Add a new platform to PolyMCU: Use case ST Nucleo L4 by Olivier on 19/11/2015 15:02

I recently went to the "Internet Of Things - IoT in Focus" - seminar organised by Arrow. STMicroelectronics were giving some STM32 Nucleo boards away. I managed to get one!
It is perfect, STMicroelectronics was one of the few major semiconductor vendors that was missing to our Open-Source PolyMCU project.

STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo board

In this blog, I will tell how we added STM32 Nucleo L4 support to PolyMCU.

  1. Download STM32CubeL4 SDK at

  2. Find which files are the Board specific files and the MCU specific files.

    ├── Documentation
    ├── Drivers
    │   ├── BSP
    │   │   ├── Adafruit_Shield
    │   │   ├── Components
    │   │   ├── STM32L476G-Discovery
    │   │   ├── STM32L476G_EVAL
    │   │   └── STM32L4xx_Nucleo <-- This our board!
    │   ├── CMSIS     <-- This one is already part of PolyMCU
    │   │   ├── Device
    │   │   │   └── ST     <--- .. but this one is for our MCU
    │   │   │       └── STM32L4xx
    │   │   │           ├── Include
    │   │   │           └── Source
    │   │   │               └── Templates
    │   │   │                   ├── arm
    │   │   │                   ├── gcc
    │   │   │                   └── iar
    │   │   │                       └── linker
    │   │   ├── Documentation
    │   │   ├── DSP_Lib
    │   │   ├── Include
    │   │   ├── Lib
    │   │   └── RTOS
    │   └── STM32L4xx_HAL_Driver <-- another folder for us
    │       ├── Inc
    │       └── Src
    ├── _htmresc
    ├── Middlewares
    │   ├── ST    <--- These drivers will be needed when USB, UI, TouchSensing will be enabled by users
    │   │   ├── STemWin
    │   │   ├── STM32_TouchSensing_Library
    │   │   ├── STM32_USB_Device_Library
    │   │   └── STM32_USB_Host_Library
    │   └── Third_Party
    │       ├── FatFs
    │       └── FreeRTOS
    ├── Projects
    │   ├── STM32L476G-Discovery
    │   │   ├── Applications
    │   │   ├── Demonstrations
    │   │   ├── Examples
    │   │   └── Templates
    │   ├── STM32L476G_EVAL
    │   │   ├── Applications
    │   │   ├── Demonstrations
    │   │   ├── Examples
    │   │   └── Templates
    │   ├── STM32L476RG-Nucleo
    │   │   ├── Applications
    │   │   ├── Demonstrations
    │   │   ├── Examples
    │   │   ├── Examples_LL
    │   │   ├── Examples_MIX
    │   │   └── Templates
    │   └── WIN32
    │       └── STemWin_Simulation
    └── Utilities
            ├── CPU
            ├── Fonts
            ├── Log
            ├── Media
            │   ├── Audio
            │   └── Pictures
            └── PC_Software
                └── STM32CubeUpdater
  3. Find the linker script file with find . -name '*.ld*'
    We will take the one from Projects/STM32L476RG-Nucleo/Templates and copy it into Device/ST/STM32L4xx/Linker

  4. Integrate the template example Projects/STM32L476RG-Nucleo/Templates into <PolyMCU-root>/Application/ST. We will use this application provided by ST to make the initial bring-up.

  5. Create the first commit to keep track of the original files.
    We do not add <PolyMCU-root>/Application/ST as we aim to use Application/Examples/Baremetal.

  6. Create the CMake files for Application/ST/Templates.
    We use Application.cmake and CMakeLists.txt of the Examples/Baremetal application

    • Application.cmake: No change as we create a simple application
    • CMakeLists.txt:

      • We update Firmware_SRCS with the list of the source files:

        set(Firmware_SRCS Src/main.c)

  7. Add CMake support to Device/ST by copying CMakeLists.txt, FindARM.cmake from Device/ARM

    • FindST.cmake (renamed from FindARM.cmake)

      # Device/ST requires the CMSIS headers
      # MCU specific paths
      include_directories(${MCU_ROOT}/Include ${MCU_HAL_ROOT}/Inc)
      # MCU specific definitions
      set(MCU_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS "-T ${MCU_ROOT}/Linker/STM32L476RGTx_FLASH.ld")
      # 'device_st' is the ST library built from Device/ST
      set(ST_LIBRARIES device_st)
    • CMakeLists.txt

      # List of the sources that composes the Device/ST library
      set(st_SRCS ${MCU_ROOT}/Source/gcc/startup_stm32l476xx.s
      # Define 'device_st' as the static library for Device/ST
      add_library(device_st STATIC ${st_SRCS})
  8. Add CMake support to Board/ST by copying Board.cmake, CMakeLists.txt, FindBoard.cmake from Board/ARM

