iTRUBEC Minimonitor v1.0 – IoT for Bees

A beehive (and not only) monitor (temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity and noise level) the size of a box of matches.

iTRUBEC Minimonitor started as a side project to another our project – iTRUBEC – beehive heating – published recently. The objective was to build a tiny device capable to monitor beehive (and not only a beehive). The result is matches box sized device with WeMos D1 mini, BME280 and MAX4466 in it and two additional DS18B20 sensors connected via two extra wires.

iTRUBEC Minimonitor v1.0 – IoT for Bees – [Link]

Arduino Unveils its First FPGA Board with MKR Vidor 4000, and an updated Uno WiFi Board

One of the most significant players of the open-hardware movement, The Arduino (Arduino Foundation) has finally released a set of exciting new boards after long time. The Arduino movement at some point had some legal troubles which affected the pace of hardware development, and after getting resolved, this pace is rising back and surely more boards will be coming soon.

During the Arduino Day 2018 at the Bay Area Maker Faire, Arduino announced several new products. One of those products is the MKR Vidor 4000, an FPGA-based board and Uno WiFi Rev 2, an upgraded UNO WiFi board featuring the new Microchip ATmega4809 MCU.

Arduino Vidor 4000

The MKR Vidor 4000 is the first-ever Arduino based on an FPGA chip, equipped with a SAM D21 microcontroller, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an ECC508 crypto chip for secure connection to local networks and Internet. MKR Vidor 4000 is the latest addition to the MKR family, designed for a wide range of IoT applications, with its distinctive form factor and substantial computational power for high performance. The board will be coupled with an innovative development environment, which aims to democratize and radically simplify access to the world of FPGAs.

An FPGA is a Field Programmable Gate Array. In other words, it is reconfigurable hardware. Unlike a microcontroller, an FPGA is not running software. Instead, its gate arrays change configuration for a specific task. FPGAs has been considered a hard topic for some hardware enthusiasts to understand and implement, but with the launch of this FPGA focused maker’s board this barrier might just be coming down. FPGA gives us true parallel processing as compared to the use of an interrupts driven implementation in microcontroller system. The Vidor 4000 FPGA board is also capable of audio and video processing.

 

“The new MKR Vidor 4000 will finally make FPGA accessible to makers and innovators,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder. “And we are looking forward to changing the game yet again.”

Below are the MKR Vidor 4000 specifications:

  • FPGA part
    • FPGA – Intel Cyclone FPGA with 16K Logic Elements, 504Kbit of embedded RAM and 56 18×18 bit HW multipliers for high-speed DSP
    • System Memory – 8 MB SDRAM
    • Storage – 2 MB QSPI Flash (1MB for user applications)
    • Micro HDMI connector
    • MIPI camera connector
    • mini PCIe connector with up to 25 user programmable pins
  • MCU – Microchip SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power Arm MCU  @ 48 MHz with 256 KB flash, 32 KB SRAM
  • Connectivity – Wifi & BLE powered by U-BLOX NINA W10 Series module
  • I/Os driven both by SAMD21 and FPGA
    • 8x Digital I/O Pins
    • 12x PWM Pins (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, A3 – or 18 -, A4 -or 19)
    • 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
    • 7x analog input pins (ADC 8/10/12 bit)
    • 1x analog output pins (DAC 10-bit)
    • 8x external Interrupts (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, A1 -or 16-, A2 – or 17)
    • DC Current per I/O Pin – 7 mA
  • USB – 1x micro USB device/host port
  • HW Security – ECC508 crypto chip
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB/VIN
    • Battery – Supports Li-Po single cell, 3.7V, 700mAh minimum
    • Circuit Operating Voltage – 3.3V
  • Dimensions – 61.5 x 25 mm
Arduino Uno WiFi Rev 2
Arduino Uno WiFi Rev 2

The new Uno WiFi Rev 2 is built around the new Atmega 4809, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module (replaces the ESP8266 in the previous version), an onboard IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), and a Microchip ECC608 crypto chip for hardware security. The ATmega 4809 provides 6KB of RAM, 48KB of flash, three UARTS, Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), and an integrated high-speed ADC.

The Uno WiFi Rev 3 is expected to upgrade projects that need IoT connectivity using the classic Arduino form factor and will find applications in the areas of automotive, drones, agriculture, consumer electronics, IoT gateway, and others.

