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Archive for August, 2014

Intel Galileo – First Impressions

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Yesterday I received my Intel Galileo rev 1 board. I know the rev 2 board is available but recently the Windows on Devices program have release the necessary firmware etc to upgrade a Galileo rev 1 board to enable it to run Windows.

See the end of this article for an update added on 6th Sept 2014.

Upgrading the Firmware

The first step was to check athe firmware and upgrade it if necessary. In my case it was necessary. Intel provide a comprehensive set of instructions on how to do this. The upgrade process took about 10 minutes.

Creating a Windows SD Card

The next step is to write Windows to a micro SD card. This step of the process took the longest to complete, about 25-30 minutes.

Booting to Windows

The next step is to verify that Windows has loaded correctly. Insert the card, power on and then waiting for 2 minutes for Windows to boot. If successful you should be able to telnet to the device. I used PTTYPortable to do this and was presented with the login request.

Testing the Board

One of the first tests I normally perform is to deploy a Blinky application to the board. Once I am happy that I can deploy applications to the board I speed up Blinky by removing any code which would cause a pause. The result should be an indicator of the performance of the board and the software. So let’s give it a go.

The Galileo board offers two methods for deploying Blinky to the board:

  1. Arduino UI
  2. Visual Studio Windows application

The first method uses the board without the Windows SD card image, the second deploys a Windows application to the SD card and runs as a Windows application.

Our starting point for the tests will be the standard Blink application:

/*
  Blink
  Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.
 
  This example code is in the public domain.
*/
 
// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards.
// give it a name:
int led = 13;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup()
{                
    // initialize the digital pin as an output.
    pinMode(led, OUTPUT);     
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop()
{
    digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
    delay(1000);               // wait for a second
    digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
    delay(1000);               // wait for a second
}

Arduino UI

Using this application in the Arduino UI for the Galileo is simple. In fact the application is one of the samples (File -> Examples -> 01.Basics -> Blink). Loading this sketch and deploying to the Galileo starts the on board LED blinking at a steadily at 1 Hz.

Visual Studio Windows Application

Microsoft have provided a Wiring API for use in Visual Studio. This allows access to the “Arduino” hardware from a Windows application. An equivalent Windows version of the same application is:

#include "stdafx.h"
#include "arduino.h"

int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
{
    return RunArduinoSketch();
}

int led = 13;  // This is the pin the LED is attached to.

void setup()
{
    pinMode(led, OUTPUT); // Configure the pin for OUTPUT so you can turn on the LED.
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop()
{
    digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
    Log(L"LED OFF\n");
    delay(1000);               // wait for a second
    digitalWrite(led, HIGH);    // turn the LED on by making the voltage HIGH
    Log(L"LED ON\n");
    delay(1000);               // wait for a second
}

Much of the application looks the same as the Arduino application. The main differences are the addition of the _tmain method and the Log statement. The _tmain method acts as the entry point for the application and provides a method for running an Arduino sketch (as above) or some other program logic.

The Log statements generate debug information which is displayed in Visual Studio’s Output window.

Deploying this application to the board results in… NOTHING!

Digging a little deeper into the examples section of the web site reveals the On Board LED example:

// Main.cpp : Defines the entry point for the console application.
//

#include "stdafx.h"
#include "arduino.h"

int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
{
    return RunArduinoSketch();
}

//This application flashes the on board LED of the Galileo board by calling GPIO functions directly in the embprpusr.dll instead of using the Arduino layer.

ULONG state = LOW; // keeps track of the state of the on-board LED

void setup()
{
    GpioSetDir(LED_BUILTIN, OUTPUT); // Sets the pin to output
}

void loop()
{
    if (HIGH == state)
    {
	    state = LOW;
	} 
    else
    {
	    state = HIGH;
	}
    GpioWrite(LED_BUILTIN, state); // Writes to the pin, setting its value either HIGH (on) or LOW (off)
    Log(L"LED %s\n", (HIGH == state ? L"ON" : L"OFF"));
    Sleep(1000);
}

Compiling and deploying this application to the board results in the steady flashing of the on board LED.

Reverting to the previous sample and hooking up an oscilloscope reveals that pin 13 is indeed being toggled at 1 Hz it is just not connected directly to the on board LED.

How Fast Can We Go?

Now to find out how fast the board will actually run. Starting with the Arduino example, remove the delay statements, recompile and deploy to the board. Doing this resulted in a square wave with a 50% duty cycle and a frequency of 221Hz. That’s right Hz, not KHz!

Removing the delay and logging statements and deploying the Windows application results in a square wave. This time a 60Hz square wave with a 30% duty cycle is displayed on the oscilloscope.

