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Renesas EK-RA6M3 MCU KiT - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 8
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 9
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 8
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 9
TotalScore: 52 / 60
  • RoadTest: Renesas EK-RA6M3 MCU KiT
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: STM32F723E Discovery kit
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Trying to find examples that cover the Pmod, mikroBUS, and Grove connections. Both Grove connections were i2C only and the majority of the Grove boards I have are mainly GPIO.

  • Detailed Review:

    Renesas EK-RA6M3 Evaluation Kit

     

    Overview

     

    The Renesas EK-RA6M3 Evaluation Kit is an excellent platform to both learn and to design with the Renesas RA6M3 family of MCUs. The EK-RA6M3 has a R7FA6M3AH3CFC MCU which contains a 120Mhz 32-Bit ARM Cortex-M4 Core along with 2Mb Flash, 640kB RAM and 64kB of Data Flash. On board development options for the EK-RA6M3 include Renesas E2/E3 Lite and SEGGER J-Link for Debugging and Renesas PG-FP6, SEGGER J-Link and Third Party options. Some of the target applications for the RA6M3 are High Speed USB and Wired Ethernet, Security (Fire Detection, Burglar Detection), Industry (Robotics, Door Openers, Sewing Machines), HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning, Boiler Control) and so on.



    On-board options include:

    • Wired Ethernet
    • USB (Debug, Full Speed, High Speed)
    • 3 User LEDs (red, blue, green)
    • Power LED (white)
    • Debug LED (yellow)
    • Two user buttons
    • One Reset button.

    Expansion options

    • MikroElektronika mikroBUS connector
    • Two SeeedGrove system (I2C) connectors
    • Two Digilent Pmod (SPI and UART connections)
    • Arduino (UNO R3) connector

     

    IDE Options

    • Renesas e2 Studio (Via FSP)
    • IAR EWARM, and Keil MDK

     

    Kit Contents

    • EK-RA6M3 Evaluation Board
    • Micro USB device cable (type-A male to micro-B male)
    • Micro USB host cable (type-A female to micro-B male)Ethernet cable
    • Card with suggested links

     

    References

    • EK-RA6M3 Product Page

    https://www.renesas.com/sg/en/products/software-tools/boards-and-kits/eval-kits/ek-ra6m3.html

    • RA6M3 MCU Overview

    https://www.renesas.com/sg/en/www/img/misc/catalogs/pdf/r01pf0183ej0200-ra6m3.pdf

    • EK-RA6M3G Example Project Overview

    https://www.renesas.com/us/en/software/D6004318.html

    • Kit examples

    https://www.renesas.com/us/en/doc/application-note/r20an0560eu0100-ek-ra6m3-ex-proj.pdf

    • e2 Studio

    https://www.renesas.com/us/en/products/software-tools/tools/ide/e2studio.html

    https://github.com/renesas/ra-fsp-examples

    Overview Video


    Getting Started

     

    Flexible Software Package (FSP) / e2 Studio install

    After an initial install of the e2 Studio IDE, it was then discovered that the EK-RA6M3 eval kit required the installation of the Renesas Flexible Software Package (FSP) which includes the e2 Studio IDE.  The FSP includes HAL drivers, a configuator and code generator, application support for RTOS and non-RTOS environments, FreeRTOS support, and many other features.

      The version that was used when starting the RoadTest was v0.8.0 and then upgraded to v1.1.0, but the most recent at the time of this wring is v1.1.1.

    https://www.renesas.com/sg/en/products/software-tools/software-os-middleware-driver/software-package/ra-fsp.html?cid=tlb…

     

     

      FSP Installation

      1. Download the latest FSP for the Renesas RA MCU family from:

    https://github.com/renesas/fsp/releases

     

      2. Run the installer.  The following Pop-up window will appear. Select Yes

     

      3. Select an Install Type.  Quick install was used in this example

     

      4. A window showing the summary of the install will appear.

     

      5.  The install directory can be changed.

           Ex:

     

      6. Once set, select next:

     

      7. Accept the license terms and click Install

     

     

      8.  A progress window will appear

     

      9. If successful, a window similar to the following will appear.

     

      10. the e2 Studio IDE should launch

     

     

      11. Select a workspace

     

      12.  Enable logging report if needed

     

      13. The Welcome screen will appear if the e2 Studio IDE opens successfully.

     

