Documentation for “Zerocat Chipflasher”
Generated on: Fri, 30 Sep 2022 18:28:46 +0200
Repository: git://zerocat.org/zerocat/projects/chipflasher
Board: board-v1.3.2-1590-91b1f109
Version: v0.6.9-1497-91b1f109
Branch: flashrom-interface

Zerocat Chipflasher
– Flash free firmware, kick the Management Engine.

../images/IMG_8014.jpeg

Handmade Chipflasher in Action

Copyright (C) 2016 kai kmx@posteo.net
Copyright (C) 2016 rekado rekado@elephly.net
Copyright (C) 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 Kai Mertens kmx@posteo.net
Copyright (C) 2017 tomás zerolo tomas@tuxteam.de

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Section #../doc/AUTHORS.md

AUTHORS

The initial project was started by Kai Mertens in 2015, as a private project.
It was renamed and continued in 2016, but still kept private.

Authors of the initial code and documentation are:

The project was split and again renamed to the current version in 2016, and turned public. See tag repo-root-info for details.

Authors of Zerocat Chipflasher are now listed according to git log output.
See copyright notices on the title page.

Section #../doc/README.md

README

Project Goal

The goal of Zerocat Chipflasher is to provide an electronic device for the purpose of firmware replacement, fully hackable and of a free design, even down to chip level.

When it comes to flash a coreboot or libreboot compatible machine, the Zerocat Chipflasher is the right tool to use:

... and it uses the Parallax P8X32A free-design microcontroller!

Special Feature

On ThinkPad motherboards, the chipflasher not only accesses the main memory array of their SPI BIOS chips, it also gives you full control over the chips’ configuration registers:

../images/screenshot-20211222-170705.png

Screenshot: Change Register Values

In case of chips made by Macronix, it even provides access to the lock bits of the security register, as well as to the secured, one-time-programmable region of these chips (typically 64 bytes in size):

../images/screenshot-20211222-170328.png

Screenshot: Write and Read SOTP Region

Clean up and lock the region, before someone else will do it!

Clean-up Examples:

Prerequisites

It is assumed that you are running a GNU/Linux-libre operating system on a computer that has an RS232 port available. Your user account is priviledged to access the port, e.g: It is member of the dialout group.

Furthermore, your system should have one or two USB-ports available in order to power the chipflasher device. Otherwise, you will have to use an external USB Power Adapter.

Use git to clone the project’s sources:

    git clone git://zerocat.org/zerocat/projects/chipflasher

Change into the project’s documentation folder:

    cd chipflasher/doc/

Study this README.md file to get started:

    cat ../doc/README.md

GNU Guix System

If you are on GNU Guix System, use make to create a dedicated profile, once. This allows you to match your environment to the one used by Zerocat, thus producing bit-identical results:

    make -C ../guix pull

Create an empty environment with dedicated guix channel:

    make -C ../guix environment

Create a shell with all prerequisites set up:

    make -C ../guix shell

To leave the shell and the environment, later on, when you are done with this project, type:

    exit
    exit

To remove this project’s handy guix profile, type:

    make -C ../guix clean

This will remove symlinks only. If you want to remove the profile from your system, run the GNU Guix Garbage Collector.

To list all available targets, type:

    make -C ../guix help

Other Distro

If you are on another distro, check file ../guix/manifest.scm and install the listed packages with your package manager, manually. Adapt package names as required.

Files ../doc/software-tools.md and ../doc/parallax-tools.md should also be taken into account.

Generate the Documentation

To build the documentation, type:

    make -C ../doc

Both documentation roots should now be available from the “Title” button:

Section #../doc/welcome.md should give you a warm welcome.

Help

To get a full list of available targets, type:

    make -C ../doc help

Clean Up

To clean your folders, type:

    make -C ../doc clean

Build the Software

The chipflasher project ships a small host utility, that is able to communicate with the firmware. The host utility is called connect, the firmware is called kick.

Configure: Board Version

To configure kick for the chipflasher board (default), type:

    make -C ../firmware/src config-BOARD_V1

To configure kick for the testboard, type:

    make -C ../firmware/src config-BOARD_V2

Configure: Baudrate

The host utility and the firmware use a serial connection for their communication. The speed of that connection is specified as baudrate.

The default baudrate is 115200baud.

To configure the software for a specific baudrate, type

    make -C ../firmware/start baud38400

or

    make -C ../firmware/start baud57600

or:

    make -C ../firmware/start baud115200

Compile

To build both programs, type:

    make -C ../host/src

Help

To get a full list of available targets, type:

    make -C ../host/src help

Clean Up

To clean your ../firmware/start/ folder and reset the baudrate, type:

    make -C ../firmware/start clean

To clean your builds and reset the board configuration, type:

    make -C ../host/src clean

Operate the Device

Get Started from RAM

To start the device from free-design RAM, type:

    make -C ../host/start startram

The chipflasher menu should pop up:

../images/screenshot-20211222-161344.png

Screenshot: Start from RAM

In- and outgoing data is managed via files ../host/start/file2chip.txt and ../host/start/chip2file.txt, the latter being overwritten without warning in case of chip read operations.

