Particle (aka Spark) Photon, first impressions

Particle (aka Spark) Photon, first impressions

posted in: IoT, STM32 | 2

I finally received the 2 Spark aka Particle, Photon boards today.

I ordered 2 of these way back at the end of last year when one of my clients was interested in doing some environmental monitoring using wifi and an IoT device.

Initially delivery time was March, but they finally arrived now (June).

I’m not sure if I should have expected more, but they arrived in a plain white padded bag, albeit in custom made matchboxes, but with no other paperwork than the shipping note.

But I’m used to receiving all sorts of devices from AliExpress and eBay in similar packaging (less the matchboxes)

So. What do to next. Googling “Particle Photon” just takes me to their store.

After searching a bit more I find their landing page site, but that seems to take me back to the store.

But eventually I found some instructions http://docs.particle.io/photon/

So… It seems to say I need an App for my phone. So I try to install it on my iPhone… But, oh no, it needs the iOS 8, and my old phone is known not to work well with iOS 8, so I’m still on iOS 7.

So…. That’s a fail then.

Ok. How about going to their site and not using an App.

Well, you are greeted by a site that just has a login / register box. No information, wiki no forum. You must create an account.

At this point, I’m afraid they lost me, I don’t register for stuff unless I know what I’m getting and why. I normally expect to be able to read stuff and perhaps have some basic features without needing to sign my rights away. After all, if JSFiddle can manage it….

 

So were does this leave things.

Well, after pressing the two buttons in various orders, and looking at the windows device manager, I can see that it initially appears as a Spark Photon, and loading the drivers this gives a usb serial device

But more interestingly, if you hold down the other button and press reset, the board enumerates on USB as a DFU device.

The problem is that windows won’t use this DFU device, unless you load a driver (well, you need to associate the USB VID/PID with the built in Windows DFU driver. It doesnt look like Spark aka photon have a signed driver for this (well I can’t find one). There are some work arounds on Github e.g.https://github.com/hpssjellis/dfu-util-windows-spark-core-photon

But I that repo has not been touched for 5 months and didn’t look complete

 

To be honest, I know how to create a driver association, as I can use the same system that we used on Arduino_STM32, but it would be good, if I didn’t have to rebuild a special version of WMI to install the DFU driver for the Photon, after all its a commercial product.

 

I feel I’ve wasted an hour on this and got nowhere, and my time would be better spent on the ESP8266, as even though its less polished, it does work ! and is a fraction of the price.

2 Responses

  1. Thomas
    |

    Hi, do you know whether I can use this as an ordinary SMT32 like the blue pill boards?

  2. Roger Clark
    |

    I think you should be able to use the photon as a normal STM32 board, but the main problem was the STM32 variant they used was not supported by the Arduino core that I inherited.
    It uses a STM32F205, and the core only supports the F103 series and partially supports the F4xx series

    STM are building their own Arduino core for STM32 devices, see github.com/stm32duino , but I don’t think they have any plans to produce a core for the F2 series

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