µduino, The Smallest Arduino Ever

A new member to Arduino compatible devices is just here, the newest yet the smallest Arduino ever created, µduino!Believing that it is enough to include some bulky devices in our applications, the team behind µduino is trying to provide a shrinkified device that can be included anywhere. With the size of  12mm (0.5 inches) x 12mm, µduino is considered the smallest Arduino compatible device that compete with other similar microcontroller boards with power saving .

The µduino makes use of the power of the ATMEGA32U4 chip found in the Arduino Leonardo (a board over 20 times larger), offering 20 I/O ports, including PWM and ADC ports! In addition, the µduino can be powered by batteries or directly by micro-USB.

A list of µduino specifications is here:

  • ATMEGA32U4 microcontroller
  • 6x Analog I/O ports
  • 14x Digital I/O ports (including Rx/Tx)
  • Status LED
  • 5V voltage regulator (accepts up to 16V DC)
  • 6-pin ICSP programming ports (load custom bootloaders, program other boards, etc)
  • 2x 5V ports
  • 2x ground ports
  • 1x Analog reference voltage port
  • Reset button
  • 16 MHz precision crystal oscillator
  • MicroUSB port for easy programming and prototyping
  • 2x mounting holes (can be sewn into clothing)

Despite its small size, µduino is still powerful and capable to be included in many applications performing as full size Arduino boards. µduino team are planning to run a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdSupply but it is not launched yet. You can sign up here to receive more updates about µduino once launched.

The First 3D Quantum Liquid Crystals

Strong electron interactions can drive metallic systems toward a variety of well-known symmetry-broken phases, but the instabilities of correlated metals with strong spin-orbit coupling have only recently begun to be explored.

A team of physicists at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech, had discovered an new state of matter that may have applications in ultra-fast quantum computers of the future. It is the first three-dimensional quantum liquid crystal.

“We have detected the existence of a fundamentally new state of matter that can be regarded as a quantum analog of a liquid crystal, There are numerous classes of such quantum liquid crystals that can, in principle, exist; therefore, our finding is likely the tip of an iceberg.” says Caltech assistant professor of physics David Hsieh, principal investigator on a new study describing the findings in the April 21 issue of Science.

Liquid crystals are materials that are between liquid and solid, they are consisted of molecules that flow around freely as if they were a liquid but are all oriented in the same direction, as in solid. An important feature of the liquid crystals that in addition to availability in the nature, they can be made artificially like those used in items that have display screens.

In 1999, the first quantum liquid crystal was discovered by Caltech’s Jim Eisenstein, the Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics and Applied Physics. It was a two-dimensional which means that it was limited with a single plane inside the host material. In a quantum liquid crystal, electrons behave like the molecules in classical liquid crystals. They move around freely in a preferred direction of flow.

These images show light patterns generated by a rhenium-based crystal using a laser method called optical second-harmonic rotational anisotropy. At left, the pattern comes from the atomic lattice of the crystal. At right, the crystal has become a 3-D quantum liquid crystal, showing a drastic departure from the pattern due to the atomic lattice alone.

The behavior of the electrons in the newly discovered 3D-variant are possibly even stranger. The electrons do not only distinguish between x-, y- and z-axis, but they also have different magnetic characteristics depending along which axis they move back and forth.

According to the researchers, the 3D quantum liquid crystals could play a role in a field called spintronics, where the spin direction of electrons can be utilized to create more efficient computer chips. It may also help with some of the challenges of building a quantum computer, which seeks to take advantage of the quantum nature of particles to make even faster calculations.

“Rather than rely on serendipity to find topological superconductors, we may now have a route to rationally creating them using 3-D quantum liquid crystals” says Harter. “That is next on our agenda.”

You can read more about this research through the published paper and by reading Caltech’s post.

Electrolytic + polymer = the hybrid capacitor

Electrolytic capacitor is often a common reason for device failure and replacement is necessary. But what if we could combine the benefits of electrolytics and polymer capacitors. Now you can have the best of both worlds: hybrid capacitors from have been designed to combine the advantages of electrolytic capacitors with those of solid polymer capacitors.

The supplier claims the use of hybrid technology offers low leakage current and long life in combination with low ESR (20 mΩ) in miniature case sizes. The EEH-ZE series (Type V-ZE) hybrid components offer a nominal capacitance range of 33 µF up to 330 µF, at voltage ranges from 25 VDC up to 63 VDC, and feature an operating temperature range of -55°C up to 145°C, as well low ESR and high ripple current. So think about using a hybrid capacitor in your next power converter input/output filter, voltage regulator, or clock circuit.

Electrolytic + polymer = the hybrid capacitor – [Link]

USB 3.0 NanoHub

Muxtronics @ tindie.com designed a USB 3.0 mini hub. Source files here:

Are you familiar with my NanoHubs? Tiny, penny-sized USB hubs you can use to add additional USB ports in incredibly cramped spaces, like hacking projects or mobile devices? Whereas the original NanoHubs were all USB 2.0, limited to 480Mbps, this new NanoHub allows for transfer speeds of up to 5.0Gbps, as well as up to 3.0A of power delivery. The cut-off connector boards allow you to test your application before soldering it into your product, reducing the size of the hub from 27x34mm (about 1.1×1.3″) to 20x20mm (4/5ths of an inch on each side), with an overall thickness of just 1.55mm (1/16″).

