Arduino Mega Chess on TFT display

Chess processor with GUI dedicated for Arduino Mega. by Sergey Urusov

After some my Arduino project remains unclaimed touchscreen, so I decided to realize my chidhood dream to create a chess program. After a couple of months it wins me, but it is not big deal because i do not have any chess rating, just amateur.

This project uses Arduino Mega 2560 because of lack of operative memory on Uno, 2.8 inch touchscreen, passive buzzer, and about 2000 lines of code.

Arduino Mega Chess on TFT diplay – [Link]

Raspberry Pi Clock with Temperature

A Raspberry Pi clock with outside temperature display using OpenWeatherMap and inside temperature display using a MCP9808 sensor. By Jeremiah Mattison

This project is for a building a digital clock that includes temperature display. It uses OpenWeatherMap to retrieve outside temperature information and a MCP9808 sensor for inside temperature.

Raspberry Pi Clock with Temperature – [Link]

World´s Smallest Wearable Made to Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Wearables are devices that incorporate and interact with different parts of our bodies and perform a specific task. The tasks can be to improve our health (count steps, heart rate etc.) or to make our life easier (GPS, smartwatches etc.). Technology industry has dominated the wearable market since its easier for a technology company to produce technologic devices, but other companies have joined the trend and now companies in the textile, fashion and medical industry started producing their own wearables with specific purposes. L’Oréal the world leader on makeup, cosmetics skin care etc. has now joined the race.

In a research project with Northwestern university, the world´s smallest wearable was created. Measuring less than an M&M in circumference and weighting less than a raindrop this device was designed to measure UV exposure of the user to reduce skin cancer by modulating their exposure to the sun. UV Sense has no battery, no moving parts, its waterproof, and it can be attached to any part of the body preferably a location with good sun exposure.

The device connects to an app that shows you the exposure you have had in a day or over a period. Also, the app can be configured to send notifications when users exceed daily safe sun limit.

According to the skin cancer foundation “Each year in the U.S over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3 million people, and each year there are more new cases of skin cancer”, but with this device skin cancer could be prevented instead of treated. The researchers at Northwestern have received roughly 2 million grant from the National institutes of Health to deploy fingernail UV sensors.

The device is undetectable which will encourage people to use it, and as it requires no batteries, users do not need to worry about charging the device or forgetting to do so. This means that people can now be warned about sun exposure and will be able to take measures to prevent diseases with no effort at all. The same research team is also working on other devices that could help check other health aspects to increase awareness about different diseases and the daily activities that may cause them.


PowerSpot Far Field Wireless Charger Will Charge Devices Up to 80 Feet Away

Over the last few years, there has been an unprecedented growth in the consumer electronics industry. The smartphones, fitness trackers, Smart homes devices, wearables, earbuds, VR/AR, and much more have fostered this growth.

The Smartphone proliferation has been a key factor in the global consumer electronics market size, smartphones have become way better, faster and even cheaper. The Internet of Things (IoT) has promised us more incoming and it’s estimated that we will have up to 21 billion connected devices by 2020. Technological advancements like the emergence of 4G and 5G technologies are expected to drive this demand. Despite all these advances in technology, one function remains chained to the wall – Power.

The laptops, tablet, phones, smart hubs, fitness trackers and others still require being powered. Even, though they are mostly battery powered and could last for a couple of days (without much activity), they all still need to be tied to a plug socket for hours to be recharged. Power has been a major source of concern and people have been dreaming about the potential of wireless charging their devices.

Powercast PowerSpot Transmitter

Wireless charging has been an interesting topic in the past few years with major advancement made in wireless charging smartphones up to a few centimeters using charging platforms. Like Energeous Wattup that charges up to 3 feet away, Powercast has introduced PowerSpot – a system that will allow devices to be wirelessly charged at up to 80 feet away.

Powercast a leading provider of RF-based wireless power technologies, has unveiled the PowerSpot. Similar to Wi-Fi, devices charges in the range of the PowerSport 3W transmitter, and will automatically turn off when full. PowerSpot charging technology needs no charging platform or direct line of sight as we have seen in Qi charging platforms and has already received approval from both the U.S.-based FCC and Canada-based ISED.

