Open search

CANopen boot-loader and firmware management tool

In January 2012, three software engineers with long-time CANopen experience established Emtas (Germany). One of the first products of the company is a CANopen boot-loader running on different micro-controllers. Additionally, the company provides the CANopen Update Manager supporting a direct firmware download.

(Photo: Emtas)

NOWADAYS BOOT-LOADERS BECOME increasingly important due to shorter development cycles and the demand for updates in the field. Micro-controller vendors often support their hardware with some kind of boot-loader. But for devices in a CANopen network, a boot-loader, which complies with the CANopen protocols, is required. Especially in remote locations like e.g. in sub-sea applications where nobody is able to access the devices to update the firmware in any other way. Often the use of a full-featured CANopen stack is inappropriate due to the usually high memory consumption. In contrast, the newly developed product of Emtas is focused on the firmware update task and was developed with low flash memory footprint in mind. So it only supports the necessary CANopen services (SDO, NMT slave and heartbeat producer) and objects for a boot-loader but is still fully CANopen-compatible. The boot-loader is available for 16- and 32-bit micro-controllers and mostly fits into 4 to 6 KiB of flash and can be easily adapted to other targets. Special manufacturer-specific requirements like a signature check or decryption of the firmware can be added to the boot-loader.

The counterpart for a boot-loader is a firmware download tool. Although the use of a generic CANopen configuration tool is mostly possible to update the firmware of a device, service staff can use a dedicated update tool more easily. The CANopen Update Manager by Emtas is such a tool to update CANopen devices equipped with a CANopen boot-loader. The CANopen Update Manager supports a direct firmware update but as well the management of multiple firmware files for different nodes with different versions.

A key feature of the tool is the update packages. To achieve a straightforward update of the firmware in the field a development engineer can define update packages. These are zip files, which contain the firmware files for several nodes and a set of configurations and checks, which are automatically performed when updating the software. Using these update packages the tool configures itself automatically, connects to the devices and transmits the new firmware to all devices which have to be updated. Manufacturer-specific code in DLLs to sign or encrypt the firmware files can be added by an extension interface. The update tool supports CAN interfaces of several manufactures and is available for Windows and Linux.

The product range of Emtas will also include a Misra (Motor Industry Software Reliability Association) compliant CANopen slave stack. In addition to the firmware management tool, further tools for the development and configuration of CANopen devices are scheduled for the second half of the year.

Publish date