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Al Williams

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More on the STM32 Discovery Value Board

October 12, 2010

In my last blog, I mentioned a $10 32-bit development kit from STM. I've asked them about using them in the classroom but I haven't got a reply yet. I also haven't got a board myself yet although its en route (rather then beg ST's PR for a $10 a board I just bought one from a distributor).

Of course, I use Linux and usually these kinds of boards are totally geared towards Windows. Apparently this board is not the exception to this rule. I did find an interesting blog chronicling one user's experience with working with the board under Linux.

A few tidbits from that blog:

  • The pins at the bottom need to come off so you can plug into a breadboard (I'll probably desolder them and reinstall them so they point up).
  • For Linux use, the author enables the chip's bootloader mode. This requires soldering a resistor on the board. (In all fairness, the STM documentation suggests you just remove a solder bridge and that looks to be adequate for it to work).
  • Of course, for the bootloader, you need a serial port. The author constructed a level converter with a MAX3232 -- I just keep a bunch of these around (they are 5V, but the 3.3V chip fits in the same socket).

So apparently not painless with Linux, but then that's part of the fun of buying a $10 development kit is making it work

.

I will say, however, that it is one of the things I dislike about using the Arm chips. Granted, I can go buy a nice toolchain. But with the free tools, every time I gear up to do any Arm development (I do a good bit with the Mini2440 boards and some LPC2119 devices) I have to go fiddle with the toolchain and remember how to get it all working nicely.

Admittedly the Atmel AVR is a less powerful 8 bit controller, but when I use the GNU tools for AVR it just seems to work out of the box with much less fiddling. But, of course, the execution environment isn't nearly what you get with the ARM.

Do you have an STM32 Discovery board? How's it working for you? What do you plan to do with it? Leave a comment and let me know what you are up to.

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