IoT Development Platforms Based on i.MX 6UL/7Dual Processor and Android Things OS

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NXP is one of Google’s hardware partners selected to deliver Android Things development platforms to facilitate fast prototyping and product development at predictable scaling costs. To enable this fast development and time to market NXP chose to work with three partners TechNexion, VVDN Technologies, and Murata who have both developed system on modules (SOM) based on the i.MX6 UltraLite (UL) and i.MX7Dual applications processor. Both processors were chosen for their exceptional processing and low-power performance; both critical for IoT end products. Both development platforms have been qualified and tested by Google to run Android Things at optimal performance and so carry will the “Android Things” certification.

Introduction

This Introduction walks through how to bring up the Pico i.MX6UL/7D SOM and Development Platform board including the hardware setup, an introduction to Android Things image, and boot process.

The development platform consists of the Technexion Pico i.MX6UL or 7Dual System-on-Module based on ARM® Cortex®-A7 and ARM Cortex M4 (i.MX7Dual only) and the Pico-Pi carrier board. It aims to enable the developer community to explore the full potential of Android Things in the embedded market and accelerate the development of your IoT devices based on Android Things.

2.1 Get Familiar with the Development Platform

If you just got your board, please familiarize yourself with the key components of the Pico-i.MX6UL/7D Development Platform.

Pico i.MX6UL/7D Development Platform

Please note that the Pico i.MX6UL Development Platform has 802.11 n + BT 4.0

2.2 The key connectors are shown in the diagrams below:

Top View

Please note the Pico i.MX6UL dev kit has 10/100 Ethernet, the Pico i.MX7Dual has Gigabit Ethernet

Bottom View

Please note the Pico i.MX6UL Baseboard does not include the 33 pin Camera FPC connector

2.3 Download and Boot Mode

There are two different setup for download mode and boot mode. Below is the Jumper Setup for Download Mode

Jumper set-up for Boot Mode

Introduction

This tutorial walks through how to bring up the Argon i.MX6UL SOM and Development Platform including the hardware setup, an introduction to Android Things image, and boot process.

The development platform includes the VVDN Technolgies Argon i.MX6UL System-on-Module based on ARM® Cortex®-A7 i.MX 6UltraLite Processor with Argon development board. It aims to enable the developer community to explore the full potential of Android Things in the embedded market and accelerate the development of your IoT devices based on Android Things.

2.1 Get Familiar with the Develompent Platform

If you just got your board, please familiarize yourself with the key components of the:

Argon i.MX6UL Development Platform

2.2 The key interfaces of the board are shown in the Top view and Front view figures below:

  • 5V power input jack (number 3 in Top view)
  • Microphone + headphone jack (number 13 Top view)
  • WiFi + Bluetooth antenna connector (number 9 in Top view)

USB OTG Connector (in Front view). This connector is used for ADB, Fastboot interface and Manufacturing Tool (MFGTool).


2.3 Argon iMX6UL Power Switch On Baseboard

To switch ON the board, please switch ON the SW1 switch on your assembeled base board as shown.

Introduction

This tutorial walks through how to bring up the Aquila 6UL SOM and Development Platform including the hardware setup, an introduction to Android Things image, and boot process.

The development platform includes the Murata Aquila 6UL System-on-Module based on ARM®Cortex®-A7 i.MX 6UltraLite Processor with Aquila development board. It aims to enable the developer community to explore the full potential of Android Things in the embedded market and accelerate the development of your IoT devices based on Android Things.

2.1 Get Familiar with the Develompment Platform

If you just got your board, please familiarize yourself with the key components of the:

Aquila i.MX6UL Development Platform

2.2 The key interfaces of the board are shown:

  • Boot mode switch to choose boot mode or download mode for the device.
  • 5V power supply interface.
  • Power switch.
  • Micro USB connector which is used for USB to Serial Console convertor for debugging.
  • Audio jack.
  • USB OTG interface.
  • Optional WiFi and BT antenna with U.FL interface.

Assemble

3.1 Hardware Requirement

The development kit contains:

  • Pico Board-i.MX6UL or i.MX7D System-On-Module (SOM)
  • Pico Board-i.MX6UL or i.MX7D carrier board (pre-assembled with the SOM)
  • Type C USB Cable

Other required materials include:

  • For ADB/FASTBOOT/MFGTool - USB type-A to USB type-C cable
  • Serial console USB type-A to micro USB
  • WiFi antenna (IPEX interface)

3.2 Connect the Board and Host Computer

  1. Connect the USB type-A to micro USB’s micro USB end to the micro USB interface (number 1 )
  2. Get a USB type A to USB type C cable. Plug the USB type C end to the USB OTG type C connector (number 4 ) for ADB and FASTBOOT interface. Plug the other end of the USB cable to your computer. This interface also be the power supply for the board.

3.3 Instructions to Set Up the Serial Console Terminal

  1. Make sure the you connect to the UART serial console as shown in 3.2 in “Connect the board and host computer” section
  2. Start the serial communication software
  3. Choose operating system of host computer– Window
  1. Once the PC recognizes the virtual USB to UART device, it can be seen in your PC Device Manager list. You can determine the port number of the virtual COM port by looking under the "Ports" group.
  2. With the serial port driver installed, run your favorite terminal application to view the serial output from i.MX7D microprocessor's UART.

