About Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio

Eng. Dr. Di Paolo Emilio, Ph.D. Editor - Technical Writer - Journalist - Electronic Designer Linkedin page: https://it.linkedin.com/in/mauriziodpe

A multi-protocol SoC for ultra low-power wireless applications

The nRF52840 SoC of Nordic Semiconductor is based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F CPU running at 64 MHz with flash and RAM integrated on chip. Ultra low-power wireless applications can use this advanced multi-protocol SoC with different communication protocols.  The 2.4 GHz transceiver supports Bluetooth low energy (Bluetooth 5), 802.15.4, ANT and proprietary protocols. The transceiver also supports high resolution RSSI measurement and automated processes to reduce CPU load. Moreover, EasyDMA for direct data memory access and packet assembly provides full support for hardware (figure 1). The device maintains the compatibility with existing products such as nRF52, nRF51 and nRF24 series.

ultra low-power wireless applications
Figure 1: Block diagram of the nRF52840 SoC

Bluetooth 5 and SoC

Bluetooth 5 (500kbs e 125kbs) is the latest version of the well-known wireless technology. It increases the range of four times and the throughput of eight times, making this technology much more suitable for ultra low-power wireless applications such as wearable, Smart Home and more generally for Internet-related applications (IoT, IIoT). The ultra low power consumption of the Bluetooth 5 protocol facilitates high performance, advertising extension and modulation schemes.

nRF52840 SoC uses power management resources to maximize job processes and achieve an optimal energy efficiency. The power supply ranges between 1.7V and 5.5V ensures a wide choice of batteries. In addition, SoC can also work with USB direct power supply without external regulators. Especially relevant, all devices have automatic clock management with adaptive features to maintain minimal power consumption.

Features:

  • multi-protocol SoC
  • 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F Processor
  • 1.7v to 5.5v operation
  • 1MB flash + 256kB RAM
  • Bluetooth 5 support for long range and high throughput
  • 802.15.4 radio support
  • On-chip NFC
  • PPI –Programmable Peripheral Interconnect
  • Automated power management system with automatic power management of each peripheral
  • Configurable I/O mapping for analog and digital I/O
  • 48 x GPIO
  • 1 x QSPI
  • 4 x Master/Slave SPI
  • 2 x Two-wire interface (I²C)
  • I²S interface
  • 2 x UART
  • 4 x PWM
  • USB 2.0 controller
  • ARM TrustZone CryptoCell-310 Cryptographic and security module
  • AES 128-bit ECB/CCM/AAR hardware accelerator
  • Digital microphone interface (PDM)
  • Quadrature decoder
  • 12-bit ADC
  • Low power comparator
  • On-chip 50Ω balun
  • On-air compatible with nRF52, nRF51 and nRF24 Series

Development kit

The NRF52840-PDK is a versatile development kit based on nRF52840 SoC for the development of projects by using Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT, 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz protocols. Moreover, It is also hardware-compatible with the Arduino Uno R3 standard, allowing to use third-party compatible shields. Adding an NFC antenna, the kit enables the NFC tag feature (figure 2 and 3).

ultra low-power wireless applications
Figure 2: NRF52840-PDK development kit

 

ultra low-power wireless applications
Figure 3: block diagram of the NRF52840-PDK development kit

 

IkaScope: a wireless oscilloscope probe

IkaScope is a wireless oscilloscope probe that allows to observe the change of electrical signals over time. The probe is a handheld device, portable and fits perfectly in the hand and pocket. By using high-speed Wi-Fi connection, IkaScope wireless oscilloscope probe communicates with laptop, tablet or smartphone to share the acquired data on the screen. The IkaScope wireless oscilloscope probe is compatible with the most popular mobile and desktop operating systems. The probe has a 200 MSPs ADC, Spartan 3 FPGA and adequate battery capacity (450 mAh). Energy saving settings and downtime moments manage the energy efficiency. The probe comes with a ground clip and a USB charging cable. Especially relevant is the patented ProbeClick technology of IkaScope: all electronic circuits are powered only when the the probe is pressed (figure 1). The probe tip is also used to start the data acquisition. ProbeClick technology allows to save power and measure without remembering to press the run / stop button of a classic oscilloscope.

wireless oscilloscope probe
Figure 1: IkaScope wireless oscilloscope probe

The probe technology and user interface

ProbeClick represents a simple innovative mechanism to manage the data acquisition by probe tip. Simply by pressing the probe, the device starts data capturing and streaming process on the screen using the wi-fi connection. In addition, by releasing the probe, the acquisition stops and automatically the data is available in the storage/cloud (figure 2). IkaScope application is the user interface to capture, measure and analyze analog signals. From the download page you can download the latest version of IkaScope for your prefered Desktop OS.

wireless oscilloscope probe
Figure 2: IkaScope during a testing process

 

IkaScope can be configured as a wireless hotspot. It will remember access points and will connect instantly without having to enter your login password. Moreover, IkaScope application has a share button at the top left of the screen. Just click on it to share a screenshot of the measurement.

