SAMA5D2 (Rev. B) Xplained Ultra Evaluation Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: SAMA5D2 (Rev. B) Xplained Ultra Evaluation Kit

Author: gam3t3ch

Creation date:

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?: null

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Connectivity issues and the demo's were pointless without a lcd.

Detailed Review:

SAMA5D2 XPLAINED ULTRA REV.B  (please click here for the audio version of this document)

 

So I thought That I would try something a bit different I decide that I would take a different view on this review. I knew this was not a board that I have ever had experience with but after reading the comments on the Road Test page. I decided that I would have my hand at it and attempt to partake in the Road Test to see how it really was and if the views are shared though out my process of leaning this new board compared to those that have also played with previous Road Test’s with the Atmel SAMA series of boards.

 

I had a lot of fun with this board and of course would love to thank Element14.com and everyone that decided that I would be a good fit for testing this board. The great thing about being apart of this community is the honesty and the ability to give the manufactures and other users our thought and reviews on these boards. If you found out that board was to be what you needed but then read a road test review stating that the functions of the board do not work as suggest or stated throughout the documentation would you be grateful? That’s why this community is great everyone is here to help and to share.

 

I decided to do a unboxing and video on this and some blog posts here is the video of my Day 1 & 2 with the board.

 

 

So I will say I do have more videos that I need to upload for this but have been so busy with this board going through and editing things to make it no so boring and drawn out.

 

I will also like to state I will be doing future projects on this board in the future all and all I think its a wonderful board but a bit above my head when it comes to the usability.

 

It is not a plug and play board like a Arduino or Raspberry Pi. But so much the opposite in my opinion it has been hours and hours of learning and playing.

 

But to sum it all up I spent 20+ hours just on connectivity issues to find out that there must have been a issue with image on the board as soon as I flashed it with the demo image (with SD Card Method) it started to co-operate with me and start to function as it should so that was not the greatest thing in the world. Finding out that if I had flashed the board when I got it and then began I would probably be a lot further in my actual testing of the board besides just starting out to learn more on it.

 

Now this being said features and function on this board is abundant there is so much this board is capable but getting it to the point of not just using a demo image or a image that has put up on the internet for sale to work with it seems a bit unfair. Thus making this a dream for those who want to make their own custom board and functions. To me to get my feet wet more I thought this was a bit annoying tho, but not the end of the world.

 

So after doing my initial tests with the board running a few things through the board I still found I was only able to ssh into the board after I ran serial into it. Any other time I was unable to so not to sure if this is something I am doing or if its just something the board does.

 

One big issue that I found with the whole ordeal was the lack of actual examples and actual code for the demos and projects provided which most were 3rd party. So to me a lot of these boards that come out like this seem like the usability is quite a steep curve to get around unless its a board you have played with previous models and you have done your own homework on it vs tried leaning from anything online basically your own trail and error.

 

Yes there is documentation online regarding this board specs and some examples but nothing that actually points you in the right direction to make the most out of this board as in the past previous models have had similar issues as I have experienced on this one. Maybe this is where Atmel should be taking note and upping their online training solutions for people that are interested in their product.

 

 

Had I not been given the opportunity to test this board I would have probably bought it as well at some point or a revision of it down the road. As I do feel it does have the ability to do a lot and be a stable board.

 

Now this being said I will be attempting to make some of my own projects for it but will take sometime and probably longer then I have to complete the Road Test. But now spending probably close to 30 hours with this board in total over the past week I have a better understanding of the board which I will be putting together quick start guides that don’t suck. (just being honest) because what I have learned through this all is now that I am 30 hours in I have lost a bit of excitement for the board. But that is fine now its onto the software learning part and creating my own images for its functionality for the projects that I would love to see it being used in.

 

So if you have the time and want to get to know this board I would greatly suggest it as it is a great board and full of great features.

 

If you don’t have time to get frustrated and have not used this line of board before maybe pick something else as really a lot of other boards out there with similar capabilities in the price range.

 

I would however recommend this board to anyone. Yes I do understand that I am contradicting myself through out this as it was a very frustrating process but once you get over the initial hump. Which I am sure other got over a lot quicker then I did.

 

I managed to get this working on a windows 10 and windows vista computer I also used a Linux computer to try to do more with it but have to learn more there as I still am not a master of Linux when it comes down to it but enjoy it.

 

So back to the board at question. Now I did get connections with the board with serial (usb provided) and over IP with SSH. Now I did not go back to revisit my attempt in Linux to see if it was working now that I had gotten the image replaced and tested working on the windows machine. This is something I would like to revisit in the near future as it seems the more you do in Linux the more use you will actually get out of it.

 

I will say the software for SAM-BA was completely useless and only v2.17 would actually work correctly for me this being said I attempted to use Keil uVision5 which seems like a great program that I will like and see it has connectivity for other boards I have so would like to try to use that but even with the library and examples being there for the SAMA5D2 xplained Rev.B there was no connectivity when it actually came to being able to use the program with the board which I hope changes and have voiced my concern with Keil uVision5 via email trying to find a solution.

So after downloading all software and images possible through out this I have found that the best solution was to just run the demo image and play with that but without the LCD its almost pointless to use so at this point I would suggest for Atmel to include this in future Road Test or a bundled option. Or incorporate a HDMI output on board as well even if its a mini HDMI port.

 

Many times I found my self confused at this board and wish I was able to get more in depth on it as I would have loved to have been able to get something together as far as a project on this besides running the demo I will not be showing that here but in my video posts I will. As I feel I need to go more in depth on each and usability I have grown to like this board as I thought I would even tho its not the most user friendly board I have ever used.

 

Finally I would like to to say that the board is great and with the right materials available to database for people to follow and learn I think it would up the value of this boards integration into any makers or hobbyist projects as I feel I will be attempting many projects with this board in the future. But as stated it will take me sometime to get the full grasp on this board.

 

So why would I want to put all that time into this board? Well I hope if all goes well in the future the same features and programs available for this will be integrated in future ones but with a more simple layout that functions and works on a more plug and play concept. But I would bet that if they keep with this route I would buy more upgraded and new boards that come to market after being able to use this board to its fullest capacity.

 


Thank you everyone for the time sorry if I sounded like a broke record through out this review and hope I touched all the points I wanted to so I could give you a better run down of the actual usability of the board. This is not a board that your just going to make full use out of it unless you are familiar with their product line or have experience with their boards and programs as I have a feeling there might be a similar end result with most of the boards.

 

When it comes to the software there is tons out there to get things going but to sum it up it was the connectivity issues in the beginning that really casted a shadow on this board and it potential to me. But after getting over that I now have a board I feel will be a great addition to the collection and will get much use in the near future for custom projects.

 

I have posted a link to the YouTube channel play list I have for it that I will be adding more videos to it in the future some in the next few days as in hopes to help other as well as to document the trials I have encountered through the process.  http://bit.ly/2xJoG4H

 

Thank you everyone for the opportunity it has be a fun and exciting challenge to get this board to where I could actually get a grasp on it and look forward to many, many more hours with it.

 

Anonymous