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STM32 Nucleo: The Features and How To Connect It to Your PC

Are you looking for a way to build prototypes quickly? Or are you looking for a development board to try new projects? Then, what you need is the STM32 Nucleo development board.

The SMT32 Nucleo offers several extension capabilities, low power consumption, and other features for developers. But how does the STM32 Nucleo work?

In this article, you’ll learn everything about an STM32 Nucleo, how to use it with an Arduino IDE, and more.

Let’s Begin!

What is the STM32 Nucleo Board?

STM32 Board Pinout

STM32 Board Pinout

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The STM32 Nucleo development board offers developers a wide range of possibilities to create prototypes. Also, the board serves as a versatile and affordable option for designers to try new ideas with the STM32 MCU family.

Interestingly, these boards feature connectors that allow them to add extensions. Further, the STM32 extends its functionalities by using various hardware add-ons (application-related). So, these connectors can work with Arduino and enable designers to access all the MCU’s available real-time operating systems.

Additionally, these boards don’t need any separate probe. And it’s because STM32 Nucleo boards come with an ST-LINK programmer/board debugger. Also, STM32 Nucleo boards have pre-installed the HAL software library and various software examples. 

Moreover, these boards are compatible with Keli MDK-ARM, IAR EWARM, and LLVM/GCC-based IDEs (integrated development environments).

Features

The STM32 Nucleos offers developers several useful features, including:

  • The board has two extensions: an Arduino-compatible connector and an STMicroelectronics Morpho extension connector.
  • Lack of a rigid power supply. Hence, you can power the STM32 Nucleos with a USB VBUS, an external source, or through the power management access point.
  • It comes equipped with three LEDs for different purposes. LED 1 is for USB communication, LED 2 is the user LED and LED 3 is the power indicator.
  • The board supports three USB interfaces: mass storage, debug port, and virtual com port.
  • The board’s ST-LINK/V2-1 debugger/programmer is accessible. So, you can even use selection mode for the ST-LINK/V2-1 as a standalone kit.
  • STM32 Nucleo is a mbed-enabled board.
  • The board features two push buttons: one user and one reset.

How do I Connect my STM32 Nucleo to My PC?

It’s pretty easy to connect your STM32 Nucleo to a PC. So, you only need a USB cable and some software tool installation.

USB Cable

USB Cable

Source: Stockvault

However, installing the required software can be tricky. Follow the procedure below to make things less complicated:

  • First, open your web browser and visit the Nucleo firmware page. But if you have not installed the ST-link driver before, you can do that here.
  • After installing your driver, do the firmware update. Start by downloading the latest ST-LINK/V2-1 firmware from the Nucleo page.
ST-Link Download Page

ST-Link Download Page

Source:  https://www.st.com/en/development-tools/st-link-v2.html  

  • Then, extract the update and open the STLinkUpgrade.exe.
  • Next, plug your Nucleo board into your PC with a USB cable and wait for the USB enumeration process.
  • Afterward, click “Connect.” If you installed the driver correctly, it would connect, and you’ll see the driver’s current version.
  • Then, start the upgrade process. Once the upgrade is over, your STM Nucleo should appear as a USB storage device.

How do You use an Arduino IDE with STM32 Nucleo?

Arduino IDE

Arduino IDE

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The STM Nucleo is a more affordable and flexible development platform when compared to Arduino and even offers better stats.

But if you’re a fan of Arduino, you can use most STM32 Nucleo boards on Arduino IDE.

Follow the steps below to use Arduino IDE with the STM32 Nucleo.

Step 1: Open Your Arduino IDE

First, go to your Arduino IDE and navigate to files. Then, select preference and input the link in “Additional Board Manager URL.” 

Then, close the preference tab.

Step 2: Package Installation 

Next, we need to install the SMT32 Core package. What you need to do here is navigate to “Tools” and then “Board.” A drop-down menu should open. Then, you can select “Boards manager.”

When the Board device manager is open, find the “SMT32 Core” package and click install.

Step 3: Map Your Pins

You need to remap the Nucleo pins to fit the Arduino IDE. Also, remapping makes it easier to remember some pin notations.

You can download the Header file here and copy it to Arduino’s library directory.

The default directory should be C:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino\libraries.

Step 4: Code with a Basic Example

Blink Example

Blink Example

Source: Wikimedia Commons

First, you need to select the board and serial port connected to your pc. You can do this by navigating to “Tools,” clicking on “Board,” and waiting for the drop-down menu.

Then, navigate to Nucleo and select the relevant one. After, select ‘Tools” again and choose the board’s number part. Then, select your board’s number.

Once again, select “Tools” and “Port.” Further, select the port you used to connect your Nucleo board.

Now, we can test coding with a basic example: the blink program. Here’s the code you need to try this program: 

SMT32 vs. ARDUINO 

The SMT32 and Arduino offer exciting features that make them one of the best microcontrollers on the market. No doubt, you can use the SMT32 on Arduino IDE. But it’s not the same as using a regular Arduino board.

Now, let’s look at the differences between these development boards.

Similarities

Both SMT32 and Arduino are development boards that are easy to use compared to other counterparts.

Differences

Arduino

Arduino

Arduino

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Arduino is very easy to use. And its major control comes from the AVR microcontroller.

Also, the board has high code bundling making it easier to develop any software tool. In addition, the Arduino is easy to use with a little knowledge of C++ and hardware.

SMT32

SMT32

SMT32

Source: Flickr

On the other hand, the SMT32 board is more tuned to engineering practice. So, based on the development tools, SMT32 can go from easy to very complicated. 

SMT32 is not beginner-friendly, and it’s more popular among professional developers. But it’s still an easy and flexible way to develop prototypes for products.

SMT32 vs. Arduino: Final Verdict

In truth, both boards have their strengths. Arduino works better for DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists that want to do general electronics. And the SMT32 is a more solid option for manufacturing, developing prototypes, and actual products.

Rounding Up

SMT32 Development Board

SMT32 Development Board

Source: Flickr

The SMT32 Nucleo is great for prototyping and exploring the SMT32 MCU family. However, it gets complex when you go in without some level of professionalism.

But, once you get the hang of it, the SMT32 is one of the easiest and most flexible ways to develop real products.

Do you have more questions about the SMT32 Nucleo? Don’t hesitate to contact us

Hommer Zhao
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far, we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help you can provide.

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