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'[PIC:] WLoader bootloader for 16F87XA'
2004\01\27@153823 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
Today someone ordered a 16F877 with WLoader from me. I grabbed for an
empty 16F877 and found the (last) tube empty. But I have plenty of
16F877A's so I bit the bullet and adapted WLoader for the 16F87XA chips.
This has been requested by a lot of people so I thought I'd better let
it be known. The result be on my websiet in the next few days (It needs
an update of XWisp too), but if anyone wants a preliminary version I can
email it.

Note: I currently use GPL for this software. My intention is that it is
free for all, except that I don't ever want to pay for a derived
version. I still have not found the right license. After thinking again
I am not even sure of how some terms of the common software licenses
should be interpreted when applied to embedded stuff. The term
'combined' is critical.

- is a bootloader 'combined' with its application?
- is firmware combined with the chip it is programmed into?
- is firmware combined with the (design of) the surrounding electronics?
- is firmware in one chip combined with firmware in surrounding chips?

Stallman once said that he was not interested in freeing embedded
software or electronic designs because those things were not technically
cheap (free in the 'other' meaning) to copy. A pity.

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\01\27@180943 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
On Tue, Jan 27, 2004 at 09:38:11PM +0100, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:
> Today someone ordered a 16F877 with WLoader from me. I grabbed for an
> empty 16F877 and found the (last) tube empty. But I have plenty of
> 16F877A's so I bit the bullet and adapted WLoader for the 16F87XA chips.
> This has been requested by a lot of people so I thought I'd better let
> it be known. The result be on my websiet in the next few days (It needs
> an update of XWisp too), but if anyone wants a preliminary version I can
> email it.

Cool. Question: has the protocol changed in such a way that Woj Zabolotny's
linwload would fail? Or is XWisp written in Python?

>
> Note: I currently use GPL for this software. My intention is that it is
> free for all, except that I don't ever want to pay for a derived
> version.

Excellent.

> I still have not found the right license.

Actually this is a different matter than the JAL libraries, which are
admittedly problematic.

> After thinking again
> I am not even sure of how some terms of the common software licenses
> should be interpreted when applied to embedded stuff. The term
> 'combined' is critical.

Below I'll use your combined as a definition to mean "to create a derived
work in such a way that the works are subject to the same license, specifically
the GPL."

An aggregate is defined components that are proximally located close to one
another, but have no interactions that can be construed as being combined.

>
> - is a bootloader 'combined' with its application?

No. They are aggregates. It's like saying that since Windows loads GPL
applications, that Windows (or at least its loader) must be GPL.

> - is firmware combined with the chip it is programmed into?

Irrelevant by the above definition since only one component is software.

> - is firmware combined with the (design of) the surrounding electronics?

Irrelevant by the above definition since only one component is software.

> - is firmware in one chip combined with firmware in surrounding chips?

No. Since they are on different chips, they do not share the same codespace.
It's probably not even an aggregate.

>
> Stallman once said that he was not interested in freeing embedded
> software or electronic designs because those things were not technically
> cheap (free in the 'other' meaning) to copy. A pity.

It's irratating, but it shows the problems of combining free and non free
software. And you have exactly the right reason for wanting your software to
be free.

But there are no worries here. Make Wloader GPL and be done with it.

Just to give you something to think about though in terms of synergy. Brad
Parker has taken over development of my NPCI compiler/interpreter system
and has made some progress in the last few weeks. A bootloader would be a
good complement to the interpreter because it would facilitate loading new
bytecode programs for the interpreter to run. Now the interesting question
is how to license the interpreter so that it meets similar requirements to
the JAL libraries: freely distributable, mods to the interpreter itself
must be free too but applications that the interpreter runs are not subject
to license. Then it gets more complicated because the interpreter can be
augmented with user written modules that applications can call. And it's
all sitting on a chip in the same memory space as the bootloader.

Fun, fun, fun!

BAJ

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2004\01\28@021907 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> Cool. Question: has the protocol changed in such a way that
> Woj Zabolotny's
> linwload would fail?

Same for the 16F87X chips, but for th 16F87XA chips a write only happens
in clusters of 4, so the protocol must always send all four addresses
(with lower bits 00, 01, 10, 11).

> Or is XWisp written in Python?

Of course.

PS I am not confident that your answers to the 'combined?' questions are
correct.

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\01\28@021907 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> Cool. Question: has the protocol changed in such a way that
> Woj Zabolotny's
> linwload would fail?

Same for the 16F87X chips, but for th 16F87XA chips a write only happens
in clusters of 4, so the protocol must always send all four addresses
(with lower bits 00, 01, 10, 11).

> Or is XWisp written in Python?

Of course.

PS I am not confident that your answers to the 'combined?' questions are
correct.

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\01\28@080206 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
On Wed, Jan 28, 2004 at 08:18:30AM +0100, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:
> > Cool. Question: has the protocol changed in such a way that
> > Woj Zabolotny's
> > linwload would fail?
>
> Same for the 16F87X chips, but for th 16F87XA chips a write only happens
> in clusters of 4, so the protocol must always send all four addresses
> (with lower bits 00, 01, 10, 11).

