Program BigClown Firmware Tool

The program BigClown Firmware Tool (bcf) simplifies the firmware workflow.

This tool allows to:

  • Manipulate with firmware packages:

    • Update package database (bcf update)

    • Listing from package database (bcf list)

    • Search in package database (bcf search)

    • Download package for offline use (bcf pull)

  • Upload firmware (bcf flash)

  • Create empty project for firmware development (bcf create)

We will show the individual operations in the following chapters.

The bcf tool has a built-in help system. You can see the basic list of commands by using bcf help:

usage: bcf [-h] [-v] COMMAND ...

BigClown Firmware Tool

positional arguments:
    update       update list of available firmware
    list         list firmware
    flash        flash firmware
    devices      show devices
    search       search in firmware names and descriptions
    pull         pull firmware to cache
    clean        clean cache
    create       create new firmware
    read         download firmware to file
    help         show help

optional arguments:
  -h, --help     show this help message and exit
  -v, --version  show program's version number and exit

Detailed usage of a given command using e.g. bcf help flash:

usage: bcf flash
       bcf flash <firmware>
       bcf flash <file>
       bcf flash <url>

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --device {/dev/ttyUSB0}
  --dfu                 use dfu mode

Firmware Package Listing

Use this command to update the list of available firmware packages:

bcf update

Use this command to list the available firmware packages:

bcf list

Example output:


Use this command to list all the versions of the available firmware packages:

bcf list --all

Use this command to search in the available packages (in their title and description):

bcf search <searched term>

Firmware Upload

There are two bootloaders in MCU ROM:

  • DFU - in case of USB device in MCU is used (e.g. for Core Module R1.3)

  • UART - in case of USB-UART chip device is used (e.g. for Radio Dongle or Core Module R2.x)

Firmware upload can be done using the bcf flash command. The firmware can be obtained from 3 different sources:

  1. Source firmware package, for instance:

    bcf flash bigclownlabs/bcf-radio-push-button:latest
  2. Source local disk file, for instance:

    bcf flash firmware.bin
  3. Source file from the specified URL, for instance:

    bcf flash

You can list the USB UART devices connected to your host using this command:

bcf devices

...and then use the device from the list altogether with the --device parameter, e.g.:

bcf flash --device /dev/ttyUSB0 bigclownlabs/bcf-gateway-usb-dongle:latest

this way the bcf will not ask you which serial port to use every time.

Firmware Package Cache

If the firmware does not exist in the local cache, it is download first with the first bcf flash command.

Also, if you need to download the firmware package and work with it later offline, you can download it using the bcf pull command, for instance:

bcf pull bigclownlabs/bcf-gateway-usb-dongle:latest

If you want to clean the cache of the firmware package list and all the downloaded packages, use this command:

bcf clean

Create Blank Firmware Project

  1. Go to the directory where you want to create a firmware directory.

  2. Run the following command:

    bcf create <firmware-name>
  3. The bcf program cloned the basic firmware skeleton, which is ready to build immediately (see description below).

Build Firmware

Firmware build is done using the traditional traditional build system GNU Make, which follows the recipe given in the file Makefile (found in the firmware root directory).

There are 2 target configurations to build the firmware:

  • debug

    This configuration is implicit and is suitable for firmware development. The built-in firmware is ready for debugging.

  • release

    This configuration is suitable for final deployment. It has build some optimizations turned on and is not suitable for firmware debugging due to these optimizations. The resulting program in this configuration can run faster and show lower power consumption than the one in debug configuration.

You can build the firmware by following these steps:

  1. Go to the firmware directory you want to build.

  2. Run the build command:

  3. Upon successful completion of the build process, you will receive a similar listing at the end:

    Linking object files...
    Size of sections:
       text    data     bss     dec     hex filename
      74332    2776    7328   84436   149d4 out/debug/firmware.elf
    Creating out/debug/firmware.bin from out/debug/firmware.elf...
  4. The program called linker created two important files:

    • out/debug/firmware.elf

      This is the file in ELF format containing symbols necessary for a debugger.

    • out/debug/firmware.bin

      This is the binary image necessary for programming (the ELF file also contains this binary image).

  5. In order to build the firmware in release configuration, use this command:

    make release

    This command generates the file out/release/firmware.bin.

Switching Core Module into DFU Mode

To program the Core Module, we must first enter the DFU mode.

We can do this by following this procedure:

  1. Check that the USB cable is plugged into the Core Module and your computer.

  2. Press and hold the BOOT button on the Core Module.

  3. Press and release the RESET button on the Core Module. At this point, you still have to hold the BOOT button.

  4. Release the BOOT button.

Windows DFU Driver Troubleshooting

Incorrect DFU Driver

In case you get Cannot open DFU device 0483:df11 while running the bcf flash --device dfu command, you have the incorrect DFU drivers installed.

  1. Execute zadig from Toolchain or Playground shell (from cmd.exe BigClown window):

  2. Allow admin rigths in the User Acess Control pop-up.

  3. Select Options -> List All Devices

  4. Choose STM32 BOOTLOADER:

  5. Choose WinUSB:

  6. Click on Replace Driver:

  7. Exit Zadig and get back to firmware flashing. The DFU driver repair procedure is finished.

  8. You can check DFU readiness using the dfu-util -l command from BigClown Toolchain Prompt:

No DFU Device Found

There is not Cannot open DFU device 0483:df11 between:

A valid DFU suffix will be required in a future dfu-util release!!!
No DFU capable USB device available

There can be various reasons:

  1. DFU mode is not activated on the Core Module.

    Follow the instructions in the chapter Switching Core Module into DFU Mode.

  2. Defective USB cable, USB hub, USB port or Core Module.

    • Try different hardware.

    • Try connection without a USB hub.

    • Make sure the USB cable used has data wires (some USB cables are for powering only).

  3. Connection mismatch - the Core Module is connected to different host than where bcf is executed.

    • Connect the Core Module to the right host.
Chapters in this document:
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