RoadTest: Renesas CAT-M1 Cloud Kit CK-RA6M5
Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Renesas EK-RA2L1, AVNET Monarch LTE-M DK
What were the biggest problems encountered?: None of the examples would build with the latest Firmware Development Toolchain FSP 4.0, The firmware that comes preinstalled with the kit was not on the kit landing page, so I could not analyze it. The Blinky example could not be debugged on the kit? the ETHERNET Example could be built with FSP 3.8, but generated an error and I stopped my experiments with it. the CELLULAR example had the wrong SIM card instructions, so I could not get my SIM card activated?
My idea in evaluating this Renesas Evaluation kit is to test and experiment connecting the kit to the AWS IoT Core Cloud service. This Cloud kit offers multiple network connectivity options – Ethernet and LTE CAT-M1 with RYZ014A Pmod. The kit has 7 On-board sensors that can be used to gather telemetry data that can be sent to a cloud service.
The sensors are as follows:
Humidity & Temp, Indoor Air Quality, Outdoor Air Quality, Biometric, Barometric Pressure, IMU Gyroscope/Accelerometer/Magnetometer, MEMS Microphones
I'm excited to experiment with the Biometric heart rate sensor in particular.
If you’re interested in using the IMU Gyroscope/Accelerometer/Magnetometer, the release notes for this kit states that "the 9-AXIS MEMS Motion Tracking Sensor U7 (TDK ICM-20948) is not fitted on this CK-RA6M5 board due to shortages in component availability". So, I will not be able to experiment with this sensor, Maybe a supply chain shortage. This is disappointing.
I have another Renesas Evaluation Kit (EK-RA2L1) that I reviewed and have experience using the FSP for Firmware development. If you’re interested the link is: RA2L1 EVK(Ultra-Low Power 48MHz Arm® Cortex®-M23) - Review. This kit allowed me to become familiar with the embedded development environment for the Renasas RA line of MCU's. I have more explanations of the usage of the FSP and eStudio, in this review, so I won't deal with that here.
I do have some LTE-M experience also, by completing RoadTest here on element14 on several LTE Evaluation kits. Recently, the Nordic nRF9160 DK. This is a very well designed board. The documentation and tools make embedded Open Source Development easy. I was expecting to have connection issues . Overall the product was easier to get up and running then the AVNET Monarch LTE-M Development Kit. If your interested, here is the link to my review: Nordic nRF9160 DK. Another being the ADVENT Monarch LTE-M DK. I reviewed this back last in March of 2021 for the USA version of the AVNET Monarch LTE-M Development Kit, With this evaluation kit there were 3 hardware layers and one LTE service provider. I did have troubles with the LTE service, Verizon Thingspace , but I was able to get the Azure IoT central cloud connection to eventually work. If your interested, here is the link to my review: AVNET Monarch LTE-M Development Kit - Review. This review will make the third roadtest for LTE-M Development kit.
I have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge by participating in RoadTest and Design Challenges on the element14 community. I have been supplied with many development kits, from companies such as NXP, Lattice, Renesas, Nordic, Infineon/Cypress. I have done experimenting with the several models of the Raspberry PI, along with various shields. I have also used several Arduinos (MKR Wan 1300 and the NANO 33 IoT ) along with the Groove sensor starter kit .
I have typically evaluated the Embedded Software environments of these Dev Kits. I also, have evaluated the community surrounding the kit by utilizing the Forums, and Support available for the kits on the company website. I also evaluate and scrutinize the documentation on accuracy and interpretation.
For this review I will attempt to follow the guides presented for this Cloud kit. I will be documenting my notes on following these guides.
I received my kit via UPS on a Monday November 21, 2022. I took the following Unboxing video to show how the kit is packaged.
The kit contains:
The printed sheets contained in the package, do not include much information, and refers to the Renesas website for getting started. T
Quick Start Card
The Quick Start Card, points you to a page on the Renesas web site that will list resources available for the kit.
Release Notes for the board
The release notes page, mentions that the IMU Gyroscope/Accelerometer/Magnetometer is not available on the board. This was sort of a disappointment for me, since I would have liked to experiment with this sensor.
A guide for the RYZ014A Module
The 4 page quick start guide for the RYZ014A Module contains kit contents and a pin diagram and description of the PMOD connector on the module.
This concludes the Unboxing of the kit. Now I will get started on evaluating the capabilities of the kit by following the getting started guide and running some examples.
To be clear on the versions of the development environment, I started by installing: FSP4.1/eStudio22.10.0 but I ran into build problems with the examples with this release.
So I installed an earlier version, FSP3.8/eStudio22.4.0 I had no build problems with this.
The site contains Product resources for all Renesas products. The Product Pages includes documentation, software tools, and example code for a product. You should create an account and login to be able to download software.