Process In- and Outgoing Data in Terminal#2

Open a second terminal window and again create an environment with all prerequisites set up.

In- and outgoing Data is processed via ../host/start/Makefile.

To get help on typical workflows, type

    make -C ../host/start workflow-chip-read

or:

    make -C ../host/start workflow-virtual-chip-read

Help

To get a full list of available targets, type:

    make -C ../host/start help

Clean Up

To clean up your folder, type:

    make -C ../host/start clean
Section #../doc/COPYING.md

Copying

Zerocat Chipflasher ships copyrighted work.
See #../doc/AUTHORS.md for a list of people that have contributed.

Zerocat Chipflasher is free software. It makes use of free software approved licenses only and should be freely distributable:

Authorship, copyright and license information may be provided in more detail on a per-folder and/or per-file basis. Check the sources.

Please report a bug if you find the distribution hindered.
See Zerocat Website for contact information.

Section #../doc/CONTRIBUTING.md

Contributing

Documentation Files

Documentation source files are written in markdown syntax. They should carry their individual copyright and license notices right below the title giving headline, e.g.:

    <Title-of-Document>
    ===================

    Copyright (C) <Year>  <Name-of-Author> <Email Address>  

    Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
    under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
    or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
    with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
    Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled
    "GNU Free Documentation License".

    <Other-Headline>
    ----------------

    ...content...

The generated documentation carries a license notice right at top on its title page, with copyright statements generated from git log output.

Sections of the generated documentation are build from selected markdown source files, with their individual copyright and license notice stripped.

In order to enrich the generated documentation ...

... and adapt ../doc/Makefile to produce nice output.

In case more tools are needed, don't forget to update ../guix/manifest.scm.

Images

To make your image look nice within the documentation, select a landscape layout of 16:9 aspect ratio.

Use ImageMagick to prepare your image, e.g.:

If your image is big, reduce it to a maximal width of 2000 pixel:

    mogrify -resize 2000x <image>

Please clean image files from metadata, before committing, i.e.:

    mogrify -strip <image>

If you embed your image into a markdown documentation file, use this syntax:

   ![<path/to/image>][]

   [<path/to/image>]:     <path/to/image>     "title message"

or alternatly:

   ![<path/to/image>][my-image-shortcut]

   [my-image-shortcut]:   <path/to/image>     "title message"

These patterns will guarantee that <img> tags will have their src, alt and title attributes properly set within the html output.

Code Files

Please use this license header for code source files:

    Zerocat Chipflasher --- Flash free firmware, kick the Management Engine.

    Copyright (C) <Year>  <Name-of-Author> <Email-Address>

    This file is part of Zerocat Chipflasher.

    Zerocat Chipflasher is free software: you can redistribute it
    and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public
    License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either
    version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later
    version.

    Zerocat Chipflasher is distributed in the hope that it will be
    useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied
    warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR
    PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with Zerocat Chipflasher.
    If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

Shell Scripts

If you intend to write shell scripts, use this skeleton to make them work for GNU Guix:

    #!/bin/sh

    # Re-exec if we are not using Bash or are using Bash in POSIX mode.
    if [ -z "$BASH" ] || [ "$BASH" = "/bin/sh" ]; then
      bash=`command -v bash`
      if [ -z "$bash" ]; then
        echo "Couldn't find Bash, sorry!"
        exit 1
      else
        exec "$bash" "$0" "$@"
      fi
    fi

    # We're using Bash now.
    set -o errexit
    set -o nounset
    set -o pipefail

    # Your code goes here ...

ChangeLog

Update ../doc/NEWS.md and list your contributions.

You can use git shortlog to get a starting point for your edit.

Section #../doc/welcome.md

Welcome!

This page is meant to give you an overview of the documentation, which is availabe twofold:

Get started along other documents:

If you are in a hurry to apply coreboot or libreboot on your machine, first check #../doc/targets.md to see if it is supported.

To generate free firmware ROMs suitable for flashing, you might consider to use Zerocat Coreboot Machines.

Have fun with these sources!
Everyone should flash a free BIOS at least once in his lifetime ;-)
It is an exciting experience.

NOTE: Changes related to hardware and software are tracked in separate files: #../doc/board-version-history.md, #../doc/version-history.md

NOTE: Care has been taken to keep the software compatible with the RYF-certified chipflasher board-edition-1 device (PCB: board-v1.1.0), so please feel free to upgrade its firmware.

The Circuit Board

The circuit board is the essential part of the Zerocat Chipflasher: The hardware. As we are aiming for Do-it-Yourself, this documentation should help you to build your own PCB or breadboard circuit.

Related pages are:

The Board’s Firmware – kick

The firmware of the chipflasher board is called kick; its source files are located in folder ../firmware/src/.

Related pages are:

The Host Utility – connect

Utility connect is part of the flasher project, for the board’s firmware kick needs someone to talk to. The capabilities of a terminal, set up by propeller-load, are not sufficient. Therefore, sample code had been used to start building up connect. Now it is a small program that suits our needs, its code is located in folder ../host/src/.

