PMOD HAT Adapter Expansion for the Raspberry Pi

In the ever-increasing uses cases for the Raspberry Pi, one major way to add an extra functionality to the Raspberry Pi is making use of Pmod Modules. Pmod devices or modules are trademarks of Digilent Inc. They are set of small input and output interface boards that can be used to extend the capabilities of a development board.

PMod HAT Adapter

The teams from DesignSpark and RS Components has released a $15 expansion board called the Pmod HAT, that allows the functionality of Pmod modules be added to the Raspberry Pi in an easy plug and play manner. The DesignSpark Pmod (Peripheral Modules) HAT allows one to interface the Raspberry Pi with any one of the multitudes of diverse Digilent Pmods that are available from RS Components like the PmodAD1 (a two channel 12-bit ADC module), PmodISNS20 (a high accuracy Hall Effect current sensor), PmodOLEDrgb (an organic RGB LED module with 96×64 pixel display), and many others.

PMod modules

The Pmod HAT Adapter is a 65 x 56.5mm HAT compliant board that offers three 2 x 6 pin Pmod connections with support for I2C, SPI, UART and GPIO interfaces. The board can get its power either through the Raspberry Pi Power IO lines or via a 5V barrel power jack. The Pi HAT Adapter is compatible with the following Raspberry Pi: Raspberry Pi Model A+, Raspberry Pi Model B+, Raspberry Pi 2 B, Raspberry Pi 3 B, Raspberry Pi Zero W, and Raspberry Pi Zero.

The Pmod HAT Adapter is currently able to support up to six Pmod modules, three Pmod modules can be connected through the 3 extend Pmod interface and the rest through the additional I/O available via the Raspberry Pi 40-pin GPIO connector. It includes an EEPROM that stores a device tree fragment which is used to identify the module and configure the OS and drivers.

The board has been released with support for Python-based developers through a ton of demo tutorials and example Python Libraries hosted on DesignSpark.

Pmod HAT in use with Pmod devices

The following are the specifications of the Pi Pmod Adapter HAT

  • 5mm Follows Raspberry Pi HAT Specification
  • Provides access to full-line of Digilent Pmod Peripheral modules
  • Three Pmod ports: two SPI (JA/JB), one I2C (JB), one UART (JC), all three GPIO capable
  • SPU, UART, I2C, GPIO Connections are supported
  • 5V barrel jack for external power
  • 40-pin Raspberry Pi GPIO header
  • One power supply connector, or powered by the Pi via GPIO 5v pins
  • 16mA current limit for all PMOD GPIOs

The DesignSpark Raspberry Pi Pmod HAT Adapter is available for purchase at Digilent for $14.99 and 14 Pounds at RS-Components.

3.5A Unipolar Stepper Motor Driver

Unipolar stepper motor driver can drive unipolar stepper motor up to 3.5A and supply range is 10 To 50V DC. The board has been designed using STK672-442AEN IC.  The STK672-442AN is a hybrid IC for use as a unipolar, 2-phase stepper motor driver with PWM current control and Micro-stepping.

Features

  • Supply Up to 50V DC Input
  • Logic Supply 5V DC Input
  • Load Current 3.5Amps
  • Stepper Motor: 5 Wires, 6 Wires, 8 Wires (Unipolar)
  • Built-in over current detection function, over heat detection function (Output Off)
  • Fault 1 signal ( Active Low) is output when overcurrent or over heat is detected
  • Fault 2 signal is used to output the result of activation of protection circuit detection at 2 levels.
  • Built-in power on reset function

3.5A Unipolar Stepper Motor Driver – [Link]

Visible Things Industrial IoT Starter Kit

Simplify and secure your IoT solution with Avnet Silica’s complete evaluation and reference platform, Visible Things. It connects smart devices right to the cloud and enterprise software, and supports an ever increasing range of sensor, connectivity, gateway and security technologies. Together with Avnet Silica’s cloud, analytics, mobile and enterprise integration services, it’s a complete solution from edge to enterprise – so relax.

Avnet Silica’s Visible Things Industrial Starter Kit provides a turnkey solution based on the Renesas Synergy™ Platform, that allows you to start designing at the API level and is equipped to handle an outstanding range of connectivity tasks.

