Using Bluetooth LE in Products

Jone Teel over Makezine walked through how to use BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy ), aka Bluetooth smart, in an electronic product.

BLE, unlike classic Bluetooth, it’s not designed for big data transmission or streaming audio or video. BLE comes in SoC (System on Chip) ICs which combine a RF transceiver and a microcontroller running the Bluetooth stack (firmware) all in a single chip but you can still have the transceiver alone and run the software stack firmware on your processor.

Possible Hardware Configuration in BLE Solutions - Getting Started with Bluetooth Low Energy by Kevin Townsend, Carles Cufí, Akiba, and Robert Davidson (O’Reilly)
Possible Hardware Configuration in BLE Solutions – Getting Started with Bluetooth Low Energy by Kevin Townsend, Carles Cufí, Akiba, and Robert Davidson (O’Reilly)

According to Jone, the software stack of Bluetooth Classic must be purchased separately and costs at least $10,000 USD plus a per unit licensing fee for every unit sold. Now, BLE SoC makers provide the software stack free in most cases. For example, Nordic Semiconductors provides the software stack S110, S120 and S130 SoftDevice for free.

most popular BLE chip solutions - Makezine
most popular BLE chip solutions – Makezine


Jone advises to use ready made BLE modules rather than chips and this will reduce the costs required for FCC certification and eliminate the need for antenna tuning.

Jone ends his article talking about the Antenna design solutions using a ceramic antenna or a trace antenna on PCB.

Via: Makezine

How to Upgrade Your ESP8266 SPI Flash to 4MB

ESP8266, the well known WiFi module contains an ESP8266EX SoC IC and an external SPI flash. This external SPI flash is used together with ESP8266EX to store user programs.

The supported size of flash by ESP8266EX is up to 16MB but some of ESP8266 modules contain flash chips with low storage capacity like 512KB. In some cases you need more space. For example, if the upgrade Over The Air “OTA is enabled: the minimum flash memory that can be supported is 1 Mbyte” according to ESP8266EX datasheet.

The SPI flash used in ESP8266 modules is W25qxx from Winbond, and in order to upgrade your flash memory you need to remove the old chip soldered to your module PCB and then solder the new one W25Q32 (32M-bit / 4M-byte), which can be ordered from Aliexpress.


[Code and Solder] channel over Youtube shared with us how to do the upgrade process.

Via: embedsysweekly

Simple Arduino Radio with TEA5767


@ has uploaded a new tutorial on how to make a simple arduino radio based on 2.2″ TFT ILI9225 controller, TEA5767 breakout board and Arduino MEGA2560. The radio can play a list of predefined stations and can’t scan through them.

So, I was searching for a tutorial to create a simple Radio with Arduino… And all what I found was very complex sketches for a very simple result, and I didn’t find any tutorials to use it with a TFT and UTFT library.

I decide to create a tutorial for noobs like me which are searching for it

Simple Arduino Radio with TEA5767 – [Link]

Dual output step-down charge pump operates without inductors

Linear Technology’s LTC3256 is a high voltage low noise dual output power supply, which takes a single positive input and generates 5V and 3.3V step-down supplies with high efficiency and no inductors. by Julien Happich @

The device features a wide 5.5V to 38V input voltage range and includes independently enabled dual outputs: a 5V 100mA supply, and a 250mA 3.3V low-dropout (LDO) regulator, for a total of 350mA available output current.

Dual output step-down charge pump operates without inductors – [Link]

Eagle 7.6.2 – First Beta Release After Autodesk’s Acquisition of Cadsoft

It has been one month since the Autodesk’s acquisition of Cadsoft.

After the acquisition, they redesigned the website and changed the domain name from to It seems that Autodesk is going very fast toward sharing with community what they intend to do with Eagle CAD tool after a lot of debates about the future of Eagle CAD.

Now and after about one month of the acquisition, they announced the release of EAGLE beta (7.6.2). “A number of items are “in development” but we’re looking for feedback, so it was better to push these early!” stated by the announcement.