Recommended tools for serial communication terminal: Putty and Minicom
Serial port configuration: 115200 baudrate, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity.
Note: The PC needs a driver to enable a virtual COM port through the PC USB port. Please consult www.ftdichip.com/Documents/InstallGuides.htm to download the correct driver.
For details of how to set up the serial communication terminal in Putty refer to section 5 of the Pico i.MX7 QSG.

3.4 Connect antenna

Connect the WiFi antenna to connector number 5

3.5 Power Up

Get the USB type C cable. Plug the USB type C end into the USB OTG type C connector. Plug the other end of the USB cable into your computer.

Assemble

3.1 Hardware Requirement

The development kit contains:

  • 1. Argon i.MX6UL SOM from VVDN TechnologiesArgon i.MX6UL Development Platform from VVDN Technologies
  • 2. Argon i.MX6UL Development Platform from VVDN Technologies
  • 3. Wi-iFi antenna (IPEX interface)
  • 4. DC power supply

The power adapter specification is rated as follows:

  • DC output voltage: 5V
  • DC output Current: 1A

Besides, other required materials include:

  • Cables: USB type-A to USB type-B cable
  • FTDI branded USB to Serial cable such as the FTDI TTL-232R-3V3-WE

3.2 UART Debug Section

Connect a USB Type-B connector to the base board. The other end of the cable should be connected to the PC USB Port.

3.3 Assemble the SOM and Base Board

Assemble the base and SOM board as shown in the diagram:

3.4 Connect antenna

Connect the WiFi antenna in the “Wifi and Bt Antenna Interface” (Number 7 at Top View) of the SOM board.

3.5 Set-up Serial Console Communication

Connect a USB Type-B cable to the assembeled board. Connect the other end to your linux PC.

Open the console in your linux terminal and give the following command:

sudo minicom -s

Set the baudrate to 115200 and save and exit

The console node will come after we power On the board.

3.6 Power Up

Plug in the 5V power supply to the 5V Power input. Switch the SW1 On. The power LED will glow solid green.

Assemble

3.1 Hardware Requirements

The development kit contains:

  • AQUILA 6UL System-On-Module (SOM)
  • EVK6UL-Base Board
  • DC power supply

The power adapter specification is rated as follows:

  • DC output voltage: 5V
  • DC output Current: 2A
  • DC plug dimensions (mm): 5.5 +/- 0.05 (OD) x 2.1 +/- 0.05 (ID) x 10 +/- 0.3 (L)

Besides, other required materials include:

Cables:

  • For ADB/FASTBOOT/MFGTool
    • USB type-A to Micro USB cable
  • Serial console:
    • USB type-A to Micro USB cable

3.2 Assemble the SOM and Base Board

Assemble the base and SOM board as shown in the diagram:

3.3 Connect the board

UART Debug Section

Connect a USB Type-B connector to the base board (Number 4 in Figure 1). The other end of the cable should be connected to the PC USB Port.

Host Computer

Plug the micro USB end to the micro USB OTG (number 6 in Figure 1) for ADB and FASTBOOT interface.
Plug another end of the USB cable to your computer.

3.4 Instructions to set up the serial console terminal

  1. Make sure the you connect to the UART serial console as shown in step 3 in “Connect the board and host computer” section
  2. Start the serial communication software
  3. Choose operating system of host computer– Window
    • a. Once the PC recognizes the virtual USB to UART device, it can be seen in your PC Device Manager list. You can determine the port number of the virtual COM port by looking under the "Ports" group.
    • b. With the serial port driver installed, run your favorite terminal application to view the serial output from i.MX6UL microprocessor's UART.
    • Recommended tools for serial communication terminal: Putty and Minicom
      Serial port configuration: 115200 baud rate, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity.

3.5 Power up

Plug in the power supply (Number 2 in figure 1).

The next section shows how to install the pre-build Android Things image on the board and how to use the NXP provided MFGtool (manufacturing tool) to flash the board.

  • 1. Download the Android Things image.
  • 2. Connect the board to host PC via OTG USB port.
  • 3. Power up host PC and the board.
  • 4. Flash the image with flashall.sh script.
  • 5. Recycle power of the board to start Android Things.

4.1 Bring up the board

The board comes with a working image burned in eMMC. To boot the board from that image, you can boot the board directly with the power supply connected. To make the board in boot mode, please set the jumpers J1:23 and J4:12 as shown:

For more details to prepare your own image, please go through the next steps

4.2 Android Things Image Introduction

Image Name Image Description
u-boot.imx The u-boot bootloader image, which is the first code run after the Pico i.MX board hardware reset, will load and jump to the boot.img.
boot.img The Android Things image which is composed of Linux kernel zImage, Linux kernet dtb (Device Tree Binary) file, Android Things ramdisk image, and Linux kernel boot arguments.
userdata.img The Android Things user data image which includes Android Things and Weave test binary.
system.img The Android Things system image which includes all Android Things and Weave related binaries, libraries, and system configuration files.

