Pixy 2 – Computer Vision at a Whole New Level

Computer vision started as a way for computers to understand their surroundings, this requires making a computer with a high-level understanding of digital images or videos. A device that performs computer vision needs to acquire, process, and analyze images to extract data from the real world and turn it into numerical information that can be used for something. The main application for this technology has always been artificial intelligence since giving a computer the ability to understand its surroundings (and learn from them) it’s a huge step towards decision making which is a fundamental part of AI.

Makers have also started using this type of technology which lead Charmed Labs to create Pixy in 2013. Pixy is a small, easily programmable device used to recognize certain things in its sight. Pixy can be taught objects, and it can also recognize color codes. This year, Pixy 2 was announced, and it can do everything Pixy could plus some additional features.

Pixy 2 has a custom pan tilt mechanism, making it easy to look around. Also, the image processing is now at 60 frames per second. It includes new algorithms for line detection, so it can track lines, and it’s now capable of identifying intersections, and reading signals to make decisions. Signals are simple barcodes which can be printed out and can be easily programmed to a certain instruction to be performed at the sight of that specific barcode.

The device includes a cable to plug it directly into the Arduino, or it can be connected to Raspberry PI via USB cable. It can also communicate via SPI, I2C and UART giving the makers a wide range of options to work with. Finally, the new version has a LED light meant to be used in dark spaces.

A lot of projects for Pixy can be found on the internet, and with the new additions that Pixy 2 offers, there would soon be a lot of applications for this device too. Pixy 2 is smaller, faster, and smarter. As a result, makers will find creative ways to exploit these characteristics in their projects. Finally, Pixy can also be used with Lego Mindstorms (NXT and EV3).

The first Pixy was launched on Kickstarter, but Pixy 2 is not crowdfunding, and its already available to be bought on Amazon or on its official website.

Run any Windows Software on your Android Mobile Devices

The definitive guide on how to transfer your entire Desktop Work or Entertainment to any Android Smartphone or Tablet

Windows applications are very common for our everyday work and life, so why should we leave them home (or office) on our Windows desktop PCs? What if we could use them on the go, right on our smartphones or tablets? Well, with the modern IT development level this is not the question anymore.

ExaGear Windows Emulator app can solve this issue. This is a virtual machine that allows you to natively run any PC application on any Android mobile device by creating the environment inside the Android operating system and launching the app within this environment. In fact, the overall usability, performance and speed of windows applications stay the same. You literally feel like you are working on your PC.

Run any Windows Software on your Android Mobile Devices – [Link]

PicoEVB, PCIe FPGA Design in a Compact and Affordable Device

FPGA (Field-programmable gate arrays) devices have gained popularity in the past few years, mainly because of their ability to “become” any digital circuit given that there are enough logic blocks. These devices have endless applications and are sometimes faster which is why they are also used for hardware acceleration. Joining the FPGA industry is the PicoEVB, a small, cheap, open source board designed for PCIe prototyping.

PicoEVB is designed around Xilinx Artix XC7A50T, and measures 22 x 30 x 3.8 mm (about the size of a quarter). Also, it´s schematics will be published making the device open software and hardware. The files will be uploaded on its GitHub repository (there are some sample projects too). It was made to fit in laptop´s M.2 slot, and it can be used as an integrated part of your computer. It does not need any cables since its powered by your computer, and it can be programmed using Xilings Vivado IDE.

Nowadays, PCIe dev boards could cost around $1000, but PicoEVB will cost $219 making it a great competitor in PCIe design. The product can be bought through PicoEVB website, Amazon, Crowd supply and Ebay.

The device has 3 LEDs, 4 digital channels, or 1 analog and 2 digital, or 2 analog channels. Additionally, PicoEVB supports Windows and Linux. The only problem that a user might find is not having an M.2 slot which can be solved with an adapter to mPCIe slot.

Everything needed to program and debug the FPGA is on board, and taking into consideration the low price, it is a great alternative for designing PCIe on a low budget without reducing functionality. It´s the most compact and affordable FPGA development kit currently in the market.


