Arduino Development on OpenBSD

Back in 2017, I bought an Arduboy, a fun little Arduino development system which integrates an ATmega32U4 8-bit CPU, 32 KB of flash storage, 2 KB of RAM, a 128x64 pixel OLED display, some buttons, a speaker, and a battery in a Gameboy-like package.

OpenBSD had an old Arduino package available without the Arduino IDE, and it instead included a custom Makefile for end-users to build off of for compiling projects. But it was all pretty old and crufty and kind of sucked the fun out of tinkering with a new piece of hardware.

I was eventually able to compile and upload some test code from OpenBSD but I couldn't easily link in the Arduboy2 library which is something the Arduino IDE makes very easy.


In 2018, I found Arduino-Makefile which was like our custom Makefile but well-maintained and much easier to use. For my Arduboy game, it required a Makefile as simple as:

BOARD_TAG     = leonardo

include /usr/local/share/arduino-makefile/

I created OpenBSD ports of Arduino-Makefile and the Arduboy2 library, and updated the Arduino port to a newer version. With that, I was able to rapidly work on my 1010 game and finish it.

Adafruit Metro

Last week I bought an Adafruit Metro and their RA8875 LCD-interface board and wanted to quickly get them displaying something on an LCD via my OpenBSD laptop. When plugged into a USB port, the Metro attaches as a uslcom device and powers up:

uslcom0 at uhub0 port 4 configuration 1 interface 0 "Silicon Labs CP2104 USB to UART Bridge Controller" rev 2.00/1.00 addr 6
ucom0 at uslcom0 portno 0

I installed the arduino-makefile package which brings in the arduino and avrdude packages:

# pkg_add arduino-makefile

Adafruit provides a simple buildtest.ino file for the RA8875 in their library, which I fetched and then made a simple Makefile to build it:

$ mkdir buildtest && cd buildtest
$ ftp
$ cat > Makefile
BOARD_TAG = metro
include /usr/local/share/arduino-makefile/
$ gmake

This initially failed to build because metro was not in the Arduino's boards.txt file being an Adafruit product. I updated the OpenBSD arduino package to include Adafruit's boards.txt which has a definition for metro.

Next, I needed Adafruit's RA8875 library which itself needed their GFX library. To use a 3rd party Arduino library, just check it out from GitHub or wherever, and copy the whole thing to /usr/local/share/arduino/libraries where you'll see other directories like EEPROM and SPI.

Creating OpenBSD ports/packages of these is not necessary to get working quickly, but it's very easy to do and helps out anyone else wanting to use them. I did so and imported them so that one can just pkg_add arduino-adafruit-ra8875.

Once those libraries were installed, I added them to the Makefile:

ARDUINO_LIBS = EEPROM SPI Adafruit_GFX Adafruit_RA8875

Normally Arduino-Makefile can find and bring in libraries automatically but if it can't (such as when a library is a dependency of another library), you may need to explicitly list them in an ARDUINO_LIBS variable.

After a successful compilation with gmake, the build-metro/buildtest.ino file can be uploaded to the Metro board with gmake upload. This single step calls ard-reset-arduino (from Arduino-Makefile) to send the magic sequence to the device (/dev/ttyU0 by default) to put it into its bootloader mode, and then uses avrdude to upload the binary code and run it.

$ gmake upload
mkdir -p build-metro
gmake reset
gmake[1]: Entering directory '/home/jcs/code/buildtest'
/usr/local/bin/ard-reset-arduino  /dev/ttyU0
gmake[1]: Leaving directory '/home/jcs/code/buildtest'
gmake do_upload
gmake[1]: Entering directory '/home/jcs/code/buildtest'
/usr/local/bin/avrdude -q -V -p atmega328p -D -c arduino -b 115200 \
	-P /dev/ttyU0 -U flash:w:build-metro/buildtest.hex:i
avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions
avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e950f
avrdude: reading input file "build-metro/lcdtest.hex"
avrdude: writing flash (13340 bytes):
avrdude: 13340 bytes of flash written

avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK

avrdude done.  Thank you.
gmake[1]: Leaving directory '/home/jcs/code/buildtest'

With that, I was seeing some nifty graphics on my new LCD hooked up to my Metro board.

arduino with wires connecting to other board, which is connected to an LCD screen showing various shapes being drawn

The buildtest program sends some debugging information over its serial port while it runs:

void setup()
  Serial.println("RA8875 start");

This data can be monitored with cu:

$ sudo cu -l /dev/cuaU0 -s 9600
Connected to /dev/cuaU0 (speed 9600)
RA8875 start
Found RA8875
Status: 0
Waiting for touch events ...
Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact me.