4.3 Prepare Image

All code development, build, and unit testing take place on the developer’s host computer. The resulting image is flashed to the target hardware for further integration testing and debugging. Just as Android Things is Android-based, the software development leverages Android development tools including ADB (Android Development Bridge) and FASTBOOT mode to interact with the target.

4.4 Flash Android Things Images

Please refer to Pico – i.MX 6UL or 7Dual Development Platform Quick Start Guide

To make the board in download mode, please set the jumpers as shown:

The image can be downloaded to the target board using Manufacturing Tool. The Manufacturing Tool can be downloaded here:

Note: The MFGTool can works both in the Windows and Linux environment.

4.5 Test and Debug

Unit tests run locally on the developer’s host computer and integration tests interact with the target device via ADB.

The Pico i.MX6UL board is Android Things compatible and provides full support for ADB and FASTBOOT over USB for debugging.

ADB and Fastboot are tools housed in the Android SDK. Please refer to the link http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html#Other to download the latest version of Android SDK.

Useful Links:

The next section shows how to install the pre-build Android Things image on the board and how to use the NXP provided MFGtool (manufacturing tool) to flash the board.

  • 1. Download the Android Things image
  • 2. Connect the board to host PC via OTG USB port.
  • 3. Power up host PC and the board.
  • 4. Flash the image with flashall.sh script.
  • 5. Recycle power of the board to start Android Things.

4.1 Android Things Image Introduction

Image Name Image Description
u-boot.imx The u-boot bootloader image, which is the first code run after the Pico i.MX board hardware reset, will load and jump to the boot.img.
boot.img The Android Things image which is composed of Linux kernel zImage, Linux kernet dtb (Device Tree Binary) file, Android Things ramdisk image, and Linux kernel boot arguments.
userdata.img The Android Things user data image which includes Android Things and Weave test binary.
system.img The Android Things system image which includes all Android Things and Weave related binaries, libraries, and system configuration files.

4.2 Prepare Image

All code development, build, and unit testing take place on the developer’s host computer. The resulting image is flashed to the target hardware for further integration testing and debugging. Just as Android Things is Android-based, the software development leverages Android development tools including ADB (Android Development Bridge) and FASTBOOT mode to interact with the target.

4.3 Flash Android Things Images

Please refer to the Argon i.MX 6UL Development Platform Quick Start Guide. Make sure the board is in download mode. The image can be downloaded to the target board using the Manufacturing Tool. The Manufacturing Tool can be downloaded here:

Flash 'Android Things' Images Using Manufacturing Tool

Note: The MFGTool can works both in the Windows and Linux environment.

4.4 Test and Debug

Unit tests run locally on the developers host computer and integration tests interact with the target device via ADB. The Argon i.MX 6UL board is Android Things compatible and provides full support for ABD and FASTBOOT over USB for debugging.

ADB and Fastboot are tools housed in the Android SDK. Please refer to link to download the latest version of the Android SDK.

Useful Links:

The next section shows how to install the pre-build Android Things image on the board and how to use the NXP provided MFGtool (manufacturing tool) to flash the board.

  • 1. Download the Android Things image.
  • 2. Connect the board to host PC via OTG USB port.
  • 3. Power up host PC and the board.
  • 4. Flash the image with flashall.sh script.
  • 5. Recycle power of the board to start Android Things.

4.1 Bring up the board

The board comes with a working image burned in eMMC. To boot the board from that image, you can boot the board directly with the power supply connected. To make the board in boot mode, please make sure the board is in Boot Mode with the switch S1 setting as shown:

For more details to prepare your own image, please go through the next steps

4.2 Android Things Image Introduction

Image Name Image Description
u-boot.imx The u-boot bootloader image, which is the first code run after the Pico i.MX board hardware reset, will load and jump to the boot.img.
boot.img The Android Things image which is composed of Linux kernel zImage, Linux kernet dtb (Device Tree Binary) file, Android Things ramdisk image, and Linux kernel boot arguments.
userdata.img The Android Things user data image which includes Android Things and Weave test binary.
system.img The Android Things system image which includes all Android Things and Weave related binaries, libraries, and system configuration files.

4.3 Prepare Image

All code development, build, and unit testing take place on the developer’s host computer. The resulting image is flashed to the target hardware for further integration testing and debugging. Just as Android Things is Android-based, the software development leverages Android development tools including ADB (Android Development Bridge) and FASTBOOT mode to interact with the target.

4.4 Flash Android Things Images

Please refer to Aquila i.MX 6UL Development Platform Quick Start Guide

To make the board in download mode, please set the jumpers as shown:

The image can be downloaded to the target board using Manufacturing Tool. The Manufacturing Tool can be downloaded here:

Note: The MFGTool can works both in the Windows and Linux environment.

4.5 Test and Debug

Unit tests run locally on the developer’s host computer and integration tests interact with the target device via ADB.

The Aquila 6UL board is Android Things compatible and provides full support for ADB and FASTBOOT over USB for debugging.

ADB and Fastboot are tools housed in the Android SDK. Please refer to the link http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html#Other to download the latest version of Android SDK.

Useful Links: