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NUCLEO-F031K6 - Development Board - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 60 / 60
  • RoadTest: NUCLEO-F031K6 - Development Board
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes - null
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: ESP 8266
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: null

  • Detailed Review:

    First off I'd like to thank Element 14 and ST Microelectronics for giving me the opportunity to test this board. The Nucleo-F031K6 is one of the latest in a series of mbed enabled boards developed by ST Microelectronics. If you are not familiar with mbed, it is a development platform for ARM based microcontrollers that features an online editor and compiler, it features many base libraries that are available for a growing number of development boards. It features a standard API that devices must conform to, allowing rapid sharing of libraries and device support. Once you have selected your microcontroller platform, it is a simple matter of looking for user contributed code samples or libraries developed to interface to a wide range of devices. With built in I2C and SPI support it is usually a very simple matter to get you device plugged in and within a few minutes you can be talking to your favorite breakout board that you may have purchased from Element 14 or other vendors such as Adafruit, SparkFun, etc. When you have completed your software development activities, you can hit the compile button in the online IDE and assuming an error free compilation, the binary file will be downloaded to your computer. The methodology for actually installing the binary file to your microcontroller varies from device to device, but the Nucleo-F031K6, when plugged into the USB port of your computer, shows up as a disk drive, programming the device is as simple as dragging the dowloaded binary into the root partition, and waiting for the device to reboot. That's it. It's that simple. No need to worry about additional software to program the device. No need for additional hardware. Just drag and drop. For ARM based microcontrollers it just doesn't get any easier.

     

    If you have ever done any development for ARM microcontrollers previous to 5 years ago, you would have found that for each brand of microcontroller you would need to learn a great deal about the architecture of the device you were working with, often you would have to learn a new IDE, you would have to find linker and loader files, learn the device register and port addresses, and often buy additional hardware to be able to actually write your binary executable to the device before you could start the debugging process. ST Microelectronics has been an early adopter of the mbed environment and it has greatly simplified the ability to develop for their microcontrollers and development boards. If rapid prototyping and getting into a platform in the most efficient and inexpensive manner you can achieve is of interest to you, look for the 'ARM mbed enabled' tag on your microcontroller boards.

     

    About the board:

     

    The Nucleo-F031K6 is a powerful 32 bit ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller.

    It features a 48 MHz max clock frequency

    Can run from 2.0 to 3.6 volts

    32 KB flash

    4 KB SRAM

    6 timers, 1 with advanced controls, 5 general purpose

    1 SPI/I2S port

    1 I2C port

    1 USART

    1 12 bit ADC with 13 channels

    25 GPIO ports with interrupt capability

    Built in RTC

    Micro USB port for power, programming, and serial I/O

     

    That's a lot of capability in a very small package. The form factor of this board was designed to be compatible with the Arduino Nano, so shields and devices designed for the Nano will in most cases work with this Nucleo board.

     

    What can I do with it?:

     

    Whatever you want. This would be a great choice for the brains of almost any microcontroller project that does not require internet access. With the wide range of I/O ports and support for SPI and I2C, the number of peripherals that can easily be interfaced with is virtually unlimited. Using the online mbed environment greatly reduces the complexity of porting many existing arduino libraries to the ARM platform. This morning I decided to connect a DHT11 Temperature/Humidity Sensor to the device. I created a new project targeting the Nucleo-F031K6, searched the mbed repository and found the DHT11 library, I then added the following code:

     

    #include "mbed.h"
    #include "DHT11.h"
    
    
    DigitalOut myled(LED1);
    DHT11 d(PB_4);
    
    
    Serial pc(USBTX, USBRX);
    int main()
    {
        pc.printf("MBED DHT11 Test\n");
        myled = 0;
        int s;
        while(1) {
            myled = 1; // LED is ON
            wait(1.0); // 1 sec
            s = d.readData();
            if (s != DHT11::OK) {
                pc.printf("Error!\r\n");
            } else {
                int tempC = d.readTemperature();
                int tempF = tempC *9/5 +32;
                pc.printf("T:%dC, %dF, H:%d\r\n", tempC,tempF, d.readHumidity());
            }
            myled = 0; // LED is OFF
            wait(1.0); // 1 sec
        }
    }
    

     

    A really simple program. It prints out a welcome message, turns on the built in led, waits one sec, reads the DHT11 and prints the values, then turns off the led for a second, then starts over.

     

     

    IMG_20170730_124301898.jpg

     

    As you can see, that is a little tiny board. I played around with a few more built in examples in the mbed IDE. There were samples to test the RTC and others. I also interfaced it to a MAX 31855 k-type thermocouple to digital converter via SPI. Everything seemed to work out well.

     

     

    Conclusion:

     

    This board packs a lot into a small package. At just over $10 US it is a pretty good value for the money. It could definitely benefit from a bit more memory, and the similarly priced ESP8266 has built in wifi, but it lacks the I/O that this board has, plus the resolution of the A/D is not as good.

    A very capable board with lots of I/O that can fit into a small place, easily programmable with about as simple an IDE and API that you could ask for by using the mbed environment, and a low price tag, this is a board that can definitely meet your needs.


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