RoadTest: STM Discovery Board for Makers
Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: null
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Finding the right mix of software.
Today I would love to thank quite a few people at the start of this. First off I would like to thank Element14 and Randall for being awesome and bringing us these RoadTests and an amazing community. That being said thank you to those of you in the background at Element14 that we might not see all the time or at all great job! Secondly I would like to thank ST for their great work with putting on these RoadTest along side Element14 also all the other manufacturers that help bring these RoadTest to light. Thirdly I have to thank the guys over at TouchGFX, these guys have been a great help in my journey so far and have enjoyed talking with then and reviving lots of information from their site as well and emails.
Finally I would like to thank you the community, you guys have taught me a lot through the past year and I have started to get into products and devices I would never have thought about in the past. Which is awesome you guys have opened me up to a new part of electronics in my life. Since this is only my 3rd RoadTest I am still learning and enjoying the products that I have tested in the past as well as this STM32F769IDISCOVERY.
With that being said lets get to my journey so far with the STM32F769IDISCOVERY.
This Board like most of the boards I have tested have been well all and lacking in a few departments. I think the best way to describe it is there are tons of Demo’s out there for a lot of boards but no real actual documentation on the boards in their actual real world application. Lots of “It could do this or that's.” To me that is not enough I love to learn and expand my knowledge so when I receive a board or lately been selected for a RoadTest I immediately jump to the internet to download all the information I can either to my brain or to my Desktop for future visitation in learning and discovering the items sent to me. So before the board even got to me I had already downloaded tons of programs and updates and whatever I possibly could as far as examples and so on for many different programs. I wanted to make sure I explored every possible option on this board when I got it so that way I could find out what is going to be the best for my solution to some how integrated this with my home. Preferably with my google home.
At this point while I am writing this I am waiting for my ESP-01 WiFi adapter I ordered a while back hopefully should be here soon to be able to use that on the board as well but I am not holding my breath on that one but would love to have it so that board was not dedicated to Ethernet even tho POE is a great option for the and would be a ideal solution for anyone that is going to be making a smart home system and wanted to integrate this product into their existing setup.
Mind you its not going to be a plug and play solution that is for sure you will have to use a few programs to get things just the way you want it and be able to communicate with correctly. (even tho the demo sure is pretty)
I found the simple task of even pulling data from a website when using some of the programs was increasingly hard to do as well as impossible in some cases depending on the programs.
I will go further into detail on the programs that I have used and what flaws and perks of each one I will say this this tho about the board. It is a very well built board and has pushed me in a great way as I have enjoyed playing with this board and learning and well re-learning things as well again.
For the most part it relies on external programs for just about everything but that is to be expected first of all lets start with the list of programs selected and suggested on the RoadTest and my thoughts on some of them.
Compatible with windows OS (XP, 7, 8) or Linux 64-bit or OS X
I Just wanted to note that I am using windows 10 though this process and that I have had only a few issues with this but not enough to make the connectivity and usability suffer was a bit of a pain to get going properly on windows 10 but following setup procedures and making sure your drivers are in order you should have no issues connecting and using this on a windows 10 machine.
Supports Keil, IAR and GCC-based IDEs (free AC6: SW4STM32, Atollic TrueSTUDIO) development tools
So lets go through the list here as given on the RoadTest main page for the STM32F769IDISCO
Keil had some compatibility issues with windows 10 was unable to write directly but wasn’t a major concern since all files where accessible on the STM32F769IDISCO and was not needed to alter and adjust code. But all and all was the one I ended up using the most because it was actually usable more so then the other listed so that being said you may be able to get it going with other programs selected but I feel working with the board in conjunction with Keil seemed to be the best result and quickest to get going with. SC6 is a close contender in my opinion as well I do enjoy it as well but in the end Keil was more ideal for me.
I have tested with the other but feel no need to go into ripping on them when its not needed. Mind you this maybe a compatibility issue with me running Windows 10 with the board and software. As this is what I feel is going to be the norm its time software companies jump on board with it as well since support from previous versions of windows are slowly going down and is not really a ideal solution. Making their products compatible with newer machines and configurations is just as important in my opinion.
