Serial port JTAG programmer

If you’re planning to do some hacking with CPLD or FPGA chips you’ll need a way to program them. JTAG is one of the options and here’s a cheap method that uses the serial port (translated).

This method requires only four signals (TDI, TMS, TCK and TDO) plus ground. But the problem is that an RS232 serial port operates with 12V logic levels and the JTAG side of the programmer needs to operate with the logic levels native to the device you’re programming. Commercial programmers use a level convert IC to take care of this for you, but that doesn’t mesh with the cheap goal of this project. Instead, [Nicholas] uses Zener diodes and voltage dividers to make the conversion. There is also an LED for each data signal to give some feedback if you’re having trouble.

You can use this along with a programming application that [Nicholas] whipped up using Visual Studio. It works well via the serial port, but he did try programming with a USB-to-Serial dongle. He found that this method slows the process down to an unbearable 5-minutes. Take a look, maybe you can help to get that sloth-like programming up to a manageable speed.

[Thanks Alex]

Versaloon ported to STM8 and STM32 discovery boards

[Bingo] did some work porting Versaloon for STM8 and STM32 discovery boards. Versaloon is a multiple-architecture programmer that we saw a few weeks back. At its center is an STM32 microprocessor, which greatly simplifies the work necessary to use the two discovery boards instead. Flashing the firmware to the boards will zap the ST-link firmware and [Bingo] doesn’t know of a way to restore that so be warned. This hack is still pretty fresh off the bench, but so far it looks like vsprog and OpenOCD both work just fine with the new hardware.

Versaloon can program hardware from several manufacturers

Versaloon is an open source, USB connected project, that centers around an STM32 processor and provides a standard JTAG pinout. Above you see the Nano version which has a 10-pin JTAG connector, but there is also a 20-pin option on the Handy model. Great, another JTAG programmer. Well this can do a bit more than that. With a bit of help from the software it has been turned into a programmer for ten different types of hardware. Obviously this should be able to program anything that works with the JTAG protocol, but the script adapts it to work as an In System (or In Circuit) Programmer too. So far the list of programming targets includes STM32, LPC1000, LPC900, STM8, AR8, MSP430, and a few others.

We had some trouble finding an actual picture of this hardware. If you’ve got one, snap a picture and leave a link to it in the comments along with your thoughts on the device.

[Thanks Geekabit]

Revive a DockStar and get so much more

[Firestorm_v1] has done a fabulous writeup on not only resurrecting his dead DockStar with JTAG, but also includes some handy techniques and useful information that could be used with other hardware and JTAG equipped devices.

The tutorial itself goes into the details of finding the JTAG, correctly identifying the ports and making an adapter cable. Then wiring a TIAO Parallel JTAG kit and finally the flash and upload of firmware to the deceased Dockstar to give it new life.

While the fun stops a little short, we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for [Firestorm_v1's] future plans involving these surprisingly useful (read: hackable) storage devices, “roving USB camera with WiFi” we hear?

JTAG programming over a network

[Matt Evans] was running up against the common programming gotcha caused by disappearing parallel ports. For years he had used a JTAG parallel cable when working with FPGAs but recently realized he no longer owned any machines with that interface available. Instead of shelling out $50 for a USB programmer he a programming interface from an old router.What he’s doing is bit-banging using Linux. In this case it’s a router running a version of Linux which makes his setup Internet friendly but this could be done in the same basic manner on any Linux device with enough available I/O to connect to the device you are programming.

freeBOOT gives the Xbox 360 JTAG hack new life

xbox360-freeBOOT-exploit

There has been another development in the never-ending battle that is Microsoft trying to keep its gaming system closed to unauthorized use. Xbox-scene reports that a new hack called freeBOOT v0.01 allows the Xbox 360 to upgrade to the newer kernels, but allows the option of rebooting to an older kernel in order use the JTAG exploit and gain access to the hardware.

In case you missed it, the JTAG hack is a way to run homebrew code on an Xbox 360. Exploiting this hack makes it possible to boot a Linux kernel in about five seconds. We’ve long been fans of the homebrew work done with XBMC on the original Xbox and hope that advances like this will lead to that end. We want this because the older hardware cannot handle high definition content at full resolution but the Xbox 360 certainly can.

This exploit is still far from perfect. It currently requires that the Cygnos360 mod chip be installed on the system. A resistor also needs to be removed from the board to prevent accidental kernel updating. That being said, this is still progress. If you’re interested in step-by-step details, take a look at the text file instructions provided.

[Thanks wdfowty]

Parts: Unboxing the Bus Pirate

bp-unbox-3

For months we’ve used our Bus Pirate universal serial interface tool to demonstrate electronics parts, so it’s only appropriate that the Bus Pirate get it’s own parts post. We recently had a Bus Pirate preorder, and today we received the pre-production Bus Pirate prototype from Seeed Studio. This prototype was mailed just a few days before preorder 1 started to ship, so those packages should start arriving any day.

Follow along as we unbox the prototype Bus Pirate, and connect it to a debugger to determine the PIC24FJ64GA002-I/SO revision that shipped with this board. Use this post to share your own Bus Pirate unboxing experience. Pictures and discussion after the break.

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