This chapter is about the STM32 Nucleo development boards. Brief specifications of some of the Nucleo development boards are described in the chapter.
The STMicroelectronics is an Italian-French multinational electronics manufacturing company with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Also called ST for short, it is Europe's largest semiconductor chip maker. The company has 7400 people working in R&D, holds 17,000 patents, 9500 patent families, and has filed 500 new patents in 2017. The company employs 45,500 people and its revenue was $8.35 billion in 2017. With 80 sales and marketing offices in 35 countries and 11 main manufacturing sites, ST is one of the leading electronics technology innovator supplying high-quality microcontroller development boards, various electronics hardware, and software development tools.
The Nucleo family of low-cost development boards is small but powerful boards based on the state-of-the-art 32-bit ARM Cortex-M architecture. These development boards are targeted for a large audience, including students, professional engineers, and hobbyists at all levels. The boards are compatible with the popular Arduino, Mbed, ST-LINK, and ST Morpho, making it accessible to the users with different backgrounds. In addition to many hardware extension modules, the Nucleo family is supported by several software development tools and integrated development environments (IDEs), such as professional compilers, debuggers, and in-circuit programming tools.
There are over 30 different boards in the Nucleo family, aimed to satisfy the needs of almost all users with various backgrounds. Basically, the Nucleo boards come in three different sizes where the numbers below refer to the pin counts of the MCUs used on the boards:
These three groups are further divided into three subgroups, identified by three different colors:
The ultralow-power boards are based on the STM32 L family and these boards are targeted for low-power applications, such as watches, smart meters, etc. Examples of the ultralow-power boards are: Nucleo-L011K4, Nucleo-L031K6, Nucleo-L432KC, and Nucleo-L433RC-P. There are three subcategories in the STM32 L family:
About half of the STM32 Nucleo boards are in the mainstream category. Examples of the mainstream boards are: Nucleo-F303K8, Nucleo-F042K6, Nucleo-F303RE, etc. There are three subcategories in the mainstream category:
The high-performance boards have large memories and faster MCUs. Examples of high-performance boards are: Nucleo-F410RB, Nucleo-F401RE, Nucleo-F722ZE, etc. There are three subcategories in the high-performance category:
The Nucleo-32 boards are small (50 mm × 19 mm) and are Arduino Nano compatible. The Nucleo-64 and Nucleo-144 boards are Arduino Uno compatible and they also have the standard ST Morpho extension connectors which carry the MCU pins. There are a large number of Arduino Nano/Uno compatible shields available in the market and these shields can easily be used with the Nucleo boards, thus making it easy to quickly develop projects using the Nucleo boards.
Depending upon the model, the Nucleo boards have flash program memory sizes ranging from 16 KB to 2 MB, and RAM memories ranging from 4 to 320 KB. The clock frequency varies from 32 to 216 MHz.
Fig. 4.1 shows a comparison of the Nucleo boards available at the time this book was written.
Fig. 4.2 shows an example of Nucleo-32 board, the Nucleo-L031K6. This is an ultralow-power low-cost board incorporating the 32-pin STM32L031K6T6 microcontroller. The board is Arduino Nano compatible so that a large number of Arduino Nano shields can be used with the board. This board has the following features:
Fig. 4.3 shows an example of Nucleo-64 board, the Nucleo-F091RC. This is a mainstream board incorporating a 64-pin MCU. The board is Arduino Uno compatible and as such a large number of Arduino Uno shields can be used with the board. This board has the following features:
Fig. 4.4 shows an example of Nucleo-144 board, the Nucleo-F722ZE. This is a high-performance board incorporating a 144-pin MCU. The board is Arduino Uno compatible. The features of this board are:
A large number of expansion boards are offered by the STMicroelectronics. These expansion boards are fully compatible with the Nucleo development boards and they just plug on top of the development boards. There are many expansion boards that can be used in many sensor and actuator-based applications. Some of the commonly used expansion board provide the following functionalities:
For example, the Wi-Fi expansion board can be used when it is required to develop a microcontroller-based application using a Nucleo development board to establish Wi-Fi-based communication (e.g., an Internet application, or remote monitoring and control application). All the user has to do is plug the Wi-Fi expansion board on top of the Nucleo development board and power up the Nucleo board. The required software can then be developed easily using, for example, the Wi-Fi library provided by Mbed. In addition to the libraries, various sample programs are provided by Mbed for using the expansion boards in projects. With the help of these libraries, a project can be developed in considerably less time since the expansion board has already been tested and working. It is also an advantage that the user does not need to know much about the configuration or the hardware design of the expansion board.
In this chapter, we have learned about the following: