Easy Motion and Gesture Detection by PIR Sensor & Arduino

Here we use PIR sensor and Arduino to detect the motion of a hand. This detection can be used to operate electronic equipment. By ElectroPeak @ hackster.io:

In this article, we’ll show you how to make a gesture detector by simple components like PIR sensor and Arduino Nano. At the end of this article you can:

  • Explain PIR sensor applications and how it works
  • Run an 8-Pixel PIR sensor named TPA81
  • Use PIR sensor to detect motion and gesture by Arduino
  • Make a cool detector to increase or decrease your speaker volume

Easy Motion and Gesture Detection by PIR Sensor & Arduino – [Link]

Rock960 SBC- A viable Competitor to Raspberry PI

The Rock960 SBC –  developed by Guangzhou based startup called Varms – is built on the hexa-core Rockchip RK3399 and it really stands out from other SBC contenders like the NanoPI M4 despite being a little pricy. The Rock960 is the only “96boards’s SBC” in the market that is built on the popular Rockchip hexa-core SoC and serves as a powerful alternative to Raspberry Pi. This SoC comes with dual Cortex-A72 and quad Cortex-A53 cores. It also comes with a Mail-T860 MP4 GPU which supports H.264 10bit and VP9 4k video and it is the highest performance GPU built on ARM famous Midgard Architecture. Regarding storage, it comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC or 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC.

The Rock960 also supports various open source operating systems such as Android 7.1 AOSP, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, LibreELEC, Lakka and FlintOS. Schematics and other hardware files are posted on the community website which also says it supports Yocto and Armbian.

Despite being one of its kind, it comes with its own challenges. One of the challenges is that the board’s M.2 expansion slot is not in a good position to mount NVMe SSD – says Varms –  but the company has provided an optional M.2 Extend board which does not affects the performance of the NVMe SSD. It also has the option to add a metal case -in several colors like opaque, transparent or semi-transparent top- that adds additional heatsink properties in addition to the standard heatsink.

Rock960 board - front view
Rock960 board – front view

Compared to other boards that comes with the Rockchip RK3399 like the Firefly-RK3399 and VS-RK3399, Rock960 is both simpler and smaller and comes in 85mm by 55mm dimensions. The company also offers various “96Boards” expansion connectors like the standard 40-pin low-speed and 60-pin high-speed connectors. There is also a growing list of third-party “96Boards” expansion boards.

The Rock960 has a built in HDMI 2.0 port and a DisplayPort (via a USB Type-C port), both with 4K@60fps video. MIPI-DSI display and MIPI-CSI camera connections are also available along with USB 3.0 and 2.0 host ports and a microSD slot.

The Rock960 board also comes in an Enterprise Edition which has similar specs to desktop PCs and it is suitable for those using 3D graphics and Machine learning applications. It is built on a hexa-core processor, packed with a powerful GPU and a dedicated Neural Processing Unit capable of 2.4TOPS (Trillion Operations Per Second) and it has shown it beats both the Apple A11 chip and Kirin 970 SoC in benchmarking.

The Rock960 Enterprise Edition Boards has a 3 USB 3.0 and 5 USB 2.0 ports, dual SATA 3.0 ports, upto 8GB RAM and supports expansion boards through its PCI x16 slot.

For easier development of vision and speech applications, Rockchip collaborated with Open AI Lab to port open source AID (Artificial Intelligence for Development) on the Rock960.

Find the full detailed specifications for the Rock960 SBC Consumer Edition as listed on Varms shopping page:

Components  Description
Processor Rockchip RK3399
CPU ARM Cortex-A72 Dual-core up to 1.8GHz + Cortex A53 Quad-core up to 1.4GHz
GPU ARM Mali T860MP4
RAM 2GB or 4GB LPDDR3 @ 1866MHz
PMU RK808-D
Storage 16/32GB eMMC 5.1
Ports Ethernet, USB 2.0/3.0 expansion
Wireless WLAN 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n, 2xMIMO, 2.4GHz and 5Ghz, Bluetooth 4.2. On board WLAN/BT antennas.
USB 1 x USB 3.0 type A and 1 x USB 2.0 type A (host mode only) and 1 x USB 3.0 type C OTG
Display 1 x HDMI 2.0(Type A – full) up to 4Kx2K@60Hz, 1 x 4L – MIPI DSI up to 1080p@60Hz, 1 x DP 1.2(Type C) up to 4Kx2K@60
Video Inside decoder: H.264 10bit up to HP level 5.1 – 2160p@60fps (4096×2304), VP9 – 2160p@60fps(4096×2304), H.265/HEVC 10bit – 2160p@60fps(4096×2304), MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.263, VP8, VC-1.
Audio HDMI output
Camera 2 x 4-lane MIPI CSI
Expansion Interface 40 pin low speed expansion connector: +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2UART, 2I2C, SPI, I2S, 12xGPIO and 60 pin high speed expansion connector: 4L-MIPI DSI, I2C x2, SPI (48M), USB 2.0, 2L+4LMIPI CSI
LED 1 x WiFi activity LED(Yellow), 1 x BT activity LED (Blue) and 4 x User LEDs (Green)
Button Reset button, recovery button
Power Source Recommend a 12V@2A adapter with a DC plug which has a 4.75mm outer diameter and 1.7mm center pin with standard center-positive (EIAJ-3 Compliant)
OS Support AOSP, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, LibreELEC, Lakka, FlintOS
Size 85mm x 55mm

The 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC model is available for $99 while the 4GB RAM, 32GB model is available for $139 on Vamrs page.

WarpPi is a Hackable Raspberry Pi Algebra Calculator

Have you ever been given an algebra homework where there were a problem and its answer, but you couldn’t figure out how they went to the solution? Well, you’re in luck! With Andrea Cavalli’s WarpPi calculator and its CAS (Computer Algebra System), you can go ahead and build your own algebraic calculator and even modify it to your taste.

Algebra is a rather broad part of mathematics dealing with variables, equations, functions, exponents and so on. For an area as broad, one would fittingly expect different levels of complexity. The calculator by Andrea Cavalli is specifically designed to aid one in solving such complex algebraic problems and goes a step further from commonly used scientific calculators.

The good thing is, you can build Andrea Cavalli’s DIY WarpPi calculator and set it up to your specific needs.

The calculator stands out with a custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and a neat 3D printed case and buttons. Its runs on custom software written in Java which brings the power of Java to real-time applications. At the heart of the calculator is a portable Raspberry Pi Zero W which hooks right into the PCB. One fantastic thing about this calculator is its ability to provide step by step solutions to algebraic problems.

On the board is also  a power management module for the device, which includes the physical power switch, a USB connection for charging, and a linear regulator. One interesting feature about the WarpPi is the presence of a hatch to access the Raspberry Pi’s micro SD card which will inevitable makes it easier to alter software configurations without dismantling the calculator.

The WarpPi 3D printed case might be a bit confusing for some users because the 3D printed case lacks any form of markings to indicate the functionality that each button controls, however, users can quickly figure out what each key does using a demo live preview built by Andrea Cavalli here.

Unlike your everyday average scientific calculator, Andrea Cavalli’s WarpPi calculator can be programmed to do a wide range of other mathematical computations as you deem fit. Its true potential can only be unlocked by how creative you can get. If you are considering building one yourself, the 3D-printed case, the guides, and code to run it are all available on the WarpPi GitHub page. If you eventually make yours, don’t forget to improve it as well.

Imec Invented Unique Cost-effective Cooling For High-Performance Chips

Imec, the distinguished Belgian research center has invented a new and cost-effective method of cooling chips. This achievement can be an important innovation to tackle the ever-increasing cooling demands of high-performance 3D chips and systems.

Present powerful electronic systems have high cooling demands for integrated semiconductor chips. Conventional solutions operate with various passive (or occasionally active) heat sinks. The main bottleneck in the heat-transfer path occurs at the interface between the semiconductor and the heat sink. It is proven that direct cooling on the back of the chip is more efficient, but current microchannel solutions do more harm than good. It leads to stress and a temperature gradient across the chip surface. Thus a new way of cooling in that method was much needed.

