Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Budget CC1110/2430/2510 programmer/debugger

Although the TI CC debugger is a relative inexpensive debugging tool, I did stumble across a cheaper option that is compatible with the TI software suite (SmartRF Studio & IAR) and could be used for development or re-flashing a dead CC debugger/SmartRF04EB.

An alternative to the CC debugger is to use the more expensive SmartRF04EB development board. The SmartRF04 essentially contains a C8051F320 and along with additional circuitry for level shifting and on board peripherals. The chipcon debug/programming interface for these TI chips is  just 3 wires Debug Data, Debug Clock and RESET. Therefore the interface required from the board is minimal if we disregard the level shifting feature and assume 3 volts.

So I started searching for a C8051F320 board that could possible could do the trick, in the end I found the understated EX-F320 development board by WaveShare. Initially I wasn't sure whether it would possible to use this board or not but ordered one considering its low cost (approx £12+£4p&p). Luckily I already had a Silabs programmer to flash the EX-F320, in fact the Silabs programmer also uses a C8051F320! Its possible to build a cheap Silabs parallel port programmer or buy a cheap clone from Aliexpress.

Just over a week later I received the EX-F320, it came with 2 different USB cables for powering the board, 2 sets of 2 pin jump leads and 2 sets of 4 pin jump leads (I can't see the point of the 4 pin leads, it would have been better to supply individual jump leads!).

A powering up the EX-F320 and verifying it was recognised by the Silabls programmer I downloaded and installed SmartRF Studio (SRFS). Next I flashed the bootloader (srf04eb_bootloader.hex) and the firmware (fw0400.hex) to the EX-F320. These files are located in \Program Files\Texas Instruments\SmartRF Tools\Firmware\SmartRF04EB. A quick restart of the EX-F320 would determined if the SmartRF04 firmware would run or not. Fortunately after power up the EX-F320 was recognised by SRFS as a SmartRF04 board.

The next step was to locate the SmartRF04 debug pins on the EX-F320, these turn out to be the following pins:

P2.3 (RESET)

Ideally the 3 pins should be protected with a buffer circuit (74HC245/74HC244) possible with the inclusion of pin P2.2 to enable ouput (have to verify with the SmartRF04 schematic).  The EX-F320 also produces a regulated +3.3v supply which can be used to power the board to flash/debug. 

Final stage was to test (I tested without a buffer circuit) chip detection. I used Ciseco XRF CC1110 module in combination with their Xino basic board.

The CC1110 was also detected by IAR (kickstart) and could be programmed/debugged without any problems.

Another plus point is that the EX-F320 can be used for 8051 development once it is no longer required for CC development. 


  1. Do you think the same process would work using this board

    Programmed via JTAG ??

    1. Hi, not sure it will work with C8051F340 because the pin out and clock speeds are different compared to the F320.

  2. Edit to my last posting (still to be approved)

    I forgot, I ordered one of these instead

  3. oops. Sorry. Pressed publish by accident.

    Anyway, this board appears as a SmartRF04EB, so I just need to work out the pinout of the connector at the end and wire it up to a CC2540 BLE module. I'll keep you posted on progress.

  4. Well. I wired it up to a HM10 (CC2540) but the SmartRF04EB clone doesn't seem to detect the HM10 :-(

    I'll try hooking my scope up to it tomorrow to see if it toggles reset at anytime or sends data and clock signals but at the moment its not looking very promising :-(

    1. I have previously tested with a CC2540 module and it seem to be work fine using the EX-F320. This is the module

    2. Given up with the board for the moment and ordered a different CC-Debugger clone for $16 US


    3. Make sure the clone has a CC2511F32 plus there are different schematic revisions of the CC Debugger so be careful with the firmware upgrade.

  5. The clone is just a C8051F320 , a regulator and a few discrete components.
    Its this board

    I don't think the firmware update did anything, as the device still is visible on USB and SmartRF Studio still shows the firmware version number etc, so if it had updated its more than likely to have bricked it.

    Either way I think I'm better of waiting for the CC-Debugger clone
    to arrive as it looks far more like the TI CC-Debugger and it seems to have the buffers on the back of the PCB etc