Related pages are:

Operate the Device

Related pages are:

Accompanying Pages

This project is accompanied with some more documents that might be useful to describe the spirit and the scope of “knowledge” behind it.

Related pages are:

Section #../doc/chipflasher.md

Chipflasher

Free-Design Hardware

The Zerocat Chipflasher aims to be free-design as much as possible, that’s why it relies on the Parallax Propeller microcontroller. The internal chip design files of this controller have been released under the GPLv3 in 2011 by Parallax (compare to ../doc/points-of-interest.md). The chipflasher’s circuit tries to avoid closed source microchips. Instead, the use of discrete components is preferred.

Main Components

See #../doc/board-version-history.md to learn what has changed, recently.

Hardware Status: UNTESTED!

../hardware/artwork/board-label.svg.png

Board Front Label

../hardware/pcb/board.pcb.top.png

PCB (top view)

../hardware/pcb/board.pcb.bottom.png

PCB (bottom view)

Onboard Connectors and Jumper

Source Files

Bill of Material

Generated PDFs

PDFs, generated from source files via ../hardware/Makefile:

../hardware/artwork/board-label.svg.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page01.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page02.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page03.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page04.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page05.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page06.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page07.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page08.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page09.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page10.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page11.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page12.sch.pdf
../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page13.sch.pdf

Circuit Schematics

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page01.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 1(13): Controller with RAM, of a free Design

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page02.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 2(13): Power Input

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page03.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 3(13): Voltage Regulators

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page04.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 4(13): SPI Bus

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page05.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 5(13): Software Status LEDs

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page06.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 6(13): RS232 Pinheader

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page07.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 7(13): Serial EEPROM (optional)

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page08.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 8(13): Ancillary Connector, 12×GPIO

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page09.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 9(13): Power Switch Cable

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page10.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 10(13): Y-USB Power Cable

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page11.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 11(13): RS232 Cable

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page12.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 12(13): SPI Bus Cable

../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page13.sch.png

Board Circuit Schematic, Page 13(13): SPI Flash Pinouts

Section #../doc/chipflasher-first-prototype.md

Chipflasher First Prototype

Test Layout

The PCB layout that ships with the tag pcb-prototype on branch master has been milled into copper in order to prove suitability. However, using that file for production purposes is not recommended. Several fixes were necessary.

../images/pcb-prototype.pcb.png

worked PCB layout

Hardware Production Process

This is a short photo documentary of the hardware production process:

../images/IMG_7643.jpeg

PCB milling has just finished

The copper board has been milled during an introductory workshop in the FABLAB Berlin.

../images/IMG_7652.jpeg

PCB cleaned up

Cleaning the PCB is important, otherwise you will have to deal with dust located in the gap-routes when you want to apply clear varnish later.

../images/IMG_7663.jpeg

Soldering difficulties on component side

Sockets and parts with a big footprint should not to be soldered to top layer pads, this turns out to be very difficult and tricky. For example, to solder an variable resistor, you will need to use a vacuum pump while pressing the part firmly onto the surface. When done, you are lucky if the pins are still connected. And note that for some reason drilling was not always centric.

../images/IMG_7668.jpeg

How to solve soldering difficulties on component side

Top layer pads should be large, otherwise you will have to lever sockets or chips a bit in order to use their thin legs.

../images/IMG_7670.jpeg

Assemblage complete

When the board is fully populated, don't forget jumpers!
Apply a clear varnish over all, but cover important contacts.

Device in Action

../images/IMG_7736.jpeg

The PCB Prototype in action

It worked right from the start. What you can see here very well is the SPI-cable which uses distances for its wires, in order to prevent signal interferences. The target shown on the photo is a T500 motherboard.

Section #../doc/chipflasher-board-edition-1.md

Chipflasher board-edition-1

Handmade Example

../images/IMG_8527.jpg

Handmade Chipflasher with Accessories

Board Layout

    |<---            80mm                -->|

    +---------------------------------------+      ---
    | O                   ######          O |       ^
    |                     ######            |       |
    |  [X] Power Switch   ######      D1 o  |       |
    |                     ######            |       |
    |  o  LED Power       ######      D2 o  |
    -------+              ######            |
    : USB  |              ######      D3 o  |
    : Power|              ######            |
    -------+              ######            |
    |  o  SPI Power       ######            |
    |                     ######   _________|
    |  #######            ##/\##   |SPI-Bus |
    |  #######                     |        |
    |__________  Jumper            |  PLUG# |     100mm
    |RS232 DTE|  x DTR             |    GND |
    | Labels  |  x RST             |    WP# |
    |NC  | GND|  o RTS             |   MISO |
    |RI  | DTR|                    |    CE# |
    |CTS | TXD|           ___      |   MOSI |
    |RTS | RXD|           |R|      |   SCLK |
    |DSR | CD |           |e|      |  HOLD# |
    |_________|           |s|      |    VDD |
    |                     |i|      |________|
    |     ###             |s|    SPI LED o  |       |
    |     ###    ###      |t|               |       |
    |     ###    ###      |o|               |       |
    | O   ###    ###      |r|             O |       v
    +-------------------- |…|---------------+      ---
                           ^

First Devices with PCB

Some first devices where manufactured, checked out at tag board-edition-1 on branch master.

