Increasing Battery Life With UB20M Voltage Detector

Engineers at the University of Bristol have developed a three terminal pico-power chip that can cut standby drain in sensor nodes – even compared with today’s low-power microcontrollers.

It does this by replacing the low duty-cycle sleep-wake-sleep pattern used on MCU-based sensor monitors, with ‘off’. A voltage detector powered by the sensor – there is no other power source –  starts the processor when the sensor produces a voltage.

At 5pA (20°C 1V), power draw from the sensor through the input/supply pin is so low that the chip can directly interface with high-impedance sensors such as antennas, piezo-electric accelerometers, or photodiodes. With so little current required, the chip does not collapse the sensor voltage.

“It will work from five infra-red diodes in series, powered from a TV remote control 5m away, or an un-powered accelerometer”, Bristol engineer Bernard Stark told Electronics Weekly.

Called UB20M, the only power it draws from the system is 100pA(max) leakage through its open drain output transistor. Input threshold is set at 0.6V.

Once the sensor presents greater than 0.6V to the input, the output FET turns on (RDSon~800Ω), and its low resistance can either be used to turn on a p-FET to power up a microcontroller, or can wake a microcontroller from sleep.

In an extreme application example, said the University, an earthquake detector could be held in sleep for years, until a tremor caused the chip to wake its host.

Despite its impedance and sensitivity, the device can withstand 20V on its input/supply pin, and it has ESD protection. Maximum output pin parameters are 5.5V 7mA. Output turn-on time is 0.25μs, while turn-off depends on load resistance and capacitance – typically 8μs with a 5MΩ load and 180μs with 100MΩ.

Because patents are pending, exactly how the chip works is not being disclosed. It has around 40 transistors, and is made on a 180nm CMOS process, is all Stark could say.

Samples are available – through a multi-project wafer deal with Europractice and IMEC, fabricated at AMS in Austria, and the University has created an evaluation board. Due to Europractice and IMEC going the extra mile, said Stark, samples are in SOT323-5 rather than clunky research packages.

The team cautions that anyone trying the chip will need to understand high-impedance circuits, as otherwise stray mains fields, for example, will trigger it continuously and the output transistor will remain on. Lengthy sensor connections should be avoided.

In general, the sensor has to be connected to the input/supply pin with enough parallel resistance to leak away stray charge and ensure the UB20M turns off.

“We are now working on ways of bringing other power drains such as data-capture, computation, and transmission, to within the nW-power budget of a sensor, completely eliminating batteries from sensor nodes,” said the University. “An example of this (right) is where power management with a few tens of nW quiescent is actively matching its input impedance to an 80MΩ energy harvester with 10 ms intermittent output pulses.”

UB20M data sheet and eval board details can be reached from this introductory web page, and there is an introductory video.

Source: Electronics Weekly

12V @ 120mA Transformerless Power Supply

The circuit provided here is a transformer-less non-isolated power supply which is capable of delivering an output of 12V at 120mA current for an input voltage varying from 85VAC-265VAC. The LNK304 is the heart of this circuit which supports buck boost and flyback topologies. This project is low in cost and simple when compared other tramsformer-less power supplies.

Features:

  • Input(V): 85V AC to 265V AC
  • Output(V): 12V DC
  • Output load: 120mA
  • PCB:75mm X 35mm

12V @ 120mA Transformerless Power Supply – [Link]

TI claims first for zero-drift, zero-crossover op amp: precision & linearity

by Graham Prophet @ edn-europe.com:

With precision and high input linearity in a single high-performance device, Texas Instruments says it has the first operational amplifier (op amp) to offer both zero-drift and zero-crossover technology. The OPA388 op amp maintains high precision across the entire input range for a variety of industrial applications, including test and measurement, medical and safety equipment, and high-resolution data-acquisition systems.

TI claims first for zero-drift, zero-crossover op amp: precision & linearity – [Link]

XPlotter, The All-In-One Plotter, Engraver and Laser Cutter

XPlotter is an affordable and easy to use desktop plotter, Laser cutter and engraver. It is designed to create a new definition of plotter. By integrating the laser engraver and cutter into the mechanism, it becomes a versatile desktop tool for artists, craftsmen and makers to set their imagination free.

The all-in-one machine can simulate real effects of handmade drawing and writing, can cut out and laser engrave on different materials. In addition, it has the capability to pick and place objects perfectly!

