Sensor board for micro:bit

The MonkMakes Sensor Board for micro:bit allows you to sense sound level, temperature and light level.


  • 3V and GND connections can be made from either side and allow you to power a second board such as the MonkMakes Relay Board or MonkMakes Speaker.
  • LED ‘power on’ indicator
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • All three sensors are analog and can be connected to pins P0, P1 and P2 using alligator clips.

Sensor board for micro:bit – [Link]

SprintIR6S, World’s Fastest NDIR CO2 Sensor

Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS) Ltd is a designer and manufacturer of low power, high speed Non-Dispersive Infrared (NDIR) carbon dioxide gas sensors. Recently, it has claimed a new speed record for its SprintIR6S NDIR CO2 sensor.

The new sensor comes with response rates that had never been reached before by any other NDIR CO2 sensors. It can take up to 20 readings per second, and has a six-times faster response rate than the current SprintIR.

According to Ralph Weir, GSS’ CEO, the sensor uses LEDs and photodiodes to measure differential light absorption between light at 4.2 and 4.4 μm. So, they succeeded to develop ultra-speed sensor, while other detectors take several seconds or even minutes to take a reading.

“Our LEDs, by contrast, are Solid State emitters, and illuminate almost instantly. With the new SprintIR6S, we’ve also minimised the sample volume down to only 2ml, which enables us to achieve our fastest ever response rates.”
~ Ralph Weir

The SprintIR6S is less than a cubic inch in dimension with 23.8mm in diameter and 24mm tall. It operates at a range between 3.25V and 5.5V and consumes only 35mW. SprintIR6S is also available in measurements ranges from 0% to 100%.

Main Specifications of SprintIR6S

  • Warm-up Time: < 30 seconds
  • Operating Conditions:
    • 0°C to 50°C (Standard)
    • 0 to 95% RH, non-condensing
  • Recommended Storage: -30°C to +70°C
  • Sensing Method:
    • Non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) absorption
    • Patented Gold-plated optics
    • Solid-state source and detector
  • Sample Method: Flow through
  • Measurement Range: 0-5%, 0-20%, 0-100%
  • Accuracy: ±70 ppm +/- 5% of reading (100% Range ±300 ppm +/-5% of reading)
  • Non Linearity: < 1% of FS
  • Pressure Dependence: 0.13% of reading per mm Hg in normal atmospheric conditions
  • Operating Pressure Range: Atmospheric pressure range. Lower and higher pressures require more advanced pressure compensation.
  • Response Time: Flow Rate Dependent – see graph below. Response time also depends on user configurable digital filter settings.
  • Power Input:
    • 3.25 to 5.5V. (3.3V recommended).
    • Peak Current 33mA.
    • Average Current <12mA.

Applications of SprintIR6S are those which require capture of rapidly changing CO2 concentrations. Such as capnography, fitness testing, metabolic assessment, sports science, veterinary medicine, bio-medical, and incubators.

For more information and detailed specification, you can download the datasheet, or contact GSS to order or for more information.

2018 Will Mark A Milestone in GPS Technology with 30-centimeter Accuracy

You’re in a crowded street with many high buildings around you and you find your car position on Google maps is wrong. That’s usual, right? This is caused from (fake/distorted) GPS signals reflected from the high buildings around you which make your GPS receiver do some wrong calculations. So be careful don’t always listen to what GPS assistant says!


Even with no wrong calculations, the current GPS accuracy is about 5 meters, but this is going to change in next year 2018; where, a new set of satellites with enhanced GPS signals will be available for public use.

The enhanced GPS signal can make the GPS receivers do position calculations with 30-centimeter accuracy instead of today’s 5 meters. Moreover, it solves the problem of reflections inside crowded area with buildings with narrow window to the sky.

The global navigation satellite systems: Europe’s Galileo, Russia’s Glonass, China’s Beidou and US’s GPS transmits information about its position, the current time and more. The receiver, then, uses these signals to calculate the distance from each satellite based on how long the messages took to arrive. However, knowing the distance from 3 satellites is enough to calculate the position using geometric process called trilateration. This message broadcasted by a satellite called L1 signal. where, L band is a range of frequencies from 1 to 2 gigahertz.

To know more about navigation message data structure on L1, read this guide (page 19).

How trilateration works in GPS
How trilateration works. Image Courtesy of Tim Gunther, National Geographic

The next generation set of satellite will broadcast, in addition to L1 signal, a higher frequency signal called L5; where, GPS signal carriers are in the L band and are centered at 1176.45 MHz for L5 and 1575.42 MHz for L1. The following image is going to explain why the new signal can solve the old problem of reflections.

How L5 GPS signal helps
Image Courtesy of Broadcom

Silicon chips market and specifically Broadcom provides BCM47755, the first chipBCM47755 that support the new generation GPS. However, BCM47755 seems interesting not only as a GPS receiver only but also as a sensors hub, where the new chip has 2 cores inside, ARM-based 32-bit Cortex-M4F (CM4), an ARM-based Cortex-M0 (CM0), to implement the ARM big.LITTLE architecture which considered as a new battery-saving method consist of slow processor cores (LITTLE) with relatively more powerful and power-hungry ones (big).

BCM47755 supports GPS,GLONASS, BeiDou (BDS), Galileo(GAL), and SBAS satellite systems and has an operating frequency 150 MHz for Cortex-M4F and 75 MHz for Cortex-M0 CPU. Regarding the peripherals, the new chip provides a set of features like any other off-the-shelf MCU:

  • Up to 50 programmable GPIOs.
  • 2 channel ADC with 12 bit resolution.
  • Flexible interfaces including:  3 SPI ports, four UART ports and four I2C ports.
  • 4 different timers.

Finally, the new chip is available in 77-pin WLBGA package.

To read more about the new GPS generation, check IEEE’s report.

50V – 10A Bidirectional DC Motor Driver Using A3941

This tiny board designed to drive bidirectional DC brushed motor of large current. DC supply is up to 50V DC. A3941 gate driver IC and 4X N Channel Mosfet IRLR024 used as H-Bridge. The project can handle a load up to 10Amps. Screw terminals provided to connect load and load supply, 9 Pin header connector provided for easy interface with micro-controller. On board shunt resistor provides current feedback.

The A3941 is a full-bridge controller for use with external N-channel power MOSFETs and is specifically designed for automotive applications with high-power inductive loads, such as brush DC motors. A unique charge pump regulator provides full (>10 V) gate drive for battery voltages down to 7 V and allows the A3941 to operate with a reduced gate drive, down to 5.5 V. A bootstrap capacitor is used to provide the above-battery supply voltage required for N-channel MOSFETs. An internal charge pump for the high-side drive allows DC (100% duty cycle) operation.

50V – 10A Bidirectional DC Motor Driver Using A3941 – [Link]

IoT Projects Is Now Easier With Bolt IoT Platform

Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important technologies these days. It became an essential component of many hardware projects core. And in order to make it easier for developers, Bolt IoT platform appeared as a complete solution for IoT projects.

Bolt is a combination of hardware and cloud service that allow users control their devices and collect data in safe and secure methods. It also can give actionable insights using machine learning algorithms with just some few clicks.

The platform consists of three main components, Bolt hardware module, Bolt cloud, and analytics. The hardware module is a WiFi chip with a built-in 80 MHz 32-bit RISC CPU that operates at 3.3v. It also works as an interface for a set of sensors and actuators through GPIO and UART pins to collect data and react with it.

Bolt Hardware

The next part is Bolt cloud which used mainly for configuring, monitoring, and controlling connected devices. It is a visual interface enables users to setup hardware and prepare the system easily and quickly. In addition, there is a code editor to write and edit codes for the hardware. The special feature is that you can reprogram the system remotely!

Finally, the analysis and monitoring unit provide visualized insights based on machine learning algorithms. The collected data are stored securely on the cloud, and the reports are presented as graphs, charts, or any customized visualization.

Bolt IoT Platform Features

  • A Wifi or a GSM chip
    An easy interface to quickly connect your hardware to cloud over GPIO, UART, and ADC. Also, connects to MODBUS, I2C, and SPI with an additional converter.
  • Robust Communication
    Bolt is equipped with industry standard protocols to ensure a Secure and fast communication of your device data with cloud.
  • Security
    Bolt has built-in safeguards to secure all user data from unwanted third party intrusions and hacks.
  • Machine Learning
    Deploy machine learning algorithms with just a few clicks to detect anomalies as well as predict sensor values.
  • Alerts
    Utilize Bolt’s quick alert system providing invaluable information sent directly to your phone or Email. You can config the contact details and set the threshold.
  • Mobile App Ready
    Customize and control your devices through Mobile apps. Bolt gives you full freedom to design your own mobile app centered around your requirements to monitor and control.
  • Global Infrastructure and Easy Scalability
    Bolt lets you scale from prototype to millions of devices in just a few weeks time.
  • Over the air updates
    Simultaneously program or update all your Bolt powered IoT devices wherever they are. Bolt offers you unparalleled scalability and elasticity to help your business grow.