The Product resource page, that is available for the CK-RA6M5. I use this page, to get Documentation, Software and Examples to conduct this review.
This page contains a link CK-RA6M5 v1 with RYZ014A Pmod – Quick Start Guide
I use this guide for the rest of this review, to experiment with the capabilities of the kit.
The board comes loaded with an example firmware that demonstrates the capabilities of the Ethernet connector and the Sensors. It is very extensive and is more involved than any Blinky example. The firmware worked great, with no major problems. The only minor problem was that the Outdoor Air Quality Sensor data was not displayed and the "celebrating" status was displayed? The firmware demonstrates the use of the Ethernet Connector and displays the available sensor data on a Tera-Term (Terminal) or a webserver implemented on the kit The webserver displays an HTML page with the Sensor telemetry day and allows for the changing of the brightness of the LED on the board. The only problem is that there is no link on the main page to download the source code? When I asked Support about this, they responded with "We had to pull some example code that is presently not working on the kit." The quick start page allowed me to install the development environment and described the Quick start example. However, In section 5, “Customizing the Quick Start Example Project" the document lists the requirements and instructions for customizing the Quick Start example project, but there is no way to download it? The link is not on the Main Product page as described in the documentation this was my first disappointment, since I like to debug firmware to learn how it works, so I can use the code to implement my projects using the kits. The instructions in section 5.2, "Downloading and Importing the Quick Start Example Project", instructs you to " Download and extract the Quick Start example project to a local directory on the host PC". It goes on to say,
"The Quick Start example project (source code and project files) is available in the CK-RA6M5 Example Projects Bundle that is available in the Downloads tab of CK-RA6M5 webpage at renesas.com/ra/ck-ra6m5"
There is no link here? I did try to locate it with the "Smart Browser" feature in eStudio and found the "EK-RA6M5 Example Project Bundle". You can refer to the eStudio manual for usage of this feature. I imported it and tried to build it with my FSP 4.1.0/eStudio22.10.0. No luck with the configuration manager? Would not build?
Support confirmed a known issue and it is being addressed Stay tuned
So at this point I have installed and used FSP4.1.0/eStudio22.10.0 running on a Windows 10 PC. I'm not going to be describing the use of this environment here. I get into more detail in my other roadtest on the RA2L1 EVK. The online Manual is extensive and is worth going over if your new to Renesa EVK's.
Another exercise that I try to do when I evaluate evaluation kits, is getting a Blinky example to run on the Dev Kit. The default project using the FSP is a "Bare metal Blinky". In the FSP manual there is a section entitled "Your First RA MCU Project - Blinky". I followed this using my FSP4.1/eStudio22.10.0 installation and found that it would build, but the LED would NOT Blink! Also, the debugger stopped at the 1st breakpoint, but never got to main() as described in the tutorial. So another Dead End has been reached here.
I tried the same example using another version of FSP and the same results, no blinking? The installation on another PC is FSP3.8/eStudio22.4.0. But this time the debugger stopped a second time at main()?
Support confirmed a known issue and it is being addressed Stay tuned
The Device page has 2 examples to connect to the Cloud, an Ethernet and a Cellular example.
I started with the Ethernet example to make things easier but ran into problems and switched to the Cellular example and still had problems. I will describe these problems next,,,,
The application example provided in the package uses AWS IoT Core. The detailed steps in this document show first-time AWS IoT Core users how to configure the AWS IoT Core platform to run this application example .This application note enables developers to effectively use the FSP MQTT/TLS modules in end-product design. Upon completion of this guide, developers will be able to add the “AWS Core MQTT”,“Mbed TLS”, and “secure sockets on FreeRTOS plus TCP using the Ethernet or Cellular interface, configure them correctly for the target application, and write code using the included application example code as a reference for an efficient starting point.
References to detailed API descriptions, and other application projects that demonstrate more advanced https://renesas.github.io/fsp/), which serves as a valuable resource in creating more complex designs.
This MQTT/TLS AWS Cloud Connectivity solution is supported on the CK-RA6M5.
FSP User’s Manual (available at: https://renesas.github.io/fsp/),
AWS data flow
The next section describes terms which will be used in this application note
1.3 Cloud Dashboard
A cloud dashboard is a monitoring and controlling GUI for the multiple services that you can build and Access on a web browser. You can access each set of devices in the presented categories by selecting any of the available data views from the Device Dashboard.
1.3.1 Data Monitoring
Data monitoring on the dashboard is a cloud data analytics monitoring solution that lets you track your Performance metrics and easily visualize your data sets. You will be able to get a high-level view of your Metrics or you can drill down and analyze the detail. For instance, it can be sensor data coming from the device in the form of temperature, pressure, and so forth.
