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Tutorial: freeDSP classic and Ubuntu 16.04

So, last week I ordered a freeDSP kit, assembled it and tried to program it on an Ubuntu machine using the freeUSBi programmer. I couldn't get this to work, so I switched from the freeUSBi programmer to an Arduino micro. Since I now finally got it to work, I'll share my experiences and what I find the easiest way to work with Linux and freeDSP.

Hardware needed:
  • A freeDSP classic board + power supply (for testing, I'm using a USB port's 5V supply)
  • An Arduino micro
Software needed:
  • Arduino IDE (install the latest version from
  • Virtualbox (install the latest version from
    • Install Windows 7 inside Virtualbox
    • Install SigmaStudio inside Windows 7 (from
Before getting started, please read the Getting started manual created by the freeDSP people. Most of the information I got from there, with some tweaks to get it working from Ubuntu.

Step 1. Create a firmware (hex) file

Boot Windows 7 inside Virtualbox, start SigmaStudio and create a new project. Inside the hardware configuration tab, connect a USBi block to ADAU1701 and E2Prom block. In the schematic tab, connect the two inputs to all four outputs using T Connection blocks (this is a simple 'pass-through' configuration to test the board and its sound quality when it's doing 'nothing'). Hit the 'Link Compile Download' button and ignore the warning. In the hardware tab, right-click the ADAU1701 block and hit 'Write latest compilation to E2Prom'. This will create the .hex firmware file that we will use inside Ubuntu. Transfer this file (e.g. via a shared folder) from Windows to Ubuntu. From this point on you can close Windows/Virtualbox if it annoys you.

Step 2. Program the firmware via Arduino

Download the Arduino sketch and I2C libraries from the links as found in the Getting started manual. The first thing to do to get Arduino running, is uninstalling (if it is installed) the modemmanager package, since it interferes with serial communication:
sudo apt purge modemmanager
Connect the Arduino to your Linux box and upload the Arduino sketch through the Arduino IDE. If it works, you'll see the serial port it uses in the tools>port menu (in my case it was /dev/ttyACM0, and I will use that one here). Now connect the Arduino onto the freeDSP board, power the freeDSP board (with the E2Prom jumper set to 'write enabled', see manual) and connect the Arduino USB cable. Open a terminal and type:
sudo apt install screen
screen /dev/ttyACM0 9600
GNU screen will now open up (it's a bit like PuTTY/TeraTerm) a connection to the Arduino. If all went well, you will see:
Elektor Project 130232 Audio DSP Board
EEPROM Programmer
eeprom found
waiting for E2Prom.Hex file...

Now, open the E2Prom.Hex file in a text editor, copy all the text and paste it into the GNU screen window (using Ctrl+Shift+V). The firmware data will now be received by the Arduino and programmed into the E2Prom. Disconnect all power, remove the Arduino from the freeDSP board (essential!), set the E2Prom jumper to 'write protected' and power on the freeDSP board (you might need to hit the reset pushbutton on the board.

This worked for me! Happy freeDSP'ing :)

Please leave a comment for questions/remarks.


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