Another month has gone by and I am still working on the Speech Timer project. I was able to develop a solution with CircuitPython but was not happy with the end product. Perhaps it would be possible to get to a more stable version but even with all the RAM available on the Raspberry Pi Pico W, I would still run into issues with the heap becoming fragmented and not having enough free space to allocate additional space to server web pages reliably. I tried many of the tips to resolve the issue including calling garbage collection periodically. These changes helped the code run a bit longer but still ran into issues. I decided to rewrite the code in C++, using the Arduino IDE and wanted to be able to debug my code on the Raspberry Pi Pico while it was running as I ran into an issue when I changed the configuration to disable serial debugging output by not calling Serial.begin().
I made a Picoprobe and attempted to debug my code, but things were not as straight forward as they could have been, which resulted in many hours waisted.
I had followed the instructions in the getting-started-with-pico.pdf guide and used the Windows Pico SDK, but could not get debugging to work in Visual Code or the Arduino IDE. I was nearly ready to setup another PC with Linux and give that a go as I had seen folks saw that just works with no issues. I’m running Windows, which I assumed was part of the issue. I saw another Windows user who was very frustrated as well and stating that it seemed they were the only ones testing/using this in Windows. They eventually got it working although they could not figure out the root cause. Unfortunately I too got it working and have no clear indication of what the root issue was but I have an idea that there is an issue with the Windows setup scripts that needs to be addressed. If someone has Visual Code and/or Arduino IDE installed before installing the SDK, they will have issues. This may not be the fault of the SDK, it could be with the Visual Code and Arduino IDE setup but I suspect it is indeed the Pico SDK setup on Windows that is the issue.
Out of frustration, I reinstalled the Windows Pico SDK and checked Visual Code and the Arduino IDE. Magically, Visual Studio code worked but the Arduino IDE still failed. I then uninstalled the Arduino IDE, then restarted the PC. Once the PC restarted, I deleted the C:\Users\<user id>\AppData\Local\Arduino15 and C:\Program Files\Arduino IDE folders to clear out anything that was already configured. I then reinstalled the Arduino IDE and tried again and the Arduino IDE worked too.
There really is a problem with the Pico SDK but it will be difficult to fix unless someone can figure out what changed from the problem install and the fixed install. Unfortunately, I did not capture anything before so I cannot tell what went wrong.
End the end, once debugging was working, I was able to step through my code and found the issue in about 2 minutes. Too bad the debugging fiasco caused several days of wasted time trying to get the debugging working.