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RA2L1 EVK(Ultra-Low Power 48MHz Arm® Cortex®-M23) - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 6
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 8
Product was easy to use: 1
Support materials were available: 5
The price to performance ratio was good: 5
TotalScore: 35 / 60
  • RoadTest: RA2L1 EVK(Ultra-Low Power 48MHz Arm® Cortex®-M23)
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Microchip->ATSAML10/ATSAML11 series;Nuvoton->M251/M2354/M2351 series;
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Cross compiling with KEIL-MDK-ARM without using Renesas Advanced Smart Configurator.

  • Detailed Review:

    UNBOXING:

    I would like to start with unboxing of product given for testing. It came in nice white box with two enclosures, one contains USB cable & another one with EK-RA2L1 evaluation kit as shown below in photographs:  UNBOXING OF EK-RA2L1 EVALUATION KIT

    I have referred to this document:REN_r20qs0020eg0100-ek-ra2l1-qsg_QSG_20201202.pdf. This is actually quick start guide of EK-RA2L1 evaluation kit. I started reading from Page-7. I m able to reproduce the steps mentioned in this document. The steps starts from page 8 ,ends on page 13. My video given below how i reproduced the steps:

     

     

     

     

     

    These two videos completed my first experience with EK-RA2L1 evaluation kit.

     

    Now, i have tried downloaded the Renesas Advanced Smart Configurator from this link: https://github.com/renesas/fsp/releases . I was able to download the same, but when i began to install on my windows 7 (ultimate), it gives the below error as shown below in screenshot:

     

    FAILURE TO LOAD RENASAS SMART CODE CONFIGURATOR

     

     

    This gave me huge set-back. So, therefore i decided to deduct the marks from ease of use. As this will create trouble during the course of development. I tried my best to correct this error but cannot resolve. Further, I referred to this document: r20an0598eu0112-ek-ra2l1-exampleprojects.pdf.

     

    LIST OF EXAMPLES

    LIST OF EXAMPLES 2

    This list gives me the conclusion that only some of the examples are supported in KEIL-MDK-ARM. Therefore, it will be an herculean task to develop the code which should not be the case normally, there has be to some way out to simplify the code development. Further, we can still compile some of the examples given in above list.

     

    SO LET'S START WITH KEIL-MDK-ARM...............

     

    I have gone to this path: ...\r20an0598eu0112-ek-ra2l1-exampleprojects\ek_ra2l1\agt

    KEIL EXAMPLES 1

    When i began to compile, it given me the error of missing files which should not be case as such. THESE MISSING FILE(S) can be seen on left side navigation pane under TAB-> Flex software. Therefore, i left with no choice but have to manually search for these missing file(s). Another surprise was waiting for me as shown below:

     

          DEBUG 1

    This is found to be correct & normal. But Have look on this screenshot  shown below:

     

    DEBUG 2

    THIS WILL GIVE ANY EMBEDDED SOFTWARE/HARDWARE DESIGNER -> A RUDE  SHOCK. There is no Flash Programming Algorithm file. Again, this is very critical problem which will require correction before any development can take place.

    I have tried all other examples in exactly similar fashion. They are giving me exactly similar type of errors.

     

    I sincerely think RENESAS is promoting their own cross compiler  "e2studio" which is not upto industry standards. KEIL-MDK-ARM & Segger Embedded Studio should also have been supported since these are two most commonly used in ARM based MCU development.

     

    CONCLUSION FOR CODE DEVELOPMENT: CODE LEARNING CURVE IS STEEP in case if u want to use any cross compiler other than e2studio. Again, if you want to use "e2studio" then again you have to learn new development environment to develop BSP for the same. THIS IS AGAIN HUGE SET-BACK FOR ANY EMBEDDED DEVELOPER. The code development can only be done by some expert 12 to 15 year experienced person. STRICTLY! THIS IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS.      

     

    Now, i need to have look on the hardware design methodology RENESAS has deployed to design this kit.

    To see hardware Design you have to download  "ek-ra2l1-v1-designpackage.zip" from RENESAS website.

    You can find the schematic inside this file: ek-ra2l1-v1-schematic.pdf

     

    GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS SCHEMATIC DESIGN GIVEN in ABOVE FILE:

     

    1. Schematic is well organized.

     

    2. SHEET-2 ---> 3.3V LINEAR REGULATOR -> ISL80102IRAJZ This renesas has taken over from intersil (good semiconductor brand in defence & aerospace domain)

                             TEST POINTS (PADS) FOR +5VDC,+3.3VDC,GND

                              PROTECTION DIODES D3,D5

                             Jumper_Trace_Cut --> A UNIQUE FEATURE TO DISCONNECT THE GPIO PIN from USER SWITCHES & LEDS . User can put GPIO to some other use.