General specifications

  • Model name: WS200.
  • Communication: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/e/i 2.4GHz.
  • Connection: Access Point or Station.
  • Battery charging connector: Micro USB.
  • Input contact: ProbeClick.
  • Operating Temperature: 10°C to 35°C.
  • Altitude < 2000m.
  • Protection Input level: Sample test voltage: 253 VAC 1 min.
  • Input to charging port isolation: Saple test voltage: 1100 VAC 1 min.
  • Battery: Built in Lithium / 420mAh
  • Application compatibility: Windows / Mac / Linux / Android / iOS.

Measurement specifications

  • Max sample rate: 200MSps.
  • Analog Bandwidth(-3dB compression): 30MHz at -3dB.
  • Input Voltage: +/-40V range CAT1.
  • Galvanic isolation: Between Input and Charging port.
  • Coupling: AC (true) / DC.
  • Input Impedance: 1MOhm || 14pF.
  • Voltage resolution: 100mV/div up to 10V/div.
  • Max Trace refresh rate: 250 FPS.
  • Sample resolution: 8 bits.
  • Analog Offset range: +/-20V to +/-40V.
  • Memory depth: 4K Points (4 x 1000 points burst buffers).
  • Channel: 1

Tyre pressure monitoring system using Bluetooth Low Energy

A tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) aims to monitor air pressure on various automotive systems. The most common TPMS sensors mainly use sub-GHz radio standards to transfer information to the vehicle’s computer. There are two different types: direct (dTPMS) and indirect (iTPMS). The use of bluetooth low energy (BLE) connectivity makes it possible offering a high performance. All information will be displayed in real-time by simple user interface with low power consumption. With low power consumption, applications can run on a small battery for many years. As result, it’s actually extremely positive when talking about M2M communication and automotive systems.

TPMS helps to avoid the tyre wear and improves road safety.  Due to the advantages of a longer battery life and connectivity, DA14585 is suitable for IoT applications in various industries. The figure 1 show a typical block diagram for a TPMS system.

block diagram of TMPS general system
Figure 1: block diagram of a TPMS. The block of transmission (transmit data) can implement the bluetooth low energy protocol.

Bluetooth low energy for automotive industry

Connectivity, Intelligence and energy saving are the main features for the new generation of IoT devices. Luckily, SmartBond can achieve all these features. Especially relevant is one of the series, DA14585 SoC. It offers all benefits, such as, full support of all bluetooth standards, including version 5. Moreover, it is suitable  for many applications, as remote controls, proximity tags, headlights, connected medical devices, smart home and smart automotive (Figure 2). The figure 2 shown the block diagram of DA14585, where is visualized the ARM M0 core and other peripherals.

block diagramm of DA14585 for bluetooth low energy applications
Figure 2: block diagramm of DA14585

With 96 kB of RAM and retention capability, DA14585 offers a wider memory than its predecessor in order to fully utilize standard features. Moreover, it also includes an integrated microphone interface for low-cost voice support. DA1485 supports a wide range of power supply voltages from 0.9 to 3.6 V. This range offers a wider choice of energy sources with a great design performance.

As a result, DA14585 represents the ideal solution to add bluetooth low energy technology to various applications. It supports Data Packet Length Extension, Link Layer Privacy v1.2, Secure Connections, Bluetooth Low Power Mesh and Efficient Connectable Advertising. Dialog Semiconductor has started contacting with the automotive industry for the construction of first TPMS devices with BLE. The goal is to manage the entire measurement process with the addition of sensors for measuring temperature and pressure. All powered by a simple battery.

The initial adoption of BLE technology for TPMS is a great opportunity for the automotive market and for new TPMS devices. As a result, the advent of BLE connectivity in automotive systems will open many connectivity scenarios for the smart automotive market.