USB 3.0 NanoHub – [Link]

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ESP32 Monster board, Ether, CAN, OLED all in one

ESP32 monster board with Ether(LAN8720A), CAN bus(SN65HVD232DR), OLED(SH1106), Lipo-charger and FTDI interface @ tindie.com

ESP32 Monster board, Ether, CAN, OLED all in one – [Link]

Opensource USB HUB

Christian @ hackaday.io build his own USB Hub based on GL850G IC:

I was looking to make a custom USB Hub for a project but I couldnt find any of them that worked and using the chip GL850G. The chip is pretty old and cheap, but in my case I didnt need to use any of the fast transfering USB3, probably the next version can be based on this schematic.

Opensource USB HUB – [Link]

Store Data in Nanomagnets

Imagine if a bit of data can be stored in a single atom or a small molecule, then massive volumes of data can be stored in a tiny amount of space. This theory was the topic of a research tries to develop a new method to store data magnetically in atoms.

As the magnetization of an atom can only be in one of two directions, theoretically we can magnetize the atom to be logical ‘1’ or ‘0’. But in the Practical application, this may be difficult because of some obstacles. At first we have to find a molecule that stores the magnetic information permanently, not only for a short period of time. Also it is difficult to attach such molecules to a fixed surface in order to construct a storage medium.

Dysprosium atoms (green) on the surface of nanoparticles can be magnetised in only one of two possible directions: “spin up” or “spin down”. (Visualisations: ETH Zurich / Université de Rennes)

Christophe Copéret, a professor at the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry at ETH Zurich, and his international team of researchers had developed a method that could be a solution for these problems.

They developed a molecule that contains a dysprosium atom at its center, surrounded by a molecule frame that serves as a transport vehicle. This molecule is deposited on a surface of silica nanoparticles and fused by annealing at 400 degrees Celsius. The scientists showed that these atoms can be magnetized and can maintain their magnetic information.

The magnetization process currently only works at around minus 270 degree Celsius, and can be maintained for up to one and a half minute. The scientists are therefore looking for methods that allows it to be stabilized at higher temperatures and for longer periods of time.

Molecules with a dysprosium atom (blue) at their centre are first deposited onto the surface of a silica nanoparticle (red and orange) and then fused with it. (Visualisations: Allouche F et al. ACS Central Science 2017)

For this research project, ETH scientists worked with colleagues from the Universities of Lyon and Rennes, Collège de France in Paris, Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA.

You can find the full research here.

Pool Buddy – Monitor your pool water quality

Monitor and log water quality (pH & ORP) and temperature from everywhere.

Instead of performing regular checks with tester kits to maintain adequate pH and chloride levels in our (small) swimming pool, I decided to build a project that monitors the water continuously and registers the data online so I can easily inspect it.

Pool Buddy – Monitor your pool water quality – [Link]

AMY Robotics, Multifunctional Autonomous Mobile Robots

Earlier this month, the multifunctional autonomous mobile robots “AMY A1” and “AMY M1” had been launched as the first batch of products of AMY Robotics. Amy Robotics is an innovative technology company focusing on research and development of service robots that enhance quality of life with robotic technologies, products and services.

Both AMY Robots are intelligent mobile-service robots characterized with speech interaction, autonomous navigation, home automation, SDK and Cloud platform service that is powered by sophisticated AI technology and cloud computing. They can understand speech and make conversation with people in noisy environment, recognize specific people, follow a person in front of them and move to a place autonomously.

Features of AMY Robots:

  • Cloud Platform Service
    AMY Robots capabilities are empowered by cloud platform and can be upgraded and extended continuously.
  • SDK, Open platform for developers
    Android development environment access to robot hardware and capabilities. Amy can provide remote healthcare consultation service via telepresence, daily health tips, health data management, medicine reminder and more.
  • Home Automation
    Amy robots provide environment perception, security patrol and monitoring, and smart home management enabling you controlling home appliance with voice commands.
  • Autonomous Navigation
    Amy knows well at indoor positioning. She can move from a location to another autonomously and safely with obstacle avoidance.
  • Telepresence
    You can control the robot with video communication through Amy’s client application. It provides you boundless connection with your family, colleagues and friends through virtual presence at any time anywhere.
  • Speech Interaction
    Amy is powered by intelligent language processing engine which support multi-lingual speech interaction, far distance (5m range) recognition in noisy environment. Amy can help you access massive on-line knowledge base with speech. You can have hand-free robot operation (play music/video, take picture, set volume, robot movement control, intelligent reminder etc).

AMY A1 and AMY M1 are 1.1 meter robots weighted 15 kg with 10.1″ screen head and up-to 0.5 m/s moving speed. They are running based on 8-core ARM CPU+4 core Intel CPU using 20Ah 14.8V battery, which can last for 8 hours. With its 5 meters pick-up range microphone, AMY can be controlled using voice commands like “Hello Amy, follow me” and “Hello Amy, go to the kitchen with me”. However, The M1 has an additional laser sensor, wider detection range, higher localization accuracy, and supports function customization.

Amy A1 robot was presented at the Innorobo 2017 trade show in Paris. For more information and details visit their official website.

Bosch glue pen teardown

electrobob @ electrobob.com tipped us with his latest teardown of a battery powered Bosch glue pen. He writes:

On the right side we can see the fuse and a IRF3711Z 6mΩ 20V HEXFET driving the heating element. At the glue melting end there is no temperature sensor, they are probably relying on the positive thermal coefficient of the heating element to achieve a rather stable temperature, as the manual quotes “approximately 170 °C”. Also there is a step up converter – used to generate ~12 V to drive the gate of the tranzistor, to keep it in the low ohmic region.

Bosch glue pen teardown – [Link]