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: