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NXP / Code Red Provides LPCXpresso Tools for Mac OS X

Sparx NXP microcontroller PCBSparx has been using the NXP LPC1343 for a couple of different projects.  It is a neat little microcontroller with USB capabilities.  I was initially hesitant on this microcontroller because of what appeared to be proprietary tools.  I generally don’t care for proprietary tools because the time and effort spent learning them does not transfer easily to other projects.  But I was happy to be wrong.  The NXP IDE is provided by Code Red Studios (LPCXpresso) and it is a lightly customized and well supported version of Eclipse.  Their modified Eclipse is close enough to stock that it lets me install the subversion plugins which makes life a lot easier for me.

I was pleasantly surprised to see them release the LPCXpresso tools for Mac OS X (10.7 Lion or later, 64 bit) at LPCXpresso for MacOSX (registration probably required).  I run a dual boot Macbook Pro for my personal machine because OS X is has been the least annoying operating system for me, Windows is required for work stuff, and there just is not room on my SSD for a triple boot to Linux.  But now that Apple / OS X / IOS walled garden policies are starting to bug me, I might go Linux / Windows in the future but that is another post.

Anyway, I decided to take the OS X version for a spin.  I installed version 4.2.4 a while back and it appears they have already released 4.3.0 for all platforms.  So how does it work?  Just like the Windows version, maybe slightly faster but that is hard to tell.  The hardware debugger works exactly like the Windows version which is pretty darn good for a $15 debugger.  The hardware debugger flakes out about one out of 20 or so sessions but that is true of both Windows and OS X.   I’ll gladly trade the minor annoyance of having to unplug and the serial wire debugger once in a while for the convenience of extremely cheap and available tools for working with microcontrollers.

I also used the tools to create and “sign” the .bin file that can be loaded via USB mass storage mode on OS X and again, they appear to work just like their windows counterpart.  Right click on the .axf file created from compilation, and use the Binary utitilites -> Create binary option to create the .bin file.  And then use the checksum tool in a terminal to add the correct signature.

The only thing I could find on the OS X version that was broken is their “open a command prompt here” function.  Works on Windows, not on OS X.  So kudos to Code Red / NXP for providing a full featured IDE to the OS X platform.  I can’t imagine there is a huge market for embedded engineers working from the OS X platform (unless you count iPhone) but it speaks well for their tools that they support all three major desktop OS’es.

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