About Rik

Myself Rik and I am founder of Riktronics. I study Electronics and Communication Engineering in IIE. My hobby is playing with electronics and making various projects, mainly about embedded systems. Love to do coding, and making tutorials about electronics/programming. Contact me in any need at abhra0897@gmail.com My blog : riktronics.wordpress.com

Tektronix Launches Two New 6½-digit DMM and DAQ systems : DMM6500 And DAQ6510

Tektronix, a US-based company, has introduced two new Keithley 6½-digit models to its line of Digital Multimeters (DMMs) and data-acquisition systems: The new DMM6500 DMM and also the new DAQ6510 data-acquisition system. The company has also upgraded their Kickstart measurement software to version 2.0.

Keithley has long been a dominant provider in the 6½-digit DMM market. With the DMM6500 and DAQ6510, the company looks forward to strengthening its position further. Both of these new instruments use the same touchscreen UI (with pinch gesture) first unveiled with the company’s 7½-digit DMM7510.

DMM6500:

Model DMM6500
Model DMM6500

With a base price of $1140 (same as previous models), the DMM6500 hits a sweet spot for bench and production measurements. In addition to its 6½ inch display, the DMM6500 also features a 16-bit, 1 Msample/s digitizer and can display voltage and current waveforms over time. It can store up to 7 million readings in internal memory.

Like its previous models, the DMM6500 is also expandable to ten channels. It uses the same expansion cards as models in the 2000 series DMMs. The DMM also maintains software compatibility with Keithley’s 2000 series models, minimizing software changes. It also emulates software commands for the now obsolete but still in use HP/Agilent/Keysight 34401A.

Measurement ranges:

  • DCV and ACV: 100 nV to 1000 V (750 VAC) with 0.0025% 1-year DCV accuracy
  • Resistance: 1 µΩ to 100 MΩ
  • DC Current: 10 pA to 10 A, AC Current: 100 pA to 10A
  • Temperature: -200°C to 1820°C
  • Capacitance: 0.1 pF to 100 µF
  • Digitize Voltage: 10 µV to 1000 V
  • Digitize Current: 10 nA to 10 A
  • Maximum measurement reading rate: 20,600 readings/s

Communications and channel expansion:

  • Interfaces: LAN LXI and USB-TMC standard. GPIB with digital I/O ($225), RS-232 with digital I/O ($200), or TSP-Link with digital I/O ($200).
  • Multichannel measurement capacity: 10 channels with two card options (10 channels voltage/current ($628) or 9 channel temperature/general-purpose inputs ($700)

DAQ6510:

Model DAQ6510 virtual front panel
Model DAQ6510 virtual front panel

Based on the DMM6500, the DAQ6510 ($1750 system only, $2230 with 20-channel scanner card) support up to 80 channels using two 40-channel cards. Keithley offers twelve switch modules, which are the same as used in the 2700-series data-acquisition DMMs. Scanning speed is 800 channels/s across multiple systems connected through Keithley’s TSK Link. The GPIB and RS-232 interface modules are also supported.

More information can be found at Tektronix/Keithley website, DMM6500 product pageand DAQ6510 product page.

ApplePi DAC Audio HAT Add-on For The Raspberry Pi Features 24-bit DAC And A 128dB SNR

Orchard Audio quickly exceeded its $5K Kickstarter goal for its ApplePi DAC HAT board, which it is promoted as “the most advanced and highest performance sound card hat for the Raspberry Pi.” You can order the add-on board from May 13 starting at $175. Options include a $5 stacking header and a $25 5.25V, 3A power supply. The ApplePi DAC supports the Asus Tinker Board and Allo.com’s Sparky in addition to the Raspberry Pi.

“ApplePi DAC” audio HAT
“ApplePi DAC” audio HAT

A fully assembled $374 system provides the new HAT board, header, and power supply plus a Raspberry Pi 3 SBC, an acrylic stand, and an SD card with a choice of preconfigured Volumio, Rune Audio, or Raspbian. For $574, you get the assembled system plus a 7-inch touchscreen. All the products ship in July.

The board is powered by dual TI Burr-Brown DACs (PCM1794A) configured in monaural mode. The system has a dynamic range of >135dB and a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 128dB, which can bump up to 132dB. Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) is listed as an impressively low <0.0005% (-106dB). The board supports both 16- and 24-bit bit rates, as well as sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz.

