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Can Your Protocol Analyzer Troubleshoot and Verify Data with an SPI Crystal Display?
Rena Ayeras

Troubleshooting SPI devices by analyzing data.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Question from the Customer:

I am  currently working on a project that uses a Nordic nRF9160DK board to control an SPI CrystalFontz display. All too often, I see corrupted screens, such as wrong colors, wrong or missing text, and blank screens. I have saved all of the SPI transactions from within my code to a Hex file. I can analyze those results. However, I need a way to compare what is actually sent over MOSI.

I have been looking at your Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer and it seems to have all the features I need. Can you confirm that I will be able to capture detailed SPI data "out-of-the-box"?

Response from Technical Support:

Thanks for your question! The Beagle I2C/SPI analyzer would be an excellent asset for your project. We will go over the capabilities of this protocol analyzer and extra free tools that you can use to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot your design.

How the Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer Works for You

The Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer can monitor SPI up to 24 MHz, I2C up to 5 MHz, and MDIO up to 2.5 MHz, and monitors SS, SCLK, MOSI and MISO signals. The Beagle I2C/SPI analyzer does not measure frequency as you could with an oscilloscope, but using a Beagle protocol analyzer with our software applications provide many advantages for analyzing packets and data.

Enhance Monitoring the SPI Bus with Fee Software

We have various free software packages to download and maximize your use of our devices. One application is the Data Center Software that can be used to display real-time captured USB, I2C, SPI, and CAN bus data. By default, data is stored in our proprietary TDC file format, which makes it easy for you to share the captured data with your partners and analyze the results on your instances of Data Center Software. You can also get a look and feel of this application by using the built-in examples.

Troubleshooting Examples on Demand

The Data Center Software includes examples that you can view and interact with without a protocol analyzer. Here are the steps to check out the GUI that provides easy access to all the features of the Beagle I2C/SPI analyzer:

  1. Download and install Data Center Software.
  2. Open the application, then press the F4 key. The Example Captures window opens.
  3. Scroll down the menu, select the SPI trace file spi-eeprom.tdc, and click OK. Here is what you will see:These samples are interactive. For example, you can take a closer look at each transaction line as shown below.Interactive SPI data captured seen in Data Center Software
    These samples are interactive. For example, you can take a closer look at each transaction line as shown below.Example of looking at different SPI data views with interactive sample in Data Center Software

Visual Examples of Using Our Tools

We also provide videos showing various scenarios using our tools. Here is a video that shows how to use the Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer and Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter to quickly evaluate and prototype an I2C-based system that uses a 3-axis accelerometer.

Although this example shows working with the I2C bus, you can still apply similar methods for SPI devices. You can even use the same tools. Both the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter and the Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer work with SPI devices.

Customizing Your Test Scripts

With the Beagle Software API, you can create your own applications. The API supports multiple operating systems and programming languages. Functional scripts are provided with the API that can be used as-is or modified as needed. Here are two articles that provide guidelines about using API:

For information about API calls, see the API Documentation section of the Beagle Protocol Analyzer User Manual.

We hope this answers your questions. Additional resources that you may find helpful include the following:

If you want more information, feel free to contact us with your questions, or request a demo that applies to your application.