So now lets get going on the next part the GUI applications we have Embedded wizard, TouchGFX, and MicroEJ
To me Embedded Wizard really sucked for support and resources when it came down to it which really didn’t make me want to continue to use it and ended up going with something better.
TouchGFX ver 4.9.0, ver 4.9.1 and ver 4.92
To be honest I have seen TouchGFX grow through this process and from 4.9.0 to 4.9.2, I will say I love the fact that they are so involved in their product changing things to help work better with less steps and with more speed then any other GUI maker out there that I have seen. So as you can tell this is the one I went with. The reason I went with TouchGFX is it was simple I could upload my code to the board no problem then pull the files up with Keil and edit my files as needed and add what I needed in conjunction with the programs this provided me with a working solution to building my project on windows 10 which was awesome! I was having some issues at some points there in my project process with using the software, as this was the method that was working for me I reached out to TouchGFX and within a few hours had a response to my question. They state to use the online forum but its ok but a bit outdated and got all my questions responded to via email probably alot quicker then posting on the site as I did and think even now I still have not gotten a response on there. But I have appreciated the help and assistance through using this new software from TouchGFX and would recommend anyone just starting to use this software with Keil and you will have a winning solution for windows 10.
Recently I finally got in touch with MicroEJ as I love the software found it to be exactly what I was looking for I wrote them a email got a response a week later roughly which sucked because I was already deep into TouchGFX as well.
Now with MicroEJ there is no compatibility for the STM32F769IDISCO but there is for the STM32F746G DISCO. What was told to me was it will work on the STM32F769IDISCO if you adapt it the board. Which is great in my books there is a solution there and possibility to try some new things out there with the MicroEJ platform as well. Also based on Eclipse.
So this is another option that I will be exploring using the MicroEJ as well as I feel its going to be more ideal for my applications that I would like to use the STM32F769IDISCO with.
I will mention that I will be doing more with this board and updating this RoadTest as I do as I originally was going to do a project with this with my current home IOT devices that I have to see if I could get them to work in conjunction with them and be able to control devices. At first I thought that there would be a easy route to doing so but after further exploring the board and its features as well as in regards to its connectivity and ability to pull information from certain applications that this would be more of a on going project that I will be working on as I think this board does have a lot of potential.
With that being said there was a few negatives that I notice right away when it came to the board. Now mind you I did play with demo software and was not expecting much nothing more then I knew I could create myself in TouchGFX or the Embedded Wizard. That's what I thought anyway after playing with software I would say that the Embedded wizard demo was by far the best but with the lack of examples and knowledge base for the program I didn’t go this route as well as the compatibility with the connectivity of the board seemed to be my major concerns I had no issues with TouchGFX so this was the route for me.
Lets talk about the board itself for a moment here. After unboxing it and looking at it closely later on I noticed something when I first uploaded my first project in TouchGFX and made me go hmm. That's right I was confused looking at the touch digitizer on the display and it not being centered correctly on the display. This is how it was actually placed on the LCD display this over time became very annoying and if I will say had the display been purchased I would have probably put a big stink about it on any site until the problem was rectified. So that being said ST please look into the product a bit closer as the touch screen digitizer was not placed correctly on my display and for quality purposes I am sure that this is something you wouldn’t want to have to fix in the future with multiple complaints on the screen.
Now I would like to say I would probably have chosen the DSI to HDMI adapter that STMicroelectronics has. As I have a feeling this would be a bit more of a better alternative for designing for application specific displays. Sure the 4” WVGA screen is great but I can’t see this being a standard size for all applications mind you it is cellphone sized so that would appeal to more people. But for me I would love to have the ability to use a wider range of displays for prototyping and design. But having the ability to have the out of the box experience is also great having the 4” display there so its a mixed toss up. I would and will probably get the board in the future as I would actually like to use it in a project but I have a few concerns when it comes to touch screen connectivity with the DSI to HDMI adapter with other displays. But I guess that is something worth looking into in the future if I do and choose to get the board and will make sure to put any info on that here as well for future reference for anyone interested in it.
