A nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit For Bluetooth 5 Applications

Bluetooth Low Energy and the Internet of things is believed to be the perfect matchmaking. Even though Bluetooth doesn’t necessary gives devices the ability to connect to the Internet they still have so much capacity. The Bluetooth Low Energy enabled solutions will increase the functionality of IoT Systems, by creating a reliable framework and efficient connectivity for the devices. Devices can use BLE to connect to each other thereby improving reliability, increasing range, mitigate security risk, reduce cost, and most importantly improve battery life.

The launch of the Bluetooth 5, which promise so much more are beginning to see some adoption in the open hardware industry, and a good example is the Particle Xenon using the Nordic nRF52840 SOC. The Nordic nRF52840 SoC is designed around an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU and comes with a 1 MB flash with cache and a 256kB of RAM.

The Makediary nRF52840 board
The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Board

Nordic recently announced that the nRF52840 now supports concurrent Thread and Bluetooth 5 wireless connectivity eliminating the previous requirement of disconnecting from one of the networks before connecting to the other. So, the potential from this announcement is enormous.

Recognising the possibility of Bluetooth 5 in addition to Thread connectivity, the teams at Makerdiary has launched a new development kit for the nRF52840 SoC called the nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit

The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Kit is a kit that will allow developers to explore Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth MeshThreadIEEE 802.15.4ANT and 2.4GHz proprietary wireless applications using the nRF52840 SoC. The kit comes integrated with the DAPLink debugger which provides a USB drag-and-drop programming, USB Virtual COM port and CMSIS-DAP interface.

The kit supports quite some software frameworks such as the  nRF5 SDK, nRF5 SDK for Mesh, OpenThread, ZigBee 3.0, Mbed OS 5, Zephyr, Mynewt, Web Bluetooth, iBeacon, Eddystone, and others. It works with the standard Nordic Software Development Tool-chain using GCC, Keil and IAR.

One significant take note of the board is the USB type C port available, a rare port used for hardware boards. The development board put up a ton of features like an ultra-low power 64-Mb QSPI FLASH memory, programmable user button, RGB LED, up to 24 GPIOs, antenna selection for custom applications.

Below are some of the device specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F WiSoC with 1 MB FLASH and 256 kB RAM, Arm TrustZone Cryptocell 310 security subsystem
  • External Storage – 64-Mbit QSPI flash
  • Wireless Connectivity (on-chip)
    • Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth Mesh
    • Thread, IEEE 802.15.4
    • ANT, 2.4GHz proprietary
    • On-chip NFC-A tag
    • An on-board 2.4G chip antenna
    • u.FL connector selectable for an external antenna
  • Programming / Debugging with DAPLink
    • MSC – drag-n-drop programming flash memory
    • CDC – virtual com port for log, trace and terminal emulation
    • HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
    • WEBUSB HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
  • USB – 1x USB type C port for power and programming
  • Expansion – 2x 18-pin breadboard-friendly headers with 24 GPIOs,   I2C, QSPI, UART, 6x analog input pins, SWD/JTAG, and power signals (VIN, GND, 3.3V, 5V)
  • Misc – Boot/Reset Button, User button and user RGB LED
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB type C connector; 3.3V regulator with 1A peak current output; VBUS & VIN Power-Path Management
  • Dimensions – 50mm x 23mm x 13mm with headers

Although the development board is an open source board and the design files are already available on Github, it is advisable you purchase the board to support them. Makerdiary nRF52840-MDK can be purchased for $42.90 on Seeed Studio, or directly on Makerdiary’s online store.

Beelink KT03 Industrial MiniPC with Apollo lake SoC goes for $150

The Chinese based company, Beelink is known for its set of consumer-oriented mini PC, and Android TV Boxes has now launched a new brand of mini PC that slightly differs from its traditional domestic-focused mini-PC but with the of hope of targeting industrial and commercial uses called the Beelink KT03.

