Wireless Debugging Tool ctxLink Opens Crowdfunding

Engineer Sid Price has officially opened crowdfunding for his latest creation, a debugging probe based on the popular 1BitSquared Black Magic Probe design with a twist: the ability to operate wholly wirelessly via battery power and a Wi-Fi data link.

Sid Price’s ctxLink debugger offers USB or Wi-Fi connectivity. (📷: Sid Price)

“When connected to a battery or powered from the target, ctxLink brings remote hardware to your source level debugger, even in situations where a USB cable might be impractical,” writes Price of his design. “Whether you’re debugging a robotic system, programming a shielded device, working around an awkward enclosure, or hacking on a project that’s just a little bit too far away from your sofa, ctxLink can help you bridge the gap.”

“And if your target is really remote? Like in another country remote? ctxLink can bridge that gap too. Just configure your router to forward incoming connections for the GDB server port to ctxLink, and your local debugger will gain access to the remote device.”

The ctxLink is a compact four-layer open-hardware design. (📷: Sid Price)

An open hardware design with full support for including future improvements in the base BMP firmware, the ctxLink offers SWD and JTAG debugging interfaces with support for a range of Arm Cortex targets from vendors such as Microchip, Nordic, NXP, and S with target voltages from 1.7 to 5V. In addition to its Wi-Fi connectivity, which can be configured using a smartphone via HTTP Provisioning or using Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), the debugger can be connected via USB for wired use; during wireless operation power can be provided by a Li-Po battery, with USB charging as standard, or the board can draw power from 3–5V target devices.

The four-layer PCB design uses an STM32F401RE microcontroller and Microchip WINC1500 Wi-Fi module and measures 89mm x 33mm. Pricing has been set at $99 with free U.S. shipping or $8 worldwide shipping, rising to $149 once the crowdfunding campaign is complete, though Price has yet to confirm a finalized shipping date for backers.

More information on the project is available on its Crowd Supply campaign page.

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Author: Gareth Halfacree