Powercast’s transmitter uses the 915 MHz ISM band to send power to a Powercast receiver chip called “The PowerHarvester” in a device, which converts the transmission to DC to “directly power or recharge” an enabled device at up to 80 feet for devices with low power need. The PowerSpot transmitter uses Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) modulation for power and Amplitude Shift Keying (ASK) modulation for data and includes an integrated 6dBi directional antenna with a 70-degree beam pattern.

PowerSpot charging zone

Game controllers, smartwatches, fitness bands, or headphones will charge best up to two feet away; with keyboards and mice up to six feet away. TV remotes and smart cards charge well up to 10 feet away; with low-power devices like home automation sensors getting sufficient charging power up to 80 feet away.

Powercast is expecting a $100 retail on the transmitter with a projected $50 average price when it reaches mass production. It will be available in the 3rd quarter of 2018 or early 2019.

World’s Smallest MEMS Micro-Loudspeaker Saves 80 Percent More Energy

STMicroelectronics along with the audio company USound has created the first MEMS (Micro ElectroMechnical Systems) micro-loudspeaker based on semiconductors. It’s the smallest loudspeaker in the world, but it can produce a powerful noise. MEMS makes it possible. The speakers are being presented at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

MEMS loudspeaker with extremely small dimensions along with low power consumption and good sound quality.
MEMS loudspeaker with extremely small dimensions along with low power consumption and good sound quality.

In the audio world, the electromechanical capabilities of MEMS have only been used to build tiny microphones. Speakers, on the other hand, still rely on traditional dynamic design principles. It has taken almost 150 years for semiconductor technology to replace Werner von Siemens’ superior loudspeaker principle in 1877 with something newer. The Coil-magnet combinations are still being used in smartphones, wearables, and headphones to produce sound.

We can understand the working principle of MEMS speaker very briefly here. At first, thin piezoelectric layers are applied to a semiconductor(Silicon). An electric signal is sent to the piezoelectric layer allowing the diaphragm connected to it vibrate. Eventually, the mechanical principle resembles that of a normal Coil-magnet loudspeaker. The sound is created by the vibration in the diaphragm. However, the magnet and coil are replaced by a piezo element. By applying this new technique, USound’s MEMS version appears to offer significant advantages when it comes to distortion and THD or Total Harmonic Distortion.

The MEMS loudspeaker developed by USound has dimensions of just 5 x 7 x 2 mm and has a frequency range of 2 to 15 kHz. It takes up half the space of its predecessors and needs only 20 percent of the energy that they do. The above figures are convincing enough for the speaker to be a perfect fit for mobile applications such as wearables and smartphones.

According to the manufacturer, these tiny speakers are the thinnest in the world. It has less than half the weight of a conventional Coil-magnet speaker. Most suitable applications include in many portable devices such as headphones, over-the-ear earphones, and more. With the help of this new speakers, augmented reality headsets or virtual reality systems can be more compact and comfortable. Innovative features also enable 3D sound production with striking accuracy. Its high efficiency reduces energy consumption and can easily be operated with much smaller and lightweight batteries. Higher efficiency results in less heat generated making systems operate cooler than ever before.

OpenMV- Machine Vision for Beginners

MV is the ability of a computer to see using analog to digital conversion and digital signal processing. The key characteristics that make a machine vision module better are sensitivity and resolution. These systems allow machines to see a broader spectrum of wavelengths such as x-rays, infrared or UV light. Nowadays, it is mainly used for object recognition, signature identification, material inspection, medical image analysis etc. Machine vision modules tend to be expensive which make them difficult to access for makers and hobbyists. OpenMV is a python powered machine vision module that aims at making MV accessible to beginners.

OpenMV was created by Hackaday user i.abdalkader and he worked towards making it affordable, small, open source and user friendly. It is programmable in python 3, and includes image processing libraries to make it easier. It is Based on STM32F ARM Cortex-M Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) running at 168-216MH, and has an ATWINC1500 FCC Certified Wi-Fi module which can transmit data at up to 48Mbp. The image sensor used was a OV965x and a OV2640. Additionally, it has 512 KB of RAM and consumes 120 mA.

