STM32 F3 Discovery dev board includes some extras

ST Microelectronics keeps kicking out development boards to show off their new ARM processor line. Yesterday they issued a press release announcing the STM32 F3 Discovery Board. As their naming scheme implies, this carries an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, but compared to the F0 Discovery board (which we loved) it’s got several extra goodies built into it.

We took a look at the F3 Discovery product page and it doesn’t look like you can order these quite yet. But click-through to the pricing and you’ll see they’ve set it at $10.90. Digikey lists the board at that price point, Mouser lists it at about $16, but neither supplier has any available. We also didn’t see a link for free boards like when the F0 model was released. If you do come across a giveaway link please tip us off about it.

Okay, now let’s discuss those extras. We think this dev kit could be used as an IMU for applications like a quadcopter or a self-balancing robot. That’s because it has a gyroscope and an accelerometer. It’s also got ten LEDs, eight of which are arranged on that white circle. We’d guess that layout is for displaying orientation data from the IMU sensors. There’s also a second USB port to use when developing USB applications for the chip.

Like the other boards in the Discovery family this has the STlinkV2 built-in to use as a programmer. We don’t know if OpenOCD has support for the F3 chipset yet, which is what we’ve been using to program STM chips in a Linux environment.

55 thoughts on “STM32 F3 Discovery dev board includes some extras

  1. Also includes a magnetic sensor..

    “The MEMS devices provided on the board are the L3GD20 3-axis digital gyroscope and LSM303DLHC 6-axis geomagnetic module”

  2. The naming scheme may imply Cortex-M3, however the “STM32F30x” are actually Cortex-M4 chips.

    Quote form the site you linked:

    The STM32F30x microcontrollers combine the high computational resources of the ARM® Cortex™-M4 processor, which has a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and Floating-Point Unit (FPU), with advanced peripherals

    1. True – there’s a 32F4 discovery board that also has a Cortex-M4 (with 1MB flash / 192k ram), and audio input/output, USB, accelerometer, for ~$15.

      Another cool discovery board is the 32L, which has a Cortex-M3, LCD display, USB, and linear touch sensor, for ~10.50 (and an 8-bit version with LCD.)

    1. Who wants 8 bit pwm when you can get 14bit?
      That crap is old, ARM is getting ridiculously cheap that it’s stupid to have anything other than 32bit.

    2. I don’t know what you are looking at but if that price of $10.90, or even $16 for that matter, is correct then this “overpriced” board is half the price of that “cheap” Arduino! And yes I am aware that that is not just a Atmega chip(Which is very cheap, hence me using them a lot), but this dev board isn’t just an ARM chip, it is a full integrated system…

      Sorry if that seems rude, it is not intended. Just making a point :)

  3. I have a comercial product i have to design and this board has the goodies i need, sadly, its. Heaper for me to just drop this board in a package, rather than design from scratch. Fyi, estimaded volume is only 1,000 units year, so i cant really mass produce cheaper

      1. Funny thing about that… Once you purchase the thing, you can do whatever you want with your hardware. TOS applies to a service, not a product.

      2. I suppose TOS could stand for Terms Of Sale as well. Most likely they would spend a lot of resource worrying about the occasional dev board becoming a component of a larger non-commercial project, but there could be an unstated policy about filling x+ number of orders to the same person or shipping address.

      3. @Zee,
        You CAN integrate the “features” into an end product, that is why they sell the “Development Board”, but the TOS says you CAN NOT integrate the “Development Board” into the end product.

        So if you like what you can do with the dev board and want that functionality in a 1000 end products,
        they’ll sell (through distributors) you the core chip to put on your own PCB design and glue chips.

  4. Does anyone else think its time for the arduino to evolve?

    When you can get three of these boards for the same price as an 8 bit atmel something needs to change.

    1. ARM is getting so cheap that that pretty much the only thing the small 8bitters have going for them
      is mock-up friendly dip packages

      The price of the discovery boards are not real, they are obviously sold at a loss to show of components, that is why the TOS says you cannot use them for a product they are strictly for evaluation

        1. not much point really, most sockets for smd devices are very expensive compared to the parts you would be fitting in them.

