Dev board boosts support for 32bit Flash microcontrollers

09-02-2016 |   |  By Paul Whytock

Prototyping by its very definition needs an engineering environment that quickly and accurately validates design ideas and a new series of development boards from chip company STMicroelectronics could provide that.

With the introduction of what it describes as the very affordable STM32 Nucleo-144 series of boards the company has increased its support for the STM32 family of 32bit Flash microcontrollers.

The STM32 Nucleo boards can be used to try out new ideas with any STM32 MCU and they can be extended with a selection of specialised application hardware add-ons that include the Arduino Uno Rev3 and ST morpho connectors on Nucleo-144 and Nucleo-64, ST Zio connectors on Nucleo-144 and Arduino Nano connectors on Nucleo-32.

One particular feature of these boards is they integrate an ST-Link debugger/programmer so there is no need for a separate probe and in addition an STM32 software HAL library together with various software examples are provided.

But what about these new 144 series of boards?

One obvious advantage that will assist users is increased connectivity. The boards are compatible with the existing STM32 development ecosystem, including the range of dedicated plug-in application expansion boards that allow features ranging from motor drives to motion and environmental sensors to be incorporated into the final application.

STMicrolelectronics say the boards offer unlimited extension capability via three types of connector and as well as the Arduino Uno and ST morpho connectors provided by existing Nucleo-64 boards, the new boards include an ST zio connector.

What these connectors do is provide access to all of the STM32 general-purpose I/O pins. Selected STM32 Nucleo-144 boards include Ethernet, as well as USB FS OTG ports to ease connections to local/wide area networks.

The STM32 Nucleo-144 boards allow the embedded processing community, from hobbyists and students to the most experienced professional system developers, to quickly test, and optimise built in conjunction with the 32bit microcontroller family.

All of the STM32 Nucleo-144 boards include an integrated ST-Link debugger/programmer, which eliminates the need for a separate debug probe, and are compatible with the most popular development tool chains including IAR EWARM, Keil MDK-ARM, and GCC/ LLVM-based IDEs such as AC6 SW4STM32 or Atollic TrueStudio.

The new boards will be ARM mbed enabled during Q2 2016 which will mean that customers will have free access to ARM mbed online tools that do not require any software installation.

The first four boards (NUCLEO-F746ZG, NUCLEO-F429ZI, NUCLEO-F446ZE and NUCLEO-F303ZE) are available.

All STM32 Nucleo users have free access to the mbed online resources (compiler, C/C++ SDK, and developer community) at www.mbed.org.

The STM32 open development environment (ODE) is made up of these elements:

  1. STM32 Nucleo development boards. A comprehensive range of affordable development boards for all STM32 microcontroller series, with unlimited unified expansion capability, and with integrated debugger/programmer.
  2. STM32 Nucleo expansion boards. Boards with additional functionality to add sense, control, connectivity, power, audio or other functions as needed. The expansion boards are plugged on top of the STM32 Nucleo development boards. More complex functionalities can be achieved by stacking the expansion boards.
  3. STM32 Cube software. A set of free of charge tools and embedded software bricks to enable fast and easy development on the STM32, including a Hardware Abstraction Layer, middleware and the STM32CubeMX PC-based configurator and code generator.
  4. STM32 Cube expansion software. Expansion software provided free of charge for use with STM32 Nucleo expansion boards, and compatible with STM32Cube software framework.
  5. STM32 ODE Function Packs. Set of function examples for some of the most common application cases built by leveraging the modularity and interoperability of NUCLEO and X-Nucleo boards, with CUBE and X-CUBE software.
  6. The STM32 Open Development Environment is compatible with a number of IDEs including IAR EWARM, Keil MDK, mbed and GCC-based environments.


paul-whytock.jpg

By Paul Whytock

Paul Whytock is European Editor for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over twenty years. Prior to entering journalism he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

Related articles