Guide to loading the bootloader and using the Arduino IDE with the "blue pill" STM32 board
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On: 30 Mei, 2020
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Some time ago, intrigued by this thread on Electroyou Module with STM32F103C8 and ST-LINK very cheap, I had obtained for a few euros a coupon called on the "blue pill" network and the related USB clone programmer ST LINK V2.<...
Some time ago, intrigued by this thread on Electroyou Module with STM32F103C8 and ST-LINK very cheap, I had obtained for a few euros a coupon called on the "blue pill" network and the related USB clone programmer ST LINK V2.
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 1
The card (with minimal equipment and very small dimensions) is equipped with a powerful 32bit STM32F103C8T6 processor. The coupon and programmer have not been used for various times; after more than two years I took it again and I decided to make this little guide on how to install the bootloader and how to use the board with the Arduino IDE in a Windows environment. I know that many will turn up their noses, however I think that any attempt to bring the kids closer to electronics or passions in general is still to be done; the module is cheap, the Arduino IDE is widespread and that's enough.
Obviously, those who want to can deepen and study programming and microcontrollers in general in a more serious and rigorous way.
Why the bootloader
The bootloader is a small program which, in our case, creates a COM port that allows us to program the microcontroller without the external programmer, but through a USB cable connected to our PC. It is very convenient because, especially those who are beginners, compile and load the program several times on the microcontroller to see the effects of the changes on the code. Also in the case of the blue pill card, every time I load the code with the ST LINK programmer I would have to move a jumper on the card, which is a waste of time. The bootloader occupies about 20kB of the 64kB available.
Take a look at the card
The card is really small (a couple of two euro coins side by side ....) but the invoice leaves something to be desired. Before proceeding I replaced the R10 (a 10k value SMD package 0603 resistor) with the correct 1.5k resistor as per USB specifications.
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 2
Apparently this is a common problem. I also replaced the 90 ° connection strip for connecting the programmer with a female strip (only for my convenience in the connections). I cleaned the card with nitro thinner.
We load the bootloader
First you need to install the USB drivers for ST-LINK which are located at the following address:
USB driver (STSW-LINK009) for ST-LINK / V2, ST-LINK / V2-1 and STLINK-V3 boards
To download the drivers you will need to create an account on ST; we will also need the account to download other ST tools. We insert the ST-LINK programmer into the USB port and verify that it is correctly recognized (control panel -> system -> device management):
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 3
At this point you need to download the bootloader .bin file for the coupon in our possession at this link:
The correct one is chosen based on the connection of the status LED (in my case the LED is connected to the PC13 pin). So I downloaded the "generic_boot20_pc13.bin" file. At this point it is necessary to connect the ST-LINK programmer to the board through four connections:
GND -> GND
3.3V -> 3.3
SWDIO -> GOD
SWCLK -> DCLK
The connector pin of the ST LINK is stamped on the chassis of the connector. Care must be taken not to supply the 5V voltage to the blue pill card, otherwise it will break.
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 4
We insert the programmer into the USB port of the PC and verify that the red LED is on. To load the bootloader you need to download the STM32CubeProgrammer software at:
You must first connect to the device:
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 5
Then we can proceed to upload the bin file:
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 6
Now we can remove the connections and connect the blue pill card to the PC using a USB cable. Now we need to make sure that the COM port is recognized as "Maple Serial COMx". You will need to install the drivers at the following link:
Driver STM32 maple
You need to create the folder C: \ Users \ username \ Documents \ Arduino \ hardware and unzip the previously downloaded file. Open a prompt in C: \ Users \ username \ Documents \ Arduino \ hardware \ Arduino_STM32-master \ drivers \ win \ and run install_drivers.bat. The command will run wdi-simple.exe twice to install the necessary drivers. At the end, connect the blue pill card to the PC via USB cable and see if the driver for the COM port is correctly recognized:
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 7
Configure Arduino IDE
To configure the Arduino IDE, we need to download support for STM32duino boards. To do this, go to the program settings and insert the following link in the Additional URL section for the Card Manager:
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 8
Then go to the Tools -> Card Manager menu and install the package: STM32F1xx / GD32F1xx boards
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 9
After installing the package, connect the blue pill to the USB port and go to the Tools menu to select the tab (Generic STM32F103C6 / fake STM32F103C8) and the upload mode (STM32duino bootloader):
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 10
Let's try to compile and load a program
Let's try the simple "blink" example sketch that we will modify as below (in practice we define that the present on the "LED_BUILTIN" card is connected to PC13.
arduino ide with the blue pill stm32 board 11
We compile and load the program and if all goes well we will see the LED flash .....
I hope this guide is for some students or hobbyists who already use Arduino and who want to try this really cheap board and that this can be a launching pad!
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