Dedicated LiteBSD hardware
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Author:  jaromir [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

I looked at this ESP8266 project and I'm not sure whether it is OK for us.
- it uses SDIO port of Broadcomm SoC
- firmware is in binary blob ... agle_fw1.h (..fw2.h; ...fw3.h)

The ESP8266 is configured to boot from SDIO, then main SoC loads it with firmware and starts communicating via SDIO. Perhaps emulating SDIO via SPI?
There is option to boot from normal SPI, but the original firmware is probably unusable then and I'm not aware of any alternatives, in source or at least binary form.

Initially I thought of using "default" firmware in most of ESP8266 modules, acting as modem, via serial interface and AT commands - ... ndsSet.pdf . It will be sluggish slow, though - 115k2 baudrate, perhaps higher. On the other hand, it is probably the easiest way to add Wi-fi. Is this alternative possible?

Author:  vak [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Unfortunately, no: the traditional approach of using ESP8266 as an intelligent modem with AT commands is completely useless for LiteBSD. It's impossible to integrate into the BSD TCP/IP stack.

Author:  DanTheMan [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Hi All,

The ESP8266 does have another SPI interface whilst the onboard flash is connected to the SDIO port. I use one of these with a tiny 0.96 inch oled display on the spi bus and a couple of sensors on the I2C port at the same time. It works very well with custom software on the module and with a small LiIon battery it lasts around 5 hours or so on a single charge. It even generates an SVG based web page at the same time which looks rather nice. I suppose you could write a comms framework on the ESP8266 to use it as a SLIP network device in theory.

I'm waiting for the ESP32 to arrive for a new project of mine and it'd be great to see RetroBSD or LiteBSD running on it. The whole size of the module and low power means it's a great IOT platform amongst many other things. Especially since my whole experience with the 32MZ chips has been a total nightmare and I'm close to throwing in the towel with it until I can get hold of a reliable board. LiteBSD is great, the hardware is not.

My two cents anyway :)

Author:  wiz [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Hi Dan,

"The whole MZ experience has been a nighmare."

May I please ask why? I am/was considering it but don't actually have one running yet.

That said I have a few MX systems that have been running for years [ doing simple stuff ]. I don't like the "clock cap", but they to otherwise seem pretty solid [ I have observed a few unexplained things ]


Lots of fun :).


Author:  DanTheMan [ Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Hi Wiz,

My problematic experience has been with the clock source on my HMZ144 and the unreliable UART comms. The board seems to go through one or more of the following states:

1) UART garbage output whilst booting, although the proc does indeed boot up as expected.
2) UART garbage and constant rebooting.
3) UART garbage as the first few lines of output and then it stabillises, then finishes booting.
4) Boots as normal with correct output on the UART.

No matter what I try the above, especially #1, occurs 90% of the time which renders the board useless. The only thing left for me to do is attach a proper oscillator rather than use a crystal, but this then means a nasty looking mod on the board which I'm not happy with.

If it does succeed in booting up with no UART garbage then the whole system runs perfectly fine until it's power cycled. Once it's power cycled though the above #1 issue will rear it's head. If I had the option to buy myself a WiFire board I most certainly would. I've changed everything from power sources to USB UART modules to grounding the laptop and using a proper desktop. All of which have made no difference.

I hope everyone else doesn't get the issues I've experienced as they're quite disheartening and time wasting to say the least.

HTH, Dan

Author:  jaromir [ Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Serge, thanks for clarification.
I'll try to take a look at SPI mode of ESP8266, and I'll see. Even if I wouldn't find anything usbale, throwing 2USD module on board wouldn't harm anyway. I'll give it a few days, then I'm going to make feasibility study - whether the components fits the board.

Author:  Mikeloto [ Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Ok for someone like to use it for free.... mmm, it's possible hardware under BSD :)

Only one side PCB

Production Method I (In perfect spanish :) )


It was the proto we used to develop software / hardware on the pic32MZ platform

Stencils used from proto-advantatge for qfn ic's it's solder much better than LQFP on high pin numbers.

Updating the BOM from X1 model to this model.

