Jump to content

Embedded hardware give-away


Recommended Posts

Hi all,


A colleague of mine cleaned up shop a few days ago, and gave me a whole heap of his old development boards for free. The deal was that I can have it for free, but I must take everything -- so basically all this stuff has been dumped on me.


Now among it there are a number of STM32 F3 boards (Arm Cortex development boards made by SGS Thompson).




I think there's at least 4 of them, I'll have to check. I don't need that many, in fact at this point I hardly know what I'm going to do with ONE, though it seems prudent to keep one for myself.


So my offer here is to forumites who are developing their own hardware solutions: If you pay the Aramex courier costs I'll send you one for free. They are untested, but some of them are still in the original packaging.


Here I'm looking at people like Chris, jhay, oomD, superdiy :-)


I have no software for these things. I think the software is available for download online, and as far as I could determine the gcc compiler for arm also produces code that works perfectly well on these, so there are open options available too. It has buckets full of IO pins, 4 x ADC, 3 x SPI, CAN-BUS...


So if you are interested, leave a reply here and I'll send you a birthday present. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The plan was to use the Pick and Pay drop-off, but I can make a plan to use the Post Office. It will probably be cheaper too. Not looking to make a profit :-) Send me mail details via PM.


TTT, they have UARTS and a can controller. They also have SPI, so you can interface with lots of other things. I don't know if they have USB and if they will be able to talk to the MK2-USB, but they should be able to talk to older serial MK2 interface. It only has a CAN controller, there is no can transceiver chip onboard, so you will have to add an MCP2551, TJA1050, or the pricey Texas Instruments ISO1050 (that one has galvanic isolation) to connect it to a canbus. The can interface will be useful if you have a BlueSolar 150/70 like I do. That's what I want to use it for :-)


It's seriously overpowered for this application though :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Plonkster. Pricey, that ISO1050 chip. 


The cost to read and upload / display data when you use different devices, are unaffordable.

So I am toying with an idea to have generic software developed that can read data from all types of solar devices, stored it in a SQL server, viewable in browsers and / or Cellphones


What would you suggest for a device?

Looking for a device that uses next to no power to read values from a Morningstar controller, Victron MPPT, BMV and Phoenix inverter continuously.

Device must either have Wifi and/or UTP connectors.

If connection is broken, device needs to have some space to store the data until it can be uploaded again.

Must have a port for a USB HUB also, to connect all the serial connections to the device.

Initially I thought device should be Win10, but with the updates, I think not. So OS would probably be Linux.

Costs must be minimal.


If I overcome this hurdle, a) for power consumption and price is the key on the device, and I can b ) get the data pulled from the devices, then I can c) have software developed to do the rest.


Not interested in writing data back to any solar devices at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before I answer your question for a platform recommendation, I want to tell you this joke. Well, perhaps not so much a joke. But it is said that an engineer is someone who can accomplish with R50 the same thing that an amateur can do with R5000 :-)


So in similar fashion, many amateurs (with a modicum of software development experience) can do it with a PC and their favourite programming language. But a PC is expensive and uses a lot of power, so the idea is to go smaller and cheaper. For most developers, the answer is probably a Raspberry Pi. Power use on that is around 5W, and it is pretty capable. If you are so inclined, you can wire hardware to it using the SPI interface. Also, to be completely honest, that is where I was headed with my system. I was going to wire an MCP2515+MCP2551 combo to the SPI ports on my RPi and start on that. So this would also be my recommendation to other hobbyists.


It's quite clear however that an RPi is still too "powerful" and too expensive for some things, so naturally you want to use even cheaper microcontrollers. I might prototype my solution on an RPi, but once I go into production I'll use a cheaper arm board or I might even port it so a cheaper microcontroller. Things like the Atmel chips used by the arduino.


What I think is attractive about these STM32 boards, is you get a faster processor with lots more pins and hardware, so it's more powerful than the Arduino, but still significantly cheaper than the RPi (about R270 at RS components without shipping). It does require a slightly more hard-core amateur though, it is not as easy to get into as the RPi.

For people like Chris and jhay, who are building things like battery balancers, something like this might be good for prototyping. For most amateurs I will still recommend that you go with either Arduino or RPi.


I'm going to mess with this for no other reason than because I can :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...