Open-Source NB-IoT Shield for Arduino

This completely open-source LTE shield uses the latest and greatest CAT-M NB-IoT technology optimized for low-power IoT devices!.

With the emergence of low-power IoT devices with cellular connectivity and the phase-out of 2G (with only T-mobile supporting 2G/GSM until 202), everything is moving toward LTE and this has left many people scrambling to find better solutions. However, this has also left many hobbyists facepalming with legacy 2G technology like the SIM800-series modules from SIMCOM. Although these 2G and 3G modules are a great starting point, it’s time to move forward and SIMCOM recently announced their new SIM7000A LTE CAT-M module at a developer’s conference. How exciting! 🙂

Open-Source NB-IoT Shield for Arduino – [Link]

ESP32 Web Server Tutorial with a BME280 Sensor

Our friends at uploaded a new tutorial on their youtube channel. It’s about an ESP32 web server along with MBE280 sensor.

Welcome to another ESP32 video tutorial! In this video, we are going to build a simple HTTP Web Server on an ESP32 board with a BME280 sensor. We are also going to learn how to make some requests to it using a web browser. There is a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

ESP32 Web Server Tutorial with a BME280 Sensor – [Link]

BPi M2 Zero, A Clone of Raspberry Pi Zero

A few days ago, we talked about the Banana Pi M2 Magic as the smallest Banana Pi board. Now we have the Banana Pi M2 Zero, another board by Sinovoip that follows the Raspberry Pi Zero form factor.

The BPi M2 Zero features Allwinner H2+ quad-core processor with 512MB SDRAM memory. The board size is only 60mm x 30mm, the same size of Raspberry Pi Zero W and also has the same interfaces.

BPi M2 Zero

M2 Zero design makes it ideal for light-weight systems with some space-limited applications. Like other members of Banana Pi, it supports both Linux and Android operating systems.

WiFi and Bluetooth LE are supported by the AMPAK AP6212 module. An IPEX connector will allow you to install an external antenna to improve reception, increase range or install in a metal box. And there is no clarification if the antenna is shared with Bluetooth.

Banana Pi M2 Zero Specifications

  • CPU: quad-core cortex -A7 H2+CPU quad-core cortex -A7 H2+
  • GPU: Mali-400 MP2
  • Memory: 512MB DDR3 SDRAM (shared with GPU)
  • Storage support: MicroSD Card(up to 64GB)
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n (AP6212)
  • Bluetooth: BT4.0 (AP6212)
  • Video In: CSI connector that supports 8-bit YUV422 CMOS sensor CSI, CCIR656 protocol for NTSC and PAL, 5MP camera, 1080p video @30Hz
  • Video Out: Mini HDMI
  • Power Source: 5V 2A Micro USB
  • USB Ports: USB OTG(Micro USB)
  • Buttons: 2GPIO 40 Pins
  • OS support: Android and Linux etc.OS
  • Dimensions: 60mm x 30mm
  • Weight: 35g

BPi Zero Interface

The Banana Pi M2 Zero is available now on the AliExpress website at a price of $13 without shipping. Till now, only Ubuntu 16.04 and Arabian images are available on the download page. And also the documentation and drivers are not ready yet.

Details of Waveshare e-paper displays

Erich Styger has a nice write-up on Waveshare e-paper displays:

I have used E-Ink displays in projects three years ago, but from that time the technology has greatly evolved. That time displays were hard to get, expensive and difficult to use. Now things seem to change with e-ink displays available to the maker market :-). I’m able to get a 128×296 pixel e-paper display for $10! And for little more money I can have displays with black/white/red colors!

Details of Waveshare e-paper displays – [Link]

Design of a Korg Nutube Amplifier

Karlwoodward @ is in the process of designing a “guitar pedal” for amplification and distortion using the Korg Nutube we featured earlier. The Part 1 of a series of articles goes through the basic aspects of tubes and valves, the pros and cons on using a Nutube valve as well as discussing about low gain and high source impedance. In Part 2 of the series he goes deeper by building a working prototype and making some measurements.

R&S®NGE100 power supply series with WiFi option

The R&S®NGE100 power supply series consists of robust, high-performance, affordable instruments. They offer high efficiency combined with low ripple plus a variety of comfort functions that are not usually found in this class of power supplies.
The R&S®NGE100 power supply series consists of the R&S®NGE102 two-channel power supply and the R&S®NGE103 three-channel power supply. Both instruments provide up to 33.6 W output power per channel Unlike most power supplies in this class, the R&S®NGE100 power supplies feature 100 % electrically equivalent output channels. All outputs are earth-free and short-circuit-proof. The output channels can be combined in serial or in parallel to achieve higher voltages or higher currents (up to 96V/9 A using all three channels of the R&S®NGE103).