          There’s a reason for all the breakout boards, a pcb and some headers are cheaper and more reliable

    2. 3rd party boards are never going to be as cheap as loss-leader evals from the IC manufacturer.

      But Arduino is evolving, right now. Arduino Due will probably release later this year, and Teensy 3.0 is releasing in about 1 week.

    3. Agree.

      I still use PIC8 as these are awesome in small cheap projects, however I find myself more and more wanting to work with 16/32 bit integers and larger datasets for Games and such and working with 32 bit integers in a 32 bit flat address space is a real luxury and so much easier, though I do miss the simplicity and comprehensive documentation that comes with Microchip devices.

      Although memory usage is generally 2-3 times as much over an 8 bitter who cares as we are now getting boards physically smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Arduino running the same or lower power at a magnitude faster speed and 256K+ of working space.

      My pet hates are the crummy overblown IDE’s and documentation that come with the ARM devices, I say bring on the Arduino 32 bit IDE clones which work out of the box with this (that nice value $5 TI equivalent and all the other ARM arduino clones!)

      BUT… There are too many IDE choices guys!

      The Teensy, Galago, Maple, Pinguino, chipkit developers knocking out these 32 bit Arduino IDE clones should all go down the pub and sort out a single IDE that supports all the hardware under a simple Arduino like IDE (or we could wait for the official Arduino 32 bit offering which has gone quiet a year after the announcement)

      1. The Galago IDE is cross-platform and supports debugging, so it’s the natural choice. We’re working hard to make it a simple, powerful and easy-to-use development tool, and in time (no promises yet!) support Arduino and compatibles possibly even including the Teensy 3.0.

      2. Why people like Arduino so much? I’ve tried it and it can’t even distantly match Eclipse, IMHO.
        I have STM32F4 Discovery and I use it with GNU GCC https://launchpad.net/gcc-arm-embedded and vanilla CMSIS and linker script (not the one from STM for Attolic with awful license) directly from ARM, just added proper interrupt names to startup script. For me it seems more pure than e.g. Maple and CodeSourcery.

  5. DigiKey is showing a estimated delivery date for stock if you enter a requested quantity.

    Ship Date Estimate
    (mm/dd/yyyy)
    10/31/2012

  6. I just don’t understand comparing the cost of this to the cost of the Arduino, or comparing ARM to the AVR. As I see it the intended market for this dev board is engineers/ engineering students. The market for the Arduino is hobbyists, and younger students that may be aspiring engineers. Not to say there won’t be any hobbyists or younger students that will purchase this, and make it sing.

    1. The intended target for AVR is not just hobbyists, maybe the arduino is, but the AVR as a whole is not.

      As an engineering student working on my final project, I’m thinking that I’m going to go 8bit as much as I can in the future whether it’ll be AVR or PIC or 8051. I don’t see the point of using an overpower 32bit µC at an added price(about a factor of 10), when I can get the job done with 8bit.

      The cheapest µC which digikey sells in quantities of 1 and has stocked is:
      8bit µC: the PIC10F200-I/P at .58USD (www.digikey.dk/product-detail/en/PIC10F200-I%2FP/PIC10F200-I%2FP-ND/665881)
      32bit µC: the http://www.digikey.dk/product-detail/en/PIC32MX110F016B-I%2FSS/PIC32MX110F016B-I%2FSS-ND/2772054
      and that’s is not even an arm, that’s a PIC 32MX, the cheapest arm is a cortex m3 at 5.18usd http://www.digikey.dk/product-detail/en/LM3S300-IQN25-C2/726-1088-ND/1739375

      Yes I know that PIC10 and cortex m3 are in two different ballparks, but that doesn’t mean that one is for hobby use and the other is for serious engineers. In my view all these µC can be used by both groups. Start talking about xilinx virtex fpgas then we can define the target market better :-)

  7. looks like ARM is heading for the same dump most electronics are headded for these days…:

    smart geeky purchase today…

    outdated looser tomorrow!

    not even enough time to learn one chip before they release a new thing.
    good luck getting ANY of your existing (ARM) code to run on “the newest offering”

    its how they get you to always be buying stuff but never really able to mature a design on your project. just keep buying more dev boards and changing design to work with new board. never any time to actually IMPROUVE your existing idea… destined to never make it to production.