1.3.2 Device Management
Device Management provides high-level control to configure the devices in bulk for the entire fleet of Devices or to control the individual devices. Note: All the Dashboard-specific details for this Application Project are discussed in the later section of the Document.
1.4 AWS IoT Core
AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud service that lets connected devices easily and securely interacts with cloud applications and other devices. It can process and route messages to AWS endpoints and to other devices reliably and securely. With AWS IoT Core, customer applications can keep track of all devices, all the time, even when they are not
After downloading and importing the projects into eStudio, I ran into PROBLEMS with the Configuration manage on each one using my FSP4.4.0/eStudio22.10.0 installation.
The following Stack errors occurred. Unsupported libraries?
There are major changes in the networking stacks for the version of FSP 4.0 that I'm using. MQTT has been reworked!
I was doing some pretty intense stack reworking in e2Studio trying to get the configuration right. I gave up after trying to migrate the configuration to FSP4.1 as described in the migration online doc @ RA Flexible Software Package Documentation: FSP v4.0 FreeRTOS Stack Migration Guide
I stopped here and if you’re interested, my notes that I did to try unsuccessfully to connect to AWS using the examples are in the following Appendices at the end of this review
APPENDIX 1 -- Ethernet app First pass and Appendix 2 -- Cellular APP notes 1st pass
NEXT I updated the FSP from 3.3to 3.8 on my other windows10 Development PC. I retried both examples and had success with the configuration manager and I was able to build them both. However, I had problems with each one connecting with AWS after following the steps in each guide in sections 2.1.5 Running the Application project
For the Ethernet example I was able to get to Section 2.3 Starting the Application before getting a connection error. So close but yet so FAR!!!
For the Cellular example I was able to get to Section 126.96.36.199 Activating a SIM card on MicroAI Launchpad before getting to the Sim card registration.
I stopped here and if you’re interested, my notes that I did to try unsuccessfully to connect to AWS using the examples are in the following Appendices Appendix 3 -- ETHERNET Example from APP notes 2nd PASS and Appendix 4 -- CELLULAR Example from APP notes 2nd PASS at the end of this review.
I downloaded the Programmer with the intention of flashing the HEX files that I have obtained from Renasas.
I'm getting the following error When I try to connect ?
I gave this review low scores because I felt it is not ready for prime time. All the examples did not run as specified. The documentation is good except that there seems to be a lot more work to be done to get the examples to operate using the new FSP 4.0 version. I was able to get support on some of my issues and was given a support engineer to work with on my problems. In short, At this time I was unable to get any examples working and Have not connected to AWS. I will continue to try to get these examples to work as they become available and certified to work.
Reviewed section 2. Running the MQTT/TLS Ethernet Application
STEPS TAKEN to run the examples
Build the Binary
STOPPED HERE this example is not ready for using FSP 4.0 yet
This app is very similar to the Ethernet app but uses the e Cellular interface for “AWS Core MQTT”, “Mbed TLS”, and “AWS cellular sockets” I created a new workspace (didn’t want any conflicts) called (Renasa-RA6M5-Cellular) I loaded the example cellular project. And when I came up to the configuration.xml part by double clicking on the file. This time I received 3 errors of UNSUPPORTED Stacks??? added a new "AWS Core MQTT" proceeded to add stack after Stack And now have 2 RED stack MbedTLS (Crypto Only) Requires HW Acelleration
HOW DO I ADD HW ACELLERATION. It's already in Properties TAB?
G_uart1 UART (r_sci_uart)
ERROR: Flow Control settings. All these settings what VALUES? PIN#?
STOPPED HERE this example is not ready for using FSP 4.0 yet
I was able to build the example using my FSP 3.8 installation.
I figured I would start with the Ethernet example and try and connect to AWS. This will be a good way to connect then I'll try the Cellular example and hopefully use the same credentials and keys?
I started at section 2.1 since I had gone thru the other sections in the app notes twice already for the FSP 4.0 installation which I was never able to build.
2.1.5 Running the Application Project
188.8.131.52 Connecting the Board to the Serial port Console of the PC
184.108.40.206 Getting the UUID Information of the Board
220.127.116.11 Registering to Renesas AWS Cloud Dashboard
18.104.22.168 Storing the Device Certificate, Key, MQTT Broker Endpoint, and IoT Thing Name
Step 3 - To store the Device Certificate onto the board
Step 4 - To store the Device Key onto the device,
Step 5 - To store the MQTT Broker end point,
Step 6 - To store the IOT Thing Name,
Step 7 - Press option f and g
2.2 IoT Cloud Configuration and Connecting to AWS IoT
2.3 Starting the Application
This is what it's suppose to do
I was able to build this example using my FSP 3.8 installation.
