mbed Compatible PC Boards

27 Apr 2010 . Edited: 27 Apr 2010

I took a break from reading the forums here for a couple of months, but was curious if there were any plans for inexpensive embed compatible boards without all the features of the standard mbed unit. Of course if the cost of mbed's was low enough I wouldn't even care about this but, US$70 is kind of expensive for making my little one-time projects, so I have returned to PICs for now.

I wouldn't mind a board that used an external programmer and had no USB or ethernet capabilities, but it would be essential to have some form of ICSP and that the boards were populated with any necessary SMDs and the MCU. I could solder on whatever header pins might be needed for I/O, power, ICSP/jtag. A US$20 price point would be a no-brainer for making a purchasing decision. :-)



27 Apr 2010

One note: it's "mbed", not "embed".

I'm not sure what you mean by "compatible", but there are two LPCXpresso boards (based on LPC1113 and LPC1343), which use pinout somewhat compatible to mbed, but:

1) no online compiler or convenient C++ libratries
2) you need to use the JTAG adapter (included) to flash the device, instead of drag-and-drop like with mbed
3) debugging (and flashing) is supported on Windows only (granted, mbed doesn't have _any_ debugging...)
4) much less peripherals (ADC, I2C, SPI, UART, plus USB device for 13xx) and smaller flash/RAM sizes.

If you mean "compatible" as in, compatible MCU, there are a couple of LPC1786 based boards, for example the pretty basic Blueboard. However, the online compiler's EULA seems to specifically forbid using compiled software on other devices, so that compatibility won't be of much use.

You can also always buy bare chips and make your own boards, it seems it's not that hard to do these days.

03 May 2010 . Edited: 03 May 2010

Can someone from mbed give us an official statement on the redistribution of compiled *.bin files to standalone 1768 MCUs? This is extremely important, and could be an absolute deal-breaker for me.  (I have a code-red compiler and JTAG so I can flash it onto other 1768s, if allowed.)

I've read the EULA, and it does seems to prohibit this. But, most of the restrictions seemed to be focused around distribution of the source libraries or compiler environment itself.  So I'm hopeful that this is merely an oversight and not a purposeful restriction.

If this is true - it would mean that anything developed with mbed could not be moved to a custom board. Our choices would be to include a $70 MCU (mbed) in each design or port/re-write the code with another compiler after pro-typing.  If so, any savings in prototyping time would be offset by the time required to port or re-write the code in a non-mbed compiler.  In this scenario, it would be quicker to simply start with the other compiler and skip the mbed altogether.

As per the original poster's comments, some of us use these MCU for very low volume custom prototypes.  We design the solution using a rapid prototyping solution (mbed, Arduino, etc..) and then once tested and working, flash the final code onto an MCU that's embedded on a custom board.

03 May 2010 . Edited: 03 May 2010

Hi Robert,

You can certainly redistribute .bins to standalone LPC1768 MCUs. Our goal is to help people build prototypes, and for those that are successful, we expect people to spin their own PCBs with the raw LPC1768. That's why we designed mbed to have no "magic" in the target MCU so you could do this; in fact, we really don't want to be a design in module, thats a whole different business!


03 May 2010

Excellent, that is fantastic news!  Thank you for the clarification; it makes sense, and was exactly what I was hoping to hear.

Might I suggest that you have someone clarify the EULA a bit?   I'm not a lawyer, but it appears to only grant the use of the "software" with the "hardware".  "Hardware" is then defined as the mbed microcontroller, and "software" is defined as "any software, firmware and data which is accessible through the Website"  So therefore, it implies that the firmware generated by the website can only be ran on the mbed.  Perhaps a simple modification, like deleting the word "firmware" from the definition of software in Line #9, would fix it.

Thanks for the super quick (and positive) response.

03 May 2010

The fo0llowing inhformation is from a Chris Styles Notebook.  See:


The notebook contains a lot of good information on transferring a design to a custom PCB.



"There has been a lot of questions in the forum about just how easy it would be to move forward from an mbed Microcontroller to actually use the target MCU (NXP LPC1768), avoiding the need to design in £30+ modules

Before showning just how easy it can be, there are a couple of points to make clear:

  • You can use the mbed libraries commercially for free, on an unsupported as-is basis
  • The mbed compiler generates a raw binary targetting the MCU, there is no bootloader magic going on inthe binary
  • The binary runs on the LPC1768 bare metal, there is no runtime environment
  • The only magic taking place on the mbed Microcontroller is the "mbed Interface" - It's not actually all that magic, it is just a USB device that can program the raw binary into the LPC1768s flash memory

So with that in mind it should be clear that if you wish to take your design to the next stage you can spin your own PCB, solder down the LPC1768 and reuse the binary you made with your mbed Microcontroller prototype, you can.

The purpose is to show you how you can get your binary into the LPC1768 on your own PCB, and what other things you can do"

03 May 2010

i think someone needs to compile all the threads regarding this and cookbook it. :/

05 May 2010

I am hoping for a third-party MCU-populated board (I couldn't solder it) with necessary support circuitry, a programming port and a prototyping area that would allow for inexpensive single unit production without designing a PCB each time.

Maybe one of those is already in design or production and it is a secret.


23 Jun 2010

How many do you need?

23 Jun 2010

Harry - do you make or produce such a board?  If so, what price are you charging per board?  I'm about 1/2 way done designing one, but I dont feel the need to recreate the wheel if such a thing already exists.

Johnnie - i'm looking for the exact same thing.  I'm amazed that nobody has produced one yet.  Seems like a HUGE hole in the mbed strategy.



23 Jun 2010 . Edited: 23 Jun 2010

anyone else head spinning like a top

On the positive side, just use the mbed and solider it to a prototyping area. Use a good pair of plyers, and go multi-level.

23 Jun 2010 . Edited: 23 Jun 2010

If you wanna go pro, be prepared for the costs. Its not cheap in small runs, and even the board I recently made up for prototype. I made small mistakes in the first batch, but its a learning curve. Most problems can be fixed by cutting the traces and jumpering. But is it worth it?, unless u have the demand or cash to burn.

I used PCBCart for my first LPC1768 prototype(LPC1768 programming via 10pin JTAG/SW). It was cheapest I could find, and the turn around was excellent.


I also hear good things about BatchPCB www.batchpcb.com too

29 Jul 2010

Hi all,

Going back to one of the earlier posts, there is now an LPC1768 version of the LCPXpresso board available (for the same price as the LPC11xx & LPC13xx boards, about 20 Euros).

I'm guessing that this will still use the same PC-based tools as the other board versions but it should allow access to more of the peripherals included on the LPC1768.

I've not got hold of one ... yet but will post an update when I do.

Hope this helps?