Sunday, September 13, 2009

GoodFET Firmware Distribution

by Travis Goodspeed <travis at>

Until recently, the GoodFET firmware was available only by source code through subversion. While I still expect all GoodFET users to be familiar with C, Unix, Subversion, and other such things, it is a bit much to ask each user to build the MSP430 cross compiler just to use the device. To that end, I'm implementing an automated testing server and firmware distribution system. The latest firmware images are now available by HTTP, free for any client to download and test. This article describes an early incarnation of this system.

To test each target, I've begun to fill a server in Philadelphia with GoodFET boards. Ideally, I'd like one of each GoodFET model matched to one of each target, but that collection has not yet been completed. In this screenshot below, the Chipcon and SPI Flash targets are being tested.

GoodFET Testing Server

If the output contains anything different, the diff will show this and require manual intervention before an update may be published. These differences might be caused by a failed test, or they might be caused by a minor change, such as the amount of reported RAM consumption in the following screenshot.
Failing GoodFET Test

To distribute these files, the Makefile in /packaging/ checks out a fresh copy of the code from subversion, builds and installs it to all attached boards, runs every available test case, and compares the results. If--any only if--all test cases match, the resulting intel hex files will be uploaded to Clients may fetch these to update the targets, and I've added the "goodfet.bsl" client--a fork of tos-bsl-- to facilitate this upgrades.


Loadable modules will come next, along with some substantial changes to the GoodFET packet format that will allow for much larger blocks. I also hope to soon revamp MSP430 JTAG support, with support for quickly flashing 1xx and 5xx devices, as well as support for MSP430X (1xx and 4xx) devices.

As a final note, be sure to update your clients as well as your firmware. The packet format changes and other alterations might break compatibility of the new firmware with the old clients.

Friday, September 4, 2009

State of the GoodFET

by Travis Goodspeed <travis at>

GoodFET20 in Black

I shipped the last of the American GoodFET20 requests today. Please contact me if yours hasn't arrived. Orders to Europe will be sent next week, while I'm in Paris, Besançon, and Stockholm.

I'm now using the MSP430F2618 for GoodFET development, as it will run at 16MHz without a crystal. There are some bit errors on a few of these boards, owing to the accidental erasure of Info Flash by the bootloader. Until rebroadcasts are implemented, continue to construct your boards with the 1612 or 1611. The upcoming GoodFET30 will migrate the project entirely to the 2xx series, breaking compatibility with TI's firmware.

The Python clients are presently being refactored at the same time as the command structure is combined. Please contact me if you are interested in building a client for C# or Cocoa that will be easier to distribute.

Thanks to a generous EVK donation, MSP430X2 support is underway, which will allow such chips as the MSP430F5438 and the CC430 Zigbee SoC devices to be programmed. I've got the basics working, and full support for writing Flash memory ought to be ready rather soon.

I'm considering a plugin architecture that loads new modules into RAM, a GoodFET iPhone attachment, and all sorts of other crazy things. Comment with any feature requests below.