I just want to jump back to the ESP-01 WIFI adapter addition on the board. When I first opened up the board the location for this is near the bottom left of the screen and well it looks like part of the screen would be covered up by this as well and I am slightly confused by the location of choice on this. To be honest I would have loved to seen the screen more centered on the unit and then components on the top and bottom of it placed accordingly that way the WIFI adapter has less chance of obstruction when its placed in it. But who knows it might work just fine the way it is.
As you can see here this is a good view of the touch digitizer being not so square on the LCD.
I am super picky about this just from many years of cellphone repairs. I can spot cheap a mile away on cellphone replacement screens.
Other then that the board layout is nice I enjoy the fact that it doesn’t feel cheap in my hands and I am not going to break it if I handle it. I would however like to make a case for it so I can tilt the display accordingly as when its on my desk and I send a updated file to it to test it the screen viewing angel is absolutely terrible almost to the point where you have to be looking directly at it this is not fun and I am constantly moving the board around my desk to get the best viewing angle. That would be my cause for making an adjustable stand for this device. Which I think I will here shortly and will post links to the thingiverse design when completed just in case someone else has a use for it.
Powering the device.....so many options for this its silly but nice to have this would be a great board to use over POE so that I would probably suggest as being a great option for this board but when it comes down to it a lot of devices can be converted to POE with ease. But still nice to have it as an option on board.
One great feature tho I will say is I do love the Arduino Uno R3 connectors on board and have seen a few board that have done this in the past and have been completely non usable. This board I am going to have to say providing the most information on getting started with it is the best out there. The pin-out chart on the inside of the document so you are aware of the pin-out arduino vs disco for example TX/D1 = PC6 and RX/D0 = PC7 this makes things a lot more usable and troubleshooting your code a lot quicker for setup with the board this is a great feature in my books that they included it in the package and didn’t make you have to journey through the internet to find out what the pin-outs where and how to correctly connect with them. This would be great for adding a lot of smart home functions to your projects for home automation. Now mind you this would be a great command center in my books but is lacking in a few spots as I would like to have more connectivity options but with the arduino pin-out I guess I am sure it would be possible with more playing around.
I did however wanted to see the power consumption on battery power and I was actually impressed plugged it into the 5v 1amp power on my portable battery pack to see how long it would run for here is the results.
I actually thought it was going to be more around the 20-30 minute mark that blew my expectations away on that one so all and all that's not bad quite impressed. The cheap charger is a 300k mah battery pack which I doubt since it was so cheap.
So in a nutshell I would like to say I am very exited about the STM32F769IDISCOVERY it is all and all an awesome board which I can’t wait to get further involved in and future lines of the board as well since it offers a lot of the features and things I would like to have in a board. Mind you a few things missing but I think personally it might be available in other models. Would I recommend it? Sure would this would be great for designers and makers and with the ease of use of TouchGFX any designer could pick it up and get the ball rolling for their team to get a product designed the way they want to have it and the price point is great and would be a asset to any workbench that was either in the IOT and or learning about it and creating something using simple programs and programming to get their projects off the ground.
I certainly am glad to be apart of this RoadTest this is a board I may not have thought about at all for projects but certainly grateful and have a “bit” of a crush on this board and cant wait to further follow up with my progress here with it as well.
I know I stated there would be a project involved as well but as I have stated before as well I think that finding the right solution to my application is the most ideal solution for me at this point as I greatly enjoy this board but do not want to give a partial example of it being used. If you want that there is plenty of video’s on YouTube of the demo’s being played with. So stay tuned I will be updating and adding more to this document and information I may find along the way as I really enjoy this board and I am finally glad to give a board a bit better of a review score for this year as it seems my previous ones this year were a bit sub par on the scoring as I will be honest in my reviews to people as I hope they would be in theirs for me when I read their reports as well.
Thank you everyone involved will be back shortly with more video’s and content regarding the STM32F769IDiscovery. (before the end of the roadtest anyways Jan 8th 2018.)
Have a great one everyone thanks for taking the time to read this today.
I agree with your compatibility suggestions, but it does mean that there are a lots of catching up to do, just because MS wants people to spend more money with them.
Nice to see the quick response from TouchGFX. It's always peaseing to see companies supporting their products ratehr than just make and distribute.