Device dashboard on NUCLEO-F746ZG - RTX + MDK, using Keil MDK


This tutorial shows how to implement a Web device dashboard using Mongoose Library over RTX + MDK on an STM32 Nucleo-F746ZG development board, using the ARM Keil MDK development environment.

device dashboard login

Features of this implementation include:

  • Uses Keil RTX, the MDK Plus or Pro TCP/IP stack, ARM CMSIS Core, ARM CMSIS Driver, and device headers through Software Packs
  • The Web dashboard provides:
    • User Authentication: login protection with multiple permission levels
    • The web UI is optimized for size and for TLS usage
    • Logged users can view/change device settings
    • The web UI is fully embedded into the firmware binary, and does not need a filesystem to serve it, making it resilient
interactive device dashboard

This example is a hardware adaptation of the Device Dashboard that can run on Mac/Linux/Windows. Mongoose Library, being cross-platform, allows to develop and run the same code on different platforms. That means: all functionality related to networking can be developed and debugged on a workstation, and then run as-is on an embedded device - and this example is a demonstration of that.

Take your time to navigate and study the Device Dashboard tutorial. Here, we concentrate on the features specific to this embedded platform in the Keil MDK environment.

This example is a plain Keil MDK-based project with the following files of interest:

  • main.c - provides the main() entry point with hardware init, LED blinking and network init.
  • syscalls.c - provides a low level function to redirect debug output to a UART.
  • mongoose.c, mongoose.h - Mongoose Library
  • net.c, net.h - part of the device dashboard example, contains the Web functionality
  • packed_fs.c - part of the device dashboard example, embeds the Web UI used by the dashboard

All these files have been grouped in Source Group 1 in the Project Explorer. Keil MDK can integrate with STM32CubeMX, and we use it. The device configuration file, used as the recipe to generate the code for device initialization, is handled by the IDE, we access it through the Run-Time Environment manager. For all auto-generated files, we've used those places designated for USER_CODE, so all files can be re-generated by STM32CubeMX for newer versions of the firmware packs.

References in this tutorial are for a Nucleo-F746ZG board

Below is a general process outline:

  • The board IP addressing will be provided by a DHCP server. If you want to set a static configuration, do not configure MDK for DHCP and simplify the network initialization
  • Build the example (see below) and run it on a development board
  • The firmware initializes the RTOS; see RTX integration below
  • The firmware initializes the network; see MDK integration below
  • After initialization, the application starts Mongoose's event loop and blinks a blue LED
  • Once the blue LED starts blinking, the example is ready
  • Open your web browser and navigate to the board IP address, you should see a nice device dashboard

Build and run

  • Follow the Build Tools tutorial to setup your development environment.

  • In your project directory, clone the Mongoose Library repository using git

  • Start μVision and open the project; if you need a quick start on the ARM Keil MDK and μVision, follow this step by step tutorial. This project is at examples/stm32/nucleo-f746zg-keil-rtx-mdk

  • To be able to build this project, you need to have the proper Software Packs to support it. If you don't have already installed the Keil::MDK-Middleware pack (and its dependencies), you'll see a requester asking you permission to do so. The Pack Installer will open and install the pack.

  • In order to build this project, click the Build icon. To flash this firmware to your board, plug it in a USB port and click on the Load icon. When finished, you have to reset your board pressing its reset button. You should soon see the blue LED start blinking. As long as there is only one board plugged in, μVision will find it; though we need to know the serial port device to be able to get the log information. You'll need to dig for it in your computer.

    Keil MDK build project
  • When the firmware starts, the board should signal its state by blinking the blue LED. We now need to know the IP address of the board to connect to it. If we used DHCP, as it is the default, we can check our DHCP server logs or see the device logs. Let's do this.

  • To connect to the board, in this example we'll be using PuTTY; we configure it for 115200bps.

    8      2 main.c:57:app_main             Waiting for IP...
    a83    2 main.c:62:app_main             READY, IP:
    a89    2 main.c:26:server               Initialising application...
    a90    3 mongoose.c:3356:mg_listen      1 0x1
    a96    2 main.c:30:server               Starting event loop
  • Now start a browser on http://IP_ADDRESS, where IP_ADDRESS is the board's IP address printed on the serial console. You should see a login screen as in the image above

  • From here on, if you want to try the dashboard features please go to the device dashboard tutorial and follow some of the steps depicted there.

Compilation options

  • MG_ARCH = MG_ARCH_CMSIS_RTOS1 - configures Mongoose to work with a supported RTOS using CMSIS-RTOS API v1, in this case: RTX
  • MG_ENABLE_RL = 1 - enables the MDK TCP/IP stack, formerly known as RL
  • MG_ENABLE_CUSTOM_RANDOM = 1 - lets the firmware code override mg_random() to use the device hardware RNG
  • MG_ENABLE_PACKED_FS = 1 - enables the embedded filesystem support

These are grouped in the file mongoose_config.h. This file has been written using scripting extensions, so you can just select the Configuration Wizard tab at the bottom of the editor to see the file contents in a friendly way. Keil MDK configure Mongoose

main.c overview

This example can be divided in the following blocks:

  1. RTX integration
  2. MDK integration
  3. Stop the scheduler, initialize the microcontroller for this particular board and take advantage of the true RNG in the microcontroller
  4. Start the scheduler again, to run the desired tasks
  5. Initialize the networking stack
  6. Initialize Mongoose
  7. Run Mongoose

RTX integration

Mongoose supports a number of well-known architectures, among them CMSIS-RTOS v1. To tell Mongoose in which architecture it is running, we need to define the macro MG_ARCH as we've seen above; we do this in mongoose_config.h. We use RTX through the CMSIS-RTOS v1 API.

  • We follow our basic RTOS integration guidelines, as these apply to RTX with or without networking added. According to the MDK Middleware recommendations, these are all the changes added to the RTX configuration file, CMSIS/RTX_Config_CM.c, using the Configuration Wizard:
    • Default Thread stack size [bytes] 200 - this will be used by the blinker, leave the default as it only blinks an LED
    • Main Thread stack size [bytes] 1000 - this one will be used by the STM32 HAL, and it requires a fair amount. It will be freed when we exit, anyway, so feel free to put any big number your initialization would require.
    • RTOS Kernel Timer input clock frequency [Hz] 216000000 - this is the MCU clock we configure, so for different boards you'll have different values
    • RTX Timer tick interval value [us] 1000
    • Number of threads with user-provided stack size 4 - we specify stack size for the server thread that runs Mongoose, MDK requires 2 extra tasks, our initialization task is verbose and requires some extra stack space
    • Total stack size [bytes] for threads with user-provided stack size 65536 - ample space for Mongoose and any other project or MDK task stack
    • leave User Timers checked

MDK integration

Mongoose supports a number of well-known TCP/IP stacks, among them MDK-Plus and MDK-Professional from Keil, formerly known as RL. To tell Mongoose which stack to use, we need to define a macro as we've seen above; we do this in mongoose_config.h.

Custom mg_random()

Some network operations require the generation of random numbers, from simple port numbers that should be different on every reset to complex TLS operations. Mongoose supports a number of well-known architectures, but since here we are working at the bare-metal level, we need to provide our own custom function or default to the standard pseudo-random number generator. The necessary actions are:

  1. Define MG_ENABLE_CUSTOM_RANDOM=1 which is done in mongoose_config.h
  2. Provide a custom void mg_random(void *buf, size_t len) function:

In this example, this function uses the microcontroller's built-in RNG through the STM32Cube HAL provided in the Keil packs

MCU and board initialization

Microcontroller support is provided by Keil firmware packs, which are based on STM32Cube firmware packages. The microcontroller, its clock, and all peripherals we use are initialized by HAL functions according to the configuration, code like this is generated by STM32CubeMX. In fact, to reproduce all the configuration steps, follow the step by step tutorial up to and including step 5. In particular, step 1 describes the additions we need to do to a Cube-generated main file to call the generated initialization functions, this mx_init() function we call at the start of our main() function.

Perhaps you've noticed in the log above that it does not start at 0. That's because the RTX kernel has already been running when the task starts, actually it calls our main() function (that becomes the main task, instead), so to initialize the MCU we need to stop the kernel and restart it later

Since this is a CMSIS-RTOS v1 project, task stack allocation will be done through it; dynamic memory allocation still will be done through system calls so we need a system heap.

The Network Core receives events sent from the Ethernet Driver ISR, whose stack requirements are typically less than 512 Bytes.

We've left the initial stack allocation at a small value (1KB), and setup enough heap room at project creation; that can be seen/modified by opening the assembly startup file (Device/startup_<devicefamilyname>.s) in μVision and then use the Configuration Wizard. This setting affects the linker process.

Create tasks and restart scheduler

At the main task we create the initial tasks, call the function that starts the scheduler, and exit. Then, we have an app_main task, where we initialize the network and create the server task that runs Mongoose, and a blinker task to blink an LED

For more information consult the MDK Middleware documentation

TCP/IP initialization

Our app_main task initializes the network and waits on a signal that will be set by the netDHCP_Notify() hook when the server assigns us an address. Then it will create the server task to run Mongoose, and terminate.

Note we provide ample stack space for the Mongoose task. It doesn't actually need to be that big for such a simple example, but more complex interfaces will need plenty of room.

For more information consult the MDK Middleware documentation

Mongoose initialization

In the server task we initialize Mongoose; this is no different from what we always do in any example; we are a task in an RTOS and we can run an infinite loop.

Run Mongoose

Then we run Mongoose. This is no different from what we always do in any example, though note that it should be run after network initialization. The logic is standard: initialize the event manager (as we already did), start a listener, and fall into an infinite event loop:

In this case, the listener is started by web_init(), the device dashboard initialization function. The URL is configured by the macro HTTP_URL, which we defined as a preprocessor symbol.

Blinker task

This is a simple task that toggles the GPIO and loops, to blink the blue LED

We have covered those aspects that are specific to the STM32 implementation, for the details on the application and the UI, please see the Device Dashboard tutorial.