So far on board;

LM1117 REG
CP2104 Uart USB Bridge
SD Card
CAN Transceiver
All pins exposed
ICSP pinout

Author:  jaromir [ Fri Jan 08, 2016 11:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

I feel like there is strong symbolics in this board.
The ground loops, sneaking all around the board symbolize how much we want to spread liteBSD around the world ;-)

Author:  wiz [ Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Hi Dan,

Thanks. Sounds like the problem you describe is similar to what I have found with some of my RetroBSD prototypes?

I don't stock surface mount parts very much. So a very low ESR hi value cap. is not there. Also the breadboard I am using has pretty long leads to the chip pins. I have tried various other caps from gumdrop tant. caps to multiple 0.01 and 10uf alum. cap. You gotta wonder what could possibly be going on on the chip to require such a low ESR external cap. I bet is was REAL fun for someone to figure out what it took to actually get the chip to run reliably!

As you say, once running everything seems to run OK for long periods of time. But getting it started is another problem. I keep the factory at 43deg F in the winter and one of my boards won't start without a heat gun. One sometimes doesn't start.

I was VERY glad to see no unusual cap. needed for the MZ, but it sounds like the underlying chip problem is still there?

Also, I discovered that to talk from the JTAG to the RAM a clock is needed. This is now, thank goodness, documented in the spec. sheet. But I had to discover it by experiment :(.

MANY thanks for your remarks :). I wonder if you are using the MZ...EC or the MZ...EF and if the problem you describe is extant in both chips?

There is nothing like being on the bleeding edge of technology. I wonder how the new chip with built-in DDR will turn out? DDR typically has some pretty intense current spikes!

Lots of fun :).


Author:  Mikeloto [ Sat Jan 09, 2016 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

jaromir wrote:
I feel like there is strong symbolics in this board.
The ground loops, sneaking all around the board symbolize how much we want to spread liteBSD around the world ;-)

Yap but it works perfect ;) ! And starts also nice.... and it's very easy to do this PCB.
I have one running from 3 months with mqtt sending every 5 minutes.

Author:  maresv [ Wed Jan 13, 2016 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

This is another beast.
Renesas RZ/A1 series.
ARM Cortex-A9, 400 MHz, 3~10 MB on-chip SRAM.

Author:  wiz [ Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

Hi All,

Kinda fun to watch the world figure out that big RAM is where it is at. Mostly due to lazy programming :).

Not too soon we will have 10GB RAM and 32 core 2ghz CPU just to get a login prompt!!

Whatever happened to the Dr. Dobbs idea of "Running lite without overByte." ??

How about a version of WordStar for PIC32 for openers. I wonder if those folks are around at all anymore? I would also like to see a version of Q&A for PIC32.

I think I am probably the only user of RetroForth? RetroForth IMHO puts the other small interpreters including LUA to shame.

That said, I am glad to see LUA is finally making it to PIC32 even though it is HUGE even in a small version.

Happy New Year :).

Lots of fun :).


Author:  Wavelength [ Wed May 18, 2016 3:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

New to this board, and have been working with the MZ for about a year on some USB audio projects.

I did a module for the MZ about 8 months ago but want to rework it now with EBI. The first module I did had USB device/host HS, SD card and Ethernet. I am thinking of putting external memory on a mezzanine board as async SRAM can get a little costly and would be limited as I don't like to deal with Ball Grid Parts to 4MB per unit (total capable 16MB with the 144pin MZ).

I was considering using maybe a small FPGA like a Lattice ICE40LP384 to do SDRAM instead. I used the LP384 in the past and loaded it from a MX SPI port and it worked really well. But I am not much of an FPGA programmer to do SDRAM.

Anyway I need external memory as I am going to have to port some posix code that is a requirement now from a company I do work for.


Author:  IraBurns [ Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware per my knowledge MMU is clearly needed, but I have yet to see it work. I do have an MZ...EF board, but really want to read and store what is in its flash before I start to fiddle. MZ looks like a pretty well thought out product from what I see so far. So the MZ...EF is probably good to start out with?As far as the 'try another micro' comments go, every time a new chip is announced the world nervously tries to figure out whether this is 'the' solution to their problems.

Author:  maresv [ Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dedicated LiteBSD hardware

LicheePi Zero:
Allwinner V3s SoC with the ARM Cortex A7 processor and 64MB on-chip DDR2 SDRAM. ... wdfunding/

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