The scope of applications that may benefit from using Bolt is very wide, including environmental applications, smart cities, electricity management, and much more. Bolt is available for ordering in two packages, the first is for developers and the other is for enterprises. Developers option contains one Bolt unit with three free months of cloud services, and its cost is about $75.

At last, Bolt makers are launching a Kickstarter campaign on the 3rd of November 2017. If you are interested and want to know more about this platform, take a look at the official website and read this detailed features document.

Grid-connected solar microinverter reference design

A PDF from Microchip on the theory behind inverter design connected to grip power.:

There are two main requirements for solar inverter systems: harvest available energy from the PV panel and inject a sinusoidal current into the grid in phase with the grid voltage. In order to harvest the energy out of the PV panel, a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) algorithm is required. This algorithm determines the maximum amount of power available from the PV module at any given time. Interfacing to the grid requires solar inverter systems to abide by certain standards given by utility companies. These standards, such as EN61000-3-2, IEEE1547 and the U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC) 690, deal with power quality, safety, grounding and detection of islanding conditions.

Grid-connected solar microinverter reference design – [Link]

uBoost Single AA to 3.3v 100mA Power Supply

µBoost is a Single AA powered, 3.3v 100mA power source and flashlight and it can run low power devices.

µBoost is small, portable, 3.3v 100mA power source for low power devices like Arduino Mini. It has white power LED and can usable as flashlight. Also it has “Battery OK” indicator that asserts when the battery voltage drops below 0.9v.

There is a 3mm hole on top, so you can hang it easily. You can simply turn it on/off by pressing the power button. It works as flip-flop.

uBoost Single AA to 3.3v 100mA Power Supply – [Link]

Open Radiation Detector

Quickly identify radioactive materials with a pocket-sized ion chamber. Built from standard parts for easy manufacture and low cost. by Carlos Garcia Saura:

Radioactivity is invisible and can be harmful to life. The goal of this project is to provide a simple device that could prevent cases of radiation poisoning. Professional radiation meters can be very accurate, but are also expensive, complex and fragile (most use vacuum discharge tubes made of glass). However in many occasions we only want to determine whether an object is radioactive or not.

Open Radiation Detector – [Link]

Da Vinci Color, The First Full Color 3D Printer

3D Printing became an important process in prototyping, and sometimes in manufacturing. But till now, the filament types available in the market are limiting printing colors. Although there are many multi color printers, printing a design in full color is still a dream.

XYZprinting has announced its da Vinci Color printer, the world’s first full color 3D printer. In fact, the printer combines inkjet techniques with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). It uses ink cartridges to drop pigment onto each layer of plastic filament as it prints.

da Vinci Color Specification

  • Build volume: 200 x 200 x 150 mm
  • Layer resolution: 100-400 microns (0.1-0.4 mm)
  • Filament material: 3D Color-inkjet PLA / PLA / Tough PLA / PETG
  • Ink type: Separate ink cartridge (CMYK)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm
  • Print bed: EZ-removable print bed (non-heated)
  • Print bed leveling: Auto-leveling
  • XYZ position precision: X/Y 12.5 micron, Z 4 micron
  • Build speed: Average: 30-60 mm/sec, Max: 120mm /sec
  • Print head travel speed: 30 – 300 mm/s
  • Host software: XYZmaker
  • File type: AMF, PLY, OBJ, STL, 3CP
  • Power requirements: 100-240 V, 50-60 HZ
  • Connectivity: WiFi, USB 2.0 port
  • Operating temperature: 15-30℃

Fortunately, the printing base area of ​​20 x 20 x 15 cm provides a large build volume in a relatively small housing. The machine prints at an average resolution of 100-400 microns, so the lines where two colors meet can get a little blurry when viewed up close, but the output is generally pretty impressive. It’s basically an ink jet printer that outputs in 3D, so the results aren’t quite as sharp as a professional production job.

In addition, the software is easy to use and supports most common 3D file formats, amf, ply, obj, stl, and 3cp. Users of any age can download designs and add colors, or create their own colored prototypes from scratch. Thus, with an embedded color touch screen, users can control the printer and do some setting easily, such as connecting to the home wireless network. Also, da Vinci Color has many sensors that indicate broken material during the printing process, allowing users to save time and filament.

Applications of da Vinci Color printer

This types of 3D printer may have a several areas of applications, some of them according to the manufacturer are:

  • Animation and film: Enables production of prototypes in color that can be used immediately after printing
  • Architects and designers: The production of solid models, miniatures and prototypes provides customers with a better appreciation of design concepts.
  • Small businesses: The 3D printer helps to create your own company models and products with 3D full-color printing. Color printing reduces costs and speeds up production. The use of PLA filaments ensures that time and money is not wasted on post-processing.
  • Schools: Enables color printing by students in 3D, let their creativity run wild.
  • Model makers and collectors: All types of model figures and accessories can be produced including comic book figures rendered in authentic colors. You can also print the original designs.

The printer price is $3,500. But it is available now for pre-ordering for only $3,000 on XYZ official store, with estimated shipping date at the end of November. Beyond that, you have to buy four ink cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) for $65 each, and you need a special filament that works with the ink, which costs $35 per roll.

Making AI Projects Become Easier With NVIDIA Jetson

Hardware development boards became a key enabler for many of recent hardware projects. Such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi, these boards are great for beginners and hobbyists to kick start and bring ideas to reality.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are the technologies of the future. So it is important to know how the process goes, and what type of hardware to use. But with the limited computing capabilities of current boards, developers need a powerful and easy to use tools.

Nvidia provides a good solution with its Jetson boards, which are siblings to NVIDIA’s Drive PX boards for autonomous driving. The first board TX1 was released in November, 2015, and now Nvidia has just released the more powerful and power-efficient Jetson TX2 board.

Image credit: Android central

The TX2 is a complete supercomputer. It is a development tool and a field-ready module to power any AI-based equipment. Developers can use it to build equipment around, and also use it itself to run demos and simulations.

Jetson TX2 comes with NVIDIA’s Pascal™ architecture, which boasts 150 billion transistors built on 16 nanometer FinFET fabrication technology.

Some of technical specifications

  • NVIDIA Parker series Tegra X2: 256-core Pascal GPU and two 64-bit Denver CPU cores paired with four Cortex-A57 CPUs in an HMP configuration
  • 8GB of 128-bit LPDDR4 RAM
  • 32GB eMMC 5.1 onboard storage
  • 802.11b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • SD card slot for external storage
  • SATA 2.0
  • Complete multi-channel PMIC
  • 400 pin high-speed and low-speed industry standard I/O connector
Nvidia Jetson TX1 and TX2 comparision

TX2 has two performance operating modes: Max-Q and Max-P. Max-Q is the TX2’s energy efficiency mode, at 7.5W, this mode clocks the Parker SoC for efficiency over performance (essentially placing it right before the bend in the power/performance curve) with NVIDIA claiming that this mode offers 2x the energy efficiency of the Jetson TX1. In this mode, TX2 should have similar performance to TX1 in the latter’s max performance mode.

Meanwhile the board’s Max-P mode is its maximum performance mode. In this mode NVIDIA sets the board TDP to 15W, allowing the TX2 to hit higher performance at the cost of some energy efficiency. NVIDIA claims that Max-P offers up to 2x the performance of the Jetson TX1, though as GPU clock speeds aren’t double TX1’s, it’s going to be a bit more sensitive on an application-by-application basis.

Image credit: anandtech

Devices such as robots, drones, 360 cameras, medical, etc., can use Jetson for “edge” machine learning. The ability to process data locally and with limited power is useful when connectivity bandwidth is limited or spotty (like in remote locations), latency is critical (real-time control), or where privacy and security is a concern.

Jetson TX2 is available as a developer kit for $500 at In fact, this kit comes with design guides and documentation, and is pre-flashed with a Linux development environment. It also supports the NVIDIA Jetpack SDK, which includes the BSP, libraries for deep learning, computer vision, GPU computing, multimedia processing, and more.

Finally, this video compares Jetson TX1 and TX2 boards: