Rohde & Schwarz ZNLE 1MHz – 6GHz Vector Network Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

Rohde & Schwarz ZNLE 1MHz – 6GHz Vector Network Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments – [Link]

Adafruit Metro 328 – An Arduino Uno Compatible Development Board

The Adafruit Metro 328 development board is an alternative to the Arduino Uno with an equivalent and compatible board design. It’s designed and manufactured by Adafruit. The Metro 328 just like other Arduino Uno clones is also based on the famous Atmega 328P that has been used in various development boards and projects.

Adafruit Metro 328

The Metro 328 offers an ATmega328 microcontroller with Optiboot (UNO) Bootloader and a ton of other features you won’t find on the Arduino Uno board. The Metro board is equipped with 19 GPIO pins unlike the Arduino Uno 14, analog inputs, UART, SPI, I2C, timers, and PWM. Six of its GPIO pins are for Analog input with two reserved for the USB to Serial Converter. Just like the standard Arduino Uno, it also includes 6 PWM pins on 2x 8bit timers and 1x 16bit timers.

Another significant distinction between the Metro and the Arduino Uno is the USB to Serial converter. The Arduino Uno is based on the Atmega USB-UART bridge (ATMEGA16U2), but the Metro 328 is based on the FTDI FT231X that provides excellent driver support in all operating systems with a more reliable data transfer unlike the former. It comes with four indicator LEDs, on the front edge of the PCB, for easy debugging. One green power LED, two RX/TX LEDs for the UART, and a red LED connected to pin PB5.

The Metro board has an on and off switch for the DC jack so you can turn off your setup easily. It also uses the conventional micro USB connector found around. Even though the Logic level of the Metro is 5V, it can be converted to 3.3v logic by cutting and soldering a closed jumper.

The following are the Metro 328P specifications:

  • ATmega328 microcontroller with Optiboot (UNO) Bootloader
  • USB Programming and debugging via the well-supported genuine FTDI FT231X
  • Input voltage: 7-9V (a 9VDC power supply is recommended)
  • 5V regulator can supply peak ~800mA as long as the die temp of the regulator does not exceed 150*C
  • 3.3V regulator can supply peak ~150mA as long as the die temp of the regulator does not exceed 150*C
  • 5V logic with 3.3V compatible inputs can be converted to 3.3V logic operation
  • 20 Digital I/O Pins: 6 are also PWM outputs, and 6 are also Analog Inputs
  • 6-pin ICSP Header for reprogramming
  • 32KB Flash Memory – 0.5K for bootloader, 31.5KB available after bootloading
  • 16MHz Clock Speed
  • Compatible with “Classic” and “R3” Shields
  • Adafruit Black PCB with gold plate on pads
  • 53mm x 71mm / 2.1″ x 2.8″
  • Height (w/ barrel jack): 13mm / 0.5″
  • Weight: 19g

The Metro 328 board is now available with headers already in place for $19.50 directly from the online Adafruit store. If you don’t want a Metro with the headers attached for super-slimness, check out the Metro without Headers.

Embedded World Free Ticket from OEMsecrets

Join OemSecrets.com at Embedded World 2018

Next Tuesday 27th February – Thursday 1st March, meet OEMsecrets at the world’s leading embedded systems conference in Nuremberg, Embedded World. Get your free ticket and meet us for a Tucher or two on stand 4A-612 to rehydrate!

We’ll showcase our latest site developments, including new API capabilities and future site features such as our parametric search. As part of our badge scan promotion and in partnership with Avnet Silica, we’ll also be handing out high-value giveaways. We all look forward to welcoming you on to our booth. See you next week, prost!

Constant current linear LED driver IC improves efficiency for LED strips

The BCR430U constant current linear LED driver IC’s drop performance regulates LED current in standalone operation for LED lighting. No external power transistor is needed, says Infineon Technologies. Typical applications for the BCR430U include LED strips, architectural LED lighting, LED displays and retail, appliance and emergency lighting.

