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ASCII Text Communications (ATC) - Serial Control Protocol for Equinox Programmers

 
 
 

The ‘ASCII Text Control’ communications protocol or ‘ATC’ is designed as a simple way for a Remote Test System to control the basic programming operations of an Equinox programmer via an RS-232 serial link. It is an ‘ASCII’ protocol with simple commands which can initiate and monitor any 1 of the 64 pre-loaded ‘Programming Projects’ stored in the programmer.

Implementation of this protocol is straightforward due to the limited number of commands and restricted functionality. It is therefor ideal for interfacing the programmer to PC DOS applications, In-Circuit Testers and custom Test Systems. As this is an ASCII protocol, it can be quickly evaluated using any PC Terminal Emulation Software Utility such as Hyperterminal.

 
 

Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ):

 
 
What is the ATC protocol ?
Which programmers support the ATC protocol ?
What is a 'Programming Project' ?
How many programmers can I control with the ATC protocol ?
What systems can control the programmer via the ATC protocol ?
What are the limitations of the protocol ?

What is the ATC protocol ?

The ATC Protocol is a method of controlling an Equinox programmer via a simple set of ASCII commands sent via an RS-232 communications link. It is ideal for use with In-Circuit Test (ICT) equipment which does not support Microsoft Windows control. The ATC protocol can be esily tested in any Terminal Emulation Software e.g. Hyperterminal, making it an ideal way to test a Programming Project.

A simple example of how to start a programming operation and then monitor the staus of the programmer is as follows:

Example 1 - to start a programming operation...
SEND --> PROGRAM PROJECT1[CR]

Example 2 - to poll the programmer status...
SEND --> INFO[CR]
RECEIVE --> BUSY or PASS or FAIL

Where [CR] is 'Carriage Return'

If the programming operation fails, a single byte Error Code is output from the programmer to indicate the failure mode.

For a complete list of ASCII commands, please see the Application Note in the Downloads section.

Which programmers support the ATC protocol ?

The Equinox programmers which are capable of supporting ‘ASCII Text Mode’ control are listed in the table below.

 

Programmer

ASCII Text Mode Control

PPM3 MK2

Enabled as standard

PPM4 MK1

Enabled as standard

ISPnano Series 1

Enabled as standard

ISPnano Series 2

Enabled as standard

ISPnano Series 3

Enabled as standard

ISPnano Series 3 ATE

Enabled as standard

ISPnano Series 4 ATE

Enabled as standard

ISPnano-MUX 2/4/8

Enabled as standard

 

What is a 'Programming Project' ?

A Programming Project is a pre-compiled set of instructions for programming a target chip. The Project File includes everything that is required to progam a chip in Standalone Mode including:

  • Target paramaters - voltage, current, SPI / JTAG speed etc.
  • FLASH Hex File
  • EEPROM Hex File
  • Configuration Fuses
  • Security Fuses

All of the settings and data are combined into a single Programming Project file which is then given a name which can be used to initiate the project via the ATC protocol. e.g. project_test1

It is possible to upload up to 64 independent Programming Projects to the FS2000A, FS2003 and PPM3-MK2 programmers. The Epsilon5 programmer is limited to 1 project or 2 'Chained Projects'. Any one of the 64 projects can then be executed by sending 'PROGRAM projectname [CR]' to the programmer via the STC protocol.

How many programmers can I control with the ATC protocol ?

The ASCII protocol only supports control of a single programmer connected to a dedicated COM port on a PC or a serial port on an In-Circuit Tester (ICT). It is not possible to control multiple programmers on the RS485 network using the ASCII protocol.

What systems can control the programmer via the ATC protocol ?

The ATC protocol is very simple to implement as it is an ASCII protocol. It is compatible with any Remote System which is capable of sending / receiving serial data via RS232 at 38,400 Baud.

Typical control systems include:
1. PC running MS-DOS
2. PC running any version of Windows
3. In-Circuit Test System with spare RS232 Serial Port
4. PLC with spare RS232 Serial Port

What are the limitations of the protocol ?

The ATC Protocol has been designed as a simple method to allow a Remote Application such as an In-Circuit Tester (ICT) to control the basic operations of an Equinox programmer. The protocol only supports the programming of entire ‘Programming Projects’ which are already uploaded to the programmer on-board FLASH memory. This protocol does not support writing / reading of individual bytes or blocks of data to / from a Target Device. It can therefore not be used for writing / reading blocks of data such as serial numbers and calibration data.

 

The limitations of this protocol are as follows:

  1. The protocol only supports programming of Programming Projects which are pre-loaded into the Programmer on-board FLASH Memory Store.
  2. The protocol does not support writing / reading of individual bytes or blocks of data to / from a Target Device.
  3. The protocol does not support uploading of ‘Programming Projects’ to the programmer. This must be performed using the EQTools – Project Upload Wizard.
  4. Only very limited diagnostics are available using this protocol ie. FAIL + Error Number.
  5. The protocol only works in RS232 mode with a single programmer. It cannot be used with multiple PPM3-MK2 programmers in RS485 mode.

 
 
 
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