QCA4020 BLE Standalone Mode

Skill LevelArea of FocusOperating SystemPlatform/Hardware
BeginnerBluetooth, IoT, Education, Embedded, Smart HomeRTOSQCA 402x WiFi/BLE/ZigBee

This project is intended to help you get familiar with the QCA4020 System-On-Chip (SoC) Product Development kit. The QCA4020 IoT solution offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), and 802.15.4 capable radios in a single-chip package.

The project uses the “Onboard” sample demo included in the SDK with the Eclipse IDE to get started.

As part of this project, you will set up the development environment, import, build and flash a project on the QCA402x development board using the Eclipse IDE. You will then load some sample applications on your Android smartphone to read the sensor values that are sent from the development board. The applications will:

  1. Scan for available devices
  2. Establish a connection to the board via BLE, based on the onboarding mode for which the device is configured

The objective of this project is to get familiar with the QCA4020 development kit. The onboard demo application included in the SDK provides a mechanism to demonstrate end-to-end communication between the QCA402x development boards and the mobile app through cloud network or wireless technology. The desired outcome for this project is to use the standalone mode to directly read/write sensor data from the development kit via BLE connection using a mobile app.

Standalone mode on QCA-4020 Development Kit

In the Box

The contents of the QCA-4020 Development kit, as seen above, include:

  • QCA4020 development board
  • USB to Micro USB cables
  • Power supply
  • Jumpers
  • Setup guide

For the time being, you can set the kit aside while you install the software components and set up the development environment on your computer. During the setup process, you will only briefly use the kit while installing the FTDI drivers for JTAG.

Setup the development environment

  1. Install Python version 2.7.X
    Some of the support scripts are Python-based so be sure to install Python 2.7.X because the support scripts do not support Python 3. After installation, add the path to python.
    Example: If python.exe is in the folder C:\CRMApps\Apps\Python276-64 set path as follows: %PATH%=%PATH%:C:\CRMApps\Apps\Python276-64
  2. Install Eclipse IDE for C/C++: GUI based integrated development environment
    Supported Version: Oxygen version - Release 4.7.2
  3. Install Java: Eclipse IDE has dependency on Java, JDK 8 or higher.
    After installation, add path to Java.
    Example: If Java.exe is in C:\ProgramData\Oracle\Java\javapath set path as follows: %PATH%=%PATH%: C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_161\bin
  4. Install OpenOCD version 0.10.0 [2017-06-09] which is available here.
    OpenOCD plugin is required to establish the connection between Eclipse IDE and onboard FTDI JTAG debugger. After installation, add the path to OpenOCD.
    Example: If openocd.exe is in C:\Program Files\OpenOCD-20170609\bin set path as follows: set %PATH%=%PATH%:C:\Program Files\OpenOCD-20170609\bin
  5. Download GNU Arm Embedded toolchain version 6.x (gcc-arm-none-eabi-6-2017-q2-update).
    Install by running the ".exe" file and make sure you select the option to "Add path to environment variables" during the final step.
  6. Setup OpenOCD plugin usage with Eclipse
    1. Install GNU MCU plugin for Eclipse Go to Help > Install new software in Eclipse IDE Adding new plugin for the Eclipse IDE
    2. In the Available Software window, click "Add" and enter the Name and Location of the repository.
      Location: "http://gnu-mcu-eclipse.netlify.com/v4-neonupdates" Enter details and click "OK" as seen below.
      Adding new plugin for the Eclipse ID
    3. Select "GNU ARM & RISC-V C/C++ Cross Development Tools" and click "Next" as seen below.
      Adding new plugin for the Eclipse IDE
    4. You will see the list of Items to be installed as seen below.
      click "Next".
      Adding new plugin for the Eclipse IDE
    5. Follow the steps on screen and select "Finish" to complete the installation.
    6. Restart the Eclipse IDE
  7. Set path to openOCD
    Restart the Eclipse IDE and under Window > preferences set path to openOCD as seen below.
    Setting openOCD path in the Eclipse IDE
  8. Set the Debug Config
    1. Go to Run >Debug Configurations > GDB OpenOCD Debugging Set the Application and OpenOCD options as show in the images below.
    2. Select Quartz.elf as the C/C++ application.
      If you have already built the image, select Disable auto build. If image is not built, select Use workspace settings.
      Debug settings in the Eclipse IDE
    3. In the Debugger window, provide the openocd executable path with config option, -f ${project_loc}\build\gcc\qca402x_openocd.cfg
    4. Provide the arm-none-eabi-dgb executable path for the GDB client as seen below.
      Debug settings in the Eclipse IDE
  9. Download "QCA4020 OEM SDK+CDB" which is available under the Qualcomm Developer Network software section here.
    The SDK contains sample demo applications with source code to demonstrate different features and technologies that QCA402x supports. Demos are in the following folder: target\quart\demo\<name_of_demo>
  10. Install the QCA plugin jar file available at
    1. Copy the jar file (QCA402x_plugin.jar) to the "dropin" folder under the Eclipse IDE installed folder.
    2. Restart the Eclipse IDE if running. To restart Eclipse, click on the File menu of Eclipse IDE and select the Restart menu item after the plug-in is installed.
  11. Install FTDI driver for JTAG
    1. Download the zadig application from http://zadig.akeo.ie/.
    2. Connect the J85 connector on the development board to the host PC using the included Micro-USB cable.
    3. Once the QCA4020 Development board is connected to the host PC, the Device Manager shows two COM ports. The lower port number is for JTAG and the upper port number is for serial connection.
    4. Run zadig.exe file and go to Options > List All devices and select the device in the drop down. Dual RS232-HS (interface 0) represents lower port number and dual RS232-HS (interface 1) represents higher port number. The following example shows Select Dual RS232-HS (interface 0) to install FTDI on the WinUSB driver for JTAG interface.
      Installing the FTDI Driver for JTAG

