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I am looking for a very low power Micro-controller to interface with the RockBlock Iridium modem. The MCU I am thinking of purchasing is the Gecko Zero by Silicon Labs.

I want to know if it is possible to compile the Rockblock-IridiumSBD Arduino library for the Gecko Zero. The Gecko Zero is a 32 bit ARM MCU.

IridiumSBD Library

Gecko Zero MCU

  • If you have the full source of the library and all its dependencies you should be able to port it. The issue is not so much the CPU core, but rather the mechanics of peripheral interface. There are already a number of supported ARM targets, both Atmel-based boards from Arduino.cc and others, as well as those with other vendor's ARM parts like the teensy series. Note however that making a true low power design atop the Arduino framework may require extra work - at a certain point you may just want to create well designed firmware from scratch. If you are new to this, buy a board not a chip. – Chris Stratton Oct 10 '15 at 17:11
  • It uses serial to communicate, so looking at it, the only thing you need to port is the IridiumSBD::send function (as far as I can see). – Gerben Oct 10 '15 at 18:35
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Depending on the rest of your application, you might find the easiest path is to use the Gecko with the mbed.org tools. There already seem to be mbed Gecko development boards so the task is, to port the Rockblock-IridiumSBD Arduino library.

The benefit of using mbed with the Gecko is it looks like mbed have all of the libraries, including low-power control implemented.

The Rockblock-IridiumSBD Arduino library won't compile 'out of the packet' on mbed.

However, the Rockblock-IridiumSBD Arduino library appears to be a serial interface over a few wires. They recommend 'soft serial' which uses digitalWrite, under program control, and no deep access to Arduino peripherals. That should be relatively straightforward to port to mbed. Mbed has equivalent library calls for digitalWrite, so a first attempt might be a few global search and replace edits.

The alternative would be to use Gecko with an Open Source or commercial development system. However, mbed would provide a faster start, if you have good internet access and are not too paranoid about security, because the tools are 'cloud based', saving you time to set up the tools, and their is an mbed community who might help you over the initial hurdles.

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  • You can often (but not always) export an mbed project as a Makefile to drive gcc offline. It can be a decent way to setup such an arm project, though the results often need some detailed adjustment. – Chris Stratton Oct 10 '15 at 19:25
  • @ChrisStratton - yes, agreed. Still, IMHO, having a working, tested tool chain, repo, and supportive community with little more effort than signing up has quite a lot to recommend it. It is not unusual for quite small obstacles at the beginning to waste quite a lot of energy Easy to install IDEs like Arduino, or zero-install systems like mbed can help. They can reduce the initial hurdles, leaving lots of time, energy and enthusiasm for later refinements like a local build system. – gbulmer Oct 10 '15 at 23:19

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