October News

Telegraph Rd sign, Seaford Meadows

Telegraph Road next to Commercial Rd, Seaford Meadows, South Australia. (Actually power lines overhead).



Then came the churches, then came the schools
Then came the lawyers, and then came the rules
Then came the trains and the trucks with their loads
And the dirty old track was the telegraph road

  Dire Straits, Telegraph Road,
  written by Mark Knoffler, 1982
  Track 1 on the Love Over Gold album.

According to Wikipedia — Telegraph Road, it was in suburban Detroit, Michigan. In a fairly new suburb south of Adelaide, (Seaford Meadows, a couple of kilometers from McLaren Vale) there is another of many Telegraph Roads. (Apple Maps has plenty, and there is another one close by in Willunga).

Software Development

We had a bit more “free” time this month. Other than ideas and proposals for machine design (of the wood working kind), the Freescale Kinetis K64F boards were pulled out of the drawer. The original firmware was 0201 for the mbed debugger, and some attempts to update to 0203 were unsuccessful — assuming we only have the source code of the small 'mbed.htm' file to look at. Anyway, we tried to cut a few tracks to get the Rowley Associates CrossConnect debugger to work with the K64 before doing our own board, but somewhere there is a problem (not able to read the debug register). The connection to the K60 on a Tower board works fine with the CrossWorks toolchain and CrossConnect debugger.

Two of the K64F boards have cut tracks and could not attach to the upgraded CrossWorks (before we cut the tracks). Although the device showed up in the Finder, it was not seen as a CMSIS-DAP (could not read the debug register and on one board, not seeing it at all). As we only have one working board, we quickly ordered another three with some new power supplies for the LED lighting trials.

Rowley Associates upgrade

We upgraded to version 3.3, which went smoothly. We are limiting our embedded development to OSX for the rest of this year, and will not be upgrading the Windows based CrossWorks (included in the license, but another platform to maintain with its lack of decent Unix-like version controls). Yes, we know about Tortoise packages, but were are happy with what we have.

We chose Rowley Associates' toolchain as it runs on Apple hardware (besides Windows and Linux). The recent ARM upgrade (Version 3.3) managed to run the Segger J-Link on the KwikStix K40 boards. We had promised to try and find out what the problem was with prior efforts in running J-Link under OSX, but always took the easiest option and ran the K40 software under Windows. Now all our Kinetis development can be run from a single box — K64, K60 and K40 at the moment.

Hopefully, this is our last 32-bit ARM work for the year, as we are gearing up for the 64-bit flood gates to open early next year. There are only two months left to the year, and much of that is accounted for.


Kickstarter project from Xped

An interesting project has been launched on Kickstarter. See DeB — The Ultimate User Experience for your Arduino Projects. The prototypes are running, so the risk is minimal. It has a modest target and runs until Thursday, 20th November. It is great to see Adelaide technology companies developing devices to explore the IoT. For more info, see Xped home page.

Cohda and NXP

Another Adelaide based company achieved a milestone with technology partner, NXP. The headline claims that they beat Qualcomm — indeed an achievement. See NXP Beats Qualcomm, Gets First V2V Design Win, by Junko Yoshida of EETimes, 23rd September. Yes, that was last month, but we thought it shows what small companies are able to deliver.


AMD Appoints Dr. Lisa Su as President and Chief Executive Officer, 8th October, 2014. See the press release for her truly spectacular career since her Bachelors, Masters and PhD all from MIT.

Cavium to fund ARMv8 FreeBSD

Cavium to Sponsor FreeBSD ARMv8 Based Implementation, 1st October. They will provide a standardised port to the 48-core ThunderX 64-bit ARMv8 SoC.

ARM high speed serial trace

ARM has announced a high speed serial trace unit. The picture on the board has copyright 2013, so not sure if this is new. A press release at the end of September (email received in October) describes it in more detail. Media Alert: ARM Announces Debug Probe for High-Speed Serial Trace.


Altera and ARM Expand Strategic Partnership for SoC Development Tools, 1st October, 2014. This will include the ARMv8 compiler for the upcoming quad-core A53 device. The long-term DS-5 agreement will help when planning which tools to invest in. For users with an ARM login, the serial trace document is available on the ARM info centre. It references the Xilinx Aurora protocol and many other interfaces through to 2004. The next release of DS-5 Altera Edition is planned for November. Hopefully, the A53 is not far behind.

APM embedded ARMv8

The HeliX embedded ARMv8 device was briefly described in Applied Micro to Move ARM Into Single-Board Computers, 7th October. The HeliX 1 is sampling, with Helix 2 due in 2016. The PowerPC line from APM will be supported up to 2018.

There is a bit of info from APM at HeliX Family, with links from there.


AMD embedded ARMv8

Meet AMD's pole-dancing 64-bit ARM chip: Hierofalcon wants to be in a mast near you. Apparently, the device was demonstrated at ARM TechCon, 1st October.

IBM to offload fab

The sale of IBM's fab has been in the electronic press for months. “IBM is to pay $1.5bn (£930m) in cash to offload its loss-making chip manufacturing division to Abu Dhabi owned GlobalFoundries.” See IBM pays $1.5bn to offload chip unit as profit falls, 20th Oct, 2014, on BBC. According to the article, IBM will take a $4,7bn charge in the third quarter as a result of the sale. The $1,5 billion payment will be spread over the next three years.

Free PCB software

The pcbWEB home page offers a free CAD package. We will download it a little later when we get back to the Windows machine. The site has plans for an Apple release in the future, depending on resources.

Tasking ARM support on OSX

In a press release dated 2nd October, Altium announced Tasking support for Apple OSX. The demand came from developers interested in iPhone and iPad interface development. The prices are US$1995 for the standard edition and US$2995 for the premium edition. Developers writing for functional safety standards such as IEC 61508 and ISO 26262 have an alternative to the ARM DS-5 certified toolchain.

Freescale 64-bit ARM

Freescale has provided information on several 64-bit ARM devices. They are under the QorIQ Layerscape products. The documentation are two page “Fact Sheets”, which describe the families. The LS2085A has 8 Cortex-A57 cores, the LS2045A has 4 Cortex-A57 cores. There is plenty of networking capability. Another family based on the Cortex-A53 includes the four core LS1043A and the two core LS1023A.

HP 3D printer

A while after the initial announcements, HP unveiled some pre-production devices at the end of October. See HP 3D printing with Multi Jet Fusion™ technology. The target market is the industrial users, not the low-cost home-user or enthusiast.

Tales from the Woods

Pine slab from raw to benchtop

Long ago, the raw slab delivered and stored against a wall before the long journey.


Various finishes were tested — two part polyurethane, varnish, Festool waxing, Tung oil with citric terpene and linseed oil, and used as a desk top with some decking wood as shelves.

There is a LED strip under the slab for the photograph.

Unfortunately, the slab was warped, and we do not have a planer that can handle such wide slabs. So, it was cut along the middle (shown standing vertically, but was cut horizontally using a Festool plunge saw and guide rail).

There is a much larger slab that I can no longer lift, so to test out the cutting, thicknessing and rejointing along the original wood patterns, the less risky route of using the smaller slab was chosen.

After some planing and thicknessing, it was jointed with Festool dominoes, oiled with the Tung oil/ citric terpene/ linseed oil mixture and became a kitchen counter top. It is almost perfectly flat, and although a bit soft, we would like to see how it lasts in a more hostile environment than an office. The office is going to be redone in Australian oak after some encouraging trials.

The rest of the kitchen is Papua New Guinean Rosewood for the counter tops and Australian oak for the drawer fronts, so the pine slab will probably be used for something else later.