STM32Cube HAL and Nucleo-F401RE: debugging and unit testing

The goal of this tutorial is to demonstrate how simple it is to use PlatformIO IDE for Atom to develop, run and debug a basic blink project with STM32Cube framework for STM32 Nucleo-F401RE board.

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Requirements:

Setting Up the Project

At first step, we need to create a new project using PlatformIO Home Page (to open this page just press Home icon on the toolbar):

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-1.png

On the next step, we need to select ST Nucleo-F401RE as a development board, STM32Cube as a framework and a path to the project location (or use the default one):

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-2.png

Processing the selected project may take some amount of time (PlatformIO will download and install all required packages) and after these steps, we have a fully configured project that is ready for developing code with STM32Cube framework.

Adding Code to the Generated Project

Let’s add some actual code to the project. Firstly, we create two main files main.c and main.h in the src_dir folder. Right click on the src in the project window:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-3.png

Add next content to main.h:

#ifndef MAIN_H
#define MAIN_H

#include "stm32f4xx_hal.h"

#define LED_PIN                                GPIO_PIN_5
#define LED_GPIO_PORT                          GPIOA
#define LED_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE()                  __HAL_RCC_GPIOA_CLK_ENABLE()

#endif // MAIN_H

Add this code to main.c:

#include "main.h"

void LED_Init();

int main(void) {
  HAL_Init();
  LED_Init();

  while (1)
  {
    HAL_GPIO_TogglePin(LED_GPIO_PORT, LED_PIN);
    HAL_Delay(1000);
  }
}

void LED_Init() {
  LED_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE();
  GPIO_InitTypeDef GPIO_InitStruct;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Pin = LED_PIN;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Mode = GPIO_MODE_OUTPUT_PP;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Pull = GPIO_PULLUP;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Speed = GPIO_SPEED_HIGH;
  HAL_GPIO_Init(LED_GPIO_PORT, &GPIO_InitStruct);
}

void SysTick_Handler(void) {
  HAL_IncTick();
}

After this step, we created a basic blink project that is ready for compiling and uploading.

Compiling and Uploading the Firmware

Now we can build the project. To compile firmware we can use next options: Build option on the Project Tasks menu, Build button on PlatformIO Toolbar, using Command Palette View: Command Palette > PlatformIO: Build, using Task Menu Tasks: Run Task... > PlatformIO: Build or via hotkeys cmd-alt-b / ctrl-alt-b:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-4.png

If everything went well, we should see the successful result in the terminal window:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-5.png

To upload the firmware to the board we can use next options: Upload option on the Project Tasks menu, Upload button on PlatformIO Toolbar, using Command Palette View: Command Palette > PlatformIO: Upload, using Task Menu Tasks: Run Task... > PlatformIO: Upload or via hotkeys cmd-alt-u / ctrl-alt-u:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-6.png

After successful uploading, the green LED2 should start blinking.

Debugging the Firmware

PIO Unified Debugger offers the easiest way to debug your board. To start debugging session you can use Start debugging option in PlatformIO Quick Access menu, Debug: Start debugging from the top menu or hotkey button F5:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-7.png

We need to wait some time while PlatformIO is initializing debug session and when the first line after the main function is highlighted we are ready to debug:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-8.png

We can walk through the code using control buttons, set breakpoints, see peripheral registers, add variables to Watch window:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-9.png

Writing Unit Tests

Now let’s write some tests using PIO Unit Testing feature that can help us test code directly on the target board. PIO Unit Testing engine by default supports only three frameworks: Arduino, Energia and mbed. Since we decided to use STM32Cube we need to implement a custom test_transport to print testing results and specify that condition in “platformio.ini” (Project Configuration File):

[env:nucleo_f401re]
platform = ststm32
board = nucleo_f401re
framework = stm32cube
test_transport = custom

Also, we need to create a new folder test where the tests and custom test_transport implementation (described next) will be located:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-10.png