Visible Things – Key Features

  • Sensor to server security layer on top of network security
  • Quick evaluation of end application
  • Highest degree of flexibility
  • Reduces development time significantly – time saving
  • Optimised power consumption
  • Cloud ready

Renesas Synergy™ Platform – Key Elements

  • Qualified commercial-grade software with a common API
  • Scalable and compatible ARM Cortex-M based microcontrollers
  • Intuitive professional development tools and kits
  • Time-saving end-to-end solutions
  • Click-through licensing plus a collection of specialized add-on software

[Read more] – [View Datasheet]

Researches Solve Problems of Organic Thin Film Transistors By Developing Nanostructured Gate Dielectric

Amorphous silicon-based Thin-film transistors (TFTs) are the foundation of many modern-day technologies, such as smartphones and flat-panel TVs. Still, it comes with a few drawbacks like performance limitations due to limited carrier mobility. Provoking the researchers in search of something better.

As a result, Organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs) were developed. OTFTs have solved the problem with carrier mobility to an extent. Although it introduced new problems such as the critical performance parameter of large threshold voltage instabilities. Threshold voltages—also known as gate voltages—are the minimum voltage differential needed between a gate and the source to create a conducting path between the source and drain terminals.

Nanostructured Gate dielectric opens new possibilities in OTFTs

Latest works of the researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology seems to overcome the voltage instability problem with OTFTs. They have developed a nanostructured gate dielectric that can regulate voltage threshold fluctuations in OTFTs.

gate dielectric is an important component of every thin-film transistor. It acts as the electrically insulating layer between the gate terminal and the semiconductor. It should have a high dielectric constant, be very thin, and have a high dielectric strength for the transistor to function at low voltage.

On applying a voltage across the gate electrode, the resulting electric field across this insulating layer changes the density of carriers in the semiconductor layer. It regulates the current that is flowing between the source and the drain electrodes. Many different materials are used to make this insulating layer. Such as dielectric polymers, inorganic oxides or combinations of different organic and inorganic materials.

The Georgia Tech researchers used Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technique to build a thin metal oxide layer on top of a perfluorinated dielectric polymer. They chose ALD for its ability to produce layers that are free from any defects. Bernard Kippelen, a professor at Georgia Tech, and leader of the research said:

The low defect density reduces the diffusion of moisture into the underlying organic semiconductor layer, preventing its degradation.

The performance of the new organic thin-film transistors seems to surpass that of hydrogenated amorphous silicon technology. According to Kippelen, it revolutionizes OTFTs in terms of charge mobility and stability. He stated:

It is premature and difficult at this stage to provide a direct comparison with what is currently on the market; nevertheless, we believe that the level of stability that is achieved is an important step for printed electronics.

Before the future applications, Kippelen and his team will further investigate the mechanical properties of these printed transistors since they show great potential with flexible form factor products. Further information can be found on the Research paper published in the journal Science Advances.

R-78S switching regulator boosts a AA battery to 3.3V

Recom’s first evaluation board allows engineers to effortlessly test the functionality of the R-78S switching regulator, which boosts a AA battery or external supply voltage to 3.3V for low power IoT applications. By Julien Happich @ eenewseurope.com:

The R-78S Evaluation Board demonstrates the performance of the R-78S which boosts single-cell AA battery voltage of 1.5V up to a stable 3.3V. This guarantees much higher energy capacities and reduces maintenance costs compared to button or coin cell batteries. This will effectively extend the operation lifetime of an application since the boost converter continues to operate at input voltages as low as 0.65V.

R-78S switching regulator boosts a AA battery to 3.3V – [Link]

Espressif Systems is bringing voice enabled kit to makers and developers

Voice Assistants are becoming more widely accepted, devices like Amazon Echo, Sonos On, and Google Home devices are seeing the larger market share. The mounting interest in voice assistants and voice-activated platforms is leading to new ways of communicating, and in theory, creating additional channels to drive revenue.

It’s estimated that 30% of searches will be done without a screen in the next years, that there will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020, and 2019 could put the voice recognition market to a $601 million industry. Amazon is paving the way for the possibility of these predictions with their goal of “Alexa on all Every Devices”, and the launch of the Amazon Alexa Voice development kit that will allow manufacturers easily integrate Alexa into their products. The voice-based platform could be the next stealth thing, after all, it’s easier to voice out your thoughts than type them out.

Espressif-Audio-Mic-HDK

The Shanghai-based Chinese manufacturer Espressif Systems known for their famous ESP8266, is releasing its own voice development kit, the ESP32 LyraTD MSI HDK (Hardware Development Kit” also known as “Audio Mic HDK”, was recently announced on Twitter with this question – “does anyone need something like that?”

The Audio Mic HDK is powered by the ESP32, comes embedded with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE and as a four-microphone array with dual speaker output ports. It provides support for micro SD Card which can be used for storing audio files, and provides support for – UART, SPI, I2C, I2S, and JTAG through its breakout expansion pins.

Targeting applications in the areas of wireless audio, voice assistant, and home appliances. The kit supports all major cloud voice vendors such as – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Baidu DuerOS. It supports soft decoder and keyword recognition on the ESP32 processor.

The following are the Espressif Audio Mic HDK specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROVER module
  • Connectivity –
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
    • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • DSP – 4-mic array chip
  • Storage – micro SD card
  • Audio –
    • Audio driver chip
    • Earphone jack
    • Dual speaker output ports
    • 4x microphone array with up to 3-meter sensitivity while playing music
  • Expansion –
    • I2C/SPI header
    • 6-pin UART header
    • I2S header
  • Debugging – USB-UART micro USB interface (based on CP2102N), and JTAG header
  • Misc –
    • Power switch
    • 8x keys on top
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

It’s unclear when the board is intended to be fully available for the public and the prices are currently unavailable.

Driving an 8×8 (64) LED Matrix with MAX7219 (or MAX7221) and Arduino Uno

8×8 matrix Demo

Hi guys, today we will be focusing on displaying mini graphics and texts on an 8×8 LED matrix using the MAX7219 (or MAX7221) LED driver and the Arduino Uno.

The 8×8 LED matrix displays are usually used for the display of symbols, simple graphics and texts. Made of super bright LEDs, they produce low resolution display and can be daisy chained to produce larger displays.

To enable us to control the display easily, we will be using the MAX7219/MAX7221 LED display driver module. Although this driver comes attached to the LED Matrix display that we will be using for this tutorial, its important to treat them separately, so you can understand how the LED driver works and be able to use it in case you are unable to get an 8×8 LED Matrix display that comes with the LED Driver.

Driving an 8×8 (64) LED Matrix with MAX7219 (or MAX7221) and Arduino Uno – [Link]

Face Recognition Chip revolutionizing Smartphone Security

Back in 2007 Apple released the first generation of iPhone which is considered as the first smartphone as those we use today. Before that, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) dominated the market and some even included network connectivity, the ability to send and receive calls, and password unlocking. The iPhone inherited the ability to be unlocked with a 4-digit personal password which allowed users to protect their personal information (photos, contacts, etc.). As it evolved, so did the security concerns regarding stolen phones and the new gained ability of thieves to unlock them despite the password. As a result, smartphone security had to be improved, different operating systems opted for different solutions such as 6- digits passwords, patterns, and finger print unlocking.

Using finger print to unlock a smartphone is the latest security trend, and almost all smartphones in the market now posses that feature. It is not just safer, but also faster and more convenient for users. However, new researches from New York University and Michigan State University suggest that fake digitally composed fingerprints can easily fool smartphones. The latest iPhone comes with FaceID feature which uses a true Depth selfie camera to scan your face and unlock your phone. Infineon together with pmdtechnologies AG developed a 3D image sensor chip which makes the face unlock feature smarter, faster, and more reliable.

The chip is based on ToF technology which offers advantages in performance, size, and power consumption of mobile devices. The Real3 chip has 38,000 pixels with each one featuring the Suppression Background Illumination circuitry, and includes the receiving optics and VCSEL illumination in a footprint of less than 12×8 mm. It is tuned to work at 940nm infrared light sources which results in improvements in outdoor performance. The product was displayed at CES 2018, and the company claims that they are ready for mass production,

Face recognition is growing in popularity and market forecasts expect an increase to roughly 290 million units in 2019 in smartphones with 3D sensing functionality. This technology seems to be safe, but questions have arisen regarding functionality in different scenarios. For example, can a thief unlock your phone by forcefully pointing it at you? Can an accident victim have problems unlocking their phone? Can the police unlock your phone without a warrant? Smartphone face recognition is still unexplored territory that users along side with developers will have to figure out just as with any other technology. It also offers a wide range of opportunities for developers to make safer payment options.