Imec's cost-effective cooling solution for high performance chips
Imec’s cost-effective cooling solution for high-performance chips

The ideal solution is to use an impingement-based cooler with coolant outlets distributed across the chip’s surface area. This system directs the liquid perpendicular to the chip surface and ensures the liquid is at the same temperature throughout. It also reduces contact time between the coolant and the chip. Until now, cooling solutions based on this principle have the disadvantage of being very expensive. In some other alternative implementations, the nozzle diameter and necessary fabrication techniques are not compatible with chip packaging processes.

Imec has developed a new impingement chip cooler that uses polymers instead of silicon, to achieve a cost-effective fabrication. Moreover, imec’s solution features nozzles of only 300µm diameter, made by high-resolution stereolithography 3D printing. The use of 3D printing allows customization of the nozzle pattern design to match the heat map and the fabrication of complex internal structures. Moreover, 3D printing allows to efficiently printing the whole structure in one part, reducing production cost and time.

Schematic of multi-jet cooler
Schematic of multi-jet cooler

Our new impingement chip cooler is actually a 3D printed ‘showerhead’ that sprays the cooling liquid directly onto the bare chip,” explains Herman Oprins, senior engineer at imec. “3D prototyping has improved in resolution, making it available for realizing microfluidic systems such as our chip cooler. 3D printing enables an application-specific design, instead of using a standard design.

Imec’s impingement cooler achieves a high cooling efficiency, with a chip temperature increase of less than 15°C per 100W/cm2 for a coolant flow rate of 1 l/min. Moreover, it features a pressure drop as low as 0.3 bar, because of the smart internal cooler design. It outperforms benchmark conventional cooling solutions in which the thermal interface materials alone already cause a 20-50°C temperature increase. It is a highly efficient and cost-effective fabrication. Imec’s cooling solution is much smaller compared to existing solutions, matching the footprint of the chip package enabling chip package reduction and more efficient cooling.

CCPROG PAT – USB-C Power Adapter Programmer and Tester

The PAT is designed for Validation, Test, and Debug of USB Type-C (Power Delivery capable) power adapters. Simple and user friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) packaged with this tool enables an easy demonstration of the power adapter capabilities (PDOs). The project is coming soon on CrowdSupply.

Key Features

  • Voltmeter Display
  • Listing of PDOs supported by the Power Adapter
  • Manual/ Automated selection of PDOs
  • Auto testing for mass production
  • VDM for direct voltage and current request
  • Program Cypress’s USB-C Power Adapter controller
  • Configure Cypress’s USB-C Power Adapter controller
  • Support parallel programming to program multiple devices simultaneously
  • Supports USB PD PPS (Programmable Power Supply APDO) Testing

EaglePanelizer – EAGLE CAD artwork panelizer

  • This is simple tool for panelize EAGLE CAD artwork.
  • Motivates from this tweets “Specify X, Y on the EAGLE just make faces with Gerber in 1 shot.”

EaglePanelizer – EAGLE CAD artwork panelizer – [Link]

iCEBreaker FPGA – Open source iCE40 FPGA development board

The first open source iCE40 FPGA development board designed for teachers and students. It’s comming soon on CrowdSupply.

Are you ready to venture into the brave new world of digital logic design? The iCEBreaker FPGA board is specifically designed for you. It’s designed to work out of the box with the newest open source FPGA development tools and next generation open CPU architectures.

The iCEBreaker FPGA board is designed to accept the widely popular PMOD connectors. This gives you access to a massive library of modules that can be used no matter your project. You can find a large collection of PMOD modules in the Digilent online store. For several use cases, we have also developed our own PMOD modules and we keep adding more as they are developed.

The iCEBreaker is a great teaching and learning platform. We already have a list of educators developing their workshops and classes using the iCEBreaker as their target platform.

