CH551 is a $1.80 USB Mini Development board based on the 8-bit C51 micro-controller

WCH (Nanjing QinHeng Corp.) has recently launched a CH55x family of microcontrollers based on an 8-bit C51 core with a USB interface, and I/Os. The boards all come with different I/Os configuration depending on the selected part number.

Electro dragon, the popular online store that offers a range of electronic components is now listing one of the development boards – a tiny USB development board based on the CH551 for about $1.80.

This tiny, low-cost USB development board has 1x USB type-A port, onboard power led, LED (P3.0). One advantage peculiar to the board is that its microcontroller unit (MCU) supports USB to TTL conversion of the shell without the aid of an external converter as compared to some other development boards. For example, the official Arduino Uno doesn’t support USB to TTL conversion of the shell; it features the Atmega16U2 (Atmega8U2 up to version R2) which is programmed as a USB-to-serial converter. This feature not only makes the board smaller but also cheaper since no extra cost is spent on adding a USB to Serial driver chip.

The board can be programmed without external hardware tool using either WCHISP windows tools or open source flasher LibreCH551 plus SDK which works with both Linux and Windows. However, its own compiler has no libraries, so a suitable substitute is the SDDC compiler. The only glitch with using an SDDC compiler is that the libraries for most devices have not yet been built. Another important factor to be taken into consideration when programming with the flashing tool is that flashing or programming is limited to 200 cycles due to a bug put by the creators.

Below are some of the specifications of the board:

  • MCU – WCH CH551 8-bit C51 micro-controller
  • Speed – 24 Mhz
  • Memory – 10Kb of ROM and 512b of xRAM
  • USB – 1x USB type-A port (USB 2.0 + 1.0)
  • GPIO – 18 through holes exposing all I/Os from the MCU including GPIOs, USB, 3.3V, 5V GND
  • Others –
    • On-board power led
    • 3x Timer
    • 2x PWM
    • 1x SPI M/S
    • 6x Touch
    • 1x HS UART
  • Power – 5V through USB or I/O pin

Electro dragon will also release other versions of the family boards based on the CH552, CH554, CH558, and the CH559. The CH551 board is obviously going to be the cheapest of the product line, and the CH559 board is expected to be the most powerful board which comes with more advanced features.

The CH551 tiny development board is available for purchase on the Electrodragon site, and the CH511 chip is also being sold for 25 cents on Taobao.

NanoPi K1 Plus – A New Open-spec SBC By FriendlyElec Powered By Allwinner H5 SoC

FriendlyElec has launched a $35 open-spec “NanoPi K1 Plus” SBC. The new NanoPi K1 Plus is a media-rich board, that switches from the Amlogic S905 SoC (found on the Odroid-C2) to an Allwinner H5 SoC, which is used in several other NanoPi boards. Both the SoCs have 4x Cortex-A53 cores and a Mali-450 GPU, but the H5 has a lower clock speed of 1.4GHz instead of 1.5GHz.

NanoPi K1 Plus front side
NanoPi K1 Plus front side

The new board has almost similar footprint to NanoPi K2, 85 x 56mm. It has an identical feature set and layout as the RPi 3 and Odroid-C2. FriendlyElec has swapped out the K2’s WiFi/Bluetooth module for a 2.4GHz WiFi-only chip and has reduced its HDMI 2.0 port to an HDMI 1.4 that has its 4K support only at 30fps max. The K1 Plus has also decreased one of the USB 2.0 host ports, leaving 3x USB 2.0 ports total along with a micro-USB OTG port with power input support. The previous DC-in jack has been removed.

On the better side, the K1 Plus add some multimedia features. There’s a new DVP camera interface, an onboard mic, and a 3.5mm audio jack that also outputs the CVBS signals. CVBS was previously available only via the continuing, Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin expansion connector.

There are 2GB RAM, a microSD slot, eMMC socket, and GbE port. Once again, you get an IR receiver, a heatsink, and a debug header, among other details. The open-spec board is available with schematics and other documentation, as well as images for Armbian and the Ubuntu Core based OS, FriendlyCore.

Spec list for the NanoPi K1 Plus:

  • Processor: Allwinner H5 (4x 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores @ 400MHz to 1.4GHz) with Mali-450 GPU
  • Memory/storage: 2GB DDR3 RAMMicroSD slot for up to 128GB (bootable)eMMC socket
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n; PCB antenna
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E)
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 port (4K@30fps video and audio)
    • DVP camera 24-pin header
    • 3.5mm audio jack with CVBS output
    • Onboard Mic
    • I2S/PCM via 7-pin header
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 device/OTG port with power cable
    • Serial debug 4-pin header
    • 40-pin RPi 3 compatible expansion connector (I2C, GPIO, UART, PWM, SPDIF, SPI)
  • Other features: LEDs; IR receiver; GPIO button; heatsink; optional acrylic case
  • Power: 5V2A DC input via micro-USB; PMIC
  • Operating system: Images for Armbian and FriendlyCore (based on Ubuntu Core) with Linux 4.x

The NanoPi K1 Plus is available now for only $35. More information may be found on FriendlyElec’s NanoPi K1 Plus shopping and wiki pages.

Understanding Relay Coil Voltage Specifications

by Robert_Fay @ digikey.com:

When learning about relays there are a couple coil voltage specifications that can be a little tricky to understand. There are typically 4 specification for coil voltage listed in the datasheet. For this example we will be looking at relay part Z2352-ND 14. This is a SPST non-latching relay with 1 Form A (normally open) set of contacts.

Understanding Relay Coil Voltage Specifications – [Link]

Tektronix Launches Two New 6½-digit DMM and DAQ systems : DMM6500 And DAQ6510

Tektronix, a US-based company, has introduced two new Keithley 6½-digit models to its line of Digital Multimeters (DMMs) and data-acquisition systems: The new DMM6500 DMM and also the new DAQ6510 data-acquisition system. The company has also upgraded their Kickstart measurement software to version 2.0.

Keithley has long been a dominant provider in the 6½-digit DMM market. With the DMM6500 and DAQ6510, the company looks forward to strengthening its position further. Both of these new instruments use the same touchscreen UI (with pinch gesture) first unveiled with the company’s 7½-digit DMM7510.

DMM6500:

Model DMM6500
Model DMM6500

With a base price of $1140 (same as previous models), the DMM6500 hits a sweet spot for bench and production measurements. In addition to its 6½ inch display, the DMM6500 also features a 16-bit, 1 Msample/s digitizer and can display voltage and current waveforms over time. It can store up to 7 million readings in internal memory.

Like its previous models, the DMM6500 is also expandable to ten channels. It uses the same expansion cards as models in the 2000 series DMMs. The DMM also maintains software compatibility with Keithley’s 2000 series models, minimizing software changes. It also emulates software commands for the now obsolete but still in use HP/Agilent/Keysight 34401A.

Measurement ranges:

  • DCV and ACV: 100 nV to 1000 V (750 VAC) with 0.0025% 1-year DCV accuracy
  • Resistance: 1 µΩ to 100 MΩ
  • DC Current: 10 pA to 10 A, AC Current: 100 pA to 10A
  • Temperature: -200°C to 1820°C
  • Capacitance: 0.1 pF to 100 µF
  • Digitize Voltage: 10 µV to 1000 V
  • Digitize Current: 10 nA to 10 A
  • Maximum measurement reading rate: 20,600 readings/s

Communications and channel expansion:

  • Interfaces: LAN LXI and USB-TMC standard. GPIB with digital I/O ($225), RS-232 with digital I/O ($200), or TSP-Link with digital I/O ($200).
  • Multichannel measurement capacity: 10 channels with two card options (10 channels voltage/current ($628) or 9 channel temperature/general-purpose inputs ($700)

DAQ6510:

Model DAQ6510 virtual front panel
Model DAQ6510 virtual front panel

Based on the DMM6500, the DAQ6510 ($1750 system only, $2230 with 20-channel scanner card) support up to 80 channels using two 40-channel cards. Keithley offers twelve switch modules, which are the same as used in the 2700-series data-acquisition DMMs. Scanning speed is 800 channels/s across multiple systems connected through Keithley’s TSK Link. The GPIB and RS-232 interface modules are also supported.

More information can be found at Tektronix/Keithley website, DMM6500 product pageand DAQ6510 product page.

ApplePi DAC Audio HAT Add-on For The Raspberry Pi Features 24-bit DAC And A 128dB SNR

Orchard Audio quickly exceeded its $5K Kickstarter goal for its ApplePi DAC HAT board, which it is promoted as “the most advanced and highest performance sound card hat for the Raspberry Pi.” You can order the add-on board from May 13 starting at $175. Options include a $5 stacking header and a $25 5.25V, 3A power supply. The ApplePi DAC supports the Asus Tinker Board and Allo.com’s Sparky in addition to the Raspberry Pi.

“ApplePi DAC” audio HAT
“ApplePi DAC” audio HAT

A fully assembled $374 system provides the new HAT board, header, and power supply plus a Raspberry Pi 3 SBC, an acrylic stand, and an SD card with a choice of preconfigured Volumio, Rune Audio, or Raspbian. For $574, you get the assembled system plus a 7-inch touchscreen. All the products ship in July.

