Boot loader woes.


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Thread: Boot loader woes.26 days old

  1. #1
    Junior Member moonshadow's Avatar
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    Default Boot loader woes.

    For a boot loader to work a number of conditions must be met, all at the same time. My attempt does not work so I have obviously got something wrong. I thought it might be revealling to list what I have tried and why, in the hope that it might help others. There are basically six things that need to be right for things to work ....

    The command line in the Microcode GUI, which redirects the path too the DS30 in my case.
    THe DS30 software has to work.
    THe download cable has to work
    The target board connections have to be correct.
    THe target microcontroller has to have the bootloader programmed with the correct parameters.
    No other circuits should be connected to RC6 and RC7 on the pic..

    IF there are no violent objections I would like to deal with each of these points separately, I would appreciate it if comments are left until I get this out of my system. THank you.

    MY reference for the command line data came from an original DS30 instruction and seven years ago it worked. THings that can go wrong are incorrect port numbers for the download cable and the wrong baud rate. The COM port assigned to a specific cable on a specific computer can be found by going to Windows system ..... Control Panel ..... Hardware and sound .... Device Manager. Hen plug in thr Download cable and unplug it to see what COM port appears for that cable. THen put a label on the cable marked with the COm port and the identity of the computer. This is because if you plug the same cable into another computer the COM port assigned to it will probably be different.

    I have always used a baudrate of 115,200 and never had any problems.

    Next I will cover the DS30.

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  3. #2
    Junior Member moonshadow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    MY DS30 experiences. WHen it works .... it works fine but is a bit complicated for a small child and the Microcode bootloader more transparent and demanding.

    Things that can go wrong ...

    I picked a chip that wasn't covered by the DS30, at the time, but with help from the autjor we eventually got it working.

    F the target board is not powered during a download, the bootloader search is bypassed and the DOS screen closes giving no time to see any warnings.

    IF the download cable is not plugged in, the bootloader search is bypassed and the DOS screen closes giving no time to sany warning messages..

    IF something else goes wrong the download gets terminated with no 8ndication that it has failed.

    IF in the settings box the cable is not plugged it will obviously not find it. ONe the had to exit the box and then re-enter it for it to be detected. This is from notes I made seven years ago on my workshop website.

    THese are the failure conditions I am looking at right now, but the other problems external to the DS may be causing them.

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  5. #3
    Junior Member moonshadow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    Download cables. IN the early days I had a lot of problems with CA42 download cables which turned out to be bad drivers. IT was a pity because they cost less than a pound each. EVentually I found a driver that did work and every cable bought worked OK. SEven years later I had moved from XP to Windows 10 and all my cables stopped working again. I did find a driver fix for Windows 10 and it seems to work, when I test them on a terminal program using 'loop back'. ONe simply shorts the end TX and RX connections and anything typed on the terminal gets echoed back to the terminal program and appears on the screen. I have recently made up a dozen different makes of CA42 download cables and they all pass the loop back test, so I can only hope that both the cables and the driver fix works. THe CA42 cable is basically a USB to TTL cable intended for NOKIA MOBILE PHONES and I use them at 115200 baud.

    One thing that can go wrong is the connections to the target board PIC on pins RC6 and RC7. The TX output of the cable has to be connected to the RX input of the PIC, which is obvious with hindsight.

    One alarming thing is if the target board is un-powered the download cable will partially power the board. MOre recently I have realised that the MAX RS 232 chip specified in the manual inverts the TX and RX signals. I do not think that the CA42 does invert but some other download cables do, ie those used with Picaxe. I have tried inverting the CA42 signals with no joy but as I said before EVERYTHING has to be right in order for the bootlaoder to work.

    Another aspect is that a lot of download cables have 3.3 volt outputs while my Pic's are 5 VOLTS.. All I can say about this is that seven years ago they always worked an no download cable has ever failed the loop back test. THe danger being one really ought drop the output signal voltage output of the PIC down to 3.3 volts with a series resistor that will form a voltage divider with the cables 10K ohm input pull down resistor. In the CA42 cable there is a 100 ohm series input current limiting resistor.

