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Free Renesas RX62N Demonstration Kit


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Looks like Renesas is giving away demo kits again but with much less of an event than last year's Renesas Rulz contest.

 

I ordered mine, and it arrived about two weeks later after it was approved. They ship it next-day for free. You might stand a good chance of getting one if you use a non-"free" email address.

 

It's a pretty nice kit. It's loaded with peripherals and hardware, including a National ethernet interface and a Segger J-Link debugger, LCD display, a Micro SD slot, and more. These normally run about $100.

 

http://am.renesas.com/products/tools/introductory_evaluation_tools/renesas_demo_kits/yrdkrx62n/index.jsp

 

The kit ships from Samplecomponents.com, (aka DigiKey). If you did any of the STM Discovery promos, then you should be familiar with the site.

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For what it's worth, I have a hunch these "free" boards are mainly rejects that are missing things... only thing mine seems to be missing is the temperature sensor, a QFN part (I2C) which is missing (just a bare QFN pad with what looks like solder paste that was melted during the board's reflow but with no part on it)

 

Not bad for free though! The accelerometer is there at least.

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After reading through the first 6 chapters of that college textbook in rockets4kids' post on the 1st page, and perusing some forums (Hackaday had something on it back in 2010--http://hackaday.com/2010/11/14/renesas-rx-design-contest-110k-of-cash-and-prizes/) along with the RenesasRulz.com site here's my initial thoughts & notes:

 

1. Renesas's HEW software is being phased out, although that textbook's examples all use it Renesas came out with their own Eclipse-based software called e2studio--it was easy to install but you have to create a My Renesas acct to get it.

 

2. The GNU implementation of the compiler tools is Renesas' preferred and recommended toolset; someone on the hackaday forum said Renesas actually paid that KPIT Cummins company to port GCC over to their architectures and it produces highly optimized code. Main quirk is you actually have to "register" on the kpitgnutools.com site and get an activation code to install the GNURX tools. It's still open source software though.

 

3. The KPIT GNURX integrates with HEW if HEW is already installed, so you have to install the HEW stuff off the CD (with Renesas' native compiler) first then install GNURX. e2studio OTOH expects to find GNURX already installed.

 

4. KPIT's own version of Eclipse on their website didn't work for me; the software installed but GNURX never recognized it and it didn't somehow "detect" the presence of GNURX like Renesas' new e2studio does.

 

5. The various SFR #define's are included with each program/project, customized for the arch/etc. as needed. They are not located in a global include path like the MSP430 tools. They also seem to be oriented around struct's with enum's so they are accessed with stuff like SADC12.ADANS.EN = 1 or whatever (I just made that one up btw). I think I've recalled seeing ARM code look similar. The #define's are included in "iodefine.h" and there's a comment stating it's generated by some GNURX Project tool. Also there's an option to have the standard C library rebuilt with each project (instead of using precompiled binary library objects) in case you decide to operate with Big Endian instead of Little Endian or want to apply different optimization settings. Oh yeah, the chip can run either way too, there's a system register bit set during initial startup that selects it. Instructions themselves are little-endian but data is handled one way or the other based on that register setting.

 

6. The bus architecture looks insane, it has multiple internal & external busses with DMA for controlling a variety of peripherals direct with parallel I/O. It's got all the typical serial I/O controllers too (UART, SPI, I2C). I think the book had an example of controlling an external TFT LCD display directly using that bus interface, rather than having a dedicated LCD controller chipset. One of the external busses is designed specifically for SDRAM including the RAM refresh feature.

 

7. The external busses are only available 32-bit in the 176-pin versions of the chip. The RDK dev board comes with a 100-pin chip.

 

8. There are a variety of execution run modes, involving turning the internal flash on/off, external RAM/ROM access on/off, etc. I have the impression that this chip can be implemented like a general purpose MPU in addition to working like an MCU as we know it (with onboard flash + SRAM)

 

9. The onboard debugger is a SEGGER J-Link Lite, licensed only for use on that eval board's processor. You can't reuse it for programming external circuits like the TI LaunchPad's SBW headers. To buy your own J-Link the cheapest option is the J-Link EDU, licensed for non-commercial/hobbyist/educator use only, Mouser has it for $60 plus you need the RX adapter I think which is another $60. SEGGER's website lists $60+$30 for the set too, not sure if they're easier to purchase through. The cheapest commercial-use-licensed SEGGER J-Link is $300 FYI. I think this is a huge hit against the board (compared to TI's offerings).

 

10. The DC barrel jack on the right side of the board expects to see 5.0V going into it..... not 9V or 12V or whatever.

 

I bet this processor screams like the devil with a real RTOS installed. Sadly all of that is well over my head at the moment, but this chip CAN be used as a general purpose MCU like the ARM Cortex-M series.

Also take everything with a small grain of salt--the only program I've successfully uploaded so far is a blank project with nothing useful in main() .... I managed to upload it and see all the blinky LEDs turn off (which is what the original demo code did, ran some eval version of Micrium uC/OS-III that flashed LEDs and integrated with some Exosite.com service where you can use a web browser to twiddle with the hardware--I never got that working, might've been a firewall in the way)

 

That hackaday page's comments also drove home another point--Renesas is the largest MCU supplier in the world, so their stuff is good and taken seriously by many companies/users, but I bet a lot of the smaller dev boards are mainly sold in Japan and other Asian countries. It might take some effort to get these to catch on proper in the USA, IMO similar to what we've done on this site for the MSP430... an English-language enthusiast forum not supplied by Renesas would be cool IMO.

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