Using the 3.2″ HX8357B Color TFT Display with Arduino

3.2″ Color TFT Display

Hi guys, welcome to another Arduino tutorial. Today, I will be showing you how to use the 3.2″color TFT display with Arduino.

The display demand for every project is unique, a project may require just a simple, single color OLED display, while another project may require something bigger, all based on the function the display is to perform. For this reason, as a maker or electronics hobbyist, anyone needs to know how to work with as many displays as possible, that’s why today, we will take a look at how to use the super cheap, 3.2″ color TFT display with Arduino.

Using the 3.2″ HX8357B Color TFT Display with Arduino – [Link]

CIRCUITO.IO: A Platform for idea Development

Arduino is an open source hardware and software company that creates Single Board Controllers (SBC) and Microcontroller kits, and these kits come in a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) form. Arduino can be used by almost anyone because it is inexpensive and also easy for professionals and even amateurs to use. Despite the fact that Arduino kits come in a pre-assembled manner, one can get stuck trying to think of ideas for a project or experiment.

Circuit.io Platform

Situations, where ideas are not forthcoming, are not unusual as it is a brain freeze caused by tension. Arduino has provided open source hardware and software however without ideas to work on; the kits become useless. Most times, there could be a knowledge of what components to use but how to fix them together might be a problem. This is where circuito.io comes in, imagine having a platform that affords one the opportunity to create the coolest projects just by selecting components you want to use.

Circuito.io is an online tool for designing complete electronic circuits. The Circuito app generates instant and accurate schematics and code for your electronic circuit. You select the major building blocks, and it computes all the electrical requirements for your selection.

It has a fantastic interface that allows you to drag and drop different parts together. It also has three different sections that one needs to work on before testing, and the first is the Bill of Materials (BoM) called DESIGN.

Here, you check out all the materials available and you then select your preferred options. You choose the components you want, or you think you need and move on to the next section. The next section being the wiring tool which will process, add all necessary additional items required and in return give a well-labeled wiring diagram. Another exciting aspect about circuito.io is that it has an interface that allows you to step through each building component, guiding you through the creation of the circuit; This simply means that you are not working with a static diagram rather one that can move in different directions.

Circuito.io Code Section

It does not end there though, and it only gets better with circuito.io. After building with the aid of the diagram, one can move on to the CODE module; this is a part of the platform that gives examples on how to program every piece used in the previous steps. The platform will solve the problem of hundreds of Arduino users, and it will be a lot easier to program your circuit after going through sample sketches for various pieces. It even acts as a tutorial method for beginners. So if you are stuck on what Arduino project to work on, circuito.io might just be the app for you.

Surrounding Gate Transistors – Price + Size + Performance

Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted in 1965 that the number of transistors per silicon chip would double every two years. This came to be known as Moore´s Law which has been proven accurate for the last fifty years. Many scientists argue that the law is soon to be broken because of physical limitations. The end of Moore´s law would mean a stagnation in computer processing and power and could cause economic issues because changing the whole computer industry to adapt to a new technology would generate really high costs.

Unisantis electronics in association with the Belgian research institute Imec have proposed a solution that not only allows the size to get smaller, but also will have minimum effect in manufacturing process. The Surrounding Gate Transistor (SGT) has a vertical design (as opposed to commonly used transistors which have a horizontal design), this means 50% less occupied area while electron mobility could increase by 300%. Additionally, the vertical structure improves operating voltage, stability, and leakage current.

Nowadays, transistors used are about 10 nm, but smaller sizes come with problems such as quantum tunneling which allows the electrons to flow from one gate to the next. SGT´s surround the channel on all sides and that provides better control over the channel. The surrounding gate topology enables a single SRAM cell using just six 5 nm transistors.

Also, Unisantis has developed the process for STG production using the technology available nowadays. As a result, the implementation of this technology in the sector will not mean a huge impact on costs.

Other solutions have been proposed such as software improvements, and parallelization, but these are not long-term solutions since a physical barrier is soon to be reached. Other solutions are too expensive to implement, or the idea is still in early steps. Many industries are working toward solving this problem, but few viable solutions have been reached.