Orchard highlights the board’s ultra-low noise linear regulation and low jitter PLL clock generation. The mentioned derives are not from the usual crystal, but rather from a CS2300 IC from Cirrus Logic. This clock chip integrates a crystal, PLL, and clock multiplier into a single device, the input jitter is attenuated by 60dB (1/1000). It is remarkable that the onboard balanced (Mini XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) outputs are driven by dual differential output circuit stages. Orchard says that most competing boards offer only single-ended outputs. So, this feature really makes it stand out.

The ApplePi DAC runs at 4.5W and can be powered by a Raspberry Pi, but the manufacturer recommends using the optional 5V adapter. In addition to Volumio and Rune Audio, the ApplePi DAC supports moOde Audio, piCorePlayer, and Roon Network Endpoint software.

The ApplePi DAC is available on Kickstarter through May 13 starting at $175, with shipments due in July. More information may be found at the ApplePi DAC Kickstarter page and Orchard Audio’s ApplePi DAC product page.

Hardkernel Launches A Single-unit Version Of Its 32-core Odroid-MC1 Cluster Computer

Hardkernel has produced a single-unit version of its four-unit, 32-core Odroid-MC1 cluster computer for running Docker SwarmBuild Farm, and other parallel computing applications. The design offers greater flexibility for users to combine Odroid-MC1 Solo units for a “single unit, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or n stackable cluster”. The octa-core Odroid-MC1 Solo costs $48. Combing one or more Solo units with the original 4-unit MC1 acts as a single cluster.

Odroid-MC1 Solo
Odroid-MC1 Solo

The Odroid-MC1 Solo and Odroid-MC1 use an Odroid-XU4S SBC that is similar to the SBC that powers the Odroid-HC2 network attached storage (NAS) device. Both boards are smaller, stripped-down, headless version of the open-spec Odroid-XU4 SBC.

Like the Odroid-HC2 board, the MC1 board has removed the XU4’s HDMI port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, optional eMMC, and 30- and 12-pin GPIO connectors. Like the Odroid-XU4, the boards are powered by the Samsung Exynos5422 SoC with four Cortex-A15, four Cortex-A7 cores, and Mali-T628 GPU.

All these boards are equipped with 2GB LPDDR3 (in a PoP configuration), as well as a GbE port, USB 2.0 host port, and a bootable microSD slot with UHS-1 support. The XU4s used on the Odroid-MC1 lacks the one additional feature found on the HC2 NAS computer that is a USB 3.0-based SATA port.

The new Odroid-MC1 Solo board, including the stacking case, measures 92 x 42 x 29mm. These boards are powered by a 5V/4A power supply. A UART, an RTC with battery connector, as well as “M3 x 8mm” self-tapping screws are also there on this board. The XU4-compatible Linux image is based on Kernel 4.14 LTS.

Key Specs:

  • CPU  Samsung Exynos5422 ARM® Cortex™-A15 Quad 2.0GHz/Cortex™-A7 Quad 1.4GHz
  • DRAM Memory  2Gbyte LPDDR3 RAM PoP (750Mhz, 12GB/s memory bandwidth, 2x32bit bus)
  • GPU  Mali™-T628 MP6 OpenGL ES 3.1 / 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.2 Full profile
  • Micro-SD Slot  UHS-1 compatible micro-SD slot up to 128GB/SDXC
  • USB2.0 Host  HighSpeed USB standard A type connector x 1 port
  • LEDs  Power, System-status
  • Gbit Ethernet LAN  10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet with RJ-45 Jack ( Auto-MDIX support)
  • Power Input  DC Barrel Jack Socket 5.5/21.mm for 4.8V~5.2V input
  • Size   92 x 42 x 29 mm

The Odroid-MC1 Solo is available now for $48. More information may be found at Hardkernel’s Odroid-MC1 Solo shopping page.

Researchers Develop New Hybrid Solar Panel That Can Generate Power From Rain Too

The researchers at Soochow University in China, have published a paper on the hybrid device that is able to harness the power of sun and rain using a hybrid panel. By attaching a transparent nanogenerator to a silicon solar cell, researchers have designed a device that harvests solar energy in sunny conditions and the mechanical energy of falling raindrops in rainy conditions. The dual functionality of this hybrid panel may provide a way to collect energy with greater efficiency in the midst of constantly changing weather conditions.

Hybrid solar panel can generate power fro rain too
The hybrid solar panel can generate power fro rain too

The hybrid device consists of a conventional silicon solar cell and a Triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENG), which turns the mechanical energy of falling raindrops into electricity. Although previous research has shown that these two types of devices can be connected with an extra wire, in the new design the solar cell and TENG are integrated by sharing a mutual electrode.