Beelink KT03 Mini PC
Beelink KT03

The Beelink KT03 is meant to find applications in industrial, commercial and research applications. It comes with a staggering connectivity option and support for connecting up to 3 screens at once,  something you won’t find in their other products. The instant three screen connectivity is possible due to the availability of two HDMI ports and one extra VGA port. The HDMI version is HDMI 1.4 which supports 4000 resolutions at only 24 or 30 frames per second, which work fine for movies, but is not so useful for higher-end gaming, which requires 50 or 60 frames per seconds (FPS).

Beelink is usually accustomed to releasing a mini PC with a pre-installed operating system of either Linus or a Windows OS, but the KT03 variant doesn’t come with any pre-installed operating system giving users the full power of customization to their taste. Just like other miniPCs, the Beelink KT03 is compatible with both Linux and Windows 10 operating system. Also, it doesn’t come with any installed RAM but supports up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM.

The mini PC is powered by a Quad Core Intel Apollo Lake Celeron J3455 processor which is suitable for general computational tasks and can reach a maximum speed of 2.3 GHz. An Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU accompanies it. The device includes 2 COM Ports, 4 USB 3.0 Ports, a dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, two audio input and output jacks, and a mini PCIe for attaching the likes of a WiFi, 4G module or Bluetooth module. It comes with a socket for two 3G SIM cards.

It is evident that the mini PC is more for industrial use with the inclusion of 2 RS-232 ports. Storage options are possible through a SATA3 Port available and an optional mSATA. Power is through a DC jack and consumption is rated at about 12V/3A.

Below are the specifications of the Beelink KT03

  • SoC – Intel Celeron J3455 quad-core Apollo Lake (1.5GHz to 2.3GHz clock speed)
  • GPU – Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU
  • Connectivity Options – 2 mini PCIe cards for optional WiFi or 2 GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) ports and Sim card slot
    • USB – 4 USB 3.0 ports for high-speed USB data transfers
    • 2 RS-232 ports
  • Memory- 8GB DDR3
  • Storage – SATA3 port and mSATA.
  • Temperature Range – 15°C to 85°C
  • Display – 2 HDMI Ports, VGA Port
  • Video Support – AVI,DAT,ISO,MKV,MP4,MPEG,RM,WMV
  • Audio Support – AAC,APE,FLAC,MP3,OGG,RM,WMA
  • Power – 12V/3A DC Jack and Power brick
  • Others –
    • 3.5mm speaker jack
    • 3.5mm microphone jack
  • Measurements – 144mm by 130mm by 35m
  • Weight – 0.4188kg

The Beelink KT03 is available for purchase at $150 on Gearbest without RAM, OS, or storage or wireless options.

ESP32 with multiple DS18B20 temperature sensors

Guide to ESP32 with multiple DS18B20 temperature sensors from Random Nerd Tutorials:

This guide shows how to read temperature from multiple DS18B20 temperature sensors with the ESP32 using Arduino IDE. We’ll show you how to wire the sensors on the same data bus to the ESP32, install the needed libraries, and a sketch example you can use in your own projects. This tutorial is also compatible with the ESP8266 and the Arduino boards.

ESP32 with multiple DS18B20 temperature sensors – [Link]

All the Power of a Mini-ITX SBC on a 4” Board – the AAEON EPIC-KBS8

(Taipei, Taiwan – July 10, 2018) – AAEON, a global leader in industrial computing, releases the EPIC-KBS8, a powerful and expandable embedded controller purpose-built for retail and fintech applications.

The EPIC-KBS8 features a 6th/7th Generation Intel® Core™ i socket-type processor and up to 16GB DDR4 SODIMM memory. With other manufacturers only offering this level of computing power on larger, Mini-ITX boards, the EPIC-KBS8 represents a clear upgrade on competing products.

Modern retail solutions might include a camera, barcode scanner, cash register, scale, and even a fingerprint detector. To accommodate all these peripherals – and possible future technologies – the EPIC-KBS8 has two USB3.0 ports, up to ten internal USB2.0 connectors, and six COM connectors. The board also features possible dual LVDS support and the option of an eDP connection.

