Great news for STM32 firmware engineer

I’m about to start a new project using STM32F4x ARM Cortex M4 from ST Micro. I was planning to maybe get Keil uVision 5 since most of my training had been done using Keil. I have explored other options like a bunch of GNU tool chains and such but found them to be really annoying to put together and many times don’t work real well especially with ST ARM devices. I came across Atollic TrueStudio Lite a while back and I really like it. All my codes that were written in Keil uVision 5 compiled with no issues using TrueStudio. I first started looking at Keil uVision 5 pricing and it’s $5k for a node lock perpetual license or $9k fro a perpetual floating license. Maybe I could convince work to buy the license, but after spending 17K on Altium Designer license and subscription I don’t know whether I could get Keil license too. Fortunately, I went to Atollic website again to see how much a TrueStudio Pro would cost. I found this news announcement:

Basically, it said that ST Micro just acquired Atollic and they’ll make TrueStudio Pro FREE!!! Wow!  I can’t wait to try the Pro version since the Lite version was pretty good (except for the annoying long loading splash screen at the beginning).  Some people might say the TrueStudio is still technically a GNU compiler and Keil would be a better tool.  Nevertheless, I don’t think you can beat a free professional tool.  Even TI made their Code Composer Studio free a while back which actually annoyed me because I did pay for the license just a couple months before they made it free.  I did consider using MSP432 since it’s also an ARM device, but you don’t have the freedom to clock it to 400 MHz like you can with ST ARM devices.  The STM32 Cube tool was decent but it’s annoying without having a decent IDE to use it with. As I mentioned before, I tried to roll my own GNU tools, but the success of compiling the codes from STM32 Cube was questionable without a lot of manually fixing a lot of things.  It works well with Keil and TrueStudio right out of the box though. Now I can see an even better integration between ST software and TrueStudio going forward.  Maybe they’ll bundle STM32 Cube already inside TrueStudio and it’ll be a one-click code generation.  That would be incredible.

Free good professional software is the name of the game these days.  That’s really the reason why I picked Atmel products over Microchip 10 years ago.  Atmel has Atmel Studio which was a quality C GNU compiler tool for free while Microchip charged you a lot of money to use their C compiler.

In any case, looks like I have a perfect solution for my ARM Cortex M4 project.

Time To Move To KiCad EDA

I just found out recently that AutoDesk just bought CadSoft Eagle — my favorite PCB layout software.  I have built many boards and libraries using Eagle starting from version 4 all the way to version 7.7.  Now I just found that CadSoft Eagle is no more.  AutoDesk owns Eagle now and they have a subscription only purchase model.  This is terrible in my opinion since you used to be able to just pay once and own the software.  Now this try-and-fail method of DRM is going to make the new Eagle fail just like any software that had done this before it.  My prediction is that only companies that can’t switch to a different software package and software pirates would be using Eagle.

This brings me up to the next point — switching to a different package.  I played around with many packages including Altium but that software is out of reach unless you work for a company with deep pockets.  In the past around 2013, I looked at KiCAD and it was a terrible hodgepodge of many pieces of software bolted together with awkward usage.  I didn’t even want to touch it seeing how much work it would be just to even get it going.  Then I looked at it again last year (2016) and I was surprised how amazing and polished it has become.  It’s on the same level as the new Blender and Inkscape software packages.

It’s time to give it another shot and see whether it’s going to be my new EDA program of choice. Here is the link to KiCad if you want to start the switch too!

Here’s a nice beginning tutorial for KiCad from ContextualElectronics


Welcome to my notebook!

I used to have a blog named NetBeansJavaFX2dev on Word Press.  It was intended to be a development journal on using NetBeans with Java FX2, but I haven’t really used it much at all for that.  I then realized that I want to blog about more than just topics related to development in Java FX2 and NetBeans.  Well, I discovered that I could host my own Word Press engine on my own website so why not!   I think I’ll move some of the interesting posts from that other blog here so it’s in one place.  Please feel free to leave comments or say hello.  Cheers.

Old WordPress Site that I used to post to: