What we've been reading in December (2020)

Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful 2021.

Here are the articles, videos, and tools that we’ve been excited about this December.

We hope you enjoy these links, and we look forward to hearing what you’ve been reading in the comments or on the Interrupt Slack.

Articles & Learning

  • ACE: Apple Type-C Port Controller Secrets | Part 1 by mrarm and Aun-Ali Zaidi
    Detailed report about reverse engineering the Apple Type-C Port Controller, which happens to include a Cortex-M0.
  • PokéWalker hacking by Dmitry Grinberg
    Another stellar post by Dmitry, this time reverse-engineering a PokéWalker device. He learns that he can dump the entire ROM of the device over infrared! Be sure to read the final part about how you can hack around with a PokéWalker using a PalmOS device.
  • Quick Peek of PineCone BL602 RISC-V Evaluation Board by Lup Yuen Lee
    A good read on why Lup Yuen Lee believes that the PineCone BL602 could be a future player in the MCU world, comparing it to the STM32 Blue Pill, nRF52, ESP32, etc. It is a new device based upon RISC-V from Bouffalo Lab. Among other posts, his most recent one is about him porting MyNewt to it.
  • OSFC 2020 Talks
    The Open Source Firmware Conference has published all of this year’s talks!
  • Understanding the SAM D21 clocks by Stargirl Flowers
    An introduction to the SAM D21’s clock system by the author of one of my favorite Python packages (nox).
  • Bit Twiddling Hacks by Sean Eron Anderson
    The standard, CSS-less webpage with HTML gold detailing every little bit twiddling code snippet your heart could dream of.
  • Black Hat Europe 2020 - Debug Resurrection On nRF52 Series by LimitedResults
    A talk with slides from Black Hat Europe 2020, documenting a complete compromise of the flash readout protection on nRF52 series microcontrollers using simple voltage glitching techniques.
  • Trying to test a “ten cent” tiny ARM-M0 MCU by Ralph Doncaster
    Upon finding an MCU matching the pinout of the STM8S003 for 10-20 cents, Ralph orders a few of them and details his experience getting them up and running using Openocd.
  • Thread Local Error Contexts in Embedded C++ by Stratify Labs
    A great article (and series) about storing global, per thread error state so that errors can be traced back to their original sources. Read the entire series, it’s pretty quick!
  • What’s in a Firmware Load? by Phil Vachon
    Found a new blog with some great content! This security-focused post is about digging into exactly what a firmware payload looks like for an IoT device based upon a Marvell Cortex-M3 MCU.
  • Take snapshots of current screen by beibean
    How does one do unit or regression testing with a graphical interface? One strategy is to take “screenshots” of the frame buffer and diff the two images. You can do exactly this with LVGL, a popular graphics library for embedded devices, and this post explains how to do it.
  • How I built my first Azure RTOS GUIX display driver by Olivier Bloch
    Using ThreadX’s GUIX framework, Olivier documents how he build a display driver for a “flip board” display, like the ones you see in train stations.
  • Foundations of Embedded Systems
    A mishmash of content related to embedded systems and how they interact with the world around them. The site is created and run by Phillip Stanley-Marbell of University of Cambridge. I haven’t had a chance to check out the content, but it looks pretty good.

Neat Projects


  • Cameras and Lenses by Bartosz Ciechanowski
    An incredible post explaining how cameras and lenses work! (In no way related to firmware, but had to share it.)
Tyler Hoffman has worked on the embedded software teams at Pebble and Fitbit. He is now a founder at Memfault.