Technology industry demands constant improvement in processing and power efficiency, and Unisantis electronics solutions offers price and performance, this could make this technology the next “standard” for computer products and will allow Moore´s law to stay valid for some more time. Its important to clarify that if Moore´s Law stops being valid, we won´t be the first to feel the impact since latest transistor technology is mainly used in super computers, it will take a couple of years for us to feel the slowing in the improvement rate of everyday devices.

Lynq – The Tracking Device that Requires No Connectivity and Works Without CellPhone

Have you ever been to a concert with no way to find the friends you were supposed to meet, seems like things could not get worse but there is no signal and Google map is not working (even when it does, it won’t pinpoint where they are)? Yes, I know a lot of people can relate to this situation. It might not have been at a concert, could have been in a conference, during hiking, cycling events or a beach party. A solution to this problem might be a recent crowdfunded product called Lynq.

Lynq Location Tracker

Lynq is a convenient little device that’ll not only help you locate your friends and family in the great outdoors, but it might even save lives. Lynq is an ultimate tracker which gives direction and distance without the aid of connectivity or maps.

Lynq is a 4″x2″x1″ sized tracking device that works with a 3-mile range, it has been tested under various conditions according to the makers and has been declared to have the capability to work anywhere. A capable waterproof and rugged device that can work in the most extreme harsh environment as well.

There are two stages involved when using the Lynq tracking device. The first step is the synchronization stage; with set up of the device you are able to connect to other devices one wants to track. Lynq can connect to a maximum of 15 other Lynq devices. Once you are done with the synchronization stage, everyone is free to roam along as they are within 5 kilometers range. The next thing after splitting up is the linking stage. You link up or should I say Lynq link up with the rest of your group. Just follow the directional indicator displayed on the screen to find them. One can also create or set up a safe zone or meeting point where everyone is supposed to return to.

The device comes in an hourglass shape, and it weighs 73 grams including the weight of the batteries. The battery can last for up to 3 days without charging. The GPS accuracy is 12 to 15 feet, and the accuracy of the directional indicator is 5 degrees. Lynq makes use of proprietary algorithms and communications protocols that combine low power radio, GPS and a custom antenna without the aid of sensors. USB cable for charging, a quick setup card, and a registration card come with the product.

The company is thinking of including an optional connectivity application for people interested in connecting to their mobile phones. The product has a one year warranty for wears and tears or other manufacturing defects. Lynq adheres to the standard privacy policy and does not keep a record of the locations you enter after you successfully get to your destination and there is no way any other person can listen to you or watch you via the device, so it is safe.

Lynq is available for pre-order on the Indiegogo campaign page with a starting price of $89. More information about the Lynq tracking device can be found on the product campaign page.

Arduino’s New Competitors in IoT Race

Arduino, a worldwide leader in microcontrollers and IoT has now added two new members to the family. IoT (internet of things) is a recent term used to describe common devices embedded with electronics, giving them new functionalities such as data gathering, wireless controlling etc. Arduino gave their users the ability to easily navigate through IoT world because of their user-friendly system and has launched different boards and shields throughout the years.

In May, Arduino unveiled the MKR WIFI 1010 and MKR NB 1500, two new wireless connectivity boards designed to compete in the internet of things development.

The first one is the descendant of MKR1000, but it now offers low power consumption, and comes equipped with an ESP32- based module manufactured by u-blox. This gives the board 2.4 GHz WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity.

The second one is designed to work over cellular/LTE networks and supports transmissions via AT&T, T – Mobile, Verizon etc. Additionally, it provides faster communication, and power saving because of faster wake up and connection times.

Both boards are compatible with Arduino Uno, MEGA and all MKR boards, and both operate at 3.3 v and have 22 digital I/Os and seven analog inputs. They will be available for sale in the Arduino store in June of this year.

MKR1010 is fully compatible with the Arduino cloud, and has open- source WIFI firmware with allows the user to easily edit, upgrade and fix security flaws. Also, it has two processors, one based on ARM core technology, and the other one based on dual- core Espressif IC. ECC508, a chip for crypto authentication is included for secure communication.