    • Board.cmake:

      # Tell RTOS we are running at 80Mhz
      set(RTOS_CLOCK 80000000)
      # No UART yet, we only focus on the core MCU support
      set(SUPPORT_DEBUG_UART none)
      # Use the 'ST' modules
      list(APPEND LIST_MODULES Device/ST Board/ST Lib/PolyMCU)
      # STM32L4xx Nucleo uses an ARM Cortex-M4F
      set(CPU "ARM Cortex-M4F")
    • FindBoard.cmake:

      # Link the Board to Device/ST with `find_package(ST)`
      # Declare the board directory to be used by other modules
      set(Board_LIBRARIES board_st ${ST_LIBRARIES})
    • CMakeLists.txt

      cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 2.6)
      # To re-use our own include paths defined by FindBoard.cmake
      set(board_st_SRCS STM32L4xx_Nucleo/stm32l4xx_nucleo.c)
      add_library(board_st STATIC ${board_st_SRCS})
    • Copy board.h from ARM/ARMCM4 to ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo.
      Link board.h to the ST device by adding #include "stm32l476xx.h"

  9. Let's see how far we can go with this template application without having made any change:

    mkdir Build && cd Build
    cmake -DAPPLICATION=ST/Templates -DBOARD=ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo ..


    [ 85%] Building C object Board/ST/CMakeFiles/board_st.dir/STM32L4xx_Nucleo/stm32l4xx_nucleo.c.o
    In file included from /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Board/ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo/stm32l4xx_nucleo.h:59:0,
                     from /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Board/ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo/stm32l4xx_nucleo.c:43:
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Device/ST/STM32L4xx_HAL_Driver/Inc/stm32l4xx_hal.h:48:32: fatal error: stm32l4xx_hal_conf.h: No such file or directory
     #include "stm32l4xx_hal_conf.h"

    The file actually exists in Application/ST/Templates/Inc/stm32l4xx_hal_conf.h. We prefer to not have to duplicate this file for every application. So we will move it into Device/ST/STM32L4xxHALDriver/Inc.
    Actually, there is already a file named stm32l4xx_hal_conf_template.h there. So, let's copy this one.

  10. After solving this issue, new try:

    Linking C executable Baremetal_Example.elf
    CMakeFiles/Firmware.dir/Src/main.c.o: In function `main':
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Application/ST/Templates/Src/main.c:75: undefined reference to `HAL_Init'
    CMakeFiles/Firmware.dir/Src/main.c.o: In function `SystemClock_Config':
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Application/ST/Templates/Src/main.c:126: undefined reference to `HAL_RCC_OscConfig'
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Application/ST/Templates/Src/main.c:139: undefined reference to `HAL_RCC_ClockConfig'
    ../../../Lib/PolyMCU/libpolymcu.a(misc.c.o): In function `prvGetRegistersFromStack':
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Lib/PolyMCU/misc.c:136: undefined reference to `set_led'
    collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status

    Solve this issue by adding the appropriate STM32L4xx_HAL_Driver/Src files to the Device's CMakeLists.txt

    The last issue to solve is undefined reference to 'set_led'. For this one, we could create a empty implementation in a new Board/ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo/board.c file.

    Let's try again...

    Linking C executable Baremetal_Example.elf
       text    data     bss     dec     hex filename
       9176      16    1568   10760    2a08 /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Build/Application/ST/Templates/Baremetal_Example.elf


  11. Our next challenge is to make Examples/Baremetal works without any change to the example.
    Let's see if the application builds by itself:

    rm -Rf * && cmake -DAPPLICATION=Examples/Baremetal -DBOARD=ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo .. && make


    Linking C executable Baremetal_Example.elf
    ../../../Lib/PolyMCU/libpolymcu.a(misc.c.o): In function `_sbrk_r':
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Lib/PolyMCU/misc.c:59: undefined reference to `__HeapBase'
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Lib/PolyMCU/misc.c:59: undefined reference to `__StackLimit'

    collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status ```

    _sbrk_r() - function used for dynamic allocations (eg: malloc()) - requires these both symbols.

      ._user_heap_stack :
        . = ALIGN(4);
        PROVIDE ( end = . );
        PROVIDE ( _end = . );
        __HeapBase = .; /* Heap does up */
        . = . + _Min_Heap_Size;
        __StackLimit = .; /* Stack goes down. */
        . = . + _Min_Stack_Size;
        . = ALIGN(4);
        PROVIDE(__stack = .);
      } >RAM
  12. Let's understand the software boot flow from the first execution executed on the Cortex-M to the main().

