Service functionality

General overview

The list of available types of boards can be accessed by clicking on the “Boards” button on the header. On the board selection page (see Figure 1) the following options are shown:

  • Name of each of board (see fig. 1a);
  • A short description of each board (see fig. 1c);
  • If they are available for booking (see fig. 1d);
  • An info icon near the short description (see fig. 1b). By clicking on it a detailed description window will be opened. In this window there is a detailed description of the board, a picture of the board, a link to the manufacturer website, and a list of IDEs supported by our service.

To be able to book boards you must be a registered user of the forum and be logged in. Otherwise, upon clicking on the “Book this board” button you will be shown a message asking you to Log in.

To book a board you should first click on which board you would like to book and then click on the “Book this board” button (see fig 2).

After clicking on the “Book this board” button the board will be booked and a one hour timer will be started (see fig. 3). One hour is the time allocated to a session. 15 minutes before the end of a session an “Add 1 hour” button will appear near the timer (see fig. 4a). By clicking on this button you can add one hour to your session. This button appears only once. The number of booking sessions is not limited.

You can end a booking session early by clicking on the “Cancel” button (see fig. 4b).

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After the start of the booking session, you will be allocated a debug port. Whether or not this port is available is checked on the “Connection and Tools” page (see fig. 5a). If the port is closed, you can establish VPN connection (link to the instructions is shown on the “Connection and Tools” page) (see fig. 5b). For details on how to use VPN please review the “VPN” section.

The next step after checking the debug port is setting up your IDE. On the “Connection and Tools” page logos of supported IDEs for the chosen board are shown. By clicking on a logo the IDE manual will be opened in a new window.

On the “Connection and Tools” page the information about your booking session is shown (see fig. 6):

  • Device name (name of the board);
  • IP-address;
  • Port;
  • Debugger (the debugger of the board);
  • Terminal (which UART is connected).

On the “Connection and Tools” page you can also find links to the instructions and download files for the virtual COM port.

The last page is the “Video and Interaction” page (see fig. 7). On this page you can find:

  • Real-time stream of the board (see fig. 7a);
  • Power button of the board (see fig. 7b);
  • UART Terminal (see fig. 7c);
  • Virtual sensor (see fig. 7d);
  • ST-Link commands terminal (see fig. 7e).

For details about each element please look into the corresponding sections.

Video

After finishing booking you will get to the “Video and Interaction” page. On this page, you can watch the real-time stream of your chosen board. By default, video has a framerate of 1 fps. You can change this with the drop-down menu in the upper left corner of the video. Available options are: 1, 2, or 5 fps (see fig. 8a). Some boards support several video streams (see Functionality table). You can change which stream is currently shown with the drop-down menu (see fig. 8b)

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For your convenience, you can open the video in another window by clicking on it.

IDE configuration

Before starting a debug session you should configure your IDE to work remotely by specifying IP address and port. Port will be different for each session. IP address is always the same.

Each board supports a different set of IDEs. You can find the list for your selected board in the detailed information window of the board. The same list will be shown on the “Connection and Tools” page after booking a board (see fig. 9). By clicking on the logo of an IDE on the “Connection and Tools” page the manual will be opened in a new window.

The list of IDEs for each board is shown in the following table:

Debugging with IDE

After setting up debug configuration for the remote connection you can work with the board as if it was a local debug session: start/stop debugging, use breakpoints, etc.

For more details please look into the corresponding IDE configurations (see the table with the list of the IDEs for each board).

After the end of the session, default firmware will be restored.

Power of the board

Each board can be turned off and on by clicking on the “Switch the board’s power” toggle on the “Video and Interaction” page (see fig. 10). When the board is on, the button is white and the power symbol is green. When the board is off, the button is white and the power symbol is gray. While the board is in process of turning on and off, the button is gray and blocked (see fig. 11 ).

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UART

Each board has a UART terminal console in the “Terminal” section on the “Video and Interaction” page (see fig. 12).

Boards are connected by their UART ports to COM ports of the terminal.

User browser establishes a connection with the server using Web Socket protocol. Web-server establishes SSH connection with the terminal. After that, the terminal starts the console process that is used for transferring data to and from the UART of the chosen board (please download the default project of the board for which UART is connected). Data is forwarded by the web-server to the user browser and then into the UART terminal.

You are able to save all data from the terminal window by clicking on the “Download” button. Maximum is 1013 lines. If the number of lines exceeds this value then only the last 1013 lines will be saved.

The “Reset” button deletes all data in the terminal window.

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The majority of boards are loaded with default firmware that allows you to interact with board’s UART (see the “Default Projects” section).

Virtual Sensor

Virtual Sensor can be used if you need to send a single number or a sequence of numbers to the board via UART. You can find Virtual Sensor in the “Virtual Sensor” section on the “Video and Interaction” page (see fig. 13).

For sending a single number, write it into the “Current sensor value” field and click on the “Set” button. For sending a sequence of numbers write the first and last numbers into “From” and “To” fields and click on the “Generate” button. 30 numbers will be generated and sent on the board with a ~1s interval. Each number will be sent as a string.

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VPN

If your corporate firewall forbids establishing debug sessions using our service, then the port assigned to your session will be closed when running check procedure. In this case, you must establish a VPN connection. Link to the instructions and settings for VPN connections is provided on the “Connection and Tools” page (see fig. 14). You can also find it here: How to establish VPN connection

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VPN connection can be established even when the debug port is opened in case of issues with the IDE debug connection.

SSH

If you need to directly connect to the board with debugger via your local port, you should set up port forwarding before proceeding with configuring the IDE. Link to the instructions and settings for port forwarding is provided on the “Connection and Tools” page (see fig. 15). You can also find it here: How to set up port forwarding

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Port forwarding can be set up without VPN connection.

Default Projects

The majority of boards are loaded with default firmware (see Functionality table - “Default project” column). You can download an archive with the default project for each board and each supported IDE. Link to the archive is provided on the “Connection and Tools” page (see fig. 16).

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Each archive has “readme.txt” file where you can find instructions on how to open the project in the IDE of your choice.

Virtual COM Port

On your local computer, you can run software that works with the COM port to exchange data with a remote board. For that, you need to download and configure the Virtual COM Port Application. Download links for the application and configuration file and a link to the instructions are provided on the “Connection and Tools” page (see fig. 17) . You can also find instructions here: How to configure Virtual COM Port Application

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After installing and setting up the Virtual COM Port Application it will be available in the tray (see fig. 18).

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While Virtual COM Port Application is running, Terminal and Virtual Sensor will be disabled.

The list of boards that support this functionality can be found here: Functionality table

Option Bytes (STM specific)

You can change the values of the option bytes of the board while using our service. This can be done with the console in the “ST-Link commands” menu of the settings on the “Video and Interaction” page (see fig. 19).

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The upper half of the console is used for writing commands (multi-line input is supported; each parameter should be on a new line). When you click on the “Run” button on the center of the console, the execution result will be displayed in the bottom half of the console (see fig. 20).

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After the end of the session default values for the available option bytes will be restored.

The list of boards that support this functionality can be found here: Functionality table