NOTE: these notes assumes that the ETERNET example and the associated application notes have been previously attempted.
22.214.171.124 Connecting the Board to the Serial port Console of the PC
126.96.36.199 Getting the SIM and Modem Information for Activation
--> Next, go to "renesas.micro.ai" to activate the SIM card with this info
188.8.131.52 Activating a SIM card on MicroAI Launchpad
I STOPPED HERE and I'm getting help from SREE an engineer at Renesas.
SREE informed me to deal with BRAD from Micro.ai
I reviewed how far I had done prior. I logged into Micro.ai but I noticed in step 7 of the doc was to add a sim card . I noticed on the micro.ai launchpad that there was a SIM card tab. SO I followed the screen.. I Entered the ICCID value for the SIM EID field and clicked Save SIM. I don't think you need to setup a device for now, but I had done it anyway. At this point I'm not sure if the SIM is operational?
why is the SIM status marked SUSPENDED ???
After help from Brad at Micro.ai, apartently after adding the SIM you need to enable it by adding a device. Which I did using the "device" tab on Launchpad.
Click on Devices
Click Add Device
Fill in the information on that screen, for "Device ID" enter a 15 digit IMEI number. The IMEI, given on the firmware screen did not work
The IMEI NEEDS to be obtained on the RY014A module!!
On this screen, enter the sim ID that you created and from there after you click add device, the SIM API is called and turns it on for you.
OK, now that I have registered my SIM card on Micro.ai , it's time to run the cellular firmware.
Continuing on, The next few section, 184.108.40.206 Getting the UUID Information of the Board to 2.2 were done in the Ethernet appendix 3, so I did not have to do these sections. These sections describes: Registering to Renesas AWS cloud dashboard, Storing the Device Certificate, Key, MQTT Broker endpoint and IoT Thing name and IoT Cloud Configuration and Connecting to AWS IoT .
I then selected option 5, run application from the CLI and as suggested in 2.3 Starting the Application.
Unfortunately I received the same error as I did for the Ethernet example described at the end of Appendix 3 above.
Here is the place in the code that I stepped to in the debugger
this is a screenshot of what it's suppose to do. Photo courtesy of the documentation.
OK now Dead in the water again
Getting help from renasas
I was able to register my SIM card on micro.ai sucessfully!
But I'm STILL NOT ABLE to connect with the Cellular Example. I will be waiting for an updated example from Renesas that has been confirmed to work with the new version of FSP 4.4. Stay tuined.
I just updated appendix 4 on the Cellular example. Unfortunately I'm still not connected
Thanks for taking a look at my roadtest.. I gave a Total score of 2 and a half stars.
My reviews are all out of the box experiences for me since I take the approach of following examples to experiment with the Evaluation kit. I use the examples to become familiar with the capabilities of the EVK. For this EVK none of the examples were any help. So my "Out of the Box experience" was a failure. I'm not frustrated and will continue to circle around and try the examples again. If at that moment the examples are corrected and allow me to run them with out problems, then I'll update this roadtest and raise my ranking.
I'm presently doing a challenge on Hackster and don't have any time this month to devote to this roadtest. Stay tuned though for an update next month
Yes it was kind of frustrating when nothing works. The product is a great design to experiment with the cloud. Unfortunately the Examples have to be updated to work with this version of the EVK. In addition the Libraries for Communications have been restructured and the Examples need to catch up.
I had trouble following documentation to register the SIM card, which has been easy with other EVK's I've reviewed.
Thanks again for reading my review. I'll be returning to it soon, so stay tuned
Good review. (Good Frustrating review). But it is one of the reasons for these road tests, real feedback to the suppliers. Thanks for working through it.
WOW SK, appears to be considerable effort and little RoadTest returns. Well little in helping you complete the review. The RoadTest page opens with the lines
This is a new product, so the sponsor would like the RoadTester to test the out of box experience of the product.
On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most positive, what was your out of the box experience score?
I just published my review after spending a lot of time working through App Notes on the Kit. The board is the perfect combination of sensors and communications components to experiment with connecting and sending sensor telemetry data to the cloud. However, I was unable to successfully connect to the Cloud with the available examples.
None of the examples would build with the latest Firmware Development Toolchain FSP 4.0, The firmware that comes preinstalled with the kit was not on the kit landing page, so I could not analyze it. The Blinky example could not be debugged on the kit? the ETHERNET Example could be built with FSP 3.8, but generated an error and I stop my experiments with it. the CELLULAR example had the wrong sim card instructions, so I could not get my SIM card activated?
I will UPDATE this review as the examples become more stable and will be monitoring the availability of the working examples. I will continue to work with support and engineering to test these examples on my kit.
I'm wondering if my fellow road testers are running into similar roadblocks. I'd like to hear from you.