    From Device/ST/STM32L4xx/Source/gcc/startup_stm32l476xx.s:

        .word   _estack
        .word   Reset_Handler
        .word   NMI_Handler
        .word   HardFault_Handler
        .word   MemManage_Handler
        .word   BusFault_Handler
        .word   UsageFault_Handler
        .word   0
    Reset_Handler() {
      // Copy the data segment initializers from flash to SRAM
      // Zero fill the bss segment
      // Call the clock system intitialization function: SystemInit()
      // Call static constructors: __libc_init_array()
      // Call main()

    We replace __libc_init_array() andmain() calls by Newlib's _start() call.
    _start() calls platform specific hooks hardware_init_hook() and software_init_hook().

  13. Implement hardware_init_hook with the functions invoked into the Template's main().

    void hardware_init_hook(void) {
      // STM32L4xx HAL library initialization
      // Configure the System clock to have a frequency of 80 MHz

    We do not need to implement software_init_hook().

  14. Add UART support:

    • Copy the file from CMSIS/Driver/DriverTemplates/Driver_USART.c to Device/ST/Driver/VCom
    • And use the ST SDK UART functions from STM32L4xx_HAL_Driver/Src/stm32l4xx_hal_uart.c

    Which UART among the three USARTs (two UARTs and one Low-Power UART) is connected for the Virtual Serial communication over USB on STM32 Nucleo L4? Let's have a look to the STM32 Nucleo schematic and the STM32L476RG datasheet.

    STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo - Schematic STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo - Datasheet

    USART2 (PA2 and PA3 pins) is the one connected which is used for the Virtual Serial communication.

    Let's try again...

    STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo - Baremetal


  15. Next challenge, enabling an RTOS on the board. We will try CMSIS RTOS (also named RTX).

    rm -Rf * && cmake -DAPPLICATION=Examples/CMSIS_RTOS -DBOARD=ST/STM32L4xx_Nucleo .. && make


    Linking C executable CMSIS_RTOS_Example.elf
    ../../../RTOS/RTX/libcmsis_rtos.a(HAL_CM4.s.o): In function `SysTick_Handler':
    /home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Build/RTOS/RTX/HAL_CM4.S:367: multiple definition of `SysTick_Handler'
    ../../../Device/ST/libdevice_st.a(Driver_USART.c.o):/home/olivier/labapart/polymcu/Device/ST/Driver/VCom/Driver_USART.c:148: first defined here
    collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status

    Conflict between SysTick_Handler defined to increment the tick counter used by the UART driver and the function defined by RTOS/RTX for its scheduler.
    We will provide different implementation of HAL_GetTick() following if we are running baremetal or using CMSIS RTOS.

    #if defined(__CMSIS_RTOS)
    __weak uint32_t HAL_GetTick(void) {
      if (osKernelRunning()) {
        return osKernelSysTick();
      } else {
        return 0;
    __weak uint32_t HAL_GetTick(void) {
      return uwTick;

    Let's try again...

    STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo - CMSIS RTOS


  16. To ease our development flow, we want to support make install that automatically writes the board with the firmware after it has been built.
    For the ST Nucleo board, it is an easy task. The firmware only needs to be copied on the board USB mass-storage.

    Because we need the install script to be as flexible as possible, we cannot rely on a hardcoded filename in the script. We will use the information given by /dev/disk/by-id/usb-*

    # Get the serial number for the Vendor ID 0x0483
    export USB_SERIAL=`lsusb -v -d 0483: | grep iSerial | awk '{print $3}'`
    # Find the associated USB disk
    export USB_DISK=`ls /dev/disk/by-id/usb-* | grep ${USB_SERIAL}`
    # Retrieve the device node
    export USB_DEV=`readlink -e ${USB_DISK}`
    # Get the USB Media (note USB Media can have spaces in its name)
    export USB_MEDIA=`mount | grep ${USB_DEV} | cut -d ' ' -f 3- | sed 's/ type .*//'`
    echo "Copy $1 to ${USB_MEDIA}"
    cp "$1" ${USB_MEDIA}

    We only need to declare this script in Board/ST/FindBoard.cmake with:


    We can now simply type make install to build and install the firmware on the board.

  17. Last step, let's check the various build configurations: GCC/LLVM, Baremetal/CMSIS RTOS/FreeRTOS with our PolyMCU Test framework

    STMicroelectronics STM32 Nucleo - PolyMCU Tests

The reality is it has taken a bit more time than what was initially planned to port STM32 Nucleo L4 board to PolyMCU. The main difficulty was the lack of (free) debugging support on Linux for the board.
We saw this project that could have helped us but the program did not recognized the board on my Linux machine...
We had to debug with the single LED that the board provides.

Some STM32 Nucleo L4 resources:

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