High Efficiency MPPT Solar Charger

A 75 watt MPPT Solar Charger with tons of features. Efficiency > 97%, USB interface, data logging, 2 USB charging ports and much more…by Lukas Fässler

This is an open source project that I’ve been working on for several years now. From its modest beginnings it has evolved to a rather sophisticated device with a USB interface, powerful USB charging ports, a 20×4 character LCD, a rotary encoder with push button, precision measurement of everything from temperatures, voltages and currents. There are 4 switchable power outputs, a year’s worth of data logging with real time clock and calendar. It connects to a desktop app via USB where users can monitor and adjust every aspect as well as see what the charger did while they were away.

High Efficiency MPPT Solar Charger – [Link]

AAEON’s Intel Core-Powered PICO-KBU4 will Help Your Applications Take Flight

(Taipei, Taiwan – June 19, 2018) – AAEON, a leading developer of embedded controllers, announces the launch of the PICO-KBU4, a rugged and expandable compact SBC with the capacity to revolutionize the field of robotics and open up the drone market for x86 embedded controllers.

Fitted with a 7th Generation Intel® Core™ i processor (formerly Kaby Lake) and featuring up to 16GB DDR4 SODIMM memory, the PICO-KBU4 has the computing power to handle applications previously only possible with much larger motherboards. Its market-leading pair of GbE LAN ports enable the use of two HD cameras, and with its GPIO, two COM ports, two USB3.0 ports, and two USB2.0 pin headers, it can connect to and control a range of sensors.

The PICO-KBU4’s compact, lightweight specifications are an obvious advantage with drones, robotics, and even conventional, factory machine vision systems. The board can be used in spaces once considered too small to house a powerful embedded controller, and its low power-consumption figures are an additional benefit with battery-reliant drones.

A 0oC~60oC operating temperature range, HDMI and LVDS ports, SATA slot, and M.2 B and E keys for extra storage and WiFi / Bluetooth connectivity make this an extremely flexible SBC, and customers can expand the already impressive IO interface by adding a custom-made daughter board via an optional board-to-board interface.

“This board’s combination of high-performance computing with a small form factor mean it will be the future of not only factory automation systems, but also robotics, and advanced drones,” said Jones Huang, AAEON embedded computing division product manager. “Any drone equipped with a PICO-KBU4 will be able to stay in the air for a long time, and that will make it a powerful surveillance tool or air quality monitor.”

The Internet of Arduino Challenge – Build an IoT Arduino Powered Product and you could win up to $50,000

The Arduino has been the number one development board for hackers, hobbyists, engineers and even product designers for a while. The Arduino Movement has powered a powerful maker’s community where anyone that can think of an idea can quickly make it happen, and this has birthed several Arduino powered products.

The Internet of Things is steadily becoming the talk of the day with several millions of devices getting connected every hour. The Internet of Things is expected to disrupt our everyday lives by giving us more insight into our daily data thereby improving our lives. Imagine giving cars the ability to detect portholes on the road when driving; this data can be collected, aggregated and possibly predict the likelihood of a road accident (due to bad roads), traffic congestion, and also the overall state of the road. If this information is given to the right body, they can know what roads they should focus their resources on.

To give people the chance to build an IoT focus product, the Arduino movement has released several IoT focused boards like the Arduino MKR 1000, Arduino Yun, Arduino Vidor 4000, Arduino Industrial 101, Arduino Plus Esp8266, and several others. You can find more Arduino IoT boards here. Now, the Arduino Movement in partnership with the electronics supplier Arrow and Indiegogo wants to give more power to the maker’s community by creating an Internet of Arduino Challenge where winners can go and win up to $50,000 in funding.

The contest is all about creating an IoT product that is powered by an Arduino board. The possibilities are endless with Arduino. Pair that with the engineering and production resources from the Arrow Certification Program, and you can have the next successful Indiegogo campaign. Submit your design now for a chance to win $50,000 in funding. Entries opened May 12th, 2018, and ends August 31st, 2018.

The IoT revolution is beginning, and it will change the way we think and work. In fact, many of the mindless activities we perform on a daily or weekly basis can go away entirely, leaving us more time to read, play with the kids or go on that nice long weekend ride. It will also advance every company in the world. Companies must begin a digital transformation, or they might go out of business. Even if you don’t win the challenge, you will never lose because, in this developing IoT Industry, there is never a loser.