[Source]

Maker Uno – The $6 Arduino Uno Clone Board for Students and Learners

Unless you are completely new to electronics, you probably must have heard of the household name called “Arduino”. Arduino is an open-source platform used for building electronics projects and one that pioneered the open-source hardware and the DIY maker’s movement. Arduino can sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can affect its surrounding by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The microcontroller on the Arduino is programmed using the Arduino programming language which you can program to do so many things like switch on your lights when you walk in or send an alert when there is an intruder in your house.

The Arduino Uno is one of the first boards of the Arduino Family and that which fully sparked the Arduino Revolution. The success of this boards in teaching kids, students, enthusiast and even engineers has led to drastic replication of it, often called Arduino Clones or Arduino Compatible board. Arduino Clones are basically Arduino lookalike boards that perform almost the same functionality with the real Arduino but not made by the Arduino team. Some of these Arduino clones comes at a very lesser cost as compared to the $25 of the official Arduino Uno, some even as low as $3.

Maker Uno is another Arduino Compatible board released by Malaysia based Cytron Technologies, having launched their first Arduino Uno clone board “Ct Uno” about three years ago. The Maker Uno is purple in color and retails for just $6. It shares close similarities with the standard Arduino Uno with just some few differences. Its termed to be a board designed for students learning coding and microcontroller for the first time. The name Maker is to encourage everyone to be a maker and start building things.

As the Arduino Uno, the Maker Uno is based on the popular Atmega 328P microcontroller can be programmed via it’s USB port. It is also based on the includes standard female headers – means it will easily support most Arduino based Shields.

The traditional DC Jack on the Arduino Uno has been removed from the Maker Uno board and the obviously 5V linear regulator, so the Maker Uno board can only be powered by 5V from the micro USB port or the 5V header pin. It includes a piezo buzzer connected to pin 8 for audio outputs with a selectable switch to disable the buzzer, a micro USB port as compared to the Arduino Uno USB B connector, and a programmable push button. Aside from the standard LED on pin 13, Maker-UNO comes with a programmable LED on every digital pin, from pin D0 to D13.

Maker-UNO combines the simplicity of the UNO Optiboot bootloader the stability of the low-cost FTDI CH340 chip and the R3 shield compatibility of the latest Arduino UNO R3.

The following are some of the Maker Uno Features:

  • SMD ATmega328P microcontroller(the same microcontroller on Arduino UNO) with Optiboot (UNO) Bootloader
  • USB Programming facilitated by the CH340
  • Input voltage: USB 5V, from computer, power bank or standard USB adapter
  • 500mA (maximum) 3.3V voltage regulator
  • 0-5V outputs with 3.3V compatible inputs
  • 14 Digital I/O Pins (6 PWM outputs)
  • 6 Analog Inputs
  • ISP 6-pin Header
  • 32k Flash Memory
  • 16MHz Clock Speed
  • R3 Shield Compatible
  • LED array for 5V, 3.3V, TX, RX and all digital pins
  • Utilize USB Micro-B socket
  • Purple PCB!

The Maker Uno is a great board for getting started with coding and electronics. Unlike the Arduino Uno, to start development with the Maker Uno, you will first need to install the CH340 driver first. The Maker Uno is available for purchase at Tindie and Cytron. You can kickstart your Maker Uno board adventure from here.

UPDATE 26/03/2018 – 

The Maker Uno board is live on Kickstart for crowdfunding here and has 22 days to go.

Iota V2 – Gyroscope Sensor in tiny dimensions

De Martin Cote @ kickstarter.com designed v2 of his gyroscope sensor that is able to track movement on 3-axis. The new board is smaller, lighter, cheaper and has PPM output to connect on your RC remote control. He writes:

Here is the evolution of my successful Gyroscope Sensor. Now smaller, lighter, cheaper and with optional PPM output.

Even more perfect for FPV head tracking, robotics, movement control and why not video games. Based on ATmega328P microcontroller, the 3 axis motion sensor gyroscope allows you to track the movement of the head or arm and replicate it to servos. For Do It Yourself (DIY) home project lover who dreams of doing a head tracking system FPV themselves cheaply.

This system has been specially designed for DIY in electronics or robotics for students to explore electronics or who want their own system, but are less comfortable with advanced programming of accelerometers. You can use one or more axes (X, Y, Z) independently. According to your needs.

Iota V2 – Gyroscope Sensor in tiny dimensions – [Link]