These devices have been certified to respect computer users’ freedoms by the Free Software Foundation in Boston, USA.

../images/IMG_8495.jpg

First Series with sponsored PCBs

Bug Fix

A non-critical bug can be fixed by soldering a short wire on the bottom side of the PCB:
One input pin was left floating by mistake, instead of tying it to ground level.

../images/IMG_9905.jpg

Manual Bug Fix on Bottom Side: Black Wire

Section #../doc/targets.md

Targets

It makes a difference whether you attach a discrete SPI flash chip to the chipflasher or whether you connect a chip-in-situ, which is soldered onto a system board. In the latter case, you will have to test a real life condition - just developing according to chip’s datasheet is not sufficient. Please compare to: ../doc/power-profiles.md

This file lists chips and system boards that have been successfully tested.

TODO: For some chips, the block protection mechanism is not fully supported.

TODO: We focus on Standard-SPI. Dual-SPI or Quad-SPI is not implemented.

Single SPI Flash Chips

Please compare to: ../firmware/src/libkick/chipspec.c

16M-Byte

8M-Byte

4M-Byte

2M-Byte

512K-Byte

System Boards

Not Yet Supported

These laptops are of special interest, because they have the same CPU-Chipset combination (Core Duo or Core2Duo and i945 Northbrigde) as the ThinkPad X60, which is known to lack the Manageability Engine completely. Unfortunately, these machines are not yet supported by coreboot.

Please compare to: https://www.coreboot.org/Laptop

Section #../doc/software-tools.md

Software Tools

This is a short list of software tools which are required...

If GNU Guix is available or if you are on GNU Guix System, type

    $ guix environment --pure -m guix/manifest.scm

to create a shell environment with all prerequisites set up. In case anything fails, the manifest file provides guix channel information to ease replication of guix itself.

Note this project is developed on GNU Guix System, thus the most recent state of art might fail on Trisquel due to unsupported tool versions, e.g.:

Please consider to install the GNU Guix Package Manager on top of Trisquel.

Precondition

Generate the Documentation

Extra Tools for Device Operation

Optional Tools

Section #../doc/parallax-tools.md

Parallax’ Tools for the Propeller Microcontroller

Parallax provides a bunch of tools, i.e.:

“Simple Libraries” Library Folder v1.2.0-5-c4f9a3e

The “Simple Libraries” folder is required.

File ../firmware/src/Makefile offers a target to clone the Parallax Simple-Libraries repository, checked out at commit c4f9a3e273002ec5e6f8b1d1ab95c14cb1823e82:

    $ make setup-lib-parallax

The library folder will then be available as:

    ../firmware/src/parallaxinc/Simple-Libraries/Learn/Simple Libraries/

Subfolders are passed as arguments to propeller-elf-gcc.

More recent versions of this folder lead to bigger binaries and are not yet usable for the chipflasher firmware.

Tool Installation via GNU Guix

GNU Guix provides a very comfortable way to...

Please install the GNU Guix package manager on top of your system, if not already. The GNU Guix project recommends installation using the latest release binary, which can be downloaded here: http://www.gnu.org/software/guix/download/. The instructions are linked there too. Alternatly, run GNU Guix System.

Alternatives & Resources

“SimpleIDE 1.0 RC1” Binary Package

With this binary package, all tools are bundled together. The latest packaged release for GNU/Linux is 1.0 RC1 from 11-24-2014.

Until more recent source repositories of these tools will work, Parallax suggests to install this old binary package “SimpleIDE 1.0 RC1” as a fallback.

This package is too old for Trisquel 10.0.1, dependencies cannot be resolved :-/

Download

Please visit page SimpleIDE Software for Linux, which provides binary packages for both, 32 and 64 bit architectures.

For your convenience, we provide a shortcut to the ZIP file here:

    $ wget https://www.parallax.com/package/simpleide-software-for-linux-propeller-c/?wpdmdl=3349 \
        -O SimpleIDE-Software-for-Linux-Propeller-C-3349.zip
    $ unzip SimpleIDE-Software-for-Linux-Propeller-C-3349.zip

Former Linux Installation Instructions

For your convenience, we provide our backup of former installation instructions, that are known to work.

Related Source Repositories

Original repositories of the first bundle release (SimpleIDE 1.0 RC1):

New Source Repositories

These are newer repositories from David Betz.

Until these repositories will work, Parallax suggests to install the old binary package “SimpleIDE 1.0 RC1” as a fallback.

Section #../doc/how-to-use.md

How to Use

Thank you for trying the Zerocat Chipflasher!

The Zerocat Chipflasher is your free-design hardware tool for flashing free firmware to BIOS chips. See #../doc/targets.md for supported chips and targets.

Hardware Features

Recommended Add-Ons in Case of Purchase

Typical Setup

The typical setup requires a host that has an RS232 serial port available, as the chipflasher board doesn't provide its USB port for data, it is used for power only.

../images/IMG_8020.jpeg

Zerocat Chipflasher, typical setup with an Y-USB-Cable

We recommend to drive the flasher with a librebooted or corebooted 64bit X60 ThinkPad. These machines can be flashed with the flashrom user space utility. A serial port is part of their docking station.

