Review of the Renesas RX23E-A MCU Evaluation Kit

Table of contents

RoadTest: Enroll to Review the Renesas Solution Starter Kit for RX23E-A

Author: ss_shrenik

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Connectors & Cable

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?: Analog devices has similar products which can be considered

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Setting up dev environment, demo examples were not working OOB

Detailed Review:

In the ever-evolving world of electronics and embedded systems, accuracy and precision are non-negotiable qualities. These qualities are particularly critical when it comes to sensor measurements, where even the slightest deviations can lead to significant consequences. Renesas, a global leader in semiconductor solutions, recognizes the importance of precision in sensor applications. To address this need, they've introduced the Renesas RX23E-A MCU Evaluation Kit—a comprehensive solution designed to provide high-precision sensor measurements without the hassle of extensive hardware modifications or software development.

The Power of RX23E-A: Precision and Integration

At the heart of this evaluation kit is the RX23E-A MCU, a member of the renowned RX MCU family. This microcontroller is a powerhouse of integrated capabilities. It boasts a high-precision Analog Front-End (AFE) that enables the measurement of sensor data with incredible accuracy—less than 0.1% error without correction. What's remarkable about the RX23E-A is that it offers a single-chip solution for achieving a maximum effective resolution of up to 23 bits in the 24-bit delta-sigma Analog-to-Digital Converter (A/D converter) without requiring any external analog components. This integration simplifies your design and offers excellent flexibility.

Unboxing the RX23E-A Evaluation Kit

The RX23E-A Evaluation Kit, also known as the RSSK RX23E-A, comes with everything you need to dive into the world of high-precision sensor measurements. Here's what you'll find in the box:

  • Evaluation Board: The heart of the kit is the evaluation board, housing the RX23E-A microcontroller and peripheral circuits tailored for sensor measurements. 

  • K-Type Thermocouple: Included in the kit is a K-type thermocouple, a versatile temperature sensor used in a variety of applications. It's your ideal partner for temperature measurements.

  • Software: The evaluation kit is bundled with user-friendly software that can be conveniently downloaded from the web. This software eliminates the need for extensive software development, allowing you to start your analog characteristic evaluation right after purchasing the kit.

  • GUI and Sample Programs: The kit provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that simplifies the configuration and data display processes. Sample programs are also available, making it easy to kick-start your experiments.

  • Emulator Compatibility: If you're into deeper software development, the kit supports direct connections with E1, E2, and E2-Lite emulators (sold separately), providing flexibility for your development needs.

  • Communication Features: The inclusion of RS485 and CAN driver ICs on the evaluation board opens up possibilities for communication and integration into a wide range of applications.

A Hands-On Experiment: K-Type Thermocouple Temperature Measurement

To truly appreciate the capabilities of the RX23E-A Evaluation Kit, let's conduct an experiment to measure temperature using the K-type thermocouple. The K-type thermocouple is commonly used in applications where high-temperature accuracy is crucial, such as in industrial and scientific settings.

Setting Up the Experiment

image

1. Connect the K-type thermocouple to the evaluation board using the provided thermocouple connector.

image

2. Open the GUI-based PC tool program for thermocouple measurement, available for download from the web.

Experiment Results

  • Temperature Accuracy: In our experiment, we were impressed by the level of precision the RX23E-A MCU and the K-type thermocouple provided. The measured temperature error remained within an impressive ±0.6°C, even when tested in a challenging temperature range spanning from -40°C to 85°C. This level of accuracy is crucial in critical temperature-sensitive applications.

  • Effective Resolution: The kit exhibited remarkable performance, achieving an effective resolution of 19.4 bits. This translates to a temperature deviation of a mere 0.0015°C at the root mean square (RMS) value. Such high resolution is a testament to the kit's precision capabilities.

These results highlight the evaluation board's exceptional ability to deliver highly accurate and reliable measurements using K-type thermocouples. The fact that the temperature error stayed well within the sensor's error range underscores the evaluation board's quality as a reference design. Following video shows use of GUI tool for experiments

The Hurdles of Development: A MacOS User's Perspective

While the Renesas RX23E-A Evaluation Kit demonstrates exceptional capabilities, there is a perspective that needs to be considered, especially for MacOS users. The development environment and sample code setup can be challenging for those on the MacOS platform. This is not a unique issue, as it's been observed in previous Renesas projects as well.

The MacOS Challenge

One of the primary challenges faced by MacOS users is that Renesas' development environments are not readily available for this platform. While it's possible to make them work through virtual environments, the process can be intricate and not very user-friendly.

Sample Code Compilation Issues

image

Even if you manage to set up the development environment through a virtual machine or other workarounds, there's another roadblock awaiting you: sample code compilation. The sample code provided by Renesas often fails to compile out of the box, especially for users who are new to the Renesas ecosystem. This can be a significant discouragement for those who are just starting out with Renesas development.

The error message you shared is a clear example of the frustration that can arise during the setup process. In your case, you imported an online thermocouple example and had previously installed e2studio with considerable effort. Despite my prior attempts, compiling the code still resulted in errors, further adding to the complexity and challenges I encountered.

Conclusion

Despite the challenges faced by MacOS users and those new to the Renesas ecosystem, the Renesas RX23E-A MCU Evaluation Kit remains a remarkable tool that addresses the need for precision in sensor measurements. Its integration of high-precision AFE, support for various sensors, and user-friendly software make it an exceptional choice for a wide range of applications. The hands-on experiment with the K-type thermocouple showcased the kit's ability to deliver highly accurate and high-resolution measurements.

In addition to K-type thermocouples, the kit can be used to evaluate measurements from resistance temperature detectors (RTD) and strain gauges, making it versatile for a broad spectrum of sensor applications.

Anonymous
Parents
  • I think for engineers using MacOS, they need to be 100% up-to-speed with VMs, because practically-speaking there's no other way to work with MacOS since so much engineering software still doesn't work natively with MacOS (part of the blame is with Apple, since developers need to purchase Apple machines to fully test, and even to sometimes to build code, whereas with Windows and Linux, VMs are possible).

    The error in your screenshot indicates that 'sed' was not found. Are you using MacOS, or are you using a VM? Is it a Windows VM, or a Linux VM? If Linux, which distribution is it? Is it Ubuntu for example, or something else?

    It could be a path issue (you could open up a terminal window in the VM (if you're using a Linux VM) to see if sed is recognised (type which sed to see the path that it was found at). It ought to be there by default, but if it isn't then it could point to an unusual distribution perhaps, in which case it may need to be installed. You may also be accidentally be running as root user inside the VM (some distributions will not have the default path for sed as a super-user by default).

Comment
  • I think for engineers using MacOS, they need to be 100% up-to-speed with VMs, because practically-speaking there's no other way to work with MacOS since so much engineering software still doesn't work natively with MacOS (part of the blame is with Apple, since developers need to purchase Apple machines to fully test, and even to sometimes to build code, whereas with Windows and Linux, VMs are possible).

    The error in your screenshot indicates that 'sed' was not found. Are you using MacOS, or are you using a VM? Is it a Windows VM, or a Linux VM? If Linux, which distribution is it? Is it Ubuntu for example, or something else?

    It could be a path issue (you could open up a terminal window in the VM (if you're using a Linux VM) to see if sed is recognised (type which sed to see the path that it was found at). It ought to be there by default, but if it isn't then it could point to an unusual distribution perhaps, in which case it may need to be installed. You may also be accidentally be running as root user inside the VM (some distributions will not have the default path for sed as a super-user by default).

Children
No Data