Getting started with LoRa(WAN)

Tags: Embedded, Network, Wireless

It seems that LoRa(WAN) in general tends to be quite a source of confusion for those starting out with this technology. For starters, there is the difference between LoRa and LoRaWAN that are absolutely fundamental but often these terms are used interchangeably. In addition, there are many different starter kits and devices out there that are not necessarily compatible with each other. The need to build up a gateway network alongside building actual communicating devices doesn’t really help to make this all straight forward. Hopefully this text can help clear some of the confusion and get people to build both infrastructure and things (pun intended) on top of this promising network technology.

Slightly Smaller Still...

Tags: ARM, Electronics, Tracker

...and with even more features than before. 

Matchbox 2017

Some Thoughts on Securing IoT Devices

Tags: Cryptography, Embedded, Programming, Security

Security in the Internet of Things (IoT) leaves much to be desired. Some of the recent DDoS attacks such as those through Mirai on DNS provider Dyn or on popular security site KrebsonSecurity have been possible due to weak security measures in things like network connected cameras. There are many reasons why the situation is what it is today, but that will not be the topic of this entry. While we have seen some initiatives, notably the security guidelines (PDF) by NIST and some comments made by Bruce Schneier, I feel that this leaves a lot of people wondering what practical measures to take to secure their devices. Many companies in the IoT are start-ups lacking a proper understanding of what security in the embedded field entails, and might lack (or didn't plan for) the budget to hire dedicated security people. The goal of this blog entry are to (hopefully) lift the veil on some of the methodologies that should be employed to create more secure IoT systems from a very practical point of view.

IOT

Standard Peripherals Library vs CMSIS vs HAL vs Low Level Library

Tags: ARM, C, Electronics, Embedded, Programming

The STM32 line of microcontrollers offer a bunch of features in a nice package at reasonable cost, something I like. What I don't like as much are the development libraries around it provided by ST. For this reason, most of the time I stick to writing code using the 'Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard' (CMSIS) and the datasheet, and this works nicely but can be slow to develop. While it's still my personal favorite, I recently checked out the other options to see where things are going to do the prep work for some ports of older projects built using the 'Standard Peripherals Library' to newer processors such as the STM32L4.

 

Microcontroller

 

Anyone Can Code...

Tags: Other, Programming

Every time I hear the "everybody can code" line...

Anyone Can Code

Flashing STM32L15X EEPROM with STLink under Linux

Tags: Embedded, Linux, Programming

For a while now I've been evaluating some 32-bit micro controllers for a future product. One of them was the STM32L15x series. There are some handy development boards available such as the Nucleo boards. Since we need to have the ability to program processors from Linux for our small production line, tool support is one of the checkboxes that need to be ticked.

For the STM32 series, flashing the microcontroller can be done through GDB, OpenOCD, and the STLink tool. One issue that arose however was the need to program the EEPROM available on the STM32L series. This requirement comes from need to generate and program different EEPROM content on a per board basis at the production line. Doing that requires a few tweaks that are documented below...

Solutions

 

On Processes and Threads

Tags: C, Computer Architecture, Linux, Programming

Some time ago I followed an interesting discussion on a board where people were discussing multi-core software development. During the course of the discussion it became apparent that there is a lot of confusion and misconceptions about a 'process' and a 'thread' as they exist on e.g., a Linux system. Both are applicable to make use of multi-core systems, but they do so in different ways. Even though the exact distinction while compared to early definitions of the terms has perhaps become somewhat blurred, the two remain separate entities which can complement each other perfectly. In this post I'm going to try and illustrate the similarities and differences, and show you some real life scenarios of both. Keep in mind that we will be making some generalizations - and there are lots of examples where these generalizations do not directly apply, or where there are other possible implementations of the cited examples. Going into these would turn this blog entry into an entire book...

Multiprocess

New Horizons for Embedded

Tags: Computer, Embedded, Programming, School

Well, maybe not that new - but definitely something that is getting more and more important. 

The embedded development toolbox is rapidly expanding, and it is becoming harder and harder to find people skilled in these tools. Starting from the university, 'embedded' is considered hard and not as 'cool' as traditional software development. Why spend hours hacking away and reading datasheet to get to blink a LED and send 'hello world' over a UART when you could build rich graphical programs with web technologies or mobile? The fact that embedded development requires a wide skill set going from electronics, process control, signal processing to software, to Matlab means that substantial time is required to form a good base on which to build the required specialized skill sets. Not many people are willing to do that. 

Web Proxy

Tags: Network, Security

We just launched a free web proxy service: https://www.unblock-everything.com/. Not only will it help you get around firewalls and sites blocked by your ISP, it does so without logging user data. Oh, and we're 'Not Subject to American Law' - in reference to the recent NSA surveillance debacle ;-)

 

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