Today I think I will make a few introductory responses to get things started. For now, the subject will be the ongoing work I am doing in embedded software development. The task I am focusing on going back couple of months has proven to be challenging and interesting. The client has a “legacy” products build around older microcontroller technology: the motor controller circuit board has been designed around 1990 or the late 80’s, and is situated across the Motorola 68000 (68k) CPU.
When I first noticed the board I was nearly in a state of surprise: I don’t remember the last time I was involved in a project where the circuit board did not utilize surface attach components! The ones are supposed by me you need to erase with the UV light thingy! If you know anything at all about the Motorola processors, you may recognize that the 68k processor was cutting edge technology back the Reagan years. This was a powerful micro for it’s time: it’s the CPU that found its way to the first Macintosh, many arcade video gaming, a few UNIX workstations, and embedded applications even.
The 68k has been outdated (however, not forgotten) for a long period now, and as a microcontroller for embedded applications, the 68k is – not really a microcontroller in the sense which i typically think of one. The 68k, being “only” a CPU, still takes a fair quantity of other built-in circuits to make it useful. Nowadays, its all about integration and even the lowliest Microchip PIC has a good bit of peripheral devices (timers, IO slots, etc) not forgetting RAM and Flash ROM integrated into the bundle.
The 68k was nonetheless a favorite choice for inserted applications in its time. So much so that Motorola developed an comprehensive product line specific to embedded application, giving rise to the CPU32 family of controllers (but even those have been obsoleted in favour or newer technology like the PowerPC architecture). Often main jobs on these types of jobs is get the software development environment and tools working.
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On this project we curently have some “working” code (more on that later), therefore i can compile the previously released construction of their code hopefully, and then (is it possible to believe this part?): load the code to EPROMs! After all real EPROMs with the little glass window thingy on the top where you can see to the chip! In any case if the compiler is setup and working then your code will compile and hyperlink properly, and I will have a fresh firmware image available to weight then. So now I’ve now found myself warped back again to the ICE age (in-circuit-emulator age that is!).
ROM monitor in order to debug the software with the Xray debugger. I then found out that the company was no more in the development tools business – Grammar Engine got discontinued operations and essentially got opened a new business developing various other kind of electronic product. Anyway, the fellow that were accountable for the Grammar Engine product support acquired continued in the product engineer role at the new company. This fellow Arvind that I spoke to was very courteous in handling my call, and offered what assistance he could.