We are on the cusp of a new revolution. It will be very similar to when the internet began to take shape in the early 2000s. Many companies weren’t quite prepared. Some fought the revolution. Some ignored it. Those companies are no longer.

Linux Powered Apalis iMX8 SoM Built On NXP’s QuadMax

Toradex, a Swiss embedded technology firm announced the world’s first embedded board built on NXP’s i.MX8M QuadMax back in Mar. 2017. Recently, Toradex has opened early access for selected customers to the SODIMM-style Apalis iMX8 module. A sign-up form offers the potential for newcomers to get an early look.

Apalis iMX8 module
Apalis iMX8 module

This new Linux powered, wireless-enabled Apalis iMX8 uses the QuadMax, which is the most powerful i.MX8 Quad model. Like the Quad and QuadPlus, it offers 4x 1.26GHz Cortex-A53 cores, 2x 266MHz Cortex-M4F cores for real-time processing, one or two Vivante GC7000LiteXS/VX GPUs, and a HIFI4 DSP. The QuadPlus adds a 1.6GHz Cortex-A72 core, and the Apalis i.MX8’s QuadMax provides two -A72 cores. The module supports up to 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM.

The Cortex-A cores run a Yocto Project based Linux distribution provided via a BSP (Board Support Package). The M4F MCU cores run FreeRTOS which is also provided by the same BSP. With its dual GPUs, the Apalis iMX8 supports multiple-screen automotive installations. However, the module is designed for a broader range of cutting-edge computer vision systems, as well as signal processing and HMI applications. The module offers onboard, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and the dual-mode Bluetooth module is said to be Bluetooth 5.0 ready.

The module is equipped with 2x PCIe Gen 3 interfaces, 3x CAN, 4x SPI, 7x UART, and 8x analog inputs. The I2C count has increased to 7x, and the PWM count has advanced to 6x. You also get an IrDA connection, up to 133 GPIOs, and 8- and 4-bit SDIO/SD/MMC interfaces. The Apalis iMX8’s SATA interface has moved from SATA II to III. As before, there’s a GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) controller with a second RGMII. You get a USB 3.0 host interface, and 3x USB 2.0 host ports, one of which is OTG.

The module provides a quad-lane MIPI-DSI interface and offers an HDMI 2.0a interface for up to 4K UHD 2160p. There’s also a single/dual-channel LVDS interface with up to 1920 x 1200 x 24bpp resolution and 4-wire resistive touch. One new feature is a choice of DisplayPort 1.3 or eDP 1.4.  An optional 5MP camera module is supported by dual quad-lane MIPI-CSI interfaces. Analog audio I/O includes a stereo line in, mono mic in, and stereo headphone out interfaces.

Apalis iMX8 carrier boards: Apalis Evaluation Board
Apalis iMX8 carrier boards: Apalis Evaluation Board

The Apalis i.MX8 offers the same two carrier board options provided for the Apalis TK1: a 250 x 250mm Apalis Evaluation Board, as well as a less feature-rich, 125 x 90mm Ixora Carrier Board. The boards have real-time clocks and 7-27V DC input support. The Apalis i.MX8 appears to be ready to ship soon to qualified early access providers. You can sign up to apply for early access on the Apalis i.MX8 product page.

Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier is an AI Computer boasting a $10,000 Worth Of Power For Your Machines and Robots

NVIDIA Jetson Xavier is the latest addition to the Jetson platform. It’s an AI computer for autonomous machines, delivering the performance of a GPU workstation in an embedded module for a consumption under 30W. With multiple operating modes at 10W, 15W, and 30W, Jetson Xavier has greater than 10x the energy efficiency and more than 20x the performance of its predecessor, the Jetson TX2.

Nvidia Jetson Xavier Computer On Module
Nvidia Jetson Xavier CoM

Jetson is a product of Nvidia (Nvidia Jetson) and one of the most powerful embedded platforms for computer vision applications and AI on edge. The Jetson platform is a range of computation processor boards which consists of the Jetson TK1, TX1, and TX2. They’re powered by a Nvidia Tegra which utilizes the ARM Central Processing Unit (CPU). Various operating systems can run on them, such as Linux distros and QNX which is a commercial Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) designed primarily for embedded systems. Nvidia is adding now a new more powerful member to the Jetson Platform.

Nvidia is very excited to announce the release of Jetson Xavier, an Artificial Intelligence computer that works with autonomous machines giving off a GPU workstation in an embedded module and now available in a Jetson Xavier Developer Kit $1299 (USD). It has a super high performance of close to 30 trillion operations per second (TOPS).

The Nvidia Jetson Xavier Developer Kit
Jetson Xavier Developer Kit

Jetson Xavier is designed for robots, drones and other autonomous machines that need maximum compute at the edge to run modern AI workloads and solve problems in manufacturing, logistics, retail, service, agriculture and more. Jetson Xavier is also suitable for smart city applications and portable medical devices. Launched at Computex 2018 in Taiwan by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, the Nvidia Isaac Platform includes new hardware, software, and a virtual-world robot simulator that makes it easy for developers to create new kinds of robots.

Jensen Huang said at Nvidia’s Monday press conference at Computex in Taiwan,

This is the single longest processor project we have ever done in our company, Xavier has roughly the same processing power as a $10,000 workstation equipped with a graphics processing units. Plus, it’s easy on the power consumption, he added.

Jetson Xavier is capable of more than 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) for deep learning and computer vision tasks. The 512-core Volta GPU with support for Tensor Cores and mixed-precision compute is capable of up to 10 TFLOPS FP16 and 20 TOPS INT8. Jetson Xavier’s dual NVDLA engines are capable of up to 5 TOPS each. It also has high-performance eight-core ARM64 CPU, a dedicated image processor, a video processor and a vision processor for accelerating computer vision tasks.

It also announced an “Isaac” software development platform for robots and other autonomous machines that run on its Linux-friendly octa-core “Jetson Xavier” module. The NVIDIA Isaac Software Development Kit (SDK) gives you a comprehensive set of frameworks, tools, APIs, and libraries to accelerate development of robotics algorithms and software.

The Isaac robotics software consists of:

  • Isaac SDK — a collection of APIs and tools to develop robotics algorithm software and runtime framework with fully accelerated libraries
  • Isaac IMX — Isaac Intelligent Machine Acceleration applications, a collection of NVIDIA-developed robotics algorithm software
  • Isaac Sim — a highly realistic virtual simulation environment for developers to train autonomous machines and perform hardware-in-the-loop testing with Jetson Xavier

The Jetson Xavier Developer Kit will be available for early access in August and open to the public in October. Developers using a Jetson TX2 or TX1 to develop autonomous machines using the JetPack SDK can sign up to be notified when they can apply for early access by completing a survey. More information may be found in the Xavier product page.

PCBWay 2nd Edition of PCB Design Competition – The Pride Of A Maker

Everyone has been waiting on their toes for the commencement of the PCBWay design contest. As of June 11, information was shared on the competition’s official website that the contest would start soon. This means it is time to get ready with some awesome PCB designs and win fabulous prizes.

This is the second edition of the competition, and the primary goal is to discover hidden gems in the electronics engineering field. The competition is being organized by PCBWay, SpainLabs, YoREPARO, and lastly ATMakers. They are collaborating to create an avenue for talented electronic engineers to generate revenue.

The competition has three award categories which are:

  • The BEST Design Award,
  • The Most Popular Design Award,
  • The ATMaker Award.

THE BEST DESIGN AWARD

1st Prize: $1000 in cash + $100 in coupons+ 10000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
2nd Prize: $500 in cash + $50 in coupons+ 5000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
3rd Prize: $200 in cash + $20 in coupons+ 2000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors

THE MOST POPULAR DESIGN AWARD

1st Prize: $1000 in cash + $100 in coupons+ 10000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
2nd Prize: $500 in cash + $50 in coupons+ 5000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors
3rd Prize: $200 in cash + $20 in coupons+ 2000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors.

ATMaker Award

This is a special prize for a person that excels in assistive technology. The price awards a lavishing $1000 in cash + $100 in coupons+ 10000 PCBWay Beans+ Certificate of Awards & Honors.

Unlike the last contest which was the maiden edition, professionals such as Mitch Athman, Bill Binko, Carlos Navas and the likes have been contacted and will be judges for the competition. These are experts plus several others that have been gotten so that there will be a fair selection process.

  • For “The Best Designs” Awards, winners will be decided by four electronics engineers from SpainLabs, ATMakers, Cornfield Electronics, and PCBWay.
  • For “The Most Popular Designs” Awards, winners will be chosen according to the number of Vote score, Likes, Shares, Gerber Download Orders. There’s a formula that includes every factor on a weighted calculation of the result.
  • For “AT Maker Prize” Award, one winner will be chosen by Bill Binko, founder of ATMakers. His judging would not only be on PCB design but how useful the design would be to the AT community.

There is no limit to the PCB design’s size, layers, theme, or even the quantity of entries. This means you can enter as many as you want to and there are no restrictions about what you will be entering the competition. Size does not matter. Deadline for submission is the 12th of December, and if you’re interested, all you have to do is to click here to get to the official website and get started.

PCBWay Beans” can be used to redeem gifts. Its property comes from “PCBWay Points.” But when you redeem the gift, it will subtract the corresponding value.

How To Get Started With The Competition

  1. Start PCB Specification Selection on “ Instant Quote” page and then add to cart.
  2. Attach the Gerber Files and submit.
  3. Share your project by click “Share & Sell” button.
  4. Describe your PCB project and share with the Community (Add Keywords: PCB Design Contest, SpainLabs, Yoreparo, ATMakers )

More information about the contest can be found on official contest page here.

uArt- A small Solution For a Big Problem

Coming soon to Crowd Supply is the ultimate USB-UART converter. μArt is a device that offers safe and reliable USB-to UART conversion. The voltage levels, electric potentials, and communication speeds are no longer a concern, and it can be used for data exchange or for Programming Arduino or ESP. μArt was designed for enthusiasts and professionals and for users in general who want to save money, time, and hardware without compromising quality.

The device has the size of two coins and was designed to tolerate user’s mistakes without getting damaged or damaging the connected hardware.

The device features a working voltage of 1.8 to 5.4, up to 3 Mbaud transfer speed, complete galvanic isolation, reverse polarity protection, pullups on all inputs, voltage autosensing, cross platform support, GPIO pins, LEDs etc. The complete features can be found on this website.

All characteristics mentioned before make it perfect for working with computers, microcontrollers, FPGAs, and low power electronics. Also, it is fast enough for transferring high quality stereo audio.

The safety features protect your computer and other hardware, and it protects the device even if you mix up the power pins.

μArt also includes characteristics that make it more efficient. It helps avoid noise because of the filters and isolation and the converter will automatically use the correct voltage levels for UART communication.

Regarding design, the device its very user friendly and many features were added to avoid mistakes. For example, the four LEDs indicate power, RX/TX activity and feedback about the connected device, it also has readable labels which minimize user errors. It is compact and comes with a transparent case that give mechanical and electrical protection. Finally, μArt has cross platform support with drivers for Windows, Linux, MacOS etc.

All of this in a small device that provides reliable and safe functionality. The device will probably be a success when it launches in crowd supply, but we have yet to see how it performs and all the applications that it will have. There is still no date for the launch, but you can sign up to be notified when it does in the crowd supply website.

EMB-2610 Pico-ITX SBC Runs Linux and comes with Touch Panel

Ohio based company, Estone Technology (AKA Habey) has updated the product page for the new EMB-2610 Pico-ITX SBC. The EMB-2610 follows earlier Habey Pico-ITX SBCs such as last year’s i.MX6 UL powered EMB-2200 and i.MX6 based EMB-2230. This time Estone has used a 14nm Intel Atom SoC. Rather than going with Apollo Lake, they used the quad-core, 1.92GHz Atom x5-Z8350 from the Cherry Trail family that tried but failed to win market share in Android phones.

Estone EMB-2610 board
Estone EMB-2610 board

The Atom x5-Z8350 is the same SoC used by Aaeon’s UP Core. Like the UP Core, the 100 x 72mm, Pico-ITX form factor EMB-2610 supports Windows 10 and 10 IoT in addition to Android and various Linux distributions. The new EMB-2610 is available with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3L RAM and comes with a microSD slot and up to or 64GB NAND flash. WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity is available, as well as a GbE port with optional Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), enabled via an add-on board.

The EMB-2610 is further enhanced with a micro-HDMI port, as well as LVDS, eDP, or MIPI-DSI, all supported via a touch controller. There’s also an audio header and MIPI-CSI. USB 3.0 and 2.0 host ports are ready along with a micro-USB port, and there’s a smattering of serial, GPIO, and USB headers.