    Is my problem a cable problem ..... I simply do not know.

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    Junior Member moonshadow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    Target board download cable connections. Cable RX goes to PIC TX and Cable TX goes to PIc RX.

    Seven years ago polarity inversion was not required when using the 18F25k22. I did note that on earlier boards I had used a MAX232 with the 16F877 and that also worked. I also realise that the loop back test on ANY cable will work regardless of the signal polarity, because for any given cable Rx and Tx will be the same polarity. One only comes unstuck when appyling them to the PIC. So I have not ruled out signal polarity yet.

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    Prolific Poster towlerg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    I realize that you are used to using a bootloader but I'm curious as to why. I've always used a PicKit2/3 and latterly NSD, super quick and reliable, I just don't see that point, can you or anyone enlighten me?
    George.

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    Junior Member Dave Purola's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    George, I personally use a boot loader on most all of my projects, even on my bench work as it elevates the use of a Pickit 3 or Pickit4 or ICD3 to be used every time new code updates are required. They are used only once during the initial flash of the boot loader. When using low pin count devices with on board USART's a simple boot command is all that is needed for the Boot Loader to respond. That free's up the reset pin to be used as an input as well. It allows the use of a Blue Tooth interface for the Boot Load process as well. Quite convenient when the product is all assembled.
    Last edited by Dave Purola; 24th May 2019 at 13:21.

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    Junior Member moonshadow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    SInce I started investigating my problem have changed from the 18F25K22 back to the 16F886 and 16F877. I have made up two 'basic bare board PCB's with ZIF sockets to make fault finding simpler.

    Somehow I have missed something very simple and basic. Happy Friday ......

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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    Hi George,

    THank you for your reply. The project is aimed at small children, not adults. The target cost of a complete outfit for a child was 10 a bootloader cable cost less than a pound against 10 for a Pickit. IT is also a seamless and transparent way of doing things. One has to remember that the child does all it's learning using his rig and will make many program mistakes which need to be rectified, so it needs to be quick, simple and not need a life times experience to know how to do it. THe Microcode loader is the simple solution . SImply press the reset button and it all happens. No crap about hex, files, families, write, verify and meaningless reams of code. The child can live without all that.

    MY problem is that what I have done recently does not work and I have not yet worked out why.

    I think I ought to say that Crownhill did a marvellous job with Proton and that is the only reason it is possible to teach a child of four how to write working programs. ON the kids course they can start to program without learning a single command, because they not only understand the words used but they can also handle Boolean operators such as AND and OR. With this approach it takes ten minutes to teach anyone to write a working program. Another big advantage is the defaults set in Proton, which means you can leave out everything except the device type and xtal frequency and the program will can still work. I think even Crownhill may not know what a terrific educational tool they have. No knowledge of electronics is required, but they sure learn a lot very quickly ...... providing one keeps things simple and Proton with a bootloader can do that. Francis K.

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    Senior Member tumbleweed's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    As long as you're using a USB-TTL adapter like the CA42 you do not need to invert any of the signals, just connect TX->RX and RX<-TX (and GND of course).

    You shouldn't connect anything with a MAX232 to a TTL-level adapter/circuit. Bad things will happen with the negative voltage out of the MAX232 TXD. If you have one MAX232 on either end then you need 2 of them.

    Did you ever try the Microcode loader hex file I posted in your other thread?

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    Junior Member moonshadow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boot loader woes.

    Thank you Tumbleweed for putting my mind at rest about the signal inversion question. The MAX 232's were a relic of the past and I no longer use them. The circuit I did use was the one in the manual and they did work Ok. I am still confused as to why the CA42 cables worked, unless they too inverted the signals in the same way. WHen I get something working I will scope it to find out..

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