    5. After installing the FTDI driver, the Device Manager will look as seen below.
      Device Manager after Installing the FTDI Driver for JTAG
  12. Download the JSNM library.
    You will need this library to parse the sensor data received from the router/coordinator.
    1. Download jsmn library from https://github.com/zserge/jsmn and extract it.
    2. Create thirdparty/jsmn/src folder under the target folder.
    3. Create thirdparty/jsmn/include folder under target folder
    4. Copy the "jsmn.c" file from extracted "jsmn-master" to the thirdparty/jsmn/src folder.
    5. Copy the "jsmn.h" file from extracted "jsmn-master" to the thirdparty/jsmn/include folder

Make sure that the paths are set correctly under the environment variables.
They should be set as seen below.

System Environment Variables

Congratulations, you have now successfully set up the development environment for the QCA4020 development kit. The next section shows you how to import the sample "Hello World" application.

Import sample "Onboard_demo" application

  1. Install Eclipse project files for sample demo applications.
    To install there is eclipseSupport.bat for Windows and eclipseSupport.sh for Linux in <SDK_source>/target
  2. Open a terminal window and navigate to <SDK_source>/target
  3. Run the sh eclipseSupport.sh or eclipseSupport.bat command.
    After executing the script, the Eclipse project files .cproject, .project and .settings folder are updated in the respective folders of the demo applications.
  4. Open the Eclipse application.
  5. Go to File > Open Projects from File System and set import source for the demo application. Example: <path>/target/quartz/demo/Onboard_demo
    You should be able to see the import source as an Eclipse project.
  6. Click Finish.

Next, build the application.

Build the Application

  1. Go to: Project properties > Configure build setting
  2. Right click on the project name in project explorer and go to "Properties".
  3. Verify the build command and the build directory in the Builder settings tab.
  4. Go to C/C++ build and set the build command to "build.bat", and the build directory to "path to source".

Hello World project properties in the Eclipse IDE

  1. Click "Apply and Close".
  2. Build the application and you will see the following messages in Console Window
    Eclipse IDE Console output

Flash the Application on the QCA4020 development board using JTAG and Eclipse.

Alright, time to start playing with the Development Kit.

  1. Setup the QCA4020 development board as described in Appendix A, "CDB2x board setup" in QCA402x-CDB2x development kit user's guide.
  2. Put the jumper on J31 1&2 on the QCA4020 development board.
    Tip: There is a "Dot" next to each header that indicates the position of Pin Number 1.
    After the flashing through JTAG is done, remove the jumper.
    Jumpers on the developer board should be as seen below.
    1. Jumper on J31 (Pins 1 and 2),
      Jumper on J37 (Pins 2 and 3),
      Cross connect pins 2 and 3 of J38 and J39
      Jumpers on J31, J38 and J39
    2. Jumpers on J30 and J32
      Jumpers on J30 and J32
    3. Jumpers on J57 and J36
      Jumpers on J57 and J36
  3. Open eclipse IDE and navigate to: Run > External Tools > External Tools Configuration
  4. Click on the program, create a new launch configuration and update the paths as shown below in the Main tab.
  5. Provide the path for "flash_openocd.bat" or "flash_openocd.sh" in the location box.
    Run Configuration window in the Eclipse IDE
  6. To flash the program, click Run > External Tools > OpenOCD JTAG Flashing
    The flashing logs can be seen on the Eclipse console.
    You will see the following lines at the end of the log.
    [2018-07-17 16:51:24,434] INFO: Script finished processing generated_fwd_table.xml File:flash_through_gdb.py:699 Function:main
    Flash Operation Completed Successfully...
    SUCCESS: The process "openocd.exe" with PID 17776 has been terminated.

The application was flashed successfully on the development board.

Installing the mobile application

There are two mobile applications available at the following location within the downloaded SDK: /target/mobileapp/android - QCAOnboard and Sensor application.

Copy the application apk files from this folder to your smartphone with Android device version 5.0 or higher and install them.
The goal of these mobile applications is to onboard the QCA402x development boards to the user network as follows:

  1. Application scans for available devices; you should provide the credentials required to onboard the kit.
  2. Application establishes connection to the board via Wi-Fi or BLE, based on the onboarding mode for which the device is configured.

Run the application in Autoboot mode

The Autoboot mode refers to the mode where the system boots up on a power cycle and no JTAG connectivity is required. Follow the below steps to run the application in Autoboot mode.

  1. Remove the jumper on J31.
    This was connected to flash the image on the board.
  2. Power cycle the system.
  3. The device starts in BLE peripheral mode and starts advertising.

Launch the Smartphone App

  1. On your smartphone, launch the "QCA OnBoarding" application that was installed during the setup.
  2. The flow of events and data exchange between the Mobile application and the QCA402x development board is as seen below.
    Flow of events between the Onboarding app and QCA402x
  3. Select "Get Sensor Data [BLE]" for standalone mode onboard demo and connect to the development board using qca_onboarding application from your Android device.
  4. The mobile app uses BLE scan to connect to the development board with default password "123456".

Selecting device from the list takes you to the screen where it provides the details of the sensors as shown below.

Sensor details screen in the Onboarding app

Congratulations! You have set up the development environment, imported, built and flashed a project on the QCA402x development board using the Eclipse IDE. On your smartphone, you can now read the sensor values that are sent from the development board.