    Create a new project

     

      1. From the main menu. select File -> RA C/C++ Project

     

      2. Select a RA C/C++ Project Template

        Renesas RA C Executable Project was used in this instance

     

      3. Select a Project Name a location for the project

     

     

        4.  Set the board type and device type.  The toolchain version can be selected as well.

     

      5. Select a type of project

          Bare Metal - Minimal was used in this example

     

      6. Open Associated Perspective

     

      7. When the project opens, the Project Explorer, Summary, and Pin configuration is visible.

     

    QuickStart example:

    The EK-RA6M3 QuickStart example can be downloaded from the FSP example projects..

    https://github.com/renesas/ra-fsp-examples/tree/master/example_projects/ek_ra6m3

     

    https://github.com/renesas/ra-fsp-examples/tree/master/example_projects/ek_ra6m3/downloadable/quickstart

     

      1. Download and extract the quickstart_ek_ra6m3.zip project

     

      2. From e2 Studio, click File and then Import to import the QuickStart project.

     

     

      3. Select Existing Projects into Workspace

     

      4. Browse to the quickstart_ek_ra6m3 folder.

     

      5. The should show in the Import Projects window. Select Finish to import the project

     

      6. The QuickStart project should appear in the Project Explorer window

     

    Edit Configuration Settings

     

      1. Double Click the configuration.xml file to open the RA Configuration.

     

      2. Click the Stacks tab and then "g_adc ADC Driver on r_adc" block.

     

      3. Change Parameter Checking to "Enabled"

     

      4. Click Generate content at the top of the Stacks Configuration Window

     

     

      5. Build the project and ensure the build completed successfully

      Video of the out-of-box example running

      

     

    Debug QuickStart project

     

    1. Connect the EK-RA6M3 to the computer via the USB Debug connection

     

      2. Start the debug session as Renesas GDB Hardware Debugging

     

      3. First time may result in a Firmware upgrade window

     

     

      4. Click Yes when the Confirm Perspective Switch window pops up

     

      5. The debug session should open

     

      6. Click resume to start the debug

        NOTE: This may need to be done twice.

     

      7. Once the code is loaded and running, the "Running" indicator should appear.

     

      8.  When the QuickStart program runs, the LED1, LED2, LED3 should blink, and SW1 controls the blink rate and SW2 controls the brightness of the LEDs

     

       Video of QuickStart Debug session

     

     

     

    SPI Example

     

    To demonstrate the FSP SPI API, the spi_ek_ra6m3_ep demo example was used.

     

      1. Download, unzip and import the project into e2 Studio.
      2. It may be necessary to change the FSP version.  Is so, double click the ‘configuration.xml’ file and the ‘BSP’ tab to change the FSP version.
          NOTE: The FSP version was updated to v1.1.0 at this point.
      3. Click “Generate Project Content’ in the upper left corner of the BSP Configuration window
      4. Right click on the project and Select Index->Rebuild to rebuild the index

      5. Build the project and connect the RA6M3 Eval Kit via the Debug port

          NOTE: Ensure the following connections have been made on the board as per the README file.

             Pin Connection for EK-RA6M3

    MISO ----> P410 - P202


    MOSI ----> P411 - P203


    RSPCK ----> P412 – P204

     

     

      6. Start a debug session with the SPI code

      7. To interact with the SPI demo, download and install the Segger JlinkRTTViewer to view the output.
      8. Launch Segger JlinkRRTViewer and specify the Target Device as R7FA6M3AH

     

      9. If successful, a J-Link RTT Viewer window should appear with the main menu of the SPI Demo

          There are 3 options: "Write and Read, WriteRead, or exit.

     

      10. Enter some text in the blank text box and click Enter to see it appear on the other end.

     

      11. Click on tab Terminal 0 to see if the value was transmitted

     

    Summary

     

      The Renesas EK-RA6M3 Evaluation Kit is a great board for getting acquainted with the Renesas RA family of MCUs.  The board has many options, many which were not covered in this RoadTest.   Renesas does a good job of providing examples that can be used with the kit, but more time would be needed to modify these for other uses.  It would have been nice to have a Digital option on the Grove Connections rather than i2C only though.  The intention is keep working with the EK-RA6M3 and associated software to further my familiarity of the uses of the kit.


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