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Review: ITeadMaple (and 2.4" Touch Display)

November 30th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Name: ITeadMaple + 2.4″ Touch Display
Distributor: ITead Studio
Price: $33 + $25

Evaluation Type: Development Board, ARM
Application you used the part in: Embedded Graphics Display
Was everything in the box required?: Yes! A USB A to USB Mini-B cable was also required for programming
What were the biggest problems encountered?: None – it’s a very easy board to use for a beginner, just like the Arduino

Scoring
Product Performed to Expectations: 9
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 9
Demo Software was of good quality: — (not ITead’s demo)
Demo was easy to use: — (not ITead’s demo)
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 27/30

Prelude
ITead Studio has provided us with their LeafLabs Maple clone, called ITeadMaple.
The ITeadMaple is very similar to the Arduino, it has the same formfactor so you can fit the same shields, but instead of using an AVR 8-bit microcontroller it contains an 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 running at 72MHz.
In the following review we will have a look at the ITeadMaple board and see how it works. We also compare the speed with an Arduino, by using the ITead 2.4″ Touch Display shield and porting the Arduino library for that to the ITeadMaple. You will notice a huge difference in refresh rates.


Video review
To start with please have a look at the Video review where I show the board in action, together with the 2.4″ Touch Display showing different graphs and animations.


The board
The board itself looks very much like the Arduino Duemilanove or Due. As you can see on the image below the form factor is the same, and as I said in the video review, therefor your Arduino shields can also fit on the ITeadMaple – though this doesn’t mean there is a library for them! You should also take care of the changed voltage level, as the ITeadMaple is running at 3.3V, though the I/O pins are 5V compliant.

The ITeadMaple board


The ITeadMaple board is a little bigger in size than the LeafMaple. The extra connector (expansion connector) is also just 2×8 instead of 2×9 on the LeafMaple.

Except for the same form factor, the board contains a power jack for power supply, where it is possible to apply a voltage between 7V-23V
The board has a USB Mini-B connector for programming or USB applications. The processor on the board (STM32) has been factory programmed (by JTAG) with a USB bootloader, making it possible to program the applications to the board via USB. The USB port is also used as a virtual serial port when the board is running – just like on the Arduino!

The board also contains 2 buttons, one is reset and the other is BOOT. The BOOT button has to be pressed right after pressing the reset to make the board go into bootloader mode.
Though this is not always required, as the IDE is capable of putting the bootloader into programming mode sometimes.


Board characteristics
The processor on the board is the ARM Cortex-M3 from STMicroelectronics, called the STM32F103RBT6.
The specifications on this processor can be found in the chart below.

Processor specifications

As I said earlier all the I/O pins are 5V compliant. But for more information about the board specifications and especially the specific functions of the different I/O pins, you should read the LeafLabs Maple documentation.


The IDE
The IDE used for the programming is exactly the same as the one used for the Arduino. The environment is a modified Processing-based integrated development environment, with the only change of adding the GNU GCC compiler instead of the AVR compiler.

Maple IDE - Similar to the Arduino IDE


The code language is the same, C++, which means you would be able to use the exact same code for the ITeadMaple, as you used for the Arduino – maybe with some minor changes regarding AVR specific commands or registers.


Pros and Cons
Pros:

  • A lot more processing speed+power
  • Many I/O functions
  • Several Hardware USART Ports
  • USB Programming
  • Same IDE and programming language

Cons:

  • 3.3V power vs 5V on the Arduino


Conclusion
As you can see from the Pros/Cons list there is not many Cons about this board.
This board is a great supplement for the Arduino developer, especially if you are going to make a project that requires a little more power, but you are still to unsafe to go to a completely other board.

The ITeadMaple will keep you safe in the Arduino environment and form factor, and you would be able to continue the development as before, just with a lot more speed and power in you hands.


Downloads
To download the Maple IDE please visit the LeafLabs Maple IDE page
To download the ported graphics LCD library, originally by Henning Karlsen, please click on this download link: ITDB02_Graph_4.2 – ITeadMaple port

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  1. Michael Bawden
    January 26th, 2014 at 13:48 | #1

    I’m unable to download the UTFT library port as I get a forbidden error when the page opens. Do I need to be logged on to your site or is it an error?

    Cheers
    Mike

  2. January 27th, 2014 at 17:44 | #2

    @Michael Bawden
    It has been an error from our side.
    The download link has been fixed now. Please try again.

  3. Mountainman
    March 31st, 2014 at 23:34 | #3

    Nice work. It worked on my board like a charm!
    Have you tried to port the touch controller part of the UTFT library as well?

    BTW I’d love to learn how to port Arduino-libraries to the Olimexino. I’ve had success with some libs (only changing datatypes and easy stuff). But when it comes to heavy stuff (like replacing string-functions that are not supported by the maple_ide) … I’m out. I couldn’t find string-support for theSTM32

    Do you have any good hints? UTFT is making use of some functions defined in arduino.h (e.g. digitalPinToPort) Did you port all this stuff as well? (sorry, this is a bit off-topic. feel free to delete parts of this post)
    it would be great to have the all the UTFT libs ported! A case of beer for the dude who ports it!!

  1. December 5th, 2011 at 03:15 | #1
  2. February 17th, 2013 at 15:03 | #2