MKR1010 measures only 61.5 mm x 25 mm, and weights only 32 gr making it perfect for IoT projects where size might be a concern, or when the device is meant to go unnoticed. MKR NB 1500 is slightly smaller.

Internet of things has turned into a competition over fastest connections and accurate results. It has been used everywhere from architecture, to medicine and transportation.  Massimo Banzi the Arduino co-founder said,

The new boards bring new communication options to satisfy the needs of the most demanding use cases, giving users one of the widest range of options on the market of certified products

Arduino´s new MKR boards will provide users with new capabilities which will lead to more projects with better performance even in the most demanding areas of the market.

High-resolution motor-driver board targets open-source 3D-printer

STMicroelectronics’ EVALSP820-XS motor-driver board brings ST’s industrial-control expertise to the RAMPS (RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield) open-source 3D-printer platform, enabling 3D printer makers to unleash the full potential of their machines for faster printing and smoother surface finish.

The RAMPS modular platform is making Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printing accessible to makers, small businesses, and home users, for fast prototyping, making replacement parts, or education. The Arduino Mega 2560, or Arduino DUE, baseboard provides basic control, ready for users to plug-in their own choice of motor driver, extruder controller, and any other desired functions using Mega-compatible expansion shields. As a plug-and-play expansion board, ST’s EVALSP820-XS can drive RAMPS printers at an unprecedented speed for greatly increased throughput ensuring superior smoothness with microstepping resolution from ½-step to 1/256-step per microstep. Key to this giant leap in 3D-printing performance is ST’s STSPIN820 stepper-driver IC which embeds high-speed motor-control input circuitry and algorithms developed for industrial applications. The 4x4mm QFN package also integrates a 1.5Arms output stage.

STmicroelectronics – www.st.com

By Julien Happich @ eenewseurope.com

Making your first Circuit Board – Getting started with PCBway [Part 2]


Designing your PCB

When you design your first PCB, there will be several steps that you will need to take before you sent the design files off to the manufacturer for manufacturing.

Create The Schematic

When creating the schematic in any of the programs mentioned in part 1, remember to double check that everything is connected where it needs to be with a NET. This is how the program’s auto-routing, DRC, and ERC features know what is connected where. I generally like to go over my schematic two or three times, counting each net, and making sure that everything is connected and accounted for before moving on to the board layout.

Eagle CAD Schematic

When designing your schematic, you will need to pay particular care to ensure that the footprint of the component you use in the schematic exactly matches the footprint of the component that will be soldered to the PCB.

Creating the PCB

Each PCB CAD software will usually offer a way for you to transfer your schematic design to a PCB layout. Designing a PCB layout might be slightly tedious if it’s your first time doing it, but fortunately, several tutorials talk about it. If your design features mounting holes, v-scores, mouse bites, or fingers, make sure you place them on the board first.

A PCB Layout

When designing your PCB Layout, it is essential that you take note of your traces size. Manufacturers usually have restrictions on how small your traces can be, as well as how small the clearances can be between traces. PCBWay minimum track and spacing are 4mil and 4 mil respectively, their minimum hole size is 0.2mm. Of course, going for the minimum will slightly increase your board cost.

Having your PCB manufactured

The first thing you will need to do before you can ship your design off to be manufactured is to generate a Gerber file that contains all of the necessary design files to use in the PCBs production. This file is a universal file and is generated in the CAD program you used to design your PCB. Each program has its way of generating this file, so be sure to read the program’s instructions, or search for the proper way to create the file with the program you are using.

Ordering at PCBWay

Go to PCBWay (https://www.pcbway.com) and fill the board details in the instant order, from there you will be directed to more elaborate board details.

PCBWay Instant Quote

Update your board requirement information in the PCB Specification screen. You can change the board thickness, board color, silk color, and even the type of finish you want. Some of these add-ons are going to increase the board cost.

Once you have all of the various options for your PCB selected, all that is left is to add to cart, upload your Gerber files, make payment, and wait for your PCBs to arrive. It could take anywhere from 3 – to 6 days to be produced depending on the number of your boards.

One major advantage of using PCBway is that – they offer a free engineering file review service. Before your board goes into manufacturing their team of professional technicians will review your design for any potential errors.