With its pair of LAN ports, the EPIC-KBS8 is also already being used as a powerful wireless Internet station, and its 0oC~60oC operating temperature range means it can be reliably used in the field. SATA, mSATA, and MiniCard slots provide multiple expansion slots, and the board’s CPU socket enables users to quickly and easily upgrade their processor whenever they want.

“Putting fast, socket-type processors on an EPIC board will give our customers a huge advantage,” said Alicia Wang, AAEON embedded computing division product manager. “Not only does the EPIC form factor’s smaller size make it cheaper to produce, but 4” boards can also be used in systems that Mini-ITX SBCs are just too bulky for.”

ESP8266 LED Matrix Clock

Simple LED matrix Clock based on the popular ESP8266 with Real Time Clock module and time synchronization over WiFi from an NTP server.

One note on the RTC module, apparently it also has the ability to charge the battery, however that’s not a good idea when using a CR2032. One possible solution would be to cut the trace marked on the image in order to disable the charging part of the circuit.

ESP8266 LED Matrix Clock – [Link]

Cellular IoT with Blynk & Hologram

Use a $9 GSM module & the Hologram network to remotely control any Arduino with Blynk App.

Blynk is an awesome tool that allows you to build drag and drop apps for controlling hardware remotely! Its perfect for quickly creating useful IoT projects. This tutorial will run you through setting up Blynk for cellular control using an Arduino and a $9 GSM board.

Hologram.io is a cellular network provider perfect for makers. At $0.60 /mo plus $0.40 per mb, you’ll have plenty of data for most IoT projects.

Cellular IoT with Blynk & Hologram – [Link]

Versatile 60V synchronous boost LED controller

High efficiency, a programmable internal LED PWM signal generator and optionally low-EMI spread spectrum modulation are the specific characteristics of Analog Devices’ Power by Linear LT3762 synchronous boost LED controller. The chip targets a broad range of application worlds, from automotive to medical.

The LT3762 includes a rail-to-rail current sense amplifier, enabling high side or low side current sensing that in addition to synchronous boost facilitates synchronous buck-mode and buck-boost mode topologies and nonsynchronous SEPIC designs. With an input range from 2.5 to 38.5V and and synchronous operation the LT3762 is ideal for automotive power systems, portable instruments, industrial applications, medical instruments and architectural lighting.

An auxiliary on-chip buck-boost converter provides the necessary gate drive voltage in low voltage systems, and when combined with a low 500µA maximum quiescent current and 1µA shutdown current (T A = 25°C), results in high efficiency over wide input voltage and output current ranges.

[source: www.eenewseurope.com]

Libre Computer’s New Renegade Elite SBC Features Rockchip RK3399 SoC

Libre Computer announced their new ROC-RK3399 Renegade Elite single board computer that can run Android Oreo or mainstream Linux 4.19+. The SBC features GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) with PoE, HDMI 2.0, 2x USB Type-C with DP, 3x USB 2.0, and dual 60-pin headers. It is accompanied by a 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and eMMC 5.x interface for storage.

ROC-RK3399 Renegade Elite
ROC-RK3399 Renegade Elite

ROC-RK3399 Renegade Elite is built around the high-end Rockchip RK3399 SoC. The SoC features 2x Cortex-A72 cores, which are typically clocked up to 2.0GHz, as well as 4x -A53 cores and a Mali-T860 GPU. This SBC is larger than the Raspberry Pi but is smaller than the more feature-rich Firefly-RK3399. The Renegade Elite is equipped with dual USB 3.0 Type-C ports that support DisplayPort as well as USB functions, and one of them is designed as a power input for the 12V SBC. Three USB 2.0 ports are also available along with an HDMI 2.0 port, an eDP interface, and a mix of MIPI-DSI and CSI interfaces.