The iCEBreaker FPGA prototypes are already supported by the following FPGA design tools:

Feature list:

  • iCE40UP5k FPGA
    • 5280 Logic Cells (4-LUT + Carry + FF)
    • 128 KBit Dual-Port Block RAM
    • 1 MBit (128 KB) Single-Port RAM
    • PLL, Two SPI and two I2C hard IPs
    • Two internal oscillators (10 kHz and 48 MHz) (for simple designs)
    • 8 DSPs (16×16 multiply + 32-bit accumulate) (for digital signal processing)
    • 3x 24 mA drive and 3x hard IP PWM (for driving RGB LEDs or other high current devices)
  • QSPI-DDR-capable flash 128 MBit (16 MB)
    • Enables hardware designs that access the flash; by choosing a Quad SPI Double Data Rate flash lets designs to run at very high speeds.
  • Lots of I/O capable pins:
    • Three PINs for RGB LED (pin header)
    • Two on-board LEDs
    • One UART, 1 Rx & 1 Tx Pin accessible via virtual serial port of the board USB connector
    • One on board push button
    • 16 PINs on a not-dedicated dual PMOD
    • Eight PINs on single PMOD / snap-off section
  • Default pre-wired PMOD module
    • Input and output fully user accessible and usable in your own hardware design.
    • Five LEDs in a star pattern
    • Three buttons
  • On board FPGA programmer with a built-in USB to serial adapter
    • An easy to use programmer compatible with the IceStorm open source iceprog tool.
    • A USB to serial converter allowing very easy connection of your FPGA design to a computer using a standard TTL level RS232 protocol. No need for special drivers.

For more detailed and technical discussion of the hardware features, please visit our github icebreaker repository. If you have questions regarding this project, or want to follow project progress in real time, please join our icebreaker gitter channel.

Retro-uC – An open silicon microcontroller with a Z80, MOS6502, and M68K

Chips4Makers have launched a campaign to fund their open silicon microcontroller with a Z80, MOS6502, and M68K cores. The Retro-uC allows to use of these legendary instruction sets for your to days electronics projects.

Are you a maker that pines for the early years of personal computing or are you curious about historical CPUs? The Retro-uC can help make history come alive for you. Are you curious about doing maker projects using vintage platforms, using tried and true instruction sets? Do you miss the days when your app had to fit in a few kB? Are you a strong advocate for open source hardware and software? The Retro-uC is for all of you, too!

Current popular microcontrollers are either based on the AVR instruction set of Arduino fame or on proprietary ARM sets. The Retro-uC is a fully open source microcontroller that can run some venerable retro CPU cores:

These instruction sets were selected for the Retro-uC because they have been the CPUs in some iconic home computers: the Z80 in the TRS-80 and ZX Spectrum; the MOS 6502 in the Apple I/II and the Commodore 64; the Motorola 68000 in the Amiga and Atari ST. The Retro-uC thus allows use of these iconic instruction sets for your electronics projects.

Specifications

  • Open source microcontroller with a Z80, MOS 6502 and Motorola 68000 core
  • 4 kB of on-chip RAM
  • 72 5 V digital general purpose I/O pins
  • JTAG interface for programming the device
  • Optionally bootable from external I2C flash memory
  • I/O pins that can select the enabled core during reset
  • One or more UART, I2C and PWM controllers

The project is live on Crowdsupply and has 37 days to go.

Estimote LTE Beacon – A Union Between Indoor and Outdoor Tracking For Asset Management

Beacons which became popular back in 2013 when Apple introduced the iBeacon, are Bluetooth powered devices. They promised so many applications and created hype around the business world, that was believed to be the next big technology seeing applications in several industries from retail, movies, security and to the advertising industry. I even wrote a piece about how beacons can be used for smart transportations in developing countries. Beacons opened up a new world for precise indoor tracking, targeted advertisement, customer awareness, better feedback and so much. It was the jewel for every developer and business, especially retails.

The launch of iBeacons and other similar beacon frameworks like the Eddystone from Google gave birth to new technology companies like Estimote. Fast forward to today, beacons have unfortunately not lived up to the hype promised facing stiff challenges regarding regulation, privacy, and others. But this is changing now has beacons are beginning to find a new home in the enterprises “where the money has always been.”

Estimote, one of the early beacon companies has heavily invested in their beacon platform making them one of the major beacon provider in the world. Estimote believes the physical computing will be the future.

Developers of tomorrow will use the physical world as their canvas. The precise location of people and objects will be accessed programmatically and apps will be “installed” on places. To make this happen we are working on an Operating System for the physical world: a software environment where developers will be able to quickly build apps for one location and run the same experience on many.

