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Using Total Phase Development Boards to Streamline Debugging I2C, SPI, and CAN Systems
Jessica Hopkins

Total Phase offers embedded systems engineers a wide variety of hardware tools to debug and develop embedded systems including host adapters and protocol analyzers supporting I2C, SPI, USB, and CAN protocols. By using such tools, engineers can emulate and test systems as well as monitor bus traffic in real time, ensuring systems are operating properly without errors.

In addition to protocol analyzers and host adapters, Total Phase offers numerous development boards that can be used alongside these tools to assist engineers with their testing and debugging efforts. These boards offer various known-good target devices that make narrowing down on bugs easier and allow developers to get up and running more quickly.

Find out more about the various development boards offered and how their assortment of built-in target devices can help streamline testing and debugging of various embedded systems.

CAN/I2C Activity Board Pro

CAN/I2C Activity Board Pro

The CAN/I2C Activity Board Pro provides developers with known-good target devices that can operate as I2C slaves or CAN nodes. The varying target devices included on the board offer numerous ways to test and verify I2C and CAN systems and include: Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC), Motion Sensor, Light Sensor, GPIO Port Expander, Joystick/LEDs, ADC/LCD, and Temperature Sensor.

This board can be operated by the Komodo CAN Duo Interface and the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter.

Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC)

The Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) is single-channel 8-bit. It can drive its output between 0V and VDD, with a precision of approximately 12.9 mV. It can communicate directly over I2C or over CAN through the bridge.

Motion Sensor

The motion sensor is a 3-axis linear accelerometer. It can communicate directly over I2C or over CAN through the bridge.

Light Sensor

The light sensor converts light intensity (irradiance) into a 16-bit digital signal. It can communicate directly over I2C or over CAN through the bridge.

GPIO Port Expander

The GPIO Port Expander is an 8-pin port expander which can be accessed through CAN or I2C.


The joystick and LEDs are connected to a port expander. The microcontroller communicates with the joystick and LEDs through this port expander. The two-axis joystick has five output pins (up, down, left, right, and select) which are asserted high when the joystick is moved to that position. There are three active high LEDs controlled by the port expander: D201, D202, and D303.


The CAN Bridge MCU has a built-in ADC which is exposed on the PCB. The board allows the user to read three of these analog inputs with an 8-bit resolution. Inputs may range from 0 V to a maximum of 3.3 V. The LCD is a 2x8 character display that is connected to the CAN bridge over a parallel bus. The characters on the display are ASCII-encoded.

Temperature Sensor

The temperature sensor provides temperature readings over a range of -55°C to +125°C. It can communicate directly over I2C or over CAN through the bridge.

To see how the Komodo CAN Duo Interface can write to and interact with the board as well as monitor the activity, take a look at our video Using the Komodo GUI Software to Interface with the CAN/I2C Activity Board Pro.

Example code for the CAN/I2C Activity Board Pro are available in C, C#, Python, .NET, VB.NET, and VB6 as part of the API package of your host adapter.

For more detailed technical information regarding the CAN/I2C Activity Board Pro, please find the User Manual.

I2C/SPI Activity Board

I2C/SPI Activity Board

The I2C/SPI Activity Board is a beneficial tool for engineers developing I2C and SPI systems as it allows users to easily program and test systems against known-working I2C and SPI slave devices. By doing so, this simplifies debugging processes by helping users better differentiate between hardware and software bugs and can even be used to quickly verify a system setup before running extensive tests. Additionally, for the novice embedded engineer, this board can provide insight into the mechanics of the I2C and SPI protocols.

This board offers three different known-good I2C and SPI target devices for testing and development including an I2C Port Expander, an I2C EEPROM, and an SPI EEPROM.

I2C Port Expander

The I2C Port Expander is an 8-bit I2C and SMBus I/O port with interrupts that includes configurable I2C address and full complement of LEDs.


The I2C EEPROM is a 256 Bytes/2 Kilobit (8-byte pages) Two-Wire Bus Serial EEPROM that includes a configurable I2C address.


The SPI EEPROM is 1 Kilobyte/8 Kilobit (32-byte pages) SPI Bus Serial EEPROM and supports SPI Mode 0 and 3; it includes jumpered Slave Select.

The board includes two connections that are used to connect two host adapters including the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter. Pass-through pins are also included for connecting an external bus monitor or protocol analyzer.

Example scripts for communicating with the target devices can be found in the API package of your Total Phase host adapter.

For more detailed technical information regarding the I2C/SPI Activity Board, please find the User Manual.

High-Speed SPI Flash Demo Board

High-Speed SPI Flash Demo Board

High-Speed SPI Flash Memory

The High-Speed SPI Flash Demo Board is a useful development tool for those working with High-speed SPI Flash memory or developing High-speed SPI systems. This board comes equipped with a known-good target memory device that is capable of communicating up to 50 MHz. By connecting either host adapters and protocol analyzers to the board, users can easily program the target device and test certain slave responses or other activity.

With the board’s two I/O connectors, users can connect up to two different devices, including a Cheetah SPI Host Adapter, an Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, or a Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer. For example, a Cheetah SPI Host Adapter can be connected to the board to interface with the SPI Flash Memory and a Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer can also be attached to monitor the bus.

Sample code for the Cheetah SPI Host Adapter can be found in the API package. While not all examples will work with the High-Speed SPI Flash Demonstration Board, the flash.c example code was specifically developed against this target.

For more detailed technical information regarding the High-Speed SPI Flash Demo Board please see the User Manual.

Level Shifter Board

Level Shifter Board

The Level Shifter Board is an easy-to-use, cost-effective tool that allows users to interface Total Phase products, including the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, the Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer, and the Cheetah SPI Host Adapter, with lower logic level devices.

The board provides level shifting capabilities for I2C, SPI, MDIO, and GPIO signals. It includes an on-board regulator to specify and power downstream devices to all standard logic levels including 1.2 V, 1.5 V, 1.8 V, 2.5 V, 3.0 V, and 3.3 V.

For I2C communication, the Level Shifter Board supports speeds up to 800 kHz. While maximum SPI and MDIO signaling rates are dependent on specific board configurations and timing specifications, the board can generally support up to 18 MHz when shifting to 1.2 V, and up to 20 MHz when shifting to 3.3 V.

The board contains two connectors which are used to connect different devices including the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, Cheetah SPI Host Adapter, and/or Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer. Users can connect multiple host adapters to the board via the two connectors if desired.

For users looking for a host adapter that includes built-in level shifting capabilities, please take a look at the Promira Serial Platform.

For more detailed technical information regarding the Level Shifter Board please see the User Manual.

With a variety of hardware tools and supporting development boards, embedded systems engineers can rely on Total Phase for go-to debugging and development solutions. If you have any questions on how our development boards can help streamline your own projects, please email us at sales@totalphase.com