                            2 USER PUSH BUTTONS --> TO CHECK GPIO INPUT

                            3 USER LEDs --> TO CHECK GPIO OUTPUT.

     

    3. SHEET-3 ---> Arduino Uno connector

     

    4. SHEET-4 ---> mikro BUS connector

     

    5. SHEET-5 ---> PMOD1/2 connector for SPI/UART

                             GROVE 1/2 & qwiic connector for I2C

                             GROVE 2 for Analog ADC Input

     

    6. SHEET-6 ---> This is very critical JTAG section

                              J13 configured as 10-pin SWD connector --> Drawback: connector is not populated & does not follow standard 100 mil pitch             

                              J20 configured as 20 -pin JTAG connector --> Drawback: connector is not populated & does not follow standard 100 mil pitch

                              J29 configured as 8-pin connector --> SWD bridge between on-board debugger & target MCU chip.

                              Good thing as that user can still access SWD connections for external debug by just opening JUMPERS on J29.

                             J14 configured as 6-pin connector --> can be used to repair JLINK firmware in case it goes bad.

                              D7 is TVS diode for protection of onboard USB port

                

    7 SHEET-7 ---> Target MCU chip section explain with GPIO ports including debug pins.

     

    8.SHEET-8 ---> EXTERNAL 20 MHz crystal connected with clock pins of Target MCU chip

                             Since Target MCU chip has RTC in-built inside due to this 32.768 KHz crystal is connected

     

    9.SHEET-9 ---> POWER SUPPLY SECTION: DECOUPLING CAPS USED FOR FILTER

                                         4.7uF INDUCTOR USED

     

    10.SHEET-10    ---> I/O HEADER SECTION: It gives the access to all I/O pins available on Target MCU chip. Drawback: I/O pin diagram does not show alternate function available.                                    

     

    NOTE: DRAWBACKS & IMPORTANT POINTS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN BOLD Font.

     

    CONCLUSION FOR HARDWARE DEVELOPMENT : This Hardware design is simple & easy to trace. Many of serial communication interface(s) have been clearly demarcated with separate connectors for each. But still Hardware Development of this kind still requires 5 to 6 year experience person.


    Update on 5/10/2021-----------------------------------------------------

    After cross compiling on Keil-MDK-ARM, going into depth & after painful searching manually all minimum file(s) required to build a startup project. This was end result , i got finally as shown in screenshot:

     

    KEIL SCREENSHOT FOR RA2L1 MCU   

    These are the DFP packs, i have used to do the above shown job:

     

    DFP Packs

    These are compiler settings, i have used to do the above job:

     

    compiler 1

     

    compiler 2 

     

    compiler 3

     

    compiler 4

     

    compiler 5

       Screenshot of Manage Run-time Environment shown below: 

    RUN TIME

    Note/caution/warning: CAREFUL SELECTION OF RENESAS-DFP VERSION NEEDS TO BE DONE. OTHERWISE SETTINGS SHOWN ABOVE WILL NOT BE VISIBLE.    

     

    Further Please! note the following points about this exercise:

    1. Above shown linker script file is already available in some pre-compiled examples. You just need to copy the same in your project folder & to give the path to linker.

    2. Left over settings (not shown) can be used as default settings.

    3. There is huge number of header file(s) required to compile the "startup_RA.c" & "system_RA.c" successfully. This is not possible to show here.

     

    VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT & CRITICAL POINT about "system_RA.c" file shown in below screenshot:

     

    system_RA.c file 

       Function shown in above screenshot  "static void bsp_reset_trng_circuit (void)" was  in-correctly written. Compiler was giving errors. 

      Therefore, i have copied this function from "system.c" file which is already available in pre-compiled examples. After that problem was solved. 

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

    COST OF TARGET MCU:  This MCU is expensive as compared to Microchip->ATSAML10/ATSAML11 series & at available at almost same cost as Nuvoton->M251/M2354/M2351 series.

                                              This can give tough competition to Nuvoton. 

     

    OVERALL CONCLUSION: EMBEDDED SOFTWARE IS NOT SIMPLE & EASY TO UNDERSTAND. HARDWARE DESIGN IS SIMPLE. BUT KIT IS NOT DESIGNED FOR STARTERS AS OF NOW.

     

    I WOULD LIKE TO WRITE MORE ABOUT EXAMPLES COMPILED ON KEIL-MDK-ARM BUT I M STILL ON LEARNING CURVE FOR HOW TO USE BSP.

    I will take some time to understand the BSP given by Renesas.

     

    LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST! I M THANKFUL TO RENESAS TEAM FOR CHOOSING ME TO TEST THE KIT. 

      

    THANKS WITH REGARDS

    NEERAJ GUPTA

       


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