A typical setup looks like this:

  1. Computer with RS232 port, i.e.:

    • ThinkPad X60 with Docking Station and coreboot/libreboot firmware
    • Intel D945GCLF board with coreboot, no blobs required
    • other blobless desktop boards like GA-945GCM-S2L and GA-G41M-ES2L
  2. The Zerocat Chipflasher

  3. supported SPI flash chip, a single one or one soldered in place on its system board (section #../doc/targets.md)

  4. external USB-Power-Adapter (5V @ 1000mA) or at least two USB-ports from the computer.

You will use three cables for connection:

Setup with External USB Power Adapter

    +------------+                +-------------+           +·············+
    | Host, i.e. |                | Zerocat     |           +---------+   :
    |  X60 +     |                | Chipflasher |---+3.3V-->| SPI     |   :
    |  Docking   |<--RS232-data-->|             |<---SPI--->|  Chip   |   :
    |            |                | firmware:   |           +---------+   :
    | software:  |      +--+5V--->|  'kick'     |           :             :
    | 'connect'  |      |         +-------------+           : Systemboard :
    +------------+      |                                   : without     :
                    +--------------------+                  : Battery     :
                    | External USB Power |                  : nor Power   :
                    |  5V @ 1000mA       |                  +·············+
                    +--------------------+

Setup with Non-standard Y-USB-Cable

    +------------+                +-------------+           +·············+
    | Host, i.e. |                | Zerocat     |           +---------+   :
    |  X60 +     |<--RS232 data-->| Chipflasher |---+3.3V-->| SPI     |   :
    |  Docking   |                |             |<---SPI--->|  Chip   |   :
    |            |----+-+5V-USB-->| firmware:   |           +---------+   :
    | software:  |   /            |  'kick'     |           :             :
    | 'connect'  |--+             +-------------+           : Systemboard :
    |            |                                          : without     :
    +----------- +                                          : Battery     :
                                                            : nor Power   :
                                                            +·············+

Power Supply

WARNING: Proceed on your own risk!

  1. Discharge your body (touch any grounded metal like a water pipe) and make sure your are not electrostatically charged.

  2. If you are flashing a sysboard:

    • Do not power the sysboard on, nor connect any power plug.
    • Remove the main battery
    • Unplug the small coin-battery
  3. Power and GND will be applied to the SPI-chip by the chipflasher board only.

    Make sure you have not mixed these wires!
    See ../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page13.sch.png for pinouts.

  4. To power the chipflasher:

    • You may safely use your computer’s USB port according to official specs if you are going to flash a single desoldered chip.

    • In case of flashing chips in situ, soldered onto sysboards, please use an external USB-Power-Adapter (5VDC @ 1.000mA).

    • As a workaround, you may try a non-standard Y-USB-Cable which should work well in many cases, as the maximal requested current per USB port typically won't exceed 500mA. See ../doc/power-profiles.md to get into details.

Clock Quality

The Zerocat Chipflasher is a handmade tool with long wires/open case that may catch or generate electromagnetic interference. To give you an idea about clock pulse quality and speed, we probed the signals right at the test-clip for you. The maximal SPI clock speed should be above 2.5MHz.

../images/IMG_5716-small.jpg

Zerocat Chipflasher, typical clock pulse quality; here: 2.2MHz

Precautions

The software connect and the firmware kick are talking to each other via serial RS232 lines. Occasional transmission errors will be repaired automatically. However, if you encounter severe connection problems that render you helpless when trying to verify your data, boot the host with WLAN and network switched off, make sure that no other resource demanding process will start up (e.g. browser), and try again.

As long as the SPI-Bus Status LED (red) is not active, the SPI-Chip is not powered and you may feel free to connect/disconnect your target. However, if the LED is active, don't touch the connection!

If the system hangs for any reason, you should be save to kill the chipflasher’s power, because all SPI bus pins are configured to enter a harmless tristate mode right at brown-out or power-off. However, you might notice some flickering of the SPI-Power LED, so better do not rely on that procedure.

Prerequisites

It is assumed that you have followed the steps mentioned in #../doc/README.md and now have two terminal windows available, with proper environments set up, i.e. Terminal#1 and Terminal#2.

Get Prepared

Connect host and chipflasher with each other, i.e. attach the Y-USB-power-cable to two USB-Ports, attach the RS232-data-cable.

Attach the SPI-cable, but omit the target board (or chip) for now.

  1. Switch the chipflasher device on and verify that the power status LED is bright.

  2. Use a screwdriver to adjust the flasher’s CE# pull-up resistor to its clock-wise maximal position, that is to its biggest value.

  3. Attach the free pinheader connectors of the SPI-cable to the SPI-Chip...

    • by using the 8-pin DIL-socket for discrete chips,
    • by using a test-clip for chips in situ,
    • or by connecting previously soldered, flying wires.

    WARNING: You must not mix wires!
    See ../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page13.sch.png and check pinouts in advance.

Operate the Chipflasher

The flasher is operated via two terminal windows in parallel:

Feel free to switch between terminals as required.

