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Cyclone ACP, Rev. C PEmicro’s product line of Cyclone stand-alone programmers provides a fast, robust, and automated solution for production-scale programming of microprocessors. However, production facilities may desire an even higher level of automation than the single-button touch capability that is offered by the Cyclone. PEmicro offers several means of automating control, including a command-line executable, UDP/Serial communications, or the .DLL included in PEmicro's new Cyclone Automated Control Software Package. In this article, we discuss automated control using the automated control package and the unprecedented level of power and flexibility that it offers.


1.) Introduction – Controlling a Cyclone through the PC

PEmicro’s new Cyclone Automated Control Package provides the developer with a dynamic link library (DLL) and supporting documentation to allow custom software applications to directly control the Cyclone.

By storing the binary data information, algorithm information, and settings directly into the FLASH memory of the Cyclone, programming operations can be initiated by the simple push of a button. However, the DLL enables us to use the PC to issue a command to the Cyclone to start the same programming sequence!

The use of a PC to control the Cyclone enhances the functionality of the stand-alone programming operations, but also introduces new capabilities that were not available previously. In the following sections, we explore the features of the Cyclone Automated Control Package and present practical examples of how to use it in your own production line.


2.) Setup – Image Creation

The first step is always to create the actual stand-alone images that will be stored onto the Cyclone. These images contain the algorithm needed to program FLASH / EEPROM, the actual binary data to be programmed, the sequence of programming operations, and many user-specified Cyclone settings. PEmicro’s “Cyclone Image Creation Utility” allows the user to properly configure the stand-alone images.

Above is a screenshot of the dialog in the Cyclone Image Creation Utility which allows the user to configure the stand-alone image. The field on the right shows the programming steps and also the order in which these steps execute.

1.)    First, we select the appropriate algorithm for our processor. In this example, we are using the Freescale HC9S08GB60.

2.)    Next, we specify the target object file that represents the binary data to be programmed into the processor’s FLASH memory. Here, we are using a Motorola S-record file.

3.)    Once the algorithm and the target object file are specified, we are ready to begin programming. Typically, the procedure is to erase the device to make sure it’s blank, program the target, and verify that the contents were written correctly.


In addition to the programming sequence, there are also settings for the Cyclone that we can configure. In the above screenshot, we are using the Cyclone PRO’s power relays to provide the appropriate voltage to power up our processor. This way, we do not need a separate power supply for our target board, simplifying our production line.

Finally, we specify the Image Description so that we can easily identify the image later on. By using the “Store Image to Disk” option, we are able to save this image and its configuration as a .SAP file for future use.


3.) Using the DLL – Simple Example

 

The above code example shows the most basic operation that is supported by the Cyclone Automated Control Package. Below are the steps we have taken:

Step 1: Contact the desired Cyclone by specifying its IP address. The handle of the Cyclone is returned, and is used to identify the Cyclone in all subsequent function calls.

Step 2: Send a command to the Cyclone to begin the programming operations specified in image #1. These operations were specified during the image creation process.

Step 3: Wait for the Cyclone to complete the programming operations before proceeding.

Step 4: Check to see if any errors occurred during programming and provide a message to the user.

Step 5: Terminate the current session with the Cyclone.


4.) Using the DLL – More Advanced Operations


Programming a serial number

 

 

Note: The following are placeholder functions used to simplify the example, and are not provided by the automated control package:

get_serial_from_file

increment_serial_number

save_serial_back_to_file

The above example code is an event handler written for a visual MFC application, which is executed each time a button is pressed by the user. Here, we again instruct the Cyclone to perform the stand-alone programming operations of the image stored on the Cyclone. Afterwards, we program a dynamic 2-byte serial number into address 0x100 of the target processor. The serial number is then incremented and written back to a file for later use.

Although there are many different ways to program a serial number without needing to use the automated control package at all, this code example can easily be modified to program dynamic data that is not sequential. For example, if we wish to program the current date or a lot number, using the automated control package and writing your own custom application is by far the easiest and most automated way to accomplish this task.

 

Automatically update image stored on the Cyclone

 

 

This is a very simple example of how to ensure that the image stored on a Cyclone is always up to date. A comparison is performed between the image which currently resides on the Cyclone and an image file at a specified location on the host PC. If there is a mismatch, then we update the image. Afterwards, we proceed with the normal programming operations as seen in the previous examples.

5.) Can I Control Multiple Cyclones?

 Up until now, we have discussed some uses of the Cyclone Automated Control Package with a single Cyclone unit. Since the host PC only sends minimal control information to control each Cyclone, a single PC is actually capable of controlling many Cyclone units simultaneously.

 

Here, we begin programming operations on 3 separate Cyclone units and wait for their completion before proceeding. In essence, we are programming 3 separate devices in parallel. This can be easily extended to 10, 100, or even 1000 Cyclone units controlled in parallel from a single host PC!

6.) More Examples

Here are a few more real world examples:

·         Quality Control : automatically record statistics on the number of devices that fail during programming.

·         You’re a developer and just completed the firmware development for a brand new product. Now you need to get your production facility up to speed, but they are halfway across the country. Streamline this process by writing a simple application that will add a new image to the Cyclone. Send this along with the new stand-alone image SAP file and you’re done.

·         You use multiple Cyclone units for programming your devices in parallel. Each Cyclone has 4 different images, one for each of your 4 different products. Write an application that allows the user to automatically select the correct image for the current production run.

7.) Conclusion

 Whether you are performing small production runs in-house or programming a large number of chips in a high-volume facility, PEmicro’s Cyclone product family provides a powerful, yet affordable, solution. With the advanced parallel programming, image management, and error tracking features provided by PEmicro’s new Cyclone Automated Control Package, you now have the power to completely automate your production programming process like never before.

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