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STM32 Soldering Station Firmware


Video of operation here: (Project in active development, the features will change continuously)

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Project details

  • This project started by forking PTDreamer's firmware. Since then it became a separate project.
  • Developed on STM32Cube IDE. Basic configuration is easily done in CubeMx (Included in STM32Cube IDE).
  • Unified codebase, different hardware support based on profiles, very few files need to be changed.
  • Supports all display modes: I2C, SPI, software and hardware+DMA (When connected to hardware pins).
  • Uses u8g2 graphics library.
  • Dynamic screen loading to save RAM resources.
  • Extremely customizable, lots of options available.
  • Code highly optimized to avoid wasting cpu power, slow devices still run great.

Compatibility

The actual requirements are 10KB RAM and 64KB (*) flash.
(*) Currently the firmware has surpassed the 64KB limit, and uses the additional undocumented 64KB flash block.
(*) All 64KB devices have 128KB, with the 2nd 64KB block untested from the factory, so not guaranteed to work.
(*) To date, I have found zero issues. Original KSGER firmware also does this.
(*) ST-Link checks the written data, and the firmware uses checksums to protect the settings, any error will be detected.

The BOARDS folder has the board code profile, schematics and/or board pictures for quickly identify your hardware.
Current working controller:

  • Quicko T12 [STABLE]: Profiles for STM32F072 and STM32F103.
  • JCD T12 [STABLE]: Different board layout, but it's 100% the same as the KSGER v2. Use that firmware.
  • KSGER v1.5 [STABLE]: Profile for STM32F103 (There are no other known CPUs used in this board).
  • KSGER v2.x [STABLE]: Profile compatible with all STM32F101/2/3xx. Use 101C8 profile.
  • KSGER v3.x [STABLE]: Profile compatible with all STM32F101/2/3xx. Use 101C8 profile.

Actually, the easiest way to quickly identify your KGSER version is by looking at the Oled screen connection:

  • 4 pin (I2C) = v2.x
  • 6 pin (SPI) = v3.x

Also keep in mind that you can't trust the version shown in the original firmware to identify your board.
Go to BOARDS/... schematics folder and compare the pictures.
There are several compatible/cloned boards in the market that will work fine with Ksger profiles.


Frequently asked questions

First, make sure to read the Operating instructions!

Changelog

You can check the commit history to see what have been changed between builds.

Backing up the original firmware

Be warned, usually the MCU will be read-protected, so you won't be able to read its contents, only erase it.
For KSGER boards, some can be found over internet.
The simplest way to not loose the original FW is actually to buy a new MCU, replace it, and store the original MCU in a safe place.
Any difference in the pinout will require firmware tuning, although one of the main proposits of this firmware is easing that.
There are some hacks / vulnerabilities that can be used to backup protected firmware, more details here:
STM32 power glitching timing attack

Flashing the firmware

There's no support for custom bootloaders.
Use one of these ST-LINK clones ($3 or less), refer to the schematics for the SWD pinout.

Download the binary STM32SolderingStation.bin already compiled from the /BOARDS folder and flash it using stlink.
Follow this pictures to update the firmware without erasing the stored settings.
Important: STM32F072 has 2KB flash sector size, so only de-select the last sector.
(Click for bigger picture)


In any case, the firmware will check the settings and reset them if not valid.

Display issues

If the display has right/left line like this picture: Go to System menu / Offset and adjust the value until it's centered.

Temperature unstability

By default, never modify any PWM / Delay settings in the Iron menu. Doing so may cause such issues.
Also, new tips are often unstable, leading to temperature jumps.
Don't try to calibrate the tip in this state, neither set a high temperature, because it could go under control.
They usually settle after some burning time. It's recommended to set a medium temperature (250-300ºC) and leave like that for 15-20 minutes until it stabilizes.
If the temps are still unstable, try increasing the Iron/Delay option, allowing more time for the temp signal to settle.
A damaged, loose or defective connection in the handle will also cause this issues. Ensure the contacts are clean.
There have been problems with some board/stations like:

  • Noisy power supply
  • Broken / badly soldered capacitors
  • Bad Op-Amp
  • Bad 3v3 Regulator

Temperature accuracy

Buying a cheap high temperature meter is highly recommended!
These boards can have pretty different readings and tolerances. Even between T12 tips.
So the factory calibration is intentionally set lower than real, to avoid possible overheating problems.
Once you set the firmware, go to calibration and set there the real temperature measured with the external probe.

