Explore M3

with Arduino and beyond. . .

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Explore M3 is a feature rich ARM Cortex M3 development board. It can help you prototype ideas faster with Arduino and take them beyond, with bare metal programming, RTOS support and lower power modes if need be.

We are writing numerous tutorials as listed in the details section. Explore M3 will also have a opensource CIMSIS Debugger hardware, quick prototyping baseboard with numerous peripherals and a Starter kit.

More importantly, as an early backer you can get the board at $15, we will be launching a campaign on CrowdSupply soon. Do sign up with the link below, to be notified about the campaign!

If you like to contribute and support this open source project, do sign up for the beta testing!


  • Processor: LPC1768 ARM Cortex M3
  • Speed: 100MHz
  • Flash: 512KB
  • RAM : 64KB
  • GPIOs x 38
  • USB 2.0 full-speed device/Host/OTG controller
  • Hardware UARTs x 4, Virtual COM Port x 1
  • CAN x 2
  • SPI x 2
  • I2C x 2
  • PWM x 6
  • ADC x 6
  • DAC
  • Interrupt Pins x 2
  • I2S Audio
  • Breadboard Friendly .1 inch headers
  • Size: 25mm x 55mm
  • JTAG/SWD Debug connector

What Explore M3 Stands for?

  • One board to evaluate on all popular platforms: Arduino, mbed or bare-metal.
  • Supports Arduino IDE/mbed for quick prototyping.
  • Light weight ‘C’ libraries for transitioning from Arduino C++ to tool chains like Keil, ARM GCC, Co-IDE etc
  • Support for FreeRTOS with numerous examples demonstrating the usefulness and features of RTOS.
  • Libraries to support low power modes : Sleep, Deep-sleep, Power-down, and Deep power-down.
  • Numerous tutorials showing the easy of use with the platforms and performance gains by programming the bare metal. The list of tutorials below will be linked as we go along.

What it does NOT Stand for?

  • First Introduction to Arduino/mbed: Explore M3 is not trying to replace introductory boards of respective platforms. i.e. Arduino Uno R3 for Arduino and mbed LPC1768. They both do and an excellent job of getting beginners on-board and we would also recommend them for starters.
  • An Arduino/mbed killer: Over the course of last several years, we have seen numerous board trying to be Arduino/mbed killers. This could be by targeting lower price, better specs or fancy new feature. Although this is not all that bad, the goal of Explore M3 is not that. Explore M3 is an genuine attempt to help people quickly prototype their ideas using standard platforms and take them to the next level if need be.
  • Yet Another Arduino Board (YAAB): Explore M3 is not just a different form factor board for which Arduino support already exists. You can think of several Atmega328p boards, or more recent boards with SAM D21 microcontrollers. It is neither trying to be loyal with with a particular manufacturer in order to be more transparent and open. The goal is to bring true diversity to the platform. There have been some good attempts like the Maple in the past or Teensy more recently. Arduino as a platform is growing more transparent and it now allows third party boards to be included in more easily than in the past.
  • Cheap Replacement: The pricing (~$15) for early backers , may suggest so. However this is result of some hardware design choices and not because of selling below manufacturing costs. The retail price will definitely be a little higher to support further development and make the product sustainable.

Project Background:

We have been working on the LPC1768 MCU for more than a year now. We have also worked on several STM32F1 and STM32F4 series chips. We found NXP MCUs to be better documented and peripherals well organized in terms of programming model. For example, configuring a timer or UART was easier.

During this time we built a generic development board for LPC1768 and lots of tutorials for embedded developers, these are linked below. We want to build on top of all the hard-work that has been done for than a year now. The aim is not just to build a development board, but to build the ecosystem for quick prototyping, professional development and support.

Since we keep adding tutorials to this list, check out all of them with the link below

Most of these tutorials will be re-written again from an Arduino to BareMetal 'C' programming perspective. So check the planned tutorials below.

Planned Tutorials:

Currently, the board is up and running. It may require one more revision in hardware for minor corrections. In the mean time, we are writing the the tutorials below for BareMetal Programming, Arduino and RTOS. These will be linked as they get completed.

Current Status:

  • Arduino Porting is fairly complete.
  • DFU and Mass Storage boot-loaders work well.
  • Code Base tested on ARMGCC and Kiel
  • Numerous core programming tutorials are complete.
  • Testing on Windows and Linux Machine is done. MAC is pending....
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Salman Faris wrote 08/31/2016 at 17:21 point

i got an error when compiling the test code in arduino IDE

Arduino: 1.7.10 (Windows 8.1), Board: "Explore M3"

Cannot run program "{}/bin/arm-none-eabi-g++": CreateProcess error=2, The system cannot find the file specified

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KNEWRON Technologies wrote 06/12/2016 at 18:27 point

Looks like it's form factor and placement are inspired by smartWIFI ( from KNEWRON.

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Sandeep Patil wrote 06/13/2016 at 01:22 point

looking at it for the first time. :)

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Michael Vowles wrote 05/10/2016 at 07:49 point

Nice Project! a more viable alternative to the mbed compatible dev board! 

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Sandeep Patil wrote 05/10/2016 at 08:15 point

Thanks! @Michael Vowles

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