The voltage drop of the integrated driver IC can go down to 135mV at 50mA. This improves overall efficiency and provides the voltage headroom required to compensate for LED forward voltage tolerances and variances in the supply voltage, explains Infineon, for more flexibility in lighting design. Using the BRCU430U, additional LEDs can be added to lighting designs without changing the supply voltage.

The LED driver current ranges between five and 100mA, and can be easily adjusted via high Ohmic resistor on a dedicated pin. The supply voltage ranges between 6.0 and 42V. For safe and reliable operation and to extend the LED lifetime, a smart over-temperature controlling circuit reduces the LED current when the junction temperature is very high.

The BCR430U is available now in a SOT-23-6 package.

Robby – A Simple and Powerful Robot to Learn Electronics and Programming

Robby Robot

Over the years we have seen a significant interest in people wanting to learn electronics and programming but are mostly handicapped with what they could build. Over time, learning has been proven to be more reliable when learning is more practical, and we can quickly grasp the concept if one is seeing what he or she is building in real-time and promptly learn why it works the way it works.

Lego Education robotics which has been around for a while, has allowed students to become active leaders in their education as they build everything from animals for a robotic zoo to robots that play children’s games. Lego has been tremendous, and it has quite helped students grasped the concept of engineering and programming, but one of the significant drawbacks with Lego is; it has not been fully developed for the makers open source movement and also comes with a high-cost price, unlike some Arduino based development environments.

The Arduino has caused a revolution in bringing artists into the world of robotics. It has spawned numerous offshoots from very small to wearable processors. Building something with Arduino requires some necessary electronic circuity skills and basic programming which sometimes could be intimidating for the complete novice. Robby from Mr. Robotics is a new education robot for anyone interested in learning more about robotics while also learning about robotics and programming. Robby is based on the Arduino ecosystem.

The team from Mr. Robotics based in Lille, France are crowdfunding their new educational robot called Robby, a tool to learn electronics and programming while having fun. The team at Mr. Robotics believe in this technologically advancing world, everyone should have the opportunity to be imaginative and use it for creation and development. That will need to provide the enabling environment for grooming interest in programming while cultivating natural curiosity, Robby could be the tool to bridge those gaps.

“The creativity is the intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

ROBBY robot is entirely hackable and adaptable with Plug & Play modules for any design scenario. So, today you can design to plug in a particular sensor and decide tomorrow you want another sensor in that position. Just unplug and plug back. The robot kit is fully programmable and allows you to add your own modules and sensors as well as choose your own architecture providing an open source scalable system complete with plug and play sensors. The robot kit is ideal for educational applications as well as keen hobbyists and makers.

At the heart of Robby is the ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit microcontroller running up to 120 Mhz, and comes with three 12V DC precise motors and incremental encoders for direction, position and speed measurement. It includes a 12V extra Lipo 3S battery, Wi-Fi, USB and Bluetooth, buzzer and an open chassis for adding modules, sensors, components, and breadboard. Robby can be programmed with Blocky (graphical drag and drop block like programming) and with the Arduino IDE.

The Robby Robot is available to back via Kickstarter with pledges starting from €179 for the starter kit, €199 for the Explorer Kit, and €289 for the Creator kit. Mr. Robotics is offering the option of personalized kits costing up to €550 and some other customized packages. If Robby is successfully funded, worldwide shipping is expected to take place during August 2018.

More information about Robby can be found on their website here and their Kickstarter campaign.

Digi-Key launches a common parts library for the KiCad EDA Tool

Digi-Key Electronics has announced that it is in beta release of a library containing almost 1,000 common parts for the open-source KiCad schematic capture and PCB tool. By Ally Winning @ eenewsembedded.com:

The library will be hosted on the Digi-Key website. It was built after Digi-Key analyzed the top 1,000 parts that KiCad users would require. The library combines schematic symbols and PCB footprints into atomic elements and adds fields including part numbers and datasheet links. As the library has the same license as KiCad’s main library, it is freely available to all developers. The final release of the library is planned for early 2018.