Estimote LTE Beacons For Indoor Tracking and Outdoor Tracking
Estimote LTE Beacons

Estimote is hoping to push the frontier in beacons, internet of things, location tracking with the launch of their new product called the “Estimote LTE Beacon.” Built around emerging IoT technologies (LTE M1 and NB-IoT), BLE and GPS connectivity, these beacons promise the best of both indoor and outdoor tracking.

The LTE Beacon is a small, wireless beacon that can compute its precise indoor location as found in other beacons as well as its outdoor position. Beacons have traditionally been used for only indoor tracking, and when taken outdoor, they get lost in the wild. The LTE beacons can talk directly to the cloud without needing any intermediary device and claimed to last a couple of years on a single battery charge.

The Estimote LTE beacons are designed entirely for asset tracking, moving cargos, parts, goods and so much more. They can locate assets when they move between indoor and outdoor environments giving administrators and managers the ability to provide an actual “proof of location” and “proof of delivery.” The device supports javascript so that you can deploy micro-apps on them through the Estimote Cloud.

At the heart of the beacon is a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4 CPU running at 64 MHz with onboard 1MB flash, 256KB RAM providing support for OTA firmware updates. Security is taken seriously through the addition of an ARM CryptoCell co-processor with a full AES 128-bit suite as well as a true random number generator for total entropy and asymmetric/symmetric hashing cryptographic services. The beacons support Bluetooth 5.0 using a 2.4GHz radio. It also provides support for Thread and ANT and an additional amplifier extends its range to about 200m for indoor advertising.

Estimote LTE Beacons Breakdown

Satellite position is possible through the use of an undisclosed receiver that supports GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, and QZSS. The peak data upload speed of the LTE modem to the cloud is 375 KBps for LTE-M and 60 KBps for NB-IoT. The modem supports eDRX and PSM sleep cycles to reduce power consumption

Some other features of the device:

  • Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery lasting two years on default settings
  • USB-C compatible with USB 2.0 for fast charging
  • NFC-A programmable tag supporting NFC Type 2 and Type 4
  • 3-axis accelerometer & temperature sensor
  • Programmable push button.
  • Programmable RGB LEDs
  • Integrated ultra-strong adhesive layer
  • Mounting hole for industrial deployments
Estimote LTE Beacons Developer Kits
Estimote LTE Beacons Developer Kits

I believe the Estimote LTE Beacons will change the face of asset management and outdoor tracking with the most notable feature of the ability to deploy your codes which are not found in other asset management solutions. Estimote LTE Beacons are ready to be ordered, they are being sold in developer kits costing about $129 plus shipping. Each kit contains two devices and shipping is expected by end of September.

More information about the Estimote LTE Beacons is available on the announcement page.

Save My Child: The smart sensor that sends text messages if you forget the child in the car

It is installed in cars, and thanks to a detector placed on the child seat, it warns us – via SMS or phone call – if we get away without bringing the child with us. Boris Landoni writes:

Among the most saddening (and at any rate, infrequent) accidents in the news, there are those of parents that – because of briskness, health problems or lack of attention – get out of the car and “forget” their kids on the child seat, in a hot or cold environment. Certainly, such accidents could have been avoided if someone or something reminded the driver that he left the child in the car; undoubtedly technology may help and offer solutions, to be implemented in the vehicle by the manufacturer or of the “retrofit” kind, such as the project here described here. That’s a device based on a GSM cell phone that detects some parameters, on the basis of which the behavior of the driver is evaluated and the necessary actions are executed: in particular, an SMS is sent to the phone of the driver that is getting away from the car. The device is installed in the car and is powered by the electric system of the latter; it verifies that the child is on its seat (by means of a sensor that is composed of some low-profile buttons, mounted on a breadboard to be placed under the cover of the child seat): if it turns out that the buttons are pressed (therefore, the child is sat), the circuit will also verify that the vehicle has stopped (by means of a triaxial accelerometer), if so and once the set time has elapsed, it will send an alarm SMS message to the driver’s phone and will let out a buzzer sound.

Save My Child: The smart sensor that sends text messages if you forget the child in the car – [Link]