This machine is now live on Kickstarter, check out the video campaign to see XPlotter in action:

 

The writing of XPlotter is outstandingly similar to the real hand writing thanks to the angle of writing and the programmed process. Now you can do your paperwork or write your homework as neat as possible. Also you have the option to choose from a variety of fonts and pens! Drawing outputs also look so real because of demonstrating shadows and tiny tiny details.

A wide range of materials like paper, leather, fabric, cloth, and cardboard are able to be engraved by the laser engraver feature of XPlotter. Short time is needed to engrave your artworks due to the powerful laser equipped with the machine. Safety goggles are included too for making sure that users cope with laser safely.

This personal robot that is dedicated to write, draw and engrave for you has no limits. XPlotter team made a built-in vacuum pump system to enable XPlotter to pick and place at a high speed and features a precision within 0.012mm. It only takes you a few minutes to change the end effector into a vacuum suction cup, which is powerful enough to grab spherical items.

Amazingly, the team behind XPlotter has open-sourced the operation interface to welcome more applications made by users through the secondary development.

In short, these are the specifications of this amazing tool!

Check out this comparison between XPlotter and its alternatives.

The retail price will be around $500 but now you have the chance to get the basic XPlotter via the crowdfunding campaign for only $349. The full kit including engraving and pick and place is priced $529, where the final retail after Kickstarter will be $629. This campaign still has 52 days to go, you can check the campaign page now and choose your reward.

More videos of XPlotter in action can be found at this Youtube profile and the official website.

Teardown of a Peaktech 6225A

Teardown and analysis of a Peaktech 6225A power supply from ElectroBob:

I got a Peaktech 6225A power supply to power some things, as it seemed like a good deal, going beyond what one might find normally in these types of supplies: more display resolution and supposedly, lower noise. For this price, this supply is a good deal compared to other similar ones on the market. Let’s see how it performs.

Teardown of a Peaktech 6225A – [Link]

Virtualette V1, A Tiny Powerful Microcomputer

Designed by SRKH Designs, Virtualette V1 is a small dual stack microcomputer that can run Android and Linux operating systems, for network-wide IoT and mobile edge computing solutions and electronics DIY projects.

Virtualette V1 is designed based on the dual-core Cortex-A7 Allwinner A20 SoC, with 1GB DDR3L base memory, 8GB onboard NAND flash, and a 32GB microSD card. It also includes a real time clock, onboard battery and wakeup function, and 80 IO pins.

The microcomputer is consist of dual connected PCBs with 7.6cm x 3.7cm x 1.8cm size including mounting feet. It has an Ethernet jack, a USB port to connect mouse or keyboard, microSD card slot, SATA port, and mini USB ports.

Virtualette V1 is a low energy device with a typical 2.4W of energy draw with three power options; 9-48V PoE (Powered over Ethernet), 5V USB OTG, and a lithium battery.

You can run any of linux-based operating system on the V1, in addition to the optimized linux distribution that will be shipped with it. Users can change the OS by swapping over the micro SD card and they have the option of booting from an external microSD card or from the onboard NAND 8GB flash.

Additional storage can be added by inserting a USB2 drive or external hard drive (SATA compatible). V1 can be optionally booted by USB or a dedicated SPI ROM port.

Virtualette V1 Playing DVD via SATA

Examples of V1’s potential capabilities are:

  • As an individual desktop device or controller for a drone or robot.
  • As a liquid-cooled computer inside a 40mm PVC pipe.
  • As M2M nodes in a distributed intelligent security system.
  • Deployed as a peer-to-peer, machine-to-machine network in applications such as display information systems in airports or train stations.

With the launch of their Kickstarter campaign, SRKH Designs aims to raise funding of US$22.5k, offering backers Virtualette V1 devices from the first production run as their reward.

Post campaign, a roadmap of hardware products for the Virtualette range is planned. This includes future quad-core and octa-core versions, an add-on FPGA-based development board, a desktop platform, popular video adaptor interfaces and an ‘All in One’ peripheral board designed to embed V1 inside a slimline display case.

Open Source DIY Laptop Kit By Olimex

Olimex Ltd is a Bulgarian leading provider for development tools and programmers for embedded market. The company has 25+ years’ experience in designing, prototyping and manufacturing printed circuit boards, sub-assemblies, and complete electronic products.

The latest amazing product by Olimex is an open source laptop DIY kit called: TERES I.
TERES I is open source hardware and software Do It Yourself laptop running Linux on 64- bit ARM processor. It’s very light less 1 kg and convenient to carry with when travel. The core of this laptop is built around an Allwinner ARM Cortex-A53, 1GB of DDR3L RAM, 4GB of eMMC Flash, WiFi, Bluetooth, a camera, and an 11.6″ 1366×768 display.

Back to history, Teres I was the first king of the Odrysian state of Thrace where Plovdiv – the city where TERES I laptop was designed. The Odrysian state was the first Thracian kingdom that acquired power in the region, by the unification of more than 40 Thracian tribes under a single ruler!

The stylish and elegant shape laptop is open source hardware and software, so people can learn and study how it’s done. The CAD files and source code is on GitHub and everybody can download and modify and use for their own need.

“If you want to implement new features nothing stops you. If you need another processor, more power, more memory, better LCD, you are free to do this and tailor this laptop to your needs! If you do not like the Linux distribution you have access to the sources and can generate any Linux distribution to your taste!”

The laptop is modular which means that there is number of possibilities to expand it for example by adding a FPGA expansion module in order to give the laptop some extra capabilities like Digital Storage Oscilloscope, Logic Analyzer and much more features. This expansion module and others are under construction now and will be launched soon.

You can also order any spare part of the laptop since all it’s components available for purchase, which makes maintenance easier and cheaper.

TERES I DIY kit is available for €225 in two colors white and black, and it contains the following parts:

 

  1. PCB1 A64
  2. PCB2 IO
  3. PCB3 TOUCH
  4. PCB4 BTN
  5. PCB5 KEYBOARD
  6. LiPo 7000mAh
  7. Bottom
  8. Keyboard
  9. LCD Frame
  10. LCD Back
  11. Power Button
  12. Touch Buttons
  13. Speaker Left
  14. Speaker Right
  15. LED pipe
  16. Screws Set
  17. Hinge Set
  18. Mats Set
  19. Magnet
  20. Camera
  21. Camera Lens
  22. Dust Protectors
  23. Touch Cover
  24. Touch
  25. WiFi Antenna
  26. LCD cable
  27. FPC IO Main
  28. FPC Power Main
  29. FPC Touch Button
  30. FPC Kbd Button
  31. Power Adapter
  32. Microphone

 

This laptop could be the next educational gadget for your kids or students. You can use it to explain for them in action how computers work and what do they consist of. It will give them the chance to think deeper in the fields of electronics and programming while assembling the laptop for the  first time and if any trouble occurred  and they have to help in solving it. This educational benefits of TERES I could not be available unless the laptop is completely open source.

It is true that the specifications of this laptop may not be perfect, but no one can deny that the price tag is cool making this laptop a consumable choice for some usages. This DIY kit is out of stock now as mentioned on the website, but you can register your email on the product page to be notified once it is available.

TERES I is completely designed with KiCAD FOSS, also hardware and software source files are available on Github. Also check this file to know more details about the laptop and the building instructions.

A few months ago, Tsvetan Usunov the brain behind Olimex had conducted a talk at Hackaday Belgrade conference about his upcoming DIY laptop kit. Check it out!

WeMOS D1 ESP8266 vs Arduino Uno, Arduino Due and Teensy 3.2. Which one is the fastest board?

In this video educ8s.tv is going to compare the computational speed of the WeMOS D1 ESP8266 based Arduino compatible board with the computational speed of the most popular Arduino boards and the Teensy 3.2.

A few weeks ago, in a similar video we compared the performance of the Teensy with the most popular Arduino boards. Today, we are going to add another board to the comparison, the WeMOS D1 ESP8266 Arduino compatible board. I have prepared a detailed tutorial on that board so you can check it out before we start.

WeMOS D1 ESP8266 vs Arduino Uno, Arduino Due and Teensy 3.2. Which one is the fastest board? – [Link]

Puck.js – The Ground-Breaking Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

Puck.js is a low energy smart device which can be programmed and debugged wirelessly with JavaScript. It is both multi-functional and easy to use.  This beacon uses a custom circuit board with the latest Nordic chip, Bluetooth LE, Infrared transmitter, NFC, magnetometer, temperature sensor, RGB LEDs, and much more. Unlike other beacons, Puck.js comes with the open source JavaScript interpreter Espruino pre-installed, which makes it incredibly easy to use. Anyone without any prior programming experience can get started in seconds.

