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Is an STM32F4 a bad first uC?


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Hi,

I have an STM32F4 Discover for about a month now, its the first microcontroller I ever used and I started to wonder if it was a good choice. For the money I payed (13€) it was definitely worth it, but I find it quite hard to program.

I have a strong background in math and programming and I'm usually pretty good at figuring things out, but that nut is hard to crack for me.

I got the summon-arm toolchain installed easily on linux, I got stlink working without a problem, but I didn't manage to configure eclipse to work with the ST Library.

I tried several other things like libopencm3, chibios and even some weired code by dasLabor. But none really helped.

I want to control a few PWMs and read a few A/Ds and control that via USB.

 

So the question is, is an STM32F4 to hard to get used to if you never had a uC before? The arduino is much too limited for me, thats why I got the STM.

I don't want a toy system, but fiddling with register values to activate some function may be a bit too much for me right now.

 

Are there maybe older uC (boards) with maybe more mature software support then the relatively new STM32F4?

 

Thanks for reading,

Mathias

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Hi Mathias,

I have been using a Stellaris Microcontroller Kit from TI - LM3S9B92. They have a software suite - Stellarisware which is tailored for all their kits and one of the best in the market. You can download the software and be blinking an LED/USB/PWM within 15 minutes using their APIs. The programming environment I use is Code Composer Studio. It is free(upto 32K , I think). Some kits offer CCS free when you connect the kit in. I got CCS for $1 a few months back. Usual price is $499.

 

Other than that, the kit has been perfect for me. A few issues you should keep in mind:

- Having a high level api kind of blocks you from the low level register sets. It comes in handy later on. but if you just a beginner, it is great.

- As long as you are using the kit, the software -CCS should be fine. If you are compiling bigger projects, you might need to buy the software....but there are open source alternatives available - Code Sourcery etc.

 

 

I don't think you made a wrong decision, but it looks like it has been quite a learning curve for you. I'm not sure how to help you out, but try posting your problems here. I'm sure people will answer in due course of time. (The forum is relatively new, but it looks sort of busy.. which means your in luck)

 

Ask away. I'll try to help when I can.

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  • 3 months later...

Mathias,

I have same equipment and using Atollic TrueStudio Lite, which is free version.

 

However, I could never have begun without months of experience with simpler AVR programming(ATmega328P) using Arduino Uno board and Arduino open source IDE which is based on C++ but very user friendly for novice such as myself. After rising to level of robotic tank(see my photo icon to the upper left of this window)and also an IP-controlled tank(controlled via iphone) I learned programming it in C with Eclipse(can be a pain to use) and AVRStudio(also a pain to use). Ironically, the TrueStudio is a specially configured Eclipse IDE which works well for ARM.

 

AVR is much better documented with tutorials and even college level material/lectures on internet. There are many helpful books for AVR, but I have found NOTHING for ARM, except a few examples and very few tutorials so far, but at least I am advancing.

 

(I do have a great mentor friend of mine who is a professional embedded programmer using our STM32F4 Discovery board(he has several of them) who got me to progress from AVR to ARM, which is indeed more complicated but this board has many, many functions.)

 

Again, I would recommend AVR programming first, even though you must purchase more items...do investigate Arduino hardware and IDE...just 'Google' Arduino and get a load of information.

http://www.arduino.cc/ will provide the links you need, including Adafruit which sells all attachments and accessories. I have an entire toolbox for it and I love it!

 

Charlie

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