Using CAN bus with (not just NUCLEO) mbed boards

Dependencies:   mbed CANMsg

Using CAN bus with mbed boards

Two low cost STM32F103C8T6 boards are connected to the same CAN bus via transceivers (MCP2551 or TJA1040, or etc.). CAN transceivers are not part of NUCLEO boards, therefore must be added by us. Remember also that CAN bus (even a short one) must be terminated with 120 Ohm resitors at both ends. Although there seems to be an alternative solution.


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The mbed boards in this example are transmitting CAN messages carrying two data items:

uint8_t   counter;  // one byte
float     voltage;  // four bytes

So in this case the total length of payload data is five bytes (must not exceed eight bytes).
For our convenience, the "<<" (append) operator (defined in CANMsg library) is used to add data to the CAN message.
The usage of "<<" and ">>" operators is similar to the C++ io-streams operators. We can append data one at a time

txMsg << counter;
txMsg << voltage;

or combine all into one expression.

txMsg << counter << voltage;

The actual data length of a CAN message is automatically updated when using "<<" or ">>" operators.
After successful transmission the CAN message is printed to the serial terminal of the connected PC. So we can check the details (ID, type, format, length and raw data). If something goes wrong during transmission a "Transmission error" message is printed to the serial terminal.

On arrival of a CAN message it's also printed to the serial terminal of the connected PC. So we can see the details (ID, type, format, length and raw data). Then its ID is checked. If there is a match with the ID of awaited message then data is extracted from the CAN message (in the same sequence as it was appended before transmitting) using the ">>" (extract) operator one at a time

rxMsg >> counter;
rxMsg >> voltage;

or all in one shot

rxMsg >> counter >> voltage;

The same source code is used for both boards, but:

  • For board #1 compile the example without any change to main.cpp
  • For board #2 comment out the line #define BOARD1 1 before compiling

Once binaries have been downloaded to the boards reset both board at the same time.


The code published here was written for the official NUCLEO boards. When using STM32F103C8T6 boards, shown in the picture above (on-board LED is active on 0),

  • Include (uncomment) the line #define TARGET_STM32F103C8T6 1
  • Select NUCLEO-F103RB as target platform for the online compiler.

CAN bus related information

Download repository: zip gz

Files at revision 9:3211e88e30a5

Name Size Actions
CANMsg.lib 66 Revisions Annotate
main.cpp 4960 Revisions Annotate
mbed.bld 69 Revisions Annotate