An interesting open source NFC project is seeking for funding on kickstarter.
MicroNFCBoard is an integrated development platform that makes it easy to use Near Field Communication or NFC (What is NFC? see below for more info). It contains a NFC transceiver, a microcontroller and all the software you need to use NFC.
It can be used with an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, mbed or PC/Mac. There is also a powerful ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller onboard so it can work on its own and you can connect a bunch of things to the board using its various peripherals.
MicroNFCBoard – Easy NFC for the Internet of Things - [Link]
by Henrik’s Blog @ hforsten.com:
All of the best integrated circuits today come in hard to solder BGA packages. Because BGA packages have connections under the chip soldering is harder and it needs to be done using a reflow oven or hot plate. Another problem is with designing the PCB, vias and traces need to be small enough to fit between the solder balls and there needs to be usually quite many layers in the board to make room for all the closely packed traces. This means that a cheap Chinese two layer board doesn’t have enough room and more layers are needed. Adding layers increases the cost of the board dramatically when ordering only a few copies.
Making embedded Linux computer - [Link]
Dan over at HackAday documented his single chip computer project with the PCBs from DirtyPCBs:
A single AVR microcontroller (the ATmega 1284P) has been used to create a standalone computer system which runs the BASIC programming language. The 1284P runs TinyBASIC Plus, generates RCA video signals (using TVout) and reads PS/2 keyboard input. A single sided PCB was used to hold all the components meaning it is easy to manufacture the computer at home using processes such as photo-etching. Additionally, the component count is fairly low and only one IC is required (the 1284P).
Single chip AVR BASIC computer - [Link]
Chris Holden of NerdClub shares his tips on how he successfully program an ATMega128:
Finally got an ATMega128 chip coded and programmed successfully. The great news is it doesn’t require Arduino. The even better news is, we can use Oshonsoft to write the code! Yay.
Programming an ATMega128 - [Link]
Michael Dunn @ edn.com writes:
Whether engineer, hobbyist, or maker, we’ve happily watched as chipmakers and third parties alike have come to their senses in recent years and cooked up a smorgasbord (smorgasboard?) of low-cost microcontroller devboards – in some cases, very low cost, like TI’s $4.30 MSP430 board. More recently, we’ve seen ARM Cortex kits for $10-$50, the flowering of the whole Arduino ecosystem, and of course, the Raspberry Pi, starting at $25. It’s microcontroller heaven.
Those of us wanting a cheap “in” to the FPGA world have been less lucky. But the times, they are a changin’. Many FPGA devkits, from both chipmakers and third parties, have broken – or downright shattered – the $100 barrier, opening the door to low-cost FPGA prototyping, education, hobby projects, and so on.
Follow me as I explore this brave new world of affordable FPGA learning and design. I’ve acquired a representative selection of bargain-priced boards, and will be reviewing each, not just on paper, but by actually creating projects with it.
FPGA boards under $100: Introduction - [Link]
Hydra-X is a development platform which is feature-rich, scalable, and easy to use.
The Hydra-X is based on the Power Application Controller (PAC)™ family of ICs. Hydra-X gives you the ability to execute your own code on a 32-bit ARM Cortex core, paralleled with analog resources such as multi-mode power manager (for AC-DC, DC-DC power management), configurable Analog Front-End (AFE), data converters (1 MHz 10-bit ADC, 2 precision DACs), 52 V, 72 V, 600 V gate drivers, and open drain drivers, to name a few.
With up to 14 PWM timing functions, you will find it hard to run out of timing resources. Fully configurable into PWM, input capture or output compare, these timers are expanded by a dead time generator block; extremely useful when driving external FETs in a half H-Bridge configuration and a dead time needs to be imposed in order to protect the design from shoot-through.
Hydra-X10 and Hydra-X20 by Active-Semi Inc. - [Link]
MSP430G2452 acting as a TMS0803 calculator chip. Emulates TI DataMath 2500II and Sinclair Scientific Calculators.
TMS0803/5 Emulating Calculator Build - [Link]
By Jon Gabay @ digikey.com:
Copper-based connectivity has served us well for a long time and will continue to do so in applications where it is effective from a performance and cost perspective. For very-high speed and/or long-distance signaling, however, the material cost and physical signal limitations of using metallic conductors has driven eyes to other transport mechanisms.
Fiber optics is not new, and the telecom industry has pushed development and deployment of fiber-optic transceivers and links so that they now span the globe. Very few of our designs have had the need to traverse long distances at such high speeds. Even fewer of us have had deep enough pockets to set up vast high-speed networks. On the other hand, engineers now are finding that local requirements are pushing the limits of metallic interconnects.
Microcontrollers and Fiber Optics - [Link]
by Shawon Shahryiar @ embedded-lab.com:
Okay firstly the reason I wrote about the clock system instead of I/O ports or something else in this second post of the XMega series is simply because of the fact that without understanding clock configurations you won’t get what you want from your chip. Since XMega’s clock system is software-level configurable and complex at first, it makes itself the first priority module before anything else.
XMega Clock System - [Link]
Anticipating the need for secure communications for the next level of device connectivity Microchip have integrated a complete hardware crypto engine into their PIC24F family of microcontrollers. Computers normally use software routines to carry out data encryption number crunching but for low power microcontrollers this method will generally use up too much of the processor’s resources and be too slow.
Microchip have integrated several security features into the PIC24F family of microcontrollers (identified by their ‘GB2’ suffix) to protect embedded data. The fully featured hardware crypto engine supports the AES, DES and 3DES standards to reduce software overheads, lower power consumption and enable faster throughput. A Random Number Generator is also implemented which can be used to create random keys for data encryption, decryption and authentication to provide a high level of security. For additional protection the One-Time-Programmable (OTP) key storage prevents the encryption key from being read or overwritten.
Microchip PICs with Integrated Crypto Engine - [Link]