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Ruuvi Firmware – Part 12: Bootloader

Ruuvi Firmware series part 12 intro image

In this part of the tutorial we’ll add support for timing the tasks and scheduling tasks to be executed in the future. Final code of this blog post can be downloaded at Ruuvi GitHub.

Please follow part 1 of the series for details on how to clone the repository and compile the code, adapting the repository as Final hex of this tutorial can be downloaded from the releases page on the GitHub repository.


So far we have been programming the tags with Ruuvi DevKit, which is fine as long as we actually have the DevKit. Vast majority of users do not have one, but they’d still enjoy being able to update their tags.

It’s natural to use the Bluetooth connectivity to deliver new firmware to the tags as anyone using the Bluetooth sensor beacon has a Bluetooth-enabled device. However, there is one big issue: What happens if the new application is corrupted, power goes out, or other problem occurs during the update?

Bootloader is answer to these issues. As the device powers on, bootloader is first program to run on RuuviTag. The bootloader checks the integrity of our application, and if the application is correctly installed the bootloader lets the application run. If the application is not properly installed or user has signaled they want to update the application, the bootloader will not let the application run but rather presents a method for the user to update the application.

Writing a proper bootloader is a task worthy of its own blog series, so we take a shortcut here and use the Nordic Semiconductor bootloader. Nordic has updated their Software Development Kit (SDK) version to 15.2, so while we’re at it we update the SDK 15.0 we’ve been using previously.

Setting up the Nordic Bootloader Project

First thing we need is the Micro elliptic curve cryptography library, which does not ship as a precompiled binary inside the Nordic SDK. Enter SDK directory external/micro-ecc and run

git clone
cd nrf52hf_armgcc/armgcc

Next we copy the debug-bootloader example under SDK/examples/dfu/secure_bootloader/pca10040_ble_debug into our project, remove all but Segger Embedded Studio (SES) compilation environments and fix the filepaths to point into the SDK root and project root where applicable in emProject file.

Let’s change a few configuration parameters in sdk_config.h. Booting is rare enough event, we can check the CRC after system off. We want to support buttonless DFU later on. Let’s name the DFU service “RuuviBoot” to keep the current name of bootloader. We’ll want to allow downgrading to previous versions. And finally, let’s pick HW version as 0x0b as in “RuuviTag B”.

#define NRF_DFU_BLE_ADV_NAME "RuuviBoot"
#define NRF_DFU_HW_VERSION 0x0b

SDK12 Ruuvi bootloader is debug-variant and has its flash start address at 0x75000. Our bootloader will have the same start address, as changing the bootloader start address generally results in problems when upgrading softdevice + bootloader from SDK12 to SDK15 over BLE. However the debug bootloader does not fit in given space by default, we need to disable some logging to fit in the space we have. Easiest savings are had by increasing the default log level from “Debug” to “Info”. Next few bytes are saved by disabling error code to string converter and NRF_SDH_BLE_LOG which uses the conversion function. Finally we disable float formatting in printf.

SEGGER Embedded Studio for ARM
We can drop printf float formatting for those few precious bytes of flash.

We’ll also want to use the ruuvi.boards.c repository we have to avoid maintaining two board configuration repositories. Let’s add ruuvi.boards.c as a submodule.

After adding some glue logic in custom_board.h and adding board definitions to SES preprocessor directives, we can #define the enter bootloader pin as RUUVI_BOARD_BUTTON_1

Adding preprocessor definitions
Adding preprocessor definitions
#include "ruuvi_boards.h"


As a finishing touch we rename the project files from pca10040 to ruuvitag_b. Our development directory now looks like this:

Project structure at the end
Project structure at the end

Using the bootloader

We can flash the bootloader inside SES into our RuuviTag as usual. As one might guess, the code asserts right away on the first run. This is due to example code trying to use a third led which we haven’t got on RuuviTag. A quick fix to main.c — removing all actions with BSP_BOARD_LED_2 — later we’re good to go.

Debug terminal - inside main
Our app is waiting for new firmware

Creating a Device Firmware Update Package

Creating a DFU package for our bootloader is a breeze: We download the final hex from our previous tutorial:


and run nrfutil package generation command on it:

nrfutil pkg generate --application nrf52832_xxaa.hex --application-version 1 --application-version-string "3.11.0" --hw-version 0x0b --sd-req 0xAF --key-file ~/git/ruuvi.nrf5_sdk15_bootloader.c/ruuvi_open_private.pem

If you’re targeting a different Softdevice, you can look up the sd-req codes at the nrfutil repository.

Uploading the Package

Uploading a DFU packet with nRF Connect is a familiar process, described well at RuuviLab. We can check the info logs from our tag as the package uploads.

Our logs during upload.
Our logs during upload.

The red led blinks on tag at 1 Hz, and a quick glance at the Ruuvi Station app shows the data coming from the tag. We have successfully updated our firmware over Bluetooth.


This post was a bit of a sidetrack for the application itself, however I feel it’s a justified as a part of the whole stack we’re building. We now can upload the application over Bluetooth, and we could also upload a new softdevice and bootloader to update the entire stack if we wanted to.

Stay tuned and follow @ojousima and @ruuvicom on Twitter for #FirmwareFriday posts!

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