Review: ITeadMaple (and 2.4″ Touch Display)
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
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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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
- A lot more processing speed+power
- Many I/O functions
- Several Hardware USART Ports
- USB Programming
- Same IDE and programming language
- 3.3V power vs 5V on the Arduino
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.
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