Puck.js Has a Very Small Form Factor
Puck.js Has a Very Small Form Factor

Specifications:

  • Espruino JavaScript interpreter pre-installed
  • nRF52832 SoC – Cortex M4, 64kB RAM, 512kB Flash
  • 8 × 0.1″ GPIO (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART, Analog Input)
  • 9 × SMD GPIO (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART)
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 – giving Quadruple the range, and double the speed of Bluetooth 4.2
  • Built-in Near Field Communications (NFC)
  • 12 bit ADC, timers, SPI, I2C, and Serial
  • MAG3110 Magnetometer
  • IR Transmitter
  • Red, Green and Blue LEDs
  • Pin capable of capacitive sensing
  • Built-in temperature sensor, light sensor, and battery level sensor
  • ABS plastic rear case and silicone cover with tactile button
  • CR2032 210mAh battery

Features:

Puck.js has various sensors for different purposes and various kinds of output components. It can measure light, temperature, magnetic fields, and capacitance. This beacon also can control Infrared remote devices, produce any color light using RGB LED, and has a tactile switch that turns the Puck into one big button.

The Magnetometer on Puck.js is a digital compass. You can measure its orientation about the earth’s magnetic field in 3 dimensions. It can also detect a magnet nearby and measures the magnetic field.

Detailed View of Puck.js Bluetooth Beacon
Detailed View of Puck.js Bluetooth Beacon

Puck also has the Web Bluetooth feature that enables controlling it from a web page wirelessly. The website simply sends the JavaScript code directly to the Puck, and it’ll be executed. Another excellent feature of Puck.js is internet accessibility. Espruino contains TCP/IP and HTTP client and servers (including WebSockets). With a suitable Bluetooth LE to the Internet Gateway, you’ll be able to put your Puck on the web!

The story doesn’t end here. Compared to other smart beacons, Puck.js has much more features that make it unbeatable. Open Source hardware and software is one of them. Go here to get a complete list of all features.

Conclusion:

Puck is an outstanding product. It has tons of booming features in a small package, yet easy to program. Anyone can get started with this amazing device within seconds. You can get it at £28 from this Kickstarter link. Also watch this video from Kickstarter campaign or the below video by Adafruit.com for a better understanding.

facetVISION: Compound Eyes for Industry and Smartphone

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF have developed a process that makes the production of a two-millimeter flat camera possible. Similar to the eyes of insects, its lens is partitioned into 135 tiny facets. The researchers have named their mini-camera concept facetVISION, following nature’s model. This mini-camera has a thickness of only two millimeters at a resolution of 1 megapixel.

facetVISION compound eye: First prototype
facetVISION compound eye: First prototype

All 135 small, uniform lenses are positioned close together, similar to the pieces of a mosaic. Each lens receives only a small section of its surroundings. The newly developed facetVISION technology aggregates the many individual images of the lenses to a whole picture. Finally, this technology should obtain a resolution of 4 megapixels. This is certainly a higher resolution compared to latest cameras in industrial applications like robot technology or automobile production.

The compound eye technology is also suitable for integration into smartphones. The lens of a modern smartphone must be at least 5 millimeters thick in order to capture a sharp image. The manufacturers of ultrathin smartphones are facing this challenge since the camera lens is thicker than the housing of the phone. But, this new technology can reduce the thickness to around 3 millimeters without compromising picture quality. Andreas Brückner, the project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, says:

It will be possible to place several smaller lenses next to each other in the smartphone camera. The combination of facet effect and proven injection molded lenses will enable resolutions of more than 10 megapixels in a camera requiring just a thickness of around three and a half millimeters.

The researchers also explained how this camera can be used in medical engineering as optical sensors to examine blood. The facetVISION has many other applications like checking image quality in a printing machine, parking camera in cars or in industrial robots to prevent collisions between human and machine.

Mass production of facetVISION is possible
Mass production of facetVISION is possible

Under the leadership of Andreas Brückner, the researchers have already demonstrated that facetVISION is suitable for mass production. So, keep waiting and maybe you will purchase a new smartphone equipped with a facetVISION compound eye in not so distant future.