The board is powered by dual TI Burr-Brown DACs (PCM1794A) configured in monaural mode. The system has a dynamic range of >135dB and a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 128dB, which can bump up to 132dB. Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) is listed as an impressively low <0.0005% (-106dB). The board supports both 16- and 24-bit bit rates, as well as sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz.

Orchard highlights the board’s ultra-low noise linear regulation and low jitter PLL clock generation. The mentioned derives are not from the usual crystal, but rather from a CS2300 IC from Cirrus Logic. This clock chip integrates a crystal, PLL, and clock multiplier into a single device, the input jitter is attenuated by 60dB (1/1000). It is remarkable that the onboard balanced (Mini XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) outputs are driven by dual differential output circuit stages. Orchard says that most competing boards offer only single-ended outputs. So, this feature really makes it stand out.

The ApplePi DAC runs at 4.5W and can be powered by a Raspberry Pi, but the manufacturer recommends using the optional 5V adapter. In addition to Volumio and Rune Audio, the ApplePi DAC supports moOde Audio, piCorePlayer, and Roon Network Endpoint software.

The ApplePi DAC is available on Kickstarter through May 13 starting at $175, with shipments due in July. More information may be found at the ApplePi DAC Kickstarter page and Orchard Audio’s ApplePi DAC product page.

How to Get Started With The Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable device that enables people of all ages to explore computing and learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s also capable of doing most things you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-documents as well as playing games. In this how-to, you will learn how to get the Raspberry Pi up and running!

The Raspberry Pi

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SOUNDCAM – The World First True Handheld Sound Camera for Everyone

Every day of our lives we get bombarded with different sounds around.  Loud music, radio, people talking on their phone, automobile, traffic, and those unknown late night quacking sounds. All of these sounds are what makes our day to day activities, and we have even gotten accustomed to most of them and rarely get disturbed by them. However, when an unwanted sound keeps popping into our life, altering our general state of mind and starts becoming a nuisance, we start looking for ways of finding the source of the sound in the hope of getting rid of it. The human ear does an excellent job of finding the source of sounds but can quickly get confused when their many sounds are popping around, or the sounds are slightly dense. Sound localization is a critical concept due to its numerous application and research has been poured into this. The team from CAE system are launching a first of its kind called SOUNDCAM that will allow one to visualize any sound source.

CAE Softwares and Systems, a Germany-based company, is launching SoundCam on KickstarterSOUNDCAM is the first camera that images sound and is affordable for everyone. The system is intuitive and as easy to use as a smartphone. SOUNDCAM locates sound sources in real time and immediately displays the results on the screen. SOUNDCAM visualizes complex acoustic information and creates a connection between hearing and seeing. Analyzing and understanding sound has never been easier! Not only does SoundCam does the job well, but it also comes cheap as compared to traditional acoustic cameras (could cost upwards of $100,000).

SoundCam Handheld Sound Camera

SOUNDCAM localizes every sound source. It is possible to analyze environmental noise, road traffic noise, aircraft noise, train noise, industrial noise, machinery noise, workplace noise, detect malfunctions or leakages, and evaluate vehicle emissions, home appliances, consumer electronics, and a million other noise sources!

The application of SOUNDCAM is endless. I remember sometimes ago; I notice a disturbing noise was coming from my car’s engine side when putting on reverse mode but goes off when on drive or other modes. This was always annoying, and when I took it to my mechanic, he wasn’t sure where the sounds were coming from. After guessing around and dismantling a few parts, still couldn’t find the source of the sound and he suggested to open up the whole engine to see if it was from inside the engine, well, of course, I wasn’t ready to allow anyone open up my whole engine without being sure of what he or she is looking for. I left the car like that until one day it either suddenly disappear or I got used to it that I didn’t observe it again. A perfect application of SOUNDCAM will have been in this scenario, SOUNDCAM will have possibly identified the location of the sound in a non-invasive mode saving hours of lost productivity, money, and precious time. SOUNDCAM can also find applications in buildings for detecting sound leakage in supposed sound-proof structures, in electronics, drones, noise analysis, factories, automobile testing and evaluation, military applications, and thousands of possibilities.

SOUNDCAM consists of 64 microphones, an optical camera, an integrated data acquisition and analysis system, as well as a display and control unit with touchscreen and hardware buttons. The system displays high-resolution results in real time on it’s screen. The algorithm running on SOUNDCAM analyze the time delays it takes for a sound propagated to travel from its source to the microphone array and calculates the accurate acoustic pictures and videos in real time. The optical camera is used to generate the needed optical information, and optical and acoustic pictures are overlayed. These overlayed results are then displayed on the screen.

