Building the MCU Board

The concept of a flexible and scalable system is a usual requirement for many applications. We initially started this flexibility by integrating MCUs with FPGAs on the same board. These created the initial Perseus Family Platform boards that we used for the development of applications.

Later on, during the MARI-Sense project, it was evident that the form factor should be more compact while features should be more selectable. In that spirit, we created the TileCubeTM System. Toward implementation of the platform, we designed boards for a complete hydrophone system, including microcontroller boards, FPGAs, and analog front-ends.

Due to component shortages, we were forced to design and use existing parts that we had in stock for the boards. Some boards are already designed with higher-performance microcontrollers waiting to have the new parts in hand. The flexibility of the system allows using different MCU boards in a backward-compatible manner.

The first board of the Tile System is the microcontroller. This version is based on Coldfire MCF52258.

CAD Model of TileMCU_CF

Soon the boards arrived to our lab and we started the board bring-up process and testing.

Actual TileMCU_CF Sample

We confirmed the firmware configuration changes to support the new I/O assignment and installed COFILOS to test the system. Soon we had a system working with serial communications, command line interface (CLI), etc.

First Light (Blinking) of Firmware

Next steps were to verify the SDCard interface and we tried the first time the Digilent Digital Discovery tool for capturing SPI data.

SDCard SPI Checks

Finally, we confirmed the proper operation of the SDCard and through the CLI we sneaked into the first sector of the device.

SDCard First Sector

Initially, the same board was designed with another microcontroller in mind, but due to component shortages, we had to re-spin the board with Coldfire. It was a fast race to quickly redesign the board, build it and make it work, within our deadlines. This gave us the motivation to complete the rest of the boards with the same speed, so we can see the full system ready and explore the potential of the system.

If you are interested in this platform feel free to contact us.