The libraries included give the MV the ability to detect shapes, faces, QR and barcodes, and it also has ORB key points detector, template matching with normalized cross correlation and more. The OpenMV includes I/O headers to connect shields to extend it´s capabilities. The IDE includes many features for image processing and it is based on QT creator. OpenMV has a micro SD card socket which allows for recording data, and the device measures 45 mm in length, 36 mm in width, 30 mm in height and only weights 16 g.

Few prototypes are already on pre-order for beta testing for $65 dollars on this website, they will only be selling about 10-30 of them. It has already been funded in Kickstarter with a huge success in 2015. Some applications might include drone flying, thermal/night imaging, line detection etc.

For beginners, this device could be a game changer for learning about machine vision, and creating projects. The easy to use IDE helps the user understand and code, but at the same time its open for users to modify and create as they see appropriate. The Wi-Fi module expands the capabilities and possibilities for using it, and the fast USB computer communication makes the device easy to work with. For an advanced use it has a long way to go, which includes improvements in image detection and analysis. The complete version is still not on sale, and a date has not been announced, but the project keeps being improved to provide users with a completely functional device and IDE.


Raspberry Pi Zero WH – No Soldering Raspberry Pi Zero W

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is a single board computer and a great way to get started with learning coding and hardware projects. The “W” in the Raspberry Pi Zero signifies the board contains inbuilt Wifi and Bluetooth. Costing around $10, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a great board to kickstart a lot of hardware projects and has found love in the maker’s community.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W is great but doesn’t feature any header pins which could be challenging for beginners, people that want to do a quick prototyping and the ones that don’t want to void the Pi Zero W warranty. Introducing the Raspberry Pi Zero WH, the Raspberry Pi Zero W with added 40 GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) male header pins.

Raspberry Pi Zero WH

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has removed the compulsory soldering barrier that comes with the Raspberry Pi Zero W by adding a pre-soldered 40-pin header to the Zero W. This Pi Zero WH is perfect for those who don’t own a soldering iron, hate soldering or who wants the extra soldering legwork done for them at a price of course.

The following are some of the specifications for the Pi Zero WH:

  • SoC – BCM2835 (same as Pi 1) but up-clocked to 1GHz, so 40% faster
  • RAM – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – microSD Slot
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 (Bluetooth Low Energy) and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • USB – 1x Micro USB OTG port, 1x Micro USB port for Power.
  • Camera – CSI Camera Connector
  • Video – Mini HDMI port and composite Video
  • Power Supply – 5V DC Volts via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 65mm x 30mm x 5mm.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s community manager Ben Nuttall, wrote: “You can live boot the Raspberry Pi Desktop OS from a USB stick, use Linux PCs, or even install [the Pi OS] on old computers. Then you have really simple access to physical computing without full Raspberry Pi setups, and with no SD cards to configure.”

The Raspberry Pi Zero WH is available for purchase online and comes with a price tag of about £13.25 ($18.25), a difference of about $5 over the Pi Zero W. The Raspberry Pi Zero WH can be purchase from pimoroni and other Raspberry Pi retailers. More information can be found at the Raspberry Pi Blog announcement.

Omron’s New Super-Sensitive, Non-Contact MEMS Temp Sensor

There’s a new addition to the Omron thermal sensor family. The D6T-1A-02 is the latest in sensory innovation with super-sensitive, infra-red (IR), non-contact temperature sensing capabilities using MEMS technology.

The Omron D6T thermal sensor is ideal for building automation applications, measuring the temperature in a room, or detecting occupancy, even when people are stationary. Additionally, because the D6T is fully non-contact it offers a wider detection range, as well as ultra-sensitive heat sensors – an excellent alternative to PIR detectors and pyroelectric sensors.

