Firmware builder#


The Firmware builder subsystem of Kotori used to use very early Arduino 1.0.x already, and is currently effectively defunct. There is already a ticket about modernizing the firmware builder to use PlatformIO. Contributions are welcome.


The build system is integrated with a flexible infrastructure for hands-off firmware building.

Customized firmwares can be built without having any toolchain installed on your workstation by just issuing a HTTP POST request to the firmware builder subsystem.

This infrastructure pulls the source code including dependencies from the Hiveeyes Arduino repository, replaces user-defined variables in the main sketch as well as the Makefile and delivers customized firmwares based on an universal code base.

The main use case for this is to enable everyone to build her own firmwares without installing any toolchain at all. The most prominent example for customizing user-defined variables would be the Hiveeyes WAN device address in form of the triple (HE_USER, HE_SITE, HE_HIVE) or the access point configuration parameters for setting up a GPRS device for communication in form of the quadruple (GPRSBEE_AP_NAME, GPRSBEE_AP_AUTH, GPRSBEE_AP_USER and GPRSBEE_AP_PASS).

For getting an idea about the variable replacements we are aiming at with an example sketch suitable for automatic building using the variables described above, please have a look at openhive-gsm-wifi.ino, line 81 ff.


This is a work in progress, don’t expect everything to work without effort yet. Testers and contributors are very welcome!

The blueprint is the fine Cloud Build Service of the NodeMCU community:

Build node-gprs-http#

The firmware source code openhive-gsm-wifi.ino of the Open Hive GSM and WiFi sensor nodes is pulled from the master branch of the Hiveeyes Arduino repository on GitHub. Specify appropriate parameters to match your environment.


How to configure the sensor node address (here testdrive/area-42/node-1) and other firmware parameters?


HTTPie is a cURL-like tool for humans for conveniently issuing HTTP requests from the command line.


# Debian-based systems
aptitude install httpie

# Mac OS X
sudo port install httpie


Issue a HTTP POST request to build and obtain the firmware hex file:

time http --timeout=120 POST \
    ref=master path=node-gprs-http \ GPRSBEE_AP_PASS=789 \

Downloading to ",GPRSBEE_AP_PASS=789,HE_SITE=area-42,,HE_USER=testdrive,HE_HIVE=node-1.hex"
Done. 72.18 kB in 0.17865s (404.03 kB/s)

real        0m19.154s


The HttpRequester add-on for Firefox is a graphical user interface for issuing HTTP requests.

Issue a HTTP POST request to acquire a firmware from the firmware builder subsystem. Please set the appropriate firmware build- and configuration parameters on the left side of the screen.

Kotori Firmware Builder HttpRequester

After sending the HTTP POST request by hitting “Submit”, just copy/paste the response content on the right side of the screen into a .hex file and upload to the MCU.


As the available configuration parameters and possible values are currently not documented in detail, please have a look at the source code (openhive-gsm-wifi.ino). All preprocessor variables (#define ...) can be changed through HTTP POST parameters.

Build node-gprs-any#

Just send a HTTP POST request to the ..../firmware.hex endpoint using the HTTP client of your choice. Pass the user-defined variables in JSON or x-www-form-urlencoded format in the request body.

Setup HTTP client:

# Debian-based systems
aptitude install httpie

# Mac OS X
sudo port install httpie

Acquire firmware:

export DEVICE_TOPIC=Hotzenplotz/Buxtehude/Raeuberhoehle

http --timeout=120 --download POST \$DEVICE_TOPIC/firmware.hex \
    ref=master path=node-gprs-any \ GPRSBEE_AP_PASS=123

This should deliver a hex file ready for programming:

Downloading to ",GPRSBEE_AP_PASS=123,HE_SITE=area-42,HE_HIVE=node-1,HE_USER=testdrive,"
Done. 53.57 kB in 0.00064s (81.48 MB/s)

Given, the filename is long, but it includes every parameter to distinguish different build artifacts from each other.


  • There’s also an endpoint with suffix firmware.elf which can be used to obtain a firmware binary in ELF format.

  • When running the firmware builder subsystem on your workstation, you might want to use as designated Makefile.

Upload to MCU#


What’s the best way to upload the downloaded firmware hex file to the MCU, when not having any toolchain installed, actually?


Mac OS X#


Arduino 1.0.x vs. 1.6.x


BOARD_TAG         = pro328
BOARD_SUB         = atmega328p


BOARD_TAG         = pro
BOARD_SUB         = 8MHzatmega328

On the server, there’s currently Arduino 1.0.5:

root@elbanco:~# aptitude show arduino-core | grep Version
Version: 2:1.0.5+dfsg2-4

So the appropriate settings for Arduino 1.0.x should be used inside the respective Makefile.