The new features in this beta release include net names on tracks in the PCB editor.

net names on tracks in the PCB editor- Images courtesy of
net names on tracks in the PCB editor- Images courtesy of

The 7.6.2 beta version introduced a new button. It’s called MAKE button.

MAKE button produces the necessary outputs for fabrication, assembly, test, etc and upload your design files (including schematic, PCB, BOM, etc) to your user profile on Autodesk’s site.


Another new button is called MCAD. This button will upload your design to which is an online Electrical CAD (ECAD) to Mechanical CAD (MCAD) file converter.

Visit to see the announcement and to download the new beta version.

The video below demonstrates how MAKE button works.

Evive – All-in-one Prototyping Platform

Every maker and electronics hobbyist knows how hardware is messy. A lot of tools are needed in our labs like voltmeter, oscilloscope, breadboard, wires, power supply, etc.

A startup form India designed a new platform called Evive as an all-in-one solution to build and debug your projects easily.


Arduino At Heart
Arduino At Heart

Evive is powered by Arduino MEGA 2560 R3, that means you can develop your code with Arduino IDE. It also preserve an Arduino UNO pinouts on the main board of Evive for Arduino UNO/MEGA shields.


Evive provides rich power options include 5-30V input, 2600mAH internal battery and a 5V,3.3V and variable output voltage.


The new platform supports “plug and play” for some devices:

  • Directly plug up to 2 motors, max 1A/channel up to 30V .
  • Any 4 wire stepper motor, max 1A current rating.
  • Directly connect 2 relays, up to 30V.
  • Drive 2 servos adjustable voltage, up to 30V.
  • Port for 2 motor drivers.


A 1.8″ SPI based TFT is used to interact with Evive platform functionalities or you can use it with your own project.

The TFT is used also for the built-in voltmeter, ammeter and a tiny 2-channel oscilloscope that supports low frequencies (up to 1kHz).


To view all technical features of Evive, visit their website and see the bellow video:

Evive team provides kits for starters, robotic arm , mobile robot and home automation applications. The team claims that Evive is an open-source hardware project, but I couldn’t find the design files of the main board over the Github repository which contains the design files of plastic case, some software examples of Evive applications and some documents.

[Evive Website]

[Indiegogo Campaign]

ESP8266-based Clock Synchronized With Network Time Service

Thanks to Internet, the problem of time shifting in embedded and connected devices was solved using time synchronization over Internet.

National Institute of Standards and Technology provides a service called Network Time Service (NTS) over the Internet. The project of ESP8266-based clock, published on embedded-lab, is going to demonstrate how to make a benefit from NTS to accomplish time synchronization over the Internet.

This clock retrieves time information from NTS and display it on a 4-digit seven segment LED display, and the connection to NIST time server through your local WiFi network will be by using ESP-01 WiFi module.


The 4-digit seven segment LED display breakout includes MAX7219 IC which is a seven segment driver. Three GPIO pins from ESP8266 module are used, where MAX7219 needs one for serial input,one for clock line and one to drive LOAD pin of MAX7219.



The firmware was developed using Arduino core for ESP8266. The firmware queries the time from NTS with 2-minutes interval that because NIST does not allow queries to any of their servers more frequently than once every 4 seconds, according to the blog post. During the 2-minutes, time display is kept running locally using the delay() routine.

To see the full instructions and to download the code you can visit the embedded-lab blog.


AriCalculator – A homemade handheld calculator


The AriCalculator is a DIY calculator or a general purpose handheld device.

It is battery powered and runs on a NXP S12G240 microcontroller (16-bit, 240k flash, 11k RAM). The device has 38 input keys and a 128×64 pixel LCD display with a backlight option. Three interfaces connect the calculator to the outside world:

  • A BDM debug interface, giving direct access to the microcontrollers on-chip memories and debug features.
  • A USB port, offering a FTDI virtual com port (VCP). This port is under software control and intended to serve as a programming interface.
  • A general purpose SPI port, intended for hardware extensions.

AriCalculator – A homemade handheld calculator – [Link]