I see. Should be a simple change. I wonder if for the 87XA bootloader if it
should simply ignore programming commands (L commands) unless it's a 11 in
the address. So for 00, 01, 10 it simply loads the location, but for 11 it
loads the location and does the program. Then the protocol works unchanged
from the host side.

>
> > Or is XWisp written in Python?
>
> Of course.

Cool. I'll have to take a look the next time I get going.

>
> PS I am not confident that your answers to the 'combined?' questions are
> correct.

Maybe it's something we should bring to gnu.misc.discuss.

BAJ

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2004\01\28@080206 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
On Wed, Jan 28, 2004 at 08:18:30AM +0100, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:
> > Cool. Question: has the protocol changed in such a way that
> > Woj Zabolotny's
> > linwload would fail?
>
> Same for the 16F87X chips, but for th 16F87XA chips a write only happens
> in clusters of 4, so the protocol must always send all four addresses
> (with lower bits 00, 01, 10, 11).

I see. Should be a simple change. I wonder if for the 87XA bootloader if it
should simply ignore programming commands (L commands) unless it's a 11 in
the address. So for 00, 01, 10 it simply loads the location, but for 11 it
loads the location and does the program. Then the protocol works unchanged
from the host side.

>
> > Or is XWisp written in Python?
>
> Of course.

Cool. I'll have to take a look the next time I get going.

>
> PS I am not confident that your answers to the 'combined?' questions are
> correct.

Maybe it's something we should bring to gnu.misc.discuss.

BAJ

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2004\01\29@030148 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> I see. Should be a simple change. I wonder if for the 87XA
> bootloader if it
> should simply ignore programming commands (L commands) unless
> it's a 11 in
> the address. So for 00, 01, 10 it simply loads the location,
> but for 11 it
> loads the location and does the program. Then the protocol
> works unchanged
> from the host side.

Nope. Consider a hex file with locations 0,4,5,... (which is not
unlilkely). The old (877) protocol would simply send these addresses.
The new protocol (877A) must at least send address 3 too, otherwise
address 0 will never be written.

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\01\29@113141 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
On Thu, Jan 29, 2004 at 09:01:26AM +0100, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:
> > I see. Should be a simple change. I wonder if for the 87XA
> > bootloader if it
> > should simply ignore programming commands (L commands) unless
> > it's a 11 in
> > the address. So for 00, 01, 10 it simply loads the location,
> > but for 11 it
> > loads the location and does the program. Then the protocol
> > works unchanged
> > from the host side.
>
> Nope. Consider a hex file with locations 0,4,5,... (which is not
> unlilkely). The old (877) protocol would simply send these addresses.
> The new protocol (877A) must at least send address 3 too, otherwise
> address 0 will never be written.

Point taken. And I have hex files that are organized exactly like that.
linwload has a Used array to mark used/unused memory locations.

So to follow up then... Currently linwload uses an 'L' command for every
location that is used. So in your example sequence above you would get:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
L X X X L L X X

where L is a lazy programmed location and X is a unprogrammed location.
So it would give the situation that you described. So is the alternative:

(Alternative 1)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
L L L L L L L L

or

(Alternative 2)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
W W W W W W W W

or

(Alternative 3)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
L X X W L L X W

I stopped for a minute and read the 16F87X datasheet on pages 35 and 36. The
only difference seems to be that each and every location in a block must be
written if any location in a block must be written. But the sequencing is the
same as the single byte writes, you are just forced to do four of them at a
time. Cool. So the host software needs a slightly modified version of
Alternative 2 above: if any of the 4 words in a block needs to be written,
then write all 4 words starting from the beginning of the block. You can
skip a 4 byte block if none of the 4 bytes needs to be written.

It could still be done in the bootloader, but that's a change that's so minor
that it's probably not worth implementing in the bootloader. In fact the best
bet is to simply implement only this modified alterntive 2 in the host
loader, since with the ordinary 16F87X part it'll only have a very minor
impact.

Question: is there a Wloader for the 18F family? That would complete my needs
for the most part.

BAJ

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2004\01\29@115755 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> In fact the best
> bet is to simply implement only this modified alterntive 2 in the host
> loader, since with the ordinary 16F87X part it'll only have a
> very minor impact.

Which is exactly what I did.

> Question: is there a Wloader for the 18F family?

No. WLoader is written in assembler, and uses bit-banged communication,
so moveing to the 18F is not trivial. But for 18F bootloaders: ZPL?

Wouter van Ooijen

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2004\01\29@141207 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
On Thu, Jan 29, 2004 at 05:57:11PM +0100, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:
> > In fact the best
> > bet is to simply implement only this modified alterntive 2 in the host
> > loader, since with the ordinary 16F87X part it'll only have a
> > very minor impact.
>
> Which is exactly what I did.

As will I.

>
> > Question: is there a Wloader for the 18F family?
>
> No. WLoader is written in assembler, and uses bit-banged communication,
> so moveing to the 18F is not trivial. But for 18F bootloaders: ZPL?

I'm aware. However it'll require switching tools. It would be convenient to
be able to use the same hardware/software interface to program both families.

When I get there, I'll give ZPL a spin.

BAJ

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