Try a Real Target

  1. In Terminal#1, select d: probe chip in order to probe the BIOS-chip for its ID:

    ../images/screenshot-20211222-161453.png

    Screenshot: Probe Chip

    Use a screwdriver in counter-clock-wise direction to adjust the CE# pull-up resistor to smaller values until your chip gets clearly detected. See #../doc/targets.md.

  2. Select ?: show menu to get a verbose menu output:

    ../images/screenshot-20211222-161531.png

    Screenshot: Show Menu

  3. Select c: read chip in order to store chip’s content in your first chip2file.txt.

    WARNING: Consider to create backups between read operations, as file chip2file.txt gets overwritten without prompt!

  4. Switch to Terminal#2 in order to monitor and manipulate in- and outgoing chip data.

  5. Continue to Operate the Flasher via Menu (Terminal#1)

    You may now use the menu for dumping, erasing, flashing, verifying your chip. Check register bits for appropriate configurations.

    WARNING: Proceed with care, you may brick your machine!
    Potentially dangerous hotkeys are all upper case, thus protecting you from accidental key hits as long as <CAPS-LOCK> is inactive.

    When using the menu, wait until your selected procedure finishes.
    With q: cancel/(SPI-Bus off)/quit you may cancel it at any time.

  6. When done, hit q in order to quit connect.

    NOTE: In case the SPI bus has been left powered after chip detection due to volatile bits in status registers, it is powered off as an intermediate step before you actually quit the program with an additional q.

  7. Detach the SPI-cables from the target SPI-chip and power off the flasher device.

    Remember to plug a system board’s coin-battery back in.

Done!

Onboard EEPROM (Terminal#1)

Until now, we have taken care to always start from free-design RAM using the make -C ../host/start startram command. The pre-flashed firmware in the onboard EEPROM has not been touched, yet.

If you want to try the pre-flashed firmware, type:

    make -C ../host/start start

If you want to upload a newly built firmware and make things permanent, type:

    make -C ../host/start startrom

Custom Invocation of connect (Terminal#1)

Alternately, you might invoke the connect utility manually:

  1. Change into ../host/src:

        cd ../host/src
    
  2. Clean folders, reset the configuration:

        make clean
    
  3. Compile both programs, kick and connect:

        make
    
  4. Configure the desired baudrate, e.g:

        make -C ../start/ baud57600
    
  5. Adjust the port pointer, e.g.:

        ln -sf /dev/ttyS1 ../../firmware/start/tty-port-pointer
    
  6. Upload kick, the firmware:

        make -C ../../firmware/start loadram
    
  7. Invoke connect with matching parameters, i.e.:

        ./connect \
            ../start/chip2file.txt \
            ../start/file2chip.txt \
            ../../firmware/start/tty-port-pointer \
            B57600
    
  8. In case you want to process in- and outgoing data via ../host/start/Makefile, update ROOT_HOST_IO, CHIP2FILE and FILE2CHIP according to your choices.

Section #../doc/RS232-cable-pinouts.md

RS232 Cable Pinouts

These RS232 data cables have been used during development. Their pinouts are provided here in the hope they will be useful.

Number 1) and 2) seem to be the best, for they have proper grounding of GND and Protective GND. Usual length of each cable is about 100cm.

All pin names reflect their function from the host’s point of view (DTE pin labels). See chipflasher-page11.sch or chipflasher-page11.sch.png for more details.

Pin Functions and Zerocat Connect Usage

    DTE Function        | DTE pin label | DTE pin | DCE pin | Zerocat Connect Usage (Host)
    ------------        | ------------- | ------- | ------- | ----------------------------
    Carrier Detect      | CD            | 1       | 1       | not used
    Data Set Ready      | DSR           | 6       | 2       | not used
    Receive Data        | RXD           | 2       | 3       | receive data
    Request To Send     | RTS           | 7       | 4       | alternative reset line
    Transmit Data       | TXD           | 3       | 5       | transmit data
    Clear To Send       | CTS           | 8       | 6       | not used
    Data Terminal Ready | DTR           | 4       | 7       | default reset line
    Ring Indicator      | RI            | 9       | 8       | not used
    Ground              | GND           | 5       | 9       | gnd, power return

1) Cable with 9 Wires and Shield

    DTE pin label               | DTE pin | colour | DCE pin
    -------------               | ------- | ------ | -------
    CD                          | 1       | brown  | 1
    DSR                         | 6       | grey   | 2
    RXD                         | 2       | blue   | 3
    RTS                         | 7       | green  | 4
    TXD                         | 3       | red    | 5
    CTS                         | 8       | yellow | 6
    DTR                         | 4       | violet | 7
    RI                          | 9       | orange | 8
    GND                         | 5       | black  | 9
    PGND                        | 5       | shield |

2) Keyboard Cable with 4 Wires and Shield

    DTE pin label               | DTE pin | colour | DCE pin
    -------------               | ------- | ------ | -------
    RXD                         | 2       | white  | 3
    TXD                         | 3       | red    | 5
    DTR                         | 4       | green  | 7
    GND                         | 5       | yellow | 9
    PGND                        | 5       | shield |

