Getting started with MicroPython on the i.MXRT¶
Using MicroPython is a great way to get the most of your i.MXRT board. And vice versa, the i.MXRT chip is a great platform for using MicroPython. This tutorial will guide you through setting up MicroPython, getting a prompt, using the hardware peripherals, and controlling some external components.
Let’s get started!
The first thing you need is a board with an i.MXRT chip. The MicroPython software supports the i.MXRT chip itself and any board should work. The main characteristic of a board is how the GPIO pins are connected to the outside world, and whether it includes a built-in USB-serial converter to make the UART available to your PC.
Names of pins will be given in this tutorial using the chip names (eg GPIO2) and it should be straightforward to find which pin this corresponds to on your particular board.
Powering the board¶
If your board has a USB connector on it then most likely it is powered through this when connected to your PC. Otherwise you will need to power it directly. Please refer to the documentation for your board for further details.
Getting the firmware¶
Firmware versions are provided at the MicroPython download page. You can download the most recent MicroPython firmware .hex or .bin file to load onto your i.MXRT device. From that download page you have two main choices:
stable firmware builds
daily firmware builds
If you are just starting with MicroPython, the best bet is to go for the stable firmware builds. If you are an advanced, experienced MicroPython i.MXRT user who would like to follow development closely and help with testing new features, there are daily builds.
Deploying the firmware¶
Once you have the MicroPython firmware you need to load it onto your i.MXRT device. The exact procedure for these steps is highly dependent on the particular board and you will need to refer to its documentation for details.
Teensy 4.0 and 4.1¶
For Teensy 4.0 and 4.1 you have to use the built-in loader together with the PC loader provided by PJRC. The built-in loader will be activated by pushing the button on the board. Then you can upload the firmware with the command:
teensy_loader_cli --mcu=imxrt1062 -v -w firmware.hex
The IMXRT10xx-EVK boards have a second USB port connected to a support MCU. Connecting that USB port to your PC will register a disk drive with the name of the board. Just copy the firmware.bin file to this drive, and that will start the flashing procedure. You will know that the flash was complete, if that drive disappears and reappears. If you decided to install the very useful Segger open-SDA firmware on that sidekick MCU, then you have to use the debugger software to upload the i.MXRT firmware.
Seed ARCH MIX board¶
Firmware upload to the Seed ARCH MIX board is less convenient. The vendor suggests using J-Link as a method and tool. For that, follow the instructions given by Seed in their Wiki at https://wiki.seeedstudio.com/Arch_Mix/#flashing-arduino-bootloader-to-arch-mix. You will need a J-Link debug probe and software. You may find Segger JLink edu or Segger JLink edu mini convenient. As a matching loader you can use JFlashLite. The target address for loading is 0x60000000.
The MIMXRT family also support a serial upload method. The software for serial upload is provided by NXP. The steps to use it are:
Connect J3, Pin 19 to 3.3V (GPIO_AD_B0_05).
Change the DIP-Switch settings from off-off-on-off to off-off-off-on
Run the upload with: ./FLASH.sh <firmware_image_file name>
Once the upload has finished, set the DIP-switch back to off-off-on-off.
Remove the Jumper to J3, Pin19 and push reset
To avoid running the Flash loader as superuser, you can copy the provided udev-rules script to /etc/udev/rules.d/. FLASH.sh calls two binaries, blhost and sdphost, which are provided by NXP under the BSD-3-Clause License. A version of these binaries and the script can be downloaded at https://github.com/robert-hh/Shared-Stuff/blob/master/mimxrt_serial_downloader.zip.
Serial downloading can be used for the NXP MIMXRT boards as well. But the built-in loader is much more convenient to use.
Once you have the firmware on the device you can access the REPL (Python prompt) over USB.
From there you can follow the i.MXRT tutorial.
Troubleshooting installation problems¶
If you experience problems during flashing or with running firmware immediately after it, here are some troubleshooting recommendations:
Be aware of and try to exclude hardware problems. There are two common problems: bad power source quality, and worn-out/defective Flash ROM. Speaking of power source, not just raw amperage is important, but also low ripple and noise/EMI in general. The most reliable and convenient power source is a USB port.