We will use USART2 on ST Nucleo-F401RE board because it’s directly connected to the STLink debug interface and in OS it can be visible as a Virtual Com Port, so we don’t need any additional USB-UART converter. To implement the custom test_transport we need to create two files unittest_transport.h and unittest_transport.c and put them in the test_dir in the root folder of our project. In these files we need to implement the next four functions:

void unittest_uart_begin();
void unittest_uart_putchar(char c);
void unittest_uart_flush();
void unittest_uart_end();

Implementation of unittest_transport.h:

#ifndef UNITEST_TRANSPORT_H
#define UNITEST_TRANSPORT_H

#ifdef __cplusplus
extern "C" {
#endif

void unittest_uart_begin();
void unittest_uart_putchar(char c);
void unittest_uart_flush();
void unittest_uart_end();

#ifdef __cplusplus
}
#endif

#endif // UNITEST_TRANSPORT_H

Implementation of unittest_transport.c:

#include "unittest_transport.h"
#include "stm32f4xx_hal.h"

#define USARTx                           USART2
#define USARTx_CLK_ENABLE()              __HAL_RCC_USART2_CLK_ENABLE()
#define USARTx_CLK_DISABLE()             __HAL_RCC_USART2_CLK_DISABLE()
#define USARTx_RX_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE()      __HAL_RCC_GPIOA_CLK_ENABLE()
#define USARTx_TX_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE()      __HAL_RCC_GPIOA_CLK_ENABLE()
#define USARTx_RX_GPIO_CLK_DISABLE()     __HAL_RCC_GPIOA_CLK_DISABLE()
#define USARTx_TX_GPIO_CLK_DISABLE()     __HAL_RCC_GPIOA_CLK_DISABLE()

#define USARTx_FORCE_RESET()             __HAL_RCC_USART2_FORCE_RESET()
#define USARTx_RELEASE_RESET()           __HAL_RCC_USART2_RELEASE_RESET()

#define USARTx_TX_PIN                    GPIO_PIN_2
#define USARTx_TX_GPIO_PORT              GPIOA
#define USARTx_TX_AF                     GPIO_AF7_USART2
#define USARTx_RX_PIN                    GPIO_PIN_3
#define USARTx_RX_GPIO_PORT              GPIOA
#define USARTx_RX_AF                     GPIO_AF7_USART2

static UART_HandleTypeDef UartHandle;

void unittest_uart_begin()
{
   GPIO_InitTypeDef  GPIO_InitStruct;

  USARTx_TX_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE();
  USARTx_RX_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE();

  USARTx_CLK_ENABLE();

  GPIO_InitStruct.Pin       = USARTx_TX_PIN;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Mode      = GPIO_MODE_AF_PP;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Pull      = GPIO_PULLUP;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Speed     = GPIO_SPEED_FAST;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Alternate = USARTx_TX_AF;

  HAL_GPIO_Init(USARTx_TX_GPIO_PORT, &GPIO_InitStruct);

  GPIO_InitStruct.Pin = USARTx_RX_PIN;
  GPIO_InitStruct.Alternate = USARTx_RX_AF;

  HAL_GPIO_Init(USARTx_RX_GPIO_PORT, &GPIO_InitStruct);
  UartHandle.Instance          = USARTx;

  UartHandle.Init.BaudRate     = 115200;
  UartHandle.Init.WordLength   = UART_WORDLENGTH_8B;
  UartHandle.Init.StopBits     = UART_STOPBITS_1;
  UartHandle.Init.Parity       = UART_PARITY_NONE;
  UartHandle.Init.HwFlowCtl    = UART_HWCONTROL_NONE;
  UartHandle.Init.Mode         = UART_MODE_TX_RX;
  UartHandle.Init.OverSampling = UART_OVERSAMPLING_16;

  if(HAL_UART_Init(&UartHandle) != HAL_OK) {
    while(1){}
  }

}

void unittest_uart_putchar(char c)
{
    HAL_UART_Transmit(&UartHandle, (uint8_t*)(&c), 1, 1000);
}

void unittest_uart_flush(){}

void unittest_uart_end() {
  USARTx_CLK_DISABLE();
  USARTx_RX_GPIO_CLK_DISABLE();
  USARTx_TX_GPIO_CLK_DISABLE();
}