This board uses the same 40-pin expansion header found on the i.MX6-based EMB-2230. The connector, which supports optional Estone modules for 8x GPIO, front panel controls, PCIe, and PoE, is available with header specs and diagrams to make it easy to develop custom expansions. Although, the use of the connector PCIe disables the GbE port.

Specification summary for EMB-2610:

  • Processor : Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (4x Cherry Trail cores @ 1.44GHz / 1.84GHz burst); Intel HD 400 Graphics (200MHz/500MHz)
  • Memory & Storage:
    • 2GB or 4GB DDR3L
    • 32GB or 64GB NAND flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Wireless: WiFi/Bluetooth module
  • Networking: GbE port with optional PoE
  • Media I/O:
    • Micro-HDMI port at 1920 x 1080
    • 24-bit LVDS, eDP, or MIPI-DSI at 1920 x 1200
    • An I2C capacitive touch controller
    • MIPI-CSI
    • Audio header with line-out, mic-in, headphone, 10W speaker
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • USB 2.0 header
    • RS232
    • RS232/485 via terminal block
    • 4x GPIO
    • Micro-USB 2.0 port
    • RS232
    • RS232/485 via terminal block
    •  4x GPIO
    • 2x I2C (for TP and MIPI-CSI)
  • Expansion: 40-pin connector with PCIe x1, GPIO, front panel control, PoE input
  • Power: 12V/19V DC header or optional PoE
  • Operating temperature :  0 to 50°C
  • Dimensions : 100 x 72mm; Pico-ITX form factor
  • OS Support: Linux, Android 5.1, Windows 10 and 10 IoT

No pricing or availability information was provided for the EMB-2610 SBC. More information may be found on Estone Technology’s EMB-2610 product page.

FTDI USB-to-serial converters to drive SPI devices

Scott W Harden writes:

The FT232 USB-to-serial converter is one of the most commonly-used methods of adding USB functionality to small projects, but recently I found that these chips are capable of sending more than just serial signals. With some creative programming, individual output pins can be big-banged to emulate a clock, data, and chip select line to control SPI devices.
This post shares some of the techniques I use to bit-bang SPI with FTDI devices, and some of perks (and quirks) of using FTDI chips to bit-bang data from a USB port.

FTDI USB-to-serial converters to drive SPI devices – [Link]

SPIDriver – A better SPI Adapter

This moment in Crowd Supply you can find SPIDriver an intuitive tool for using SPI devices. The campaign that has already collected over $1000 of its $2700 goal, was designed to launch into the market a device to make our lives easier. It can be used with any SPI device such as LCD panels, flash memory, sensor LEDs etc. but what does it does exactly? The SPI driver shows you the SPI bus in real time, which is useful for debugging, testing, and calibrating.

It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it can be controlled via the command line, python 2 or 3, C and C++, or a GUI. It is easy to plug in and includes 3.3 and 5 v supply. The display shows you what it’s happening in real time and sustains SPI transfers at 500 kbps. Additionally, it measures only 61 mm x 49 mm x 6 mm. Also, it uses a FTDI USB serial chip to talk to the PC.

Some of the solutions used as an example in the Crowd Supply webpage are:

  • Driving, testing, and evaluating new displays. Using displays is often difficult and getting them to work can be hard, but this device makes it easy
  • Programming SPI flash. Reading and writing SPI flash in- circuit. For example, for Atmel´s flash, a short script is everything you need to read and write
  • Lightning up LED strips. SPIDriver makes using these devices fast and fun giving users the ability to rapidly test using its own power supply

Plus, the colors in the screen are the same colors as in the cables, so you can know exactly what you are seeing.

The PCB is being manufactured by JLCPCB in Shenzhen, and its assembled in Pescadero USA. The units are thoroughly tested and calibrated with 1% accuracy.

There are 28 days left on the campaign, and you can support it with $27, $57 or 69$ which will get you your own SPIDriver (and some other stuff depending on the amount you pledge). The company claims that they will start delivering rewards on August 24th.

This device was designed, so that you never have to ask yourself again “What’s it doing now?”, and its meant to be used by all kinds of people from total beginners to experts. The complete specifications can be found on this website which is also the place to back the project.