The biggest breakthrough in this work is that an integrated generator composed of a solar cell and a TENG was demonstrated through sharing a mutual electrode,

Zhen Wen at Soochow University said,

Compared to previous work, the simple design of the mutual electrode reduces the number of functional layers, which greatly improves the output efficiency.

The mutual electrode not only results in a more compact design, but it also offers advantages to both the solar cell and TENG. In particular, the TENG protects the solar cell by acting as a waterproof barrier and prevents water from penetrating the silicon. The textured electrode surface also greatly overcomes unwanted reflection of light, enhancing light harvesting of the solar panel. The textured surface results in a greater contact area between the TENG and falling raindrops, which improves the overall performance of the nanogenerator.

Due to the unique design, it has advantages of being lightweight and having a high efficiency, The team is now designing a fiber-shaped device and expect to weave them together as a fabric. In near future, it is possible to fabricate such clothing that can generate electricity from sunshine and raindrops, and then use this electricity to power wearable electronic devices.

Epiq Solutions Develops Wideband RF Transceiver SDR Module Running Linux On Zynq SoC

Epiq Solutions, a company from the USA, has included a new member of its Sidekiq line of Software-defined radio (SDR) add-on cards called the Sidekiq Z2. Dimensions of this card are only 51 x 30 x 5mm, the size of a full-size mini-PCIe card, the Sidekiq Z2 computer-on-module is advertised as “the world’s smallest wideband RF transceiver + Linux computer in a product-ready module”. The module is most suitable for handheld RF testing and measurement, remote RF sensing, wireless security applications, and CubeSat/UAS datalinks. A carrier board is also available with this module.

Sidekiq Z2 SDR Module
Sidekiq Z2 SDR Module

Unlike previous Sidekiq cards, the Sidekiq Z2 can act as a standalone computer, running Linux on a Xilinx Zynq-7000 series Arm/FPGA SoC. Like the original Sidekiq, which is available in mini-PCIe or M.2 form factors, the Sidekiq Z2 operates at 70MHz to 6GHz. There’s also a Sidekiq X2, which uses the VITA57.1 FMC form factor, which supports 1MHz to 6GHz frequencies.

Epiq claims, the new Sidekiq Z2 can boot Linux in under two seconds, with a typical system power consumption under 2 Watts. The Zynq comes with 512MB DDR3L RAM and 32MB QSPI flash. The SoC drives USB 2.0 OTG, serial UART, JTAG, and GPIO signals to a carrier board.

The shielded AD9634 1Rx + 1Tx transceiver has a 4-band Rx pre-select filter bank and an up to 61.44 Msamples/sec sample rate. The 40MHz TCVCXO ref clock features +/- 1 PPM stability. The 3.3V, 8-gram module supports -40 to 85°C temperatures. The module also offers many U.FL antenna connectors.

The company offers a Sidekiq Z2 Evaluation Kit (EVK) that includes two Sidekiq Z2 cards pre-loaded and supported by Analog Devices’ open source IIO reference design, along with two simple carrier cards. An optional Platform Development Kit (PDK) offers enhanced support and an optimized FPGA reference design to maximize processing capability of the FPGA. Epiq Solutions also presents applications for embedded RF spectrum analysis as well as 2G/3G/4G cellular network survey.

The Sidekiq Z2 is available now at a price of $649 for 1,000+ unit orders. The Sidekiq Z2 EVK and PDK also appear to be available, with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found in the Epiq Solutions Sidekiq Z2 announcement and product page.

Banana Pi BPI-W2 SBC – A Multimedia Router And NAS Board That Runs Android Or Linux

SinoVoip has released Banana Pi BPI-W2 multimedia network and smart NAS router SBC. The BPI-W2 has a faster processor and more advanced features than last year’s Banana Pi BPI-R2. However, the new model has only two Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of four.

This SBC is designed for applications such as high wireless performance, home entertainment, home automation, and many more. The BPI-W2 runs on a Realtek RTD1296 SoC with 4x Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz with a high-end Mali-T820 MP3 GPU. By comparison, previous year’s BPI-R2 used a quad-core, Cortex-A7 MediaTek MT7623 with a Mali-450 MP4. SinoVoip confirms full support for Android 6.0CentOSDebian 9Raspbian, and Ubuntu 15.04, and the board is also said to support OpenWrt.

Banana Pi BPI-W2
Banana Pi BPI-W2

The updated I/O support is shown in the BPI-W2’s dual SATA III ports, compared to only one on the single SATA interface found on the MT7623-based BPI-R2 and RTD1295-based devices. The BPI-W2 also has 8-64GB eMMC, a microSD slot, and 2GB of DDR4.