Making full use of MEMS technology, the D6T includes:

  • The ability to measure surface temps anywhere between -40° to 80°C (-40°-176°F) with an accuracy of +/- 1.5°C, and resolution of 0.06°.
  • A state-of-the-art MEMS thermopile, a sensor ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), and a signal processing microprocessor in a 12.0mm x 11.6mm x 9.2mm package.
  • A narrow field of view at 26.52, which allows for accurate readings of a specific object within range.


Omron’s New Super-Sensitive, Non-Contact MEMS Temp Sensor – [Link]

eVscope – Reaching for the stars as never before

Humanity has always been trying to reach for the stars, this lead to huge scientific developments that got the man into the moon, rovers into mars and a lot more. NASA often unveils photographs of space objects with bright colors and high definition, but these photos are taken using millions of dollars in telescopes and image software. Most amateur telescopes give blurry, opaque images (if you get to see anything at all). As a result, astronomy amateurs are often disappointed because of their high expectations regarding what they would see in the telescope. The company Unistellar optics combined two different technics to create a telescope that could fulfill hobbyist expectations.

As only a very small amount of light from stellar objects reaches earth, it’s important to collect as much light as possible which can be done with a lens (or mirror with a large diameter), or by exposing a photographic film for a long period of time. Nowadays, astronomers don´t use photographic film anymore because electronic cameras can take hundreds of pictures and overlap them to make one bright picture. However, the equipment to do all this can be expensive (professional camera, good telescope, mirrors with huge diameters), and they can also be complicated because of the need for a very dark sky, certain weather etc.

The eVscope (enhanced vision) made by Unistellar optics has a built in high quality image sensor, and instead of lenses an eye piece with an OLED display is used. Additionally, it has a computer controlled mount and drive, all in modest dimensions. It costs about 1300 dollars and works by taking short exposures and staking them in real time to simulate a larger instrument.

This device has already been tried by many amateur astronomers, and university students with very positive results. Also, the eVscope has an autonomous field detection which makes it easy for learners to pinpoint specific places, and with the smartphone connection capabilities people can save and share their pictures, and unlike other telescopes it is portable and autonomous. Currently, Unistellar optics has a Kickstarter campaign for this product with more than 2000 backers. eVscope is 100 times more powerful than a classical telescope and could change the way people see the sky and learn about astronomy.


Researchers Demonstrate New More Efficient FET By Implementing Negative Capacitance

A group of Researchers from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana demonstrated the effect called negative capacitance by making a new type of more energy efficient transistor. This new kind of Field Effect Transistor (FET) proves a theory introduced in 2008 by Supriyo Datta, the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Sayeef Salahuddin, who is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

A new type of transistor (a) harnesses a property called negative capacitance.
A new type of field effect transistor harnesses a property called negative capacitance.

The researchers from Purdue University made a much thinner layer using the semiconductor Molybdenum disulfide. It creates a channel adjacent to an important part of transistors called the gate. By using a “ferroelectric material” called hafnium zirconium oxide, they created a negative capacitor which is a key component in the newly designed gate.

Capacitance is the property of any dielectric or conductor to store electrical charge. It is ordinarily a positive quantity. With the help of ferroelectric materials, the new FET gate structure allows a negative capacitance. Due to this the energy needed to switch the FET is considerably reduced. This new design just substitutes hafnium oxide with hafnium zirconium oxide. Hafnium oxide is a conventional material to use in modern FETs as a dielectric material to isolate the gate. This work is led by Peide Ye, Richard J. and Mary Jo Schwartz of Purdue University.  Ye said,

The overarching goal is to make more efficient transistors that consume less power, especially for power-constrained applications such as mobile phones, distributed sensors, and emerging components for the internet of things

Transistors act like a tiny electronic switch. They can turn on and off very fast, allowing computers to process information in binary code. A proper switching off state is very important to ensure that no electricity “leaks” through. This switching normally needs a minimum of 60 millivolts for every tenfold increase in current. This requirement called the thermionic limit. However, transistors using negative capacitance can break this fundamental limit, because they can switch at far lower voltages resulting in smaller power consumption.

New findings from the research group have advanced the conventional transistor technology to a much efficient and faster level. Only time will justify if the new ‘negative capacitance‘ FETs can revolutionize the modern electronics.

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