There must be something wrong. Surely this board with a 400MHz processor should run faster than this.

What About the Netduino?

The Netduino has always had one issue when compared with Arduino and other similar board. Namely it is running interpreted code which is not real time due to the nature of the .NET Microframework and the way the framework runs. I have performed similar tests and I was convinced that it was faster. Only one way to find out, deploy some code to the Netduino Plus 2. This board runs the .NET Microframework on the STM32 family of microcontrollers at 168 MHz. The equivalent code to the two examples above is:

using Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware;
using SecretLabs.NETMF.Hardware.Netduino;

namespace NetduinoPlus2
{
    public class Program
    {
        public static void Main()
        {
            OutputPort dp = new OutputPort(Pins.GPIO_PIN_D13, false);
            while (true)
            {
                dp.Write(!dp.Read());
            }
        }
    }
}

Deploying this to the Netduino PLus 2 and hooking up the oscilloscope results in a square wave with a 50% duty cycle at 17.8 KHz.

Much faster than the Galileo board.

Update – 6th Sept 2014

I have been looking through the schematic for the Galileo Rev 1 board and found that not all of the GPIO pins are connected through the CY8C9540A chip but are in fact connected directly top the Quark processor. These GPIOs should be capable of higher speeds. A quick test shows that these pins (Digital 2, 3 & 10) can all generate a 1.16 KHz square wave for an application compiled in debug mode. Compiling the same applications in release more and running the application on the Galileo increases the frequency from 1.16 KHz to 1.27 KHz.

Conclusion

I’ve only had this board for a few hours but I have deployed a few of the examples. The raw GPIO speed appears lower than the interpreted .NET Microframework equivalent. The Galileo has access to a network port with easy access to the Arduino Wiring API but then so does the .NET Microframework.

Some further investigation is required I believe.

Strictly Yorkshire Photography Exhibition

Monday, August 18th, 2014

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to add some of my photos in a local exhibition of photographs taken in Yorkshire. I don’t know what came over me but I said yes. Never done this sort of thing before but nothing ventured, nothing gained. And so on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August I found myself exhibiting seven photographs along with about 30 other members of the Strictly Yorkshire Photography group at the Corn Exchange in Leeds.

The group rules are simple, all photographs must be taken in Yorkshire and the photographs should not contain any offensive or illegal material.

The Exhibition

The group membership is diverse and as with all groups, some members are more active than others. The range of skills and interests are varied. My own particular fields of interest are wildlife and technology as you can see by the photographs I exhibited:

Mark Stevens Display at Yorkshire Photography Exhibition

Mark Stevens Display at Yorkshire Photography Exhibition

Spirit of Yorkshire

This image was taken at a vintage Rolls Royce and Bently gathering at Castle Howard on 1st June 2014. The weather was brilliant and I could not resist taking this image of the Spirit of Ecstasy against and almost clear blue sky.

Spirit of Yorkshire

Spirit of Yorkshire

Three Months

This photograph was taken in April of 2014 in the gardens around the York Museum.

Three Months

Three Months

This is one of the few images I have actually modified to any degree. I wanted to bring out the contrast in the wall at the back of the image whilst highlighting the right-hand headstone. This was achived by using a black and white conversion in Paintshop Pro along with HDR.

Doe at Studley Royal Park

This doe was captured early in the morning on 9th April at Studley Royal Park.

Doe at Studley Royal Park

Doe at Studley Royal Park

Sonny and Charlie

Sonny and Charlie are both resue dogs owned by a friend. I took a series of over 200 images of the two dogs when out walking in mid-April this year.

Sonny in Bluebells

Sonny in Bluebells

Sonny in Bluebells

Where’s the Ball?? WHERE’s THE BALL!!!

Where's the Ball?? WHERE'S THE BALL!!

Where’s the Ball?? WHERE’S THE BALL!!

Tornado Leaving York

Tornado is the last locomotive to be built in the UK as of the time of writing. This locomotive first steamed in 2008.

Tornado Leaving York

Tornado Leaving York

This is also an example of of an image which I manipulated. For this image I converted the image to black and white and then used this to mask off all of the original image except for Tornado itself.

Just Grabbing a Takeout For the Kids

This last image shows a Robin feeding in our garden. This was taken early in the year when the young robins had just hatched.

RobinFeeding

What Did I Learn?

I have always enjoyed photography being an enthusiastic amateur. Looking at the images that were on display gave me some ideas about perspective and angles to improve the quality of the photographs I take.

Looking back I think I over prepared and I could have made my display just as effective but with a simple change such as not using frames and just using mounts.

I felt that the day was an overall success. Would I do it again? Yes, without a doubt.

Finally, I’d just like to thank everyone who took part, a great bunch of people.