3) Mouse Cable with 5 Wires

    DTE pin label | DTE pin | colour | DCE pin
    ------------- | ------- | ------ | -------
    RXD           | 2       | brown  | 3
    RTS           | 7       | white  | 4
    TXD           | 3       | orange | 5
    DTR           | 4       | green  | 7
    GND           | 5       | blue   | 9

4) Mouse Cable with 6 Wires

    DTE pin label | DTE pin | colour | DCE pin
    ------------- | ------- | ------ | -------
    DSR           | 6       | white  | 2
    RXD           | 2       | black  | 3
    RTS           | 7       | yellow | 4
    TXD           | 3       | brown  | 5
    DTR           | 4       | red    | 7
    GND           | 5       | orange | 9
Section #../doc/neighbourhood.md

Neighbourhood

TODO: Format cites more clearly.

TODO: Update information about Teensy.

TODO: Add the HiFive1.

Some terms explained

Important People

Flashrom Software

flashrom is a utility for identifying, reading, writing, verifying and erasing flash chips. It is designed to flash BIOS/EFI/coreboot/firmware/optionROM images on mainboards, network/graphics/storage controller cards, and various other programmer devices.

Source

Flashrom’s native protocol is serprog, but a lot of external flashers are supported.

The Chipflasher and its Neighbours

Section #../doc/version-history.md

Version History

This history gives you a version overview of the chipflasher firmware, software and documentation – in contrast to its hardware, which is represented by files under the ../hardware folder. To see the version history of the hardware, please check #../doc/board-version-history.md instead.

Version Scheme

    v<major>.<minor>.<revision>[-<number-of-new-commits>-<commit-hash>]

NOTE: Tags are using the first three numbers only, i.e. v0.1.0.

A fully qualified version description thus might look like this:

    v0.4.10-79-7ccc6034

Most recent Changes, not yet Tagged

v0.6.9

v0.6.8

This version takes advantage from updated files under ../hardware/, see ../doc/board-version-history.md.

v0.6.7

v0.6.6

Branch firmware2-wip has been merged into master.

As a result, the second firmware approach called kick2 is available in ../firmware2/src/, whereas the default firmware called kick is offered in ../firmware/src/ just as before.

Both programs are configured to start with an interface to connect, this project’s own host utility.

Follow advices in ../doc/README.md to build the complete documentation.

If interested in trying kick2 with its interface to flashrom, checkout branch flashrom-interface and see what has been achieved.

v0.6.5

v0.6.4

v0.6.3

v0.6.2

v0.6.1

v0.6.0

v0.5.0

v0.4.10

This version is ready to be run on GNU Guix System.

v0.4.9

v0.4.8

v0.4.7

v0.4.6

v0.4.5

v0.4.4

NOTE: This version works best with board versions board-edition-1 and board-v1.2.0.

v0.4.3

v0.4.2

v0.4.1

v0.4.0

This version works best in conjunction with board version board-edition-1, please compare to #../doc/board-version-history.md.

v0.3.0

This version works best in conjunction with board-v1.1.0.

Note that older boards may still be used, but the configuration file should be modified according to twisted pin functions.

v0.2.5

v0.2.4

Improve hardware documentation...

v0.2.3

Make the chipflasher repository freely distributable...

v0.2.2

Yep, this is a real version! It comes with a complete set of licenses.

v0.2.1.e87edec

Unfortunately, version v0.2.1 introduced a severe bug, due to exorbitant HUB-RAM usage. The system will hang. This commit reverts the commit that introduced that bug and reduces code size by 20 bytes. Now, flashing should work fine although we are still pretty much at the edge.

v0.2.1

Important bugfixes for chip readouts:

New features:

v0.2.0

This version must be used with board-v1.0.0 and later, however board-v1.0.5 is recommended due to its pnp MOSFET.

v0.1.0

This version may be used with all v0-boards (i.e. below board-v1.0.0), usage is probably limited to X60/X60s and X200/X200s sysboards.

Section #../doc/board-version-history.md

Board Version History

This history gives you a version overview of the chipflasher hardware in contrast to its firmware or host utility software. The chipflasher hardware is represented by files under the ../hardware folder, most prominently to mention the ../hardware/gschem/chipflasher-page??.sch circuit schematic files. To see the history of firmware, software and documentation, please check #../doc/version-history.md instead.

Board Version Scheme

    board-v<major>.<minor>.<revision>[-<number-of-new-commits>-<commit-hash>]

NOTE: Tags are using the first three numbers only, i.e. board-v0.1.0.

NOTE: There may be exceptions, which do not follow the Board Version Scheme.

Changes, not yet Tagged

board-v1.3.2

board-v1.3.1

board-v1.3.0

The PCB of this version still is fully compatible with board-v1.1.0 and board-edition-1. Set jumper across J4:2 and J4:3.

board-v1.2.4

board-v1.2.3

board-v1.2.2

We continue to use the unmodified PCB of tag board-v1.1.0.

board-v1.2.1

We continue to use the unmodified PCB of tag board-v1.1.0.

board-v1.2.0

Same as board-edition-1, but we resume the Board Version Scheme as described above. This helps us to avoid ambiguities from now on as the version board-edition-1 is RYF-Certified and must not be linked to any changed content. Note the front panel sticker has been updated accordingly.