Now we need to add some test cases. Tests can be added to a single C file that may include multiple tests. First of all, we need to add three default functions: setUp, tearDown and main. setUp and tearDown are used to initialize and finalize test conditions. Implementations of these functions are not required for running tests but if you need to initialize some variables before you run a test, you use the setUp function and if you need to clean up variables you use tearDown function. In our example, we will use these functions to accordingly initialize and deinitialize LED. main function acts as a simple program where we describe our test plan.

Let’s add a new file test_main.c to the folder test. Next basic tests for blinking routine will be implemented in this file:

  • test_led_builtin_pin_number ensures that LED_PIN has the correct value
  • test_led_state_high tests functions HAL_GPIO_WritePin and HAL_GPIO_ReadPin with GPIO_PIN_SET value
  • test_led_state_low tests functions HAL_GPIO_WritePin and HAL_GPIO_ReadPin with GPIO_PIN_RESET value

Note

  • 2 sec delay is required since the board doesn’t support software resetting via Serial.DTR/RTS
#include "../src/main.h"
#include <unity.h>

void setUp(void) {
    LED_GPIO_CLK_ENABLE();
    GPIO_InitTypeDef GPIO_InitStruct;
    GPIO_InitStruct.Pin = LED_PIN;
    GPIO_InitStruct.Mode = GPIO_MODE_OUTPUT_PP;
    GPIO_InitStruct.Pull = GPIO_PULLUP;
    GPIO_InitStruct.Speed = GPIO_SPEED_HIGH;
    HAL_GPIO_Init(LED_GPIO_PORT, &GPIO_InitStruct);
}

void tearDown(void) {
    HAL_GPIO_DeInit(LED_GPIO_PORT, LED_PIN);
}

void test_led_builtin_pin_number(void) {
    TEST_ASSERT_EQUAL(GPIO_PIN_5, LED_PIN);
}

void test_led_state_high(void) {
    HAL_GPIO_WritePin(LED_GPIO_PORT, LED_PIN, GPIO_PIN_SET);
    TEST_ASSERT_EQUAL(GPIO_PIN_SET, HAL_GPIO_ReadPin(LED_GPIO_PORT, LED_PIN));
}

void test_led_state_low(void) {
    HAL_GPIO_WritePin(LED_GPIO_PORT, LED_PIN, GPIO_PIN_RESET);
    TEST_ASSERT_EQUAL(GPIO_PIN_RESET, HAL_GPIO_ReadPin(LED_GPIO_PORT, LED_PIN));
}

int main() {
    HAL_Init();         // initialize the HAL library
    HAL_Delay(2000);    // service delay
    UNITY_BEGIN();
    RUN_TEST(test_led_builtin_pin_number);

    for (unsigned int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
    {
        RUN_TEST(test_led_state_high);
        HAL_Delay(500);
        RUN_TEST(test_led_state_low);
        HAL_Delay(500);
    }

    UNITY_END(); // stop unit testing

    while(1){}
}

void SysTick_Handler(void) {
    HAL_IncTick();
}

Now we are ready to upload tests to the board. To do this we can use Test option from the Project Tasks menu, Tasks: Run Task... > PlatformIO Test option from the top menu or Test button on PlatformIO Toolbar:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-11.png

After processing we should see a detailed report about the testing results:

../../_images/stm32cube-debugging-unit-testing-12.png

Congratulations! As we can see from the report, all our tests went successfully!

Conclusion

Now we have a decent template that we can improve for our next more complex projects.