OpenBLT 1.8.0 release notes

OpenBLT version 1.8.0 was officially released today, after another half year of development work. 21 tickets were processed, which resulted in 35 commits. Feel free to download the new version of the OpenBLT bootloader and give it a try. This release is on track with the standard release cycle. This article describes in more details what you can expect from the new OpenBLT release.

By now the OpenBLT bootloader has reached a high level of maturity and with that in mind, the development efforts for this release were primarily focused on stability. As such, no major new functionality was added. Instead, existing functionality was extended. The following sections provide an overview of the major changes and improvements that were made.

Demo programs

In the past year, requests for the STM32F7 microcontroller increased quite a bit. It seems that a large number of companies select a microcontroller from the STM32F7 family as the foundation for their Internet enabled product. The existing demo programs for the Nucleo-F746ZG board did not yet support firmware updates via TCP/IP. Instead of just adding this support, new demo programs were added for the Nucleo-F767ZI board, with support for firmware updates via TCP/IP and RS232.

The NXP HCS12 microcontroller family, formerly known as Freescale, is already rather old. However, it is still quite popular and picked quite often as a foundation for new products, especially in the automotive industry. Demo programs for the Dragon12-Plus board from EVBplus were already included. However, this one is based on an older flash memory architecture. Newer HCS12 microcontrollers include ECC flash. A driver for this (flash_ecc.c) was already present in the HCS12 port itself, but not yet featured in demo programs. For this reason demo programs for the NXP DevKit-S12G128 board were added.

The demo programs for the Infineon XMC470 Relax Kit already supported firmware updates via RS232, CAN and TCP/IP. The board also features an SD-card slot. Utilizing this, the demo programs were updated to additionally support firmware updates from an S-record firmware file, stored on the locally attached FAT32 formatted SD-card.

Templates

For the past few years, Feaser has been fully dedicated to providing professional services around the OpenBLT bootloader and plans to do so in the foreseeable future. If you are in need of a bootloader for your microcontroller based embedded system, no matter how crazy, Feaser can assist. An estimated 90% of Feaser’s customers is quite happy with the base functionality offered by the OpenBLT bootloader. They just need a little assistance with getting demo programs running on their custom hardware and / or porting the bootloader to a microcontroller family that is not yet supported. Feaser is more than happy to offer assistance here. Nevertheless, it made me think that perhaps there is something missing that would make it easier to develop new microcontroller ports and new demo programs.

For this reason templates were develop. Based on these templates, it should be a lot easier and faster to develop new ports and demos. I’ve been using these myself for client projects and I can confirm that there are noticeable time savings when creating new demo programs and microcontroller ports.

The new microcontroller port template contains comments tagged with “TODO ##Port”. Look for these tags for instructions and background information on what exactly needs to be implemented. The new demo programs template contains comments tagged with “TODO ##Boot” and “TODO ##Prog”, with details on what needs to be implemented for the demo bootloader and demo user program, respectively.

Vector CAN interfaces

On the host side, LibOpenBLT and therefore also MicroBoot and BootCommander, already supported several popular CAN-USB PC interfaces. For example the Peak PCAN-USB and the Kvaser LeafLightV2. The new version of OpenBLT now features support for the CAN interfaces from Vector. Basically all the Vector CAN interfaces that are supported by the Vector XL Driver Library can now be used to perform firmware updates via CAN.

Wrap-up

Although my personal wish list for the OpenBLT bootloader is still rather large and ever growing, I am quite happy with the current state of the OpenBLT bootloader. Planning for the next version is already in progress. Feel free to contact me with your wish list of functionality that you would like to see in a future version of the OpenBLT bootloader.

Interest and popularity for the OpenBLT bootloader is continuously increasing and I would like to thank all users for believing in this project. Both my company Feaser and myself are fully dedicated to making this project a long term success.

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