CircuitPython #

CircuitPython is a programming language designed to simplify experimenting and learning to code on low-cost microcontroller boards.

QT Py with Winbond 16MB Flash Chip #

I bought a couple of QT Py boards to experiment and play with them. They com with a nice bootloader which enabled you to update the firmware simply by copying a file to a virtual disk device over USB.

They also have a footprint for SPI Flash chips on their underside. This can be used as a filesystem in CircuitPython, which greatly extends the available storage for your programs and possibly logged data, etc. From a previous tinkering attempt with OpenWRT routers I had a couple of Winbond W25Q128JVSIQ 16MB chips still around.

Now, there are two firmwares for the QT Py: the “normal” one that comes shipped on the board and uses remaining space on the internal flash for storage. And then there’s a “Haxpress” variant, which is built with support for the GD25Q16 chips that you can buy from Adafruit. Sadly, simply flashing the latter and hoping for it to “automagically” detect my different flash chip did not work. But don’t fret, CircuitPython already has builtin support for many different devices! You just need to enable the correct one and build a firmware yourself.

Building the Firmware #

Instructions for building are given in of the CircuitPython repository.

First, prepare the cloned repository by initializing submodules and compiling the required mpy-cross:

git submodule sync
git submodule update --init   # this takes a while!
make -C mpy-cross/

Now check that your flash chip is already supported in the above devices.h file. Mine was already supported through a very similar chip of the same family: W25Q128JV_SQ. A comment in an issue on GitHub pointed me in the correct direction then. You need to edit ports/atmel-samd/boards/qtpy_m0_haxpress/ and set EXTERNAL_FLASH_DEVICES to the correct chip definition:

diff --git a/ports/atmel-samd/boards/qtpy_m0_haxpress/ b/ports/atmel-samd/boards/qtpy_m0_haxpress/
index 8773c5771..10b018938 100644
--- a/ports/atmel-samd/boards/qtpy_m0_haxpress/
+++ b/ports/atmel-samd/boards/qtpy_m0_haxpress/
@@ -10,7 +10,7 @@ INTERNAL_FLASH_FILESYSTEM = 0

Finally, just enter the build directory of your port and run make:

cd ports/atmel-samd
make BOARD=qtpy_m0_haxpress -j$(nproc)

The built firmware will be in build-qtpy_m0_haxpress/firmware.uf2 and can be uploaded to the board just like you would with the official ones: a quick double-press of the reset switch and simply copy the file to the virtual disk that pops up.