Unfortunately, the Renegade Elite lacks discrete audio interfaces unlike many other SBCS, so it’s impossible to utilize the SoC’s exceptional audio features. Though it’s safe to assume that the HDMI 2.0 supports audio. The 60-pin high-speed PCIe and 60-pin low-speed connectors may include audio among many other interfaces.

The key specifications:

  • Processor: Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 cores, 4x Cortex-A53 cores); Mali-T860 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
    • eMMC 5.x interface
    • MicroSD slot
    • 128Mb SPI NOR
  • Display/media:
    • HDMI 2.0 port
    • 2x DisplayPort (via 2x USB 3.0 Type-C)
    • eDP
    • MIPI-DSI
    • MIPI-DSI /CSI
    • MIPI-CSI
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet port with optional PoE
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 Type-C (1x with power) with DisplayPort support
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • UART and UART header
  • Expansion: 60-pin PCIe header; 60-pin low-speed header
  • Other features: IR receiver; RTC with battery backup; recovery button
  • Power: DC 12V (power input via Type-C)
  • Operating system: Android 8 Oreo; Rockchip Linux 4.4; Mainline Linux 4.19+

The Renegade Elite will launch on Indiegogo in July and will be available in August. More information may be found on Libre Computer’s preliminary Renegade Elite product page.

LiFeP04wered/Pi+, A High-Performance Battery Power System For Raspberry Pi

LiFePo4wered/Pi+ is simply a better version of the LiFePo4wered/Pi3 and the LiFePowered/Pi. These devices are all designed to solve the issue of power supply to the raspberry pi. LiFePo4wered is simply a high-performance battery power system which is acting as an option for raspberry pi projects where the likes cellphone adapters and USB power banks cannot fit in.

Power is one of the significant factors in the use of the Raspberry, most Raspberry Pi projects are usually plugged into a wall power adapter which at some could impact on the mobility and portability of the project, but with the LiFePo4wered/Pi+ you don’t have to worry about plugging your project into a wall socket. It can power a Raspberry Pi for up to nine hours from its battery (depending on installed battery size, Raspberry Pi model, attached peripherals, and system load) and can be left plugged in continuously.

LiFePo4wered/Pi+ might probably end up as the best source of power supply to the raspberry pi, and the primary advantage is that it works with all models of the Raspberry Pi. The LiFePo4wered/Pi+ can provide a steady continuous current supply of 2A to the Raspberry Project; this is usually like the max most Raspberry Pi project will use an unlikelihood one will be capped at that max but the general standard of about 700mA.

The following are some of the features of the LiFePo4wered/Pi+:

  • 1500 mAh 3.2 V LiFePO4 battery: Uses a Lithium iron phosphate that provides safety, high power density and extended cycle life of 2000+ cycles. The battery can also be used as a UPS.
  • Optional 600 mAh, 3.2 V LiFePO4 cell: This is merely a smaller battery for low power applications or when there is power loss in the main battery.
  • 2 A continuous load current: Can supply this with 1500mAH battery option or using an external source of power.
  • A Smart charge controller:
    • Over-charge protection: This feature allows the device to stay plugged in continuously without exploding because it stores the extra charge to help it serve as a UPS when needed.
    • Auto-adjusting charge current: Regular charge current can be up to 1.5 A when used with high power chargers. However, it will automatically reduce current when needed not to overwork low power sources when they are used.
    • Customizable MPP (Maximum Power Point) voltage: This helps to obtain maximum efficiency when powered directly from suitably sized solar panels.
  • Others:
    • On/off button: provides convenient boot/shutdown triggers even in headless setups, with the press and hold function to prevent accidental activation (external button can be added).
    • Green PWR LED: This indicates the Raspberry Pi power state, and it provides feedback to the user. External LED can be included.
    • Red CHRG LED: This tells the user when there is a power loss and when there is a need to charge the batteries.
    • Wake timer: This allows the Raspberry Pi to be off until when it’s needed for low duty cycle applications.
    • Real-time clock: It keeps track of time and makes sure the raspberry pi comes on at a programmed time.
    • Autoboot: Makes the Raspberry Pi run whenever there is sufficient battery power, or when an external power supply is available.
    • Auto shutdown: Automatically shuts the Raspberry Pi down when there is a power loss or after a programmed amount of time.
    • Application watchdog: can alert a user by flashing the PWR LED or trigger a shutdown/reboot if the user application fails to service the timer within a configurable amount of time.
  • Compatibility: Works with every known model of Raspberry Pi, this includes Raspberry Pi Model A+, Model B+, Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi Zero W.
  • Hackers Friendly: It has convenient connection points for input power, 5 V output power, switched battery power, external button and LEDs(Light Emitting Diodes), and MPP customization.
  • Software:
    • LiFePO4wered daemon: This is responsible for the auto shutdown and real-time clock (RTC) duties.
    • Command line tool: allows simple configuration and access to all features.
    • Shared library, language bindings: C/C++, Python, and Node.js bindings allow integration into user programs.