Digi-Key launches a common parts library for the KiCad EDA Tool – [Link]

Arduino Communication with an Android App via Bluetooth

With the arrival of the IoT and the need for control, devices now need to do more than perform the basic functions for which they are built, they need to be capable of communicating with other devices like a mobile phone among others. There are different communication systems which can be adapted for communication between devices, they include systems like WiFi, RF, Bluetooth among several others. Our focus will be on communication over Bluetooth.

Today we will be building an Arduino based project which communicates with an app running on a smartphone (Android) via Bluetooth.

Arduino Communication with an Android App via Bluetooth – [Link]

Top 10 Single Board Computers (SBCs) Of The Previous Year

Introduction

Back in 2012, the arrival of Raspberry Pi started a new era of Single Board Computers – widely known as SBC. It attracted a huge number of hobbyists and tinkerers who are keen to create technology rather than just consuming it. Single board computers made designing complex and computationally expensive projects possible. Robotics, IoT, Computer Vision projects, DIY media center – just name it and SBC will get it done with ease.

Since the massive success of the Raspberry Pi, the market got filled with various single board computers from different developers. Almost all of them have similar features but with some uniqueness.

Nowadays, we can see SBCs as cheap as $9 to as expensive as $250. One should purchase an SBC carefully depending on the budget and the type of the project. This Top 10 List is based on the SBCs that were popular the previous year and it will help you to choose an SBC as per your requirement without much effort.

The Logic of Sorting

While sorting out some products and giving them ranks, the logic of sorting should be clarified. We can sort out SBCs in many ways – performance, form factor, price point, user community etc. In this article, we have kept hobbyists and tinkerers in mind and so, our primary focus is price point and performance at that price. As a result, some extremely powerful boards didn’t rank well just because of being too costly and not affordable by hobbyists. Also, we have not included boards introduced this year (2018) as the list is based on the top boards of the previous year (2017).

So, now you know how we sorted the boards. Let’s get started with the list. (more…)

Compact µModule regulator is for use with FPGAs, GPUs and ASICs

Designed for use in PCIe boards, communications infrastructure, cloud computing-based systems, medical, industrial, and test and measurement equipment, the LTM4646 is a dual 10A or single 20A output, step-down µModule PoL regulator from 5.0 or 12V input supply rails. It targets the PCB area constraints of densely populated system boards to power low voltage and high current devices such as FPGAs, ASICs, microprocessors and GPUs, says Analog Devices.

The LTM4646 includes inductors, MOSFETs, a DC/DC controller and supporting components, and is housed in a 11.25 x 15 x 5.01mm BGA package. Compared to the previous two single 10A output module solutions, the LTM4646 reduces the solution size of more than 25 per cent, says Analog Devices.

Total output voltage DC accuracy is guaranteed at ±1.5 per cent over line, load and temperature (-40 to +125 degree C). The onboard remote sense amplifiers on both outputs compensate for voltage drop caused by trace impedance of the PC board due to large load currents. Internal or external feedback loop compensation is selectable, enabling users to optimise loop stability and transient performance while minimising the number of output capacitors.

Peak efficiency at 12VIN to 1.0VOUT is 86 per cent. With 200LFM air flow, the LTM4646 delivers a full 20A continuously up to 85 degree C ambient, adds Analog Devices. The current mode architecture allows multi-phase parallel operation to increase output current with good current sharing, says the company.

The LTM4646 operates from 4.5 to 20V input, standalone. When 5.0V external bias is available, the device can operate from 2.375V. The output voltages are adjustable from 0.6 to 5.5V, enabling the LTM4646 to generate low voltage for digital devices but also 2.5, 3.3 and 5.0V, for system buses. The switching frequency can be programmed from 250kHz to 1.3MHz with one resistor, and can also be synchronised to an external clock ranging from 300kHz to 1MHz for noise-sensitive applications.

The LTM4646 has over-voltage and over-current protection.

http://www.linear.com/product/LTM4646

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