual hosts, and restarted nginx. That’s pretty damn explicit.

So, I gave up, I set SElinux to “permissive” so I could maybe see logs, and maybe feel inclined to work with it again in the future. But to avoid rebooting, I then did the old “echo 0 > /sys/fs/selinux/enforce” and then restarted nginx again. Now nginx works, but… now the journal is full of “detected unhandled Python exception in ‘/usr/sbin/setroubleshootd'” and stack traces following. So it’s over SELinux. You’re beyond dead to me, and I really, really tried to make it work.

Rum Balls for christmas

Surprise cooking post! Rum balls are somewhat common in some families in Australia around christmas, but about the only thing many of them have in common is being mostly chocolatey, mostly with some sort of alcohol flavour, and normally somewhat ball shaped, and rolled in coconut. Here’s the original recipe copied out of my handwritten recipe book, copied from my mother’s hand written recipe book.


  • 220g sweet biscuits, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 powdered milk
  • 1/2 glazed cherries
  • 400g tin of condensed milk

Now, that’s the original in the book. I’m sure it’s lovely, but mine are a little different. Firstly, what are “sweet biscuits” ?! In Australia we would use “Scotch finger” biscuits. Here in Iceland, I use “Marie” biscuits. Anything plainish but still sweet is what you’re looking for. In Iceland, at least this year, Marie biscuits come in twin pack tubes, 2x200g. Don’t worry about the 20g :)

Next up, “2 tbsp” In Australia, at least when the recipe was written, that’s a tablespoon, not a desertspoon. (And not a teaspoon) I use 3 regular food eating spoons. (It won’t make much difference in this recipe, but it will in some others)

Powdered milk is an odd product too, but very important in this sort of thing. Skim milk or whole milk doesn’t make an awful lot of difference in this recipe. In Iceland, the only place selling this as of December 2014 that I’m aware of is Fjarðarkaup. MS manufacturers it, but only in 25kg bags. In other countries this is often readily available.

Condensed milk is also unusual. This is most definitely not evaporated milk, don’t even try. In Iceland, this is available in most of the asian groceries, I get it at Mai Thai on Laugavegur. Nestle makes and sells it worldwide, but there’s other brands too. In Singapore for instance, this stuff is used instead of milk in coffee. (It’s a wonderful product, worthy of further mention)

Glazed cherries can be replaced with whatever you prefer, or as I do, simply omitted. (I find the 1/2 cup in the original far too much at least, and as they’re somewhat difficult to find (notice a theme?) here, I just don’t use them)

Finally, notice that there’s no rum in that recipe. I use a good 2-3 shots or so. You want dark rum, but I’d avoid spiced stuff. Austalians would use Bundaberg, here in Iceland I’ve used “Old Navy”, and really any of the dark unspiced carribean rums. It doesn’t have to be fancy stuff.

Ok, ingredients in hand, hopefully. Now what? You just mix them all up. Crumbling biscuits can be tedious. A food processor works really well for this. Once it’s all mixed up evenly, put it in a covered container in the fridge overnight. The next day, (later that week, etc) you fill up a bowl with further coconut, spoon out chunks of the mixture, roll it out to a smooth ball between your hands, then drop it in the coconut and roll it around to coat it. Here’s some pictures of making them

Pile up all this coated balls back into a box and keep them in the fridge. Yummy. A lot easier than it sounds, once you’ve got the ingredients together :)