We continue to use the unmodified PCB of tag board-v1.1.0.

board-edition-1

General info:

Upgraded comments in ../hardware/gschem/board.sch:

Device upgrades as drop-in replacements in ../hardware/gschem/board.sch allow us to access the sysboard of a ThinkPad T60 while access to a ThinkPad X60/X60s sysboard now works more reliable as well:

board-v1.1.3

board-v1.1.2

The file ../hardware/pcb/board.pcb has been reverted to version board-v1.1.0 which allows us to use already manufactured PCBs in conjunction with updated files and front-label version tags.

board-v1.1.1

board-v1.1.0

A second linear power regulator has been added, which separates the Propeller’s supply from that of the SPI bus. That way, the chipflasher is independend from power failure due to high inrush currents when the target sysboard is powered.

That allows as well to enable the Propeller’s built-in Brown-Out-Detection: Pins keep a well defined level even if the supply voltage is not certain, a very usual situation during power-off.

Furthermore, a simple overcurrent and overvoltage protection has been added right behind the USB power entry. A Polyfuse is used, which limits the maximal USB current to about 1000mA. Currents of up to 500mA are well in range, which is enough for all tested boards except the ThinkPad-X60s sysboard. However, the latter still can be flashed although current consumption is throttled to around 700mA by the Polyfuse. (Note that the related developer board (board-dev.sch) is equipped with a 0.025Ohms PowerShunt which facilitates overall current measurement.)

NOTE: This version ships with a first elaborated pcb layout file, which is untested by the time of writing.

WARNING: To ease pcb layout, two pins have been twisted, thus requiring the updated firmware version v0.3.0 (See #../doc/version-history.md for details.)

board-v1.0.5

The pnp transistor has been replaced by a pnp MOSFET, because when flashing the X220 the transistor gets too hot.

board-v1.0.4

Add standard SPI chip layout examples, which are handy to have available when connecting the SPI-Cable.

board-v1.0.3

Small bug fix: A junction had been misplaced.

board-v1.0.2

Generate new devices numbers, they will be used in the bill of materials (bom.md).

board-v1.0.1

Update SPI cable to new SPI connector layout.

WARNING: This should be regarded as a major hardware change! Upgrading your firmware is required!

board-v1.0.0

This board supports more sysboards.

This board requires a firmware update.

board-v0.4.0

Board with protection diodes across power regulator, in preparation for next board version.

board-v0.3.10

First Tandem-Workshop. Board with different SPI connector, uses 5x2 pinheader.

board-v0.3.0

Starts from RAM as well.

board-v0.2.0

Reset line is DTR or RTS (optional).

board-v0.1.8

First board that has been shipped for testing.

board-v0.1.0

board-v0.0.0

Initial board.

Section #../doc/GNU-FDL.md

GNU Free Documentation License

Version 1.3, 3 November 2008

Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc. http://fsf.org/

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

0. PREAMBLE

The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document "free" in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

This License is a kind of "copyleft", which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.

We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.

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A "Modified Version" of the Document means any work containing the Document or a portion of it, either copied verbatim, or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter section of the Document that deals exclusively with the relationship of the publishers or authors of the Document to the Document's overall subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could fall directly within that overall subject. (Thus, if the Document is in part a textbook of mathematics, a Secondary Section may not explain any mathematics.) The relationship could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding them.

The "Invariant Sections" are certain Secondary Sections whose titles are designated, as being those of Invariant Sections, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. If a section does not fit the above definition of Secondary then it is not allowed to be designated as Invariant. The Document may contain zero Invariant Sections. If the Document does not identify any Invariant Sections then there are none.

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10. FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE

The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License "or any later version" applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.

11. RELICENSING

"Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site" (or "MMC Site") means any World Wide Web server that publishes copyrightable works and also provides prominent facilities for anybody to edit those works. A public wiki that anybody can edit is an example of such a server. A "Massive Multiauthor Collaboration" (or "MMC") contained in the site means any set of copyrightable works thus published on the MMC site.

"CC-BY-SA" means the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license published by Creative Commons Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California, as well as future copyleft versions of that license published by that same organization.

"Incorporate" means to publish or republish a Document, in whole or in part, as part of another Document.

An MMC is "eligible for relicensing" if it is licensed under this License, and if all works that were first published under this License somewhere other than this MMC, and subsequently incorporated in whole or in part into the MMC, (1) had no cover texts or invariant sections, and (2) were thus incorporated prior to November 1, 2008.

The operator of an MMC Site may republish an MMC contained in the site under CC-BY-SA on the same site at any time before August 1, 2009, provided the MMC is eligible for relicensing.

ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

    Copyright (C)  YEAR  YOUR NAME.
    Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
    under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
    or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
    with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
    A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
    Free Documentation License".

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the "with … Texts." line with this:

    with the Invariant Sections being LIST THEIR TITLES, with the
    Front-Cover Texts being LIST, and with the Back-Cover Texts being LIST.

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.