    MAYBE IM BIASED. MAYBE THEY STILL SELL OLDER CHIPS LIKE PIC AND AVR.

    but “evaluation only” ????!?!?!! == DEALBREAKER!!!

    THATS LIKE LEASING A CAR! I CAN DRIVE IT BUT I CANT CUT ANY WIRES?!?!?! STFU!

    1. The evaluation only thing is just to prevent people from taking their low cost board, slapping on a shield or breakout board, stuffing it in a box and selling it for profit.

    2. but “evaluation only” ????!?!?!! == DEALBREAKER!!!

      What do you think they (STM) will do if you used this in a product? Send some thugs to break your legs or raise the price so they didn’t sell these boards at a loss? Perhaps you should just inquire about buying in bulk instead of as single dev boards.

    3. STM32f1 production : From 2007 to Current (source : wikipedia).

      Either you want to be cool with your boards (showing off your STM32F4 sure is da bomb at parties…) or you want to have a cool project done. If the F1 was adequate to your cool project you’ve had 5 years to build it (it still isn’t retired so I guess you can mass prod if you wish), or it wasn’t, so this new F3 chip is now available, rejoice, and .. OMG it’s pin-compatible with the F1 so you might as well upgrade !!11!ONEONE(11+4)/15! (to keep your writing style).

      Evaluation only == we produce them at loss (like other boards) to be affordable by enthusiasts unlink $150+ previous boards, so we don’t want people to mass produce something based on them because then it wouldn’t be feasible for us to keep producing them.

      MAYBE YOUR WAS TROLLING ALSO. ah, well…

  8. This thing a begging to be a Quadcopter Flight controller! Something like the ARDrone’s flight controller. Should be interesting if someone took it up as a Project

  9. If I lived in a place where shipping didn’t cost $50-$150 I’d be all over these and other <=$20 dev boards.

    I actually have a 315Mhz transceiver project currently, this $15 boards could be used for, for USB controlling the chip and logging and cleaning filter designs.

  10. The four integrated OpAmps are really cool.
    They can work as independent OpAmps with access to all pins, or as PGA.
    Also, on every OPAMP, there is one 4:1 multiplexer on the non-inverting input and one 2:1 multiplexer on the inverting input.
    The non-inverting inputs can also be connected to the DAC outputs by configuration.
    Wow.
    There are at least 10 potential projects that come into my mind.
    Beginning with a solid state radiation detector, and ending with a SDR receiver.

  11. Grr, I see that even HaD has fallen into the trap of using the word “chipset” to describe something that is obviously composed of only one chip. Just a pet peeve of mine :(

    1. Well, who says there isn’t more than one die in that package? The tiny micro-SD cards often have separate memory and controller chips inside.

  12. I got a free one Dec. 18, 2012. Had to STFW to locate the USB driver for Windows, which was “conveniently” located on ST’s ST-LINK/2 page.

    Soooo, now I can plug it into my old Win XP box and do??? I just want to fiddle around with it some, see what I may be able to use it for.

    Out of the clamshell it comes loaded with a demo program. Plug in a USB cable and the 8 LEDs light up in sequence. Cool! A high tech ornament for the Christmas tree.

    Press the user button and it switches on the gyroscope. Four of the LEDs indicate which way the board is tilted.

    Press the user button again and it switches on the compass. The LED closest to North lights up as the board is turned. Tilt the board and all 8 LEDs blink rapidly.

    Pretty neat out of the box, and you haven’t done a thing yet with any of the connection pins.

    Is anyone making a board to plug these into which breaks out all those pins into easier to access connections?

    Plug into the USB User port and it first identifies as a STMicroelectronics joystick, but then changes to a HID keyboard. Would’ve been cool to have it work out of the package using the gyro as a joystick.

  13. I bought the board and then found out that the development tools (compiler, etc…) cost about $3000 up, but there are some free/trial versions that limit the program size to 32KB. Probably I’ll only use it as accelerometer/gyro board and output the data to something else…

    1. $3000? I’ve been developing multi-rotor copter controllers on these boards for over a year for free. I don’t know if there is a 32K limit, I haven’t hit any limits yet. My BIN file is 68k. These boards are awesome as far as I am concerned.

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