Cold tip not showing ambient temperature

Usually, a cold tip will display 20-50ºC over the ambient temperature.
Every amplifier has a small inherent voltage offset at the inputs, and this issue directly caused by that offset.
The actual offset is very low, 30ºC is about 360uV (0.000360V), so it can't be fixed easily.
Not a a firmware bug, and it doesn't affect the working temperatures when the station has been calibrated.
Some firmwares hide this reading and show the ambient temperature instead. For now, this is not a planned feature.

Calibration issues

Ensure to read Calibration menu first!.
To calibrate, go into Calibration / Start.
Attach the temperature probe before proceeding!
If the difference between measured and real is higher than 50ºC, the calibration will be aborted, telling you to go into Calibration / Settings and manually adjust the values.
The calibration settings menu has 3 calibration steps: 250, 350 and 450ºC.
When you edit the value, the it will be applied in real time, so be careful!
The iron will be turned off if no setting is being edited.
Adjust each value until is close to the target temperature.Repeat for each step and save.
This values are only used by the calibration process, to prevent burning the tip if your board reads too low.
After adjusting, repeat calibration, this time it should work correctly.
The calibration results for the current tip can be seen in the tip settings menu.
In the case you lose, wipe or reset the data, you can go back into that menu and adjust the values based on previous calibration results.
Otherwise, they aren't meant to be another calibration menu! Only for viewing (Ex. reporting calibration results) and making backup/restore of the values.

Other issues

After fully reading the documentaion, if you still have problems or doubts, please ask in the EEVblog thread:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/stm32-oled-digital-soldering-station-for-t12-handle


Building the firmware

Video of building steps:
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If you use an existing project template and modify it, the changes must be reflected in /Core/Inc/board.h.
All the project code takes the data from there. The file it's pretty much self-explaining.
So, any changes you make in CubeMX, ex. use PWM timer6 intead timer2, or SPI1 instead SPI2...all that should be configured in their respective define.
As long as the GPIO names are called the same way, no further changes are needed.

If you want to build your own, clone or download the source.
The source is stripped from ST own libraries and unnecesary stuff, only includes the very basic code owning to the project.
CubeMX will add the STM32 and CMSIS libraries automatically after a code generation.
Open the BOARDS folder, find your board (or take any to work with) and copy all the contents to the root of the project.
Now you're ready to open STM32CUBE IDE and import the project.
Open the .ioc file, make any small change, ex. take an unused pin and set is as GPIO_Input, then revert it to reset state.
This will trigger the code generation. Close saving changes and the code will be generated. And it's ready for building.
CubeMX should care of adding the new folders to the search path, if it fails follow this steps.
Right click on project -> Properties -> C/C++ Build -> Settings -> Tool Settings -> MCU GCC Compiler -> Include paths
On the upper menu, Configuration, Select [All configurations]
Click on Add... Select Workspace and select these folder while holding Control key:
Ensure these are present:

  /Core/Inc
  /Core/Src
  /Drivers/generalIO
  /Drivers/graphics
  /Drivers/graphics/gui
  /Drivers/graphics/gui/screens    
  /Drivers/graphics/u8g2
  /Drivers/STM32Fxxx_HAL_Driver/Inc
  /Drivers/STM32Fxxx_HAL_Driver/Inc/Legacy
  /Drivers/CMSIS/Device/ST/STM32Fxxx/Include
  /Drivers/CMSIS/Include

(STM32Fxxx matches your current mcu family, ex. STM32F0xx, STM32F1xx)

Click in the right arrow of the build button (Hammer icon), select Release, then click on the build button and should build right away.

Keep in mind that in 64KB devices the flash is almost full and will not fit unless optimization is set to "Optimize for size".
To debug MCUs where the flash space is unsufficient to store a unoptimized build, you can selectively disable build optimizations.
A line of code can be found at the start of main.h:

attribute((optimize("O0")))

Copy that line before the function like this:

attribute((optimize("O0"))) void ThisFunctionWillNotBeOptimized(...)

If you want to retarget the project, avoid mixing different profile files.
Run the included script "Clean_Profile.bat", or manually delete these files:

/Core/Inc/*stm32*
/Core/Src/*stm32*
/Core/Src/system_stm32*
/Core/Startup/*

And then copy the board profile files overwriting any existing files.


Non working features

  • I2C eeprom. Some boards have it, some doesn't. So internal flash storage is used for all.
    Also, the current settings don't fit in the commonly used 24C08 memory.
  • RTC clock. There's very little space in the screen. Use it for what matters, instead for showing a clock!

Additional Documentation