Although limited to dual GbE ports, the board also has a GbE WAN port for router applications. Unlike the R2, there is an HDMI input in addition to the HDMI output, and a mini-DisplayPort has replaced the earlier MIPI-DSI connection. In either case, the output resolution is still limited to HD (1080p) only.

Four USB ports are available, including single USB 3.0 and Type-C ports. There is a 40-pin header that is claimed to support Raspberry Pi 3 add-on boards. Other features involve RTC, IR, debug, audio I/O, and a 12V input.

Like other Banana Pi boards, the BPI-W2 is open source, shipping with schematics and other documentation. The AliExpress and wiki pages list and show PCIe 2.0 and 1.1/SDIO slots on the front as well as a single M.2 slot on the back. Yet the PCIe slots are also tagged as M.2 slots (E-Key), and it’s unclear which slots are capable of what. The PCIe slots are capable to support up to 802.11ac WiFi, and there’s also a SIM card slot.

The Banana Pi BPI-W2 is available now for $93 plus shipping on AliExpress. More information may be found on the BPI-W2 wiki page.

Researchers From NREL Discovered New Method To Develop Rechargeable Magnesium-metal Battery

A team of researchers from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has discovered a new method for developing a rechargeable non-aqueous magnesium-metal battery. A proof-of-concept paper published in Nature Chemistry. It described how the scientists pioneered a method to enable the reversible chemistry of magnesium metal in the noncorrosive carbonate-based electrolytes and tested the concept in a prototype cell. The technology possesses many high potential advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries. Some upgrades over Li-ion battery with this new kind of battery will be, higher energy density, greater stability, and lower cost.

magnesium-metal batteries
magnesium-metal batteries

NREL researchers Seoung-Bum Son, Steve Harvey, Andrew Norman, and Chunmei Ban are co-authors of the Nature Chemistry white paper, “An Artificial Interphase Enables Reversible Magnesium Chemistry in Carbonate Electrolytes” working with a Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry. The device enables them to investigate material degradation and failure mechanisms at the micro- to nano-scale.

Chunmei Ban, a scientist in NREL’s Materials Science department and corresponding author of the paper, said,

Being scientists, we’re always thinking: what’s next? The dominant lithium-ion battery technology is approaching the maximum amount of energy that can be stored per volume, so there is an urgent need to explore new battery chemistries that can provide more energy at a lower cost.

Seoung-Bum Son, a former NREL postdoc and scientist at NREL and first author of the paper, thinks this finding will provide a new avenue for magnesium battery design.

An electrochemical reaction powers a battery as ions flow through a liquid (electrolyte) from the negative electrode (cathode) to the positive electrode (anode). For batteries using Lithium, the electrolyte is a salt solution containing lithium ions. It’s also important to make the chemical reaction reversible for the battery to recharge again.

Magnesium (Mg) batteries theoretically contain almost twice as much energy per volume as of lithium-ion batteries. But previous research confronted an obstacle. The chemical reactions of the conventional carbonate electrolyte created a layer on the surface of magnesium that prevented the battery from recharging. The magnesium ions could flow in a reverse direction through a highly corrosive liquid electrolyte, but that blocked the possibility of a successful high-voltage magnesium battery.

The researchers developed an artificial solid-electrolyte interphase from polyacrylonitrile and magnesium-ion salt that protected the surface of the magnesium anode. This protected anode and significantly improved performance of the cell.

In addition to being more readily available than lithium, magnesium has other advantages over the more established battery technology. Firstly, magnesium releases two electrons which is higher lithium’s one, thus giving it the potential to deliver nearly twice as much energy as lithium. And second, magnesium-metal batteries do not experience the growth of crystals that can cause short circuits and consequently dangerous overheating and even fire, making magnesium batteries much safer than lithium-ion batteries.

Renesas Develops RJ45 Ethernet Socket With Entire Ethernet Controller Embedded Into It

Renesas Electronics Corporation, a significant supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced its latest industrial Ethernet module solution, the I-RJ45. It combines a single- or dual-port RJ45 connector and simplifies integration for industrial Ethernet by supporting various industrial network applications including sensors and transmitters, gateways, operator terminals and remote I/O.

Renesas RJ45 Ethernet Module
Renesas RJ45 Ethernet Module

This new device is an intelligent RJ45 module that comes with specialized embedded software that supports multiple industrial Ethernet protocol stacks. The software package and sample codes provide system manufacturers with a complete set of tools and frameworks to build their application. This helps to prototype systems, reducing the time needed for industrial network protocol integration. The modules are 50 x 17.5 x 12mm (single) and 50 x 35 x 12mm (dual).

