How to quickly get FreeRTOS running with Atmel AVR development boards

A couple of days ago I started the process of getting an Atmel development board (EVK1100) up and running with FreeRTOS.  I began like anyway else, I suspect, and started reading through the FreeRTOS website figuring out which board support package were supported by FreeRTOS.  I found the EVK1100 which used the exact Atmel micro (32UC3A0512) we plan to use in our product.  After some small time, I realized that using the demo code from the FreeRTOS.zip directory wasn't as complete as the example code that Atmel provided in their AVR Studio 5 product.  I will say I'm really impressed with the level of support Atmel has given to embedded engineers.  If you're interested in learning more about this, they have a few small videos you can watch to get an idea of their support capability (http://www.atmel.com/microsite/avr_studio_5/default.asp?source=redirect).  The AVR Studio 5 IDE integrates support with many debuggers (I'm using JTAGICE Mkii) and many development boards (EVK1100, EVK1101, EVK1104, EVK1105, and a lot more).  AVR Studio 5 is free to download and use.  Once installed, I went to the "new example projects" and selected the "kit" tab in the left hand pane.  I then selected the "EVK1100" projects sections which they have 60 example projects to choose from just for the EVK1100(pretty amazing).  There is everything from ADC, EIC, File system, FreeRTOS, TCP/IP, Timer, SSC, SMC, RTC, etc. examples to choose from.  I selected the Basic FreeRTOS item and clicked the OK button.  AVR Studio 5 then created a project for me and embedded all the FreeRTOS files I needed for a slim down version to work with.  I compiled the projected and then clicked the download and debug button in the IDE and ran the code on my EVK1100!  I have worked with many embedded systems in the past and have manually put together development toolchains for cross development (which I don't miss setting up) and nothing has ever been this easy. This sort of investment that Atmel has put into their tools gives me confidence that they are committed to making my life easier.  I also want to communicate that Atmel's project plug-ins can add the necessary source files into the project.  They don't generate unreadable code.  So adding the GPIO code to your project, simply adds gpio.c/h source files.  The files look clean and they have taken the time to establish a software framework which is great.  In conclusion, I think the AVR Studio 5 is a big step forward in supporting embedded software engineers.  If you haven't played with it, you may want to just to see what kind of options it gives you.  For me, just having all those example projects is like gold.


~Kurt Ottaway


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