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8051 Recommended Open Source, Freeware, Projects, etc.

Posted 1 March 2009

Free Stuff for the 8051
Everyone loves free. Well, almost everyone. There is a wealth of "free stuff" for the 8051 on the Internet, but since the point of this Guide is to help commercial developers, we can't say that much of it is very worthwhile. Indeed, a lot of it is junk, hobbyist stuff, stuff that you have no real idea what it is, and we certainly can't recommend you putting it into your project. That said, we have combed the Internet to identify some of the better free things out there for your 8051 enjoyment.

Free RTOS Support for the 8051
On the software front, one of our top polling 8051-related downloads is consistently the FreeRTOS website. The company does have a free port to the Cygnal 8051, and you can use the RTOS for free in commercial projects, but be sure to check the licensing restrictions, here. It's a little complex but the marketing direction is to sell you on full featured commercial RTOS versions. Another OS that is nominally free is TinyOS, an open-source operating system designed for wireless embedded sensor networks.. You can find out about the 8051 project in particular, here.

Other Free Software for the 8051
Beyond RTOS support, another free software is SDCC, a retargettable, optimizing ANSI - C compiler that targets the Intel 8051, Maxim 80DS390, Zilog Z80 and the Motorola 68HC08 based MCUs. It's based on GNU of course. There is a free Pascal compiler for the 8051, here, although we can't say how many people are Pascal people, can we? But it's free, and that's sort of the issue with the free software...

SES (Scientific Educational Systems, Ltd.), is a training and educational company and provides some limited 8051-related software for free, here. If you are interested in intellectual property ("IP") for the 8051, don't miss Oregano Systems 8051 Core available under the LGPL (Lesser GPL). They have some nice demo files based on Altera on the website as well. ASEM-51 is a two-pass macro assembler for the Intel MCS-51 family of microcontrollers. It is running on the PC under MS-DOS, Windows and Linux. The ASEM-51 assembly language is based on the standard Intel syntax, and implements conditional assembly, macros, and include file processing. It seems fairly up-to-date.

Finally, one of the best free sites for the 8051 is the The 8051 Simulator for Lecturers and Students. Developed by James Rogers, it is a simulator unlike the many industry-standard simulators that are widely available but, again, the focus is on students and academics not commercial designers who need to get a job done, quickly.

Free Help
By "free help," we don't mean that there is any free help on the Internet out there. What we mean is help us with "free." It's hard to find good, interesting free stuff on the 8051, so if you know of any, send us an email. Thanks!

Express Logic - RTOS, TCP/IP, USB Stack, File System, GUI

Express Logic develops, markets and supports the ThreadX® real-time operating system (RTOS), NetX™ TCP/IP networking stack, USBX™ USB stack, FileX® embedded file system, and GUIX™ GUI toolkit for embedded applications. ThreadX is a royalty-free, full source code, small-footprint, low-overhead RTOS that is extremely easy to learn and use. ThreadX is one of the most widely deployed RTOS products in the world, with over 1.5 billion products based on ThreadX.
Express Logic - RTOS, TCP/IP, USB Stack, File System, GUI