Key Facts

  • R&S®NGE102 with two or R&S®NGE103 with three channels
  • Max. output power of 66 W with R&S®NGE102,
  • 100 W with R&S®NGE103 (33.6 W per channel)
  • Max. output voltage of 32 V per channel (up to 64 V/96 V in serial operation)
  • Max. output current of 3 A per channel (up to 6 A/9 A in parallel operation)
  • Electronic fuse (OCP), overvoltage protection (OVP), overpower protection (OPP), over temperature protection (OTP)
  • USB interface (VCP/TMC), optional LAN (LXI), optional wireless LAN
  • Optional digital I/O (4bit)

How to drive Nokia 5110 84×48 LCD display with Arduino

In the previous tutorial I showed how to build a weather station using DHT11 and BMP180 with an Arduino. However, the project has a downside which is the power consumption of the 16X2 LCD. If we were building a battery powered project with the desire to last for several weeks and probably several months, like a weather station for instance, then we’ll have to replace the LCD keypad shield from the previous tutorials and go for something like the low powered Nokia 5110 84×84 LCD display. In this tutorial I will be showing you how to drive this display with the Arduino and thus build projects with longer battery life.

How to drive Nokia 5110 84×48 LCD display with Arduino – [Link]

Atmel ATmega8 – A World-Famous Microcontroller Created By Two Annoyed Students

AVR is a family of microcontrollers developed by Atmel beginning in 1996. These are modified Harvard architecture 8-bit RISC single-chip microcontrollers. The Atmel AVR core combines a rich instruction set with 32 general purpose working registers. Atmel’s ATmega8 comes from the AVR line of microcontroller and it is a gem of the modern maker movement. It is used as the heart of the first generation of the Arduino board to be widely adopted by electronics hobbyists. Countless creative projects are designed with those cheap yet powerful chips.

ATmega8 was originally developed in the early 1990s by two students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Alf-Egil Bogen, and Vegard Wollan. Microcontrollers are different from microprocessors in terms of built-in memory and I/O peripherals. They typically have their own onboard program memory and RAM, rather than relying on external chips for these resources.

When Bogen and Wollan were in university, they faced trouble in following the steep learning curve of the complex instruction sets for microprocessors. Most of the processors used in those days were CISC (Complex instruction set computer) based. They wanted to design a RISC (reduced instruction set computer) based microcontroller with an aim in mind to create something that would be easy to program and relatively powerful. Bogen explained in a YouTube video,

I found them very hard to us. The learning curve to get to use them was hard; I found the development tools crappy. And also I saw that the performance of the products was not where I wanted it to be.

Alf-Egil Bogen – one of the creators of the AVR core

Computers, that are typically used on the day-to-day basis, use Von Neumann architecture. In this architecture, programs are loaded into the RAM first and then executed from the same. AVR uses the Harvard architecture, in which program memory and working RAM are kept separate, thus enables faster execution of instructions. The first prototype of AVR used ROM, which is not re-writeable, as the program memory. Later Atmel added easily programmable (and reprogrammable) flash memory to the processor core. The first commercial AVR chip, the AT90S8515, was released in 1996. Wollan says in a video,

instructions and stuff were things we were actually thinking of from the very beginning to make it efficient and easy to use from a high-level point of view

Vegard Wollen – another creator of AVR

CH340E, A New Small Serial to USB Chip

WCH, a Chinese integrated circuits manufacturer, has just released a new serial to USB chip called CH340E. Unlike other CH340 chips, it doesn’t require an external crystal and also needs less PCB space and BOM.

CH340 is a 3x3mm tiny chip comes in MSOP10 package and has 10 pins. Although it is smaller than other alternatives, it is a little more expensive than them. But considering other components and PCB size needed, the total cost of the BOM may be lower.

According to Electrodragon, it needs only two external parts to build a full function circuit. They also tested it with up to 150,000 baud rate to flash an ESP8266 chip. Most features and technical specifications are the some for CH340 family including CH340E, so the same drivers will work with it.

CH340E features

  • Full-speed USB device interface, compatible with USB V2.0.
  • Emulation standard serial port used to upgrade the original serial peripherals or add additional serial port via USB.
  • Computer applications under the Windows operating system serial port are fully compatible, without modification.
  • Hardware full duplex serial port, built-in send and receive buffer, support communication baud rate 50bps ~ 2Mbps.
  • Support common MODEM contact signal RTS, DTR, DCD, RI, DSR, CTS.
  • Through the additional level conversion device, providing RS232, RS485, RS422 and other interfaces.
  • Software compatible CH341, CH341 driver can be used directly.
  • Support 5V supply voltage and 3.3V supply voltage or even 3V supply voltage.
  • Built-in clock, no external crystal.
  • Available in SOP-16 and SSOP-20 and MSOP-10 lead – free packages, RoHS compliant.

The chip costs about 42 cents with a minimum order of 5 pieces on Eelectrodragon store. There is also an option to get a small board featuring the CH340E for about $1, and maybe cheaper in the future. Finally, the most powerful feature of this chip is that you can easily add USB connectivity to your own design.

Source: CNX-software

Using an ATmega328 without a crystal

Here is another guide from David Johnson-Davies @ explaining how to program an ATmega328 on a breadboard using the Arduino IDE. The guide is focused on how to use the internal clock of the microcontroller and how to achieve this using the Arduino environment. By default Arduino IDE doesn’t include a Boards option for an ATmega328 without an external crystal, so here is how to add this support.