With a general Application Programmable Interface (API), the application can easily be connected to the protocol software. It offers a seamless integration path to other Renesas ASSP solutions. The single-port version of the RJ45 module is based on the RX64M microcontroller (MCU) Group and the dual-port module solution includes the R-IN32M3 industrial Ethernet communication chip.

Renesas also offers a solution kit version of the module that consists of a single or dual-port industrial Ethernet module attached to an adapter board for development. This adapter board enhances the module to connect with Arduino and Pmod interfaces, which enables it to connect to other Renesas MCU development boards including Renesas Synergy™ and RX. The Ethernet module solution kit also includes a quick start-up guide, a USB cable and a CD with software and documentation.

Samples of the I-RJ45 industrial Ethernet module solution are now available worldwide. The mass production is scheduled to begin in Q3, 2018. The industrial Ethernet module solution kit may be available in April 2018 and projected price of €299.00 per kit.

More information is available at the product page of Renesas.

Microchip’s New Open Source SAMA5D27 SOM Module Runs Mainline Linux

American microcontroller manufacturer company Microchip has unveiled an open source, mainline Linux ready “SAMA5D27 SOM” module. This module is based on a SiP implementation of its Cortex-A5-based SAMA5D27 SoC with 128MB RAM. The 40 x 38mm module is also compatible with a SOM1-EK1 dev board.

SAMA5D27 SOM1

SAMA5D27 SOM1
SAMA5D27 SOM1

The SAMA5D27 SOM is Microchip’s first computer-on-module based on a Linux-ready application processor, and the first SiP-based module built around a SAMA5 SoC. It is mainly designed for rugged IoT applications and the module can be soldered onto a baseboard for versatile ease of use. It offers long-term availability and supports industrial grade -40 to 85°C temperature range.

The SAMA5D27 SOM1 combines the RAM-ready SAMA5D27C-D1G SiP with 64Mb of non-volatile QSPI boot flash and a 10/100 Ethernet PHY.  The module also integrates a 2Kb EEPROM with pre-programmed MAC address. The SOM is further equipped with a PMIC and a 3.3V power supply. Typical power consumption ranges from 120mA to 160mA. There’s also a 60mA idle mode and an ultra-low 30mA mode.

This module has 128 GPIO pins including 2x USB 2.0 host, one USB device, and 2x SD/MMC interfaces with eMMC 4.51 support. There is also support for 10x UART, 7x SPI, 2x CAN, camera and audio interfaces, and much more.

Like the Xplained boards, the module is open source, from the mainline Linux support to the posting of open schematics, design, Gerber, and BoM files for both the SOM and the optional SOM1-EK1 development board.

SAMA5D2 SiP

SAMA5D2 SiP
SAMA5D2 SiP

The newly launched SAMA5D2 SiP is built around the Microchip SAMA5D2. The FreeRTOS-focused 128MB version uses a lower-end SAM5D22 model limited to 16-bit DDR2 RAM while the Linux-ready 512MB and 1GB versions use the higher end SAMA5D27 and SAMA5D28, respectively, with 16/32-bit DDR. All the models are renowned for offering CAN support, and because the SAMA5D28 also adds security features, it’s the only one that is pre-certified for PCI Security.

The SAMA5D has fewer I/O pins and slower performance (166-500MHz) compared to the earlier, 600MHz SAMA5D4, but the power consumption is significantly lower. The SAMA5D2 SoC can run at less than 150mW in active mode at 500MHz with all peripherals activated, and at less than 0.5mW in low power mode with SRAM and registers retention.

SOM1-EK1 development board

SOM1-EK1 Development Board
SOM1-EK1 Development Board

The SAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 development kit is built around a baseboard with a soldered SAMA5D27-SOM1 module with the 128MB (1Gb) configuration. This board is enhanced with SD and microSD slots, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port, a micro-USB host port, and a micro-USB device port with power input.

Additional I/O option for this dev board includes USB HSIC, CAN, JLINK, and JTAG interfaces. There’s a tamper connector, 4x push buttons, an LED, supercapacitor backup, and an ATECC508 CryptoAuthentication device. A Linux4SAM BSP is available with Linux kernel and drivers.

The ATSAMA5D27-SOM1 is available for $39, and the ATSAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 development board is available for $245 each. The ATSAMA5D2 SiP starts at for $8.62 each. More information may be found in Microchip’s SAMA5D2 SiP and SOM announcement and launch page, which points to SOM and SiP pages, as well as the SAMA5D27-SOM1-EK1 dev board page.