The LiFePo4wered/Pi+ is planned for a crowdfunding campaign on crowd supply, and more details of the project campaign are available on the campaign page.

Pixl.js – The Latest Addition to the Espruino Family

Espruino is a small computer that anyone can use to control things around it. Its JavaScript interpreter gives you instant feedback so that you can experiment and develop whatever your level of experience. Even if you can’t program, you can still get started quickly with the web-based graphical code editor! The Espruino family started with one board that promised so much potential after the first launch of the Espuiro Original, their first board but have seen grow from the original to several other boards like the Pico, Puck.js and the latest addition is the Pixl.js.

The Pixl.js Board
The Pixl.js Board

Espruino boards have known famously for their ability to be programmed with Javascript. They are described as the Board for the Web, codename Javascript for the Things. The new Pixl.js brings a new approach to the Espruino boards with the introduction of a small LCD, unlike its earlier predecessors which can be handy for playing some simple games.

Pixl.js Showing the Chrome T-Rex Game
Pixl.js Showing the Chrome T-Rex Game

The Pixl.js is a Bluetooth LE device with a connected display and is based around the Nordic Semiconductor nRF42832 SoC. The nRF52832 SoC is a powerful, highly flexible ultra-low power multiprotocol SoC. The nRF52832 SoC is built around a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M4F CPU with 512kB + 64kB RAM. The embedded 2.4GHz transceiver supports Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT, and proprietary 2.4 GHz protocol stack.

The Pixl.js can talk and control other Bluetooth LE devices making it a good option for mesh networking applications. It can act as a wireless display, a conference badge, or as a notification message console. The board measures about 60mm × 53mm × 15mm and the LCD is a 128×64-pixel monochrome display that features a white backlight. The board is very power friendly and can be powered from an attached micro USB connector and a CR2032 coin cell battery which can give it a whopping 20-day life of juice.

The Pixl.js board comes with some similar Arduino footprint. It has a standard Arduino GPIO header beneath it making it able to interface with existing Arduino shields. The board packs a lot of features and doesn’t even require a driver when plugged into a computer.

Pixl.js with an Arduino headers footprint.

Below are some of the features of the Pixl.js:

  • Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Espruino JavaScript interpreter pre-installed
  • nRF52832 SoC – 64MHz ARM Cortex M4, 64kB RAM, 512kB Flash
  • 54mm diagonal, 128 x 64 Sunlight readable monochrome display with white backlight
  • 20x GPIO in Arduino footprint (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART, Analog Input)
  • Support for GSM, LTE, WiFi and Ethernet Arduino shields
  • 3v to 16v input range
  • CR2032 battery holder (20 days battery life with LCD on), or Micro USB (power only)
  • 4x 3mm mounting holes
  • 4x Buttons
  • Built in thermometer and battery level sensors
  • NFC tag programmable from JavaScript
  • Dimensions: 60mm x 53mm x 15mm

The Pixl.js board is available for purchase for £36.00 from the Espruino Store, and example tutorials are available on the Espruino site.