The SOUNDCAM device is battery powered and waterproof IP54 rated which means there is a possibility it can even be used underwater (of course at your own risk). It is powered by quad-core ARM A53 running at 1.2GHz speed with 1GB of RAM. The display is touchscreen removing the need for keyboard or mouse, but those can still be added through its onboard USB board which is as well used for exporting data from the device. It runs Linux out of the box with an optional Windows support available. It provides support for interfacing with a computer unit through its ethernet port.

SOUNDCAM is launched on Kickstarter with the SOUNDCAM early bird starting at a discounted 3,999 EURO, a 50% from the expected retail price. Shipping is expected to commence in late 2018 to early 2019. SOUNDCAM will revolutionize a lot of work and will save hours of lost productivity in troubleshooting sound localization problems which will inevitably save cost.

BML GPIO-14 USB Board for PCs

BML project for using a $2 FTDI FT260Q for adding 14 bits of GPIO to any PC via USB with no device drivers required.

Ever miss the simple days of using a PC’s LPT1 parallel port to bit-bang GPIO over 8 output pins and 4 input pins of the DB-25 connector? I sure do. My first design project as a BSEE graduate in 1993 was to design a LPT1 controlled test fixture for the Motorola MDT-9100-T data terminal (shown below). Those were the days. By multiplexing 12 parallel port pins into 74HC dip CMOS latches and transceivers my test jig tested all the IO signals of the MDT-9100s 386sx motherboard. All of the diagnostic software could be written in C on my Windows 3.1 desktop thanx to this versatile interface. Those were the glorious simple days of computing. Sigh…. Then USB came along and killed the wonderfully easy parallel port interface.

BML GPIO-14 USB Board for PCs – [Link]

Hardkernel Launches A Single-unit Version Of Its 32-core Odroid-MC1 Cluster Computer

Hardkernel has produced a single-unit version of its four-unit, 32-core Odroid-MC1 cluster computer for running Docker SwarmBuild Farm, and other parallel computing applications. The design offers greater flexibility for users to combine Odroid-MC1 Solo units for a “single unit, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or n stackable cluster”. The octa-core Odroid-MC1 Solo costs $48. Combing one or more Solo units with the original 4-unit MC1 acts as a single cluster.

Odroid-MC1 Solo
Odroid-MC1 Solo

The Odroid-MC1 Solo and Odroid-MC1 use an Odroid-XU4S SBC that is similar to the SBC that powers the Odroid-HC2 network attached storage (NAS) device. Both boards are smaller, stripped-down, headless version of the open-spec Odroid-XU4 SBC.

Like the Odroid-HC2 board, the MC1 board has removed the XU4’s HDMI port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, optional eMMC, and 30- and 12-pin GPIO connectors. Like the Odroid-XU4, the boards are powered by the Samsung Exynos5422 SoC with four Cortex-A15, four Cortex-A7 cores, and Mali-T628 GPU.

All these boards are equipped with 2GB LPDDR3 (in a PoP configuration), as well as a GbE port, USB 2.0 host port, and a bootable microSD slot with UHS-1 support. The XU4s used on the Odroid-MC1 lacks the one additional feature found on the HC2 NAS computer that is a USB 3.0-based SATA port.

The new Odroid-MC1 Solo board, including the stacking case, measures 92 x 42 x 29mm. These boards are powered by a 5V/4A power supply. A UART, an RTC with battery connector, as well as “M3 x 8mm” self-tapping screws are also there on this board. The XU4-compatible Linux image is based on Kernel 4.14 LTS.

Key Specs:

  • CPU  Samsung Exynos5422 ARM® Cortex™-A15 Quad 2.0GHz/Cortex™-A7 Quad 1.4GHz
  • DRAM Memory  2Gbyte LPDDR3 RAM PoP (750Mhz, 12GB/s memory bandwidth, 2x32bit bus)
  • GPU  Mali™-T628 MP6 OpenGL ES 3.1 / 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.2 Full profile
  • Micro-SD Slot  UHS-1 compatible micro-SD slot up to 128GB/SDXC
  • USB2.0 Host  HighSpeed USB standard A type connector x 1 port
  • LEDs  Power, System-status
  • Gbit Ethernet LAN  10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet with RJ-45 Jack ( Auto-MDIX support)
  • Power Input  DC Barrel Jack Socket 5.5/21.mm for 4.8V~5.2V input
  • Size   92 x 42 x 29 mm

The Odroid-MC1 Solo is available now for $48. More information may be found at Hardkernel’s Odroid-MC1 Solo shopping page.