Pricing information has not been disclosed so far, but it’s expected the Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 to have a price around $60. The Vidor 4000 and the Uno WiFi Rev 2 boards are expected to start selling at the end of June.

Mi Mini PC – The World’s Most Powerful Pocket-Sized PC

Change is constant and accepted by most people if not all. The Evolution of the digital computer has been continuous, technological advancement brought minicomputers, microcomputers, and even notepads. It also brought the invention of smartphones and tablets, but all these gadgets which have been in existence have different issues such as size, weight, ability to carry out specific functions well and many more. However, recently a Hong Kong-based researcher who goes by the name Leo Chung released to the public information about his project called the Mi Mini PC.

The Mi Mini PC

With the goal to put away tablets, personal computers, and laptops, the mini PC is simply a small version of the combination of a tablet and laptop. Don’t be fooled by the size; the Mi Mini PC will stand toe to toe with some modern laptops today. It has 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) which can be upgraded to 512GB SSD for $50, and it comes with 8GB Random Access Memory (RAM) (most mid range laptops have 4GB).

Additionally the Mini PC has various ports found on a generic modern laptop such as the HDMI port which enables it to connect to a bigger screen, USB Type C port (yes, the same found on the new gadgets and the costly MacBook), and other USB ports. Talking of screens, the Mini PC is a touch screen gadget and has HD resolution of 1280*720 pixels. This versatile device comes with an impressive feature set, and it also includes USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and Ethernet. Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, dual-band WiFi, stereo speakers are also built in.

The board runs on the powerful Intel Atom 2.56 GHz processor. Capable of fitting in the palm of your hand, Mi MiniPC is paired with a wireless, foldable Bluetooth keyboard and features a 6,000-mAh battery with a six-hour power life for office presentations and long work days.

Some features of the Mini Pc include:

  • 5-inch Aluminium Case for the body.
  • Game Console specially designed for the mini PC which costs $20.
  • SD card slot.
  • 2.56Ghz Intel Atom x7- Z8750 Processor.
  • A power adapter.
  • Carrying pockets for keyboard and adapter

A lot of people might be worried about how a device so small can work efficiently. The mini PC has not only a pre-installed Android 5.10 Operating System (OS) but also a functional Windows 10 OS which means one can work on any windows program without difficulty. Its 8GB RAM and Solid State Drive ensures the device can manage and run several programs and applications simultaneously, and still capable of running some computer games as well. Another fantastic perk to the mini PC is that it allows you to choose your preferred operating system on startup.

The most significant advantage of the PC is that it is very portable and the fact that one can get all that is required for a laptop on a 5-inch sized device. The Mini PC also ends the story of overheating and whirring noises made by existent laptops. Due to its’ aluminium case and high – tech heat sinks, fans are now a thing of the past, therefore, making a solution for annoying whirring sounds.

The Mi Mini PC project is currently being crowdfunded over on Indiegogo which has raised over $1 million in backing already. Pre-orders are available with prices starting at $159 (US) and an expected ship date of September 2018. The standard package includes two carrying pockets, a cover stand, a foldable Bluetooth keyboard, and power adapter. Add-ons include an extra battery ($10), Android 7.1 Upgrade ($15), gaming controller ($20), 256GB SSD upgrade ($30), or 512GB SSD upgrade ($50)

Making Your First Printed Circuit Board – Getting Started With PCBWAY [PART 1]

If you are into electronics, PCBs (Printed Circuit Board) are some of the most common things you will see. These boards make our lives easier by eliminating all those connecting wires and breadboards. If properly designed, it will reduce the size of your device and it can look very professional. Making a professional board could be a bit challenging for newbies, and that’s what this post will show, how to make one using PCBWAY services.

PCB boards
Printed Circuit Boards

PCBWay is the answer to get affordable and professional PCBs with fast delivery and free technical support. PCBWay.com is a professional quick turn PCB prototyping and low-volume production manufacturer located in Shenzhen China. PCBWay also offers PCB Assembly services if you are looking to populate your board and this will not only save you time but cost as well. You can instantly get the quotation of your PCB and PCBA on their website, you can also check the order fabrication and processing status online, all in your account panel with PCBWay. After your PCBs are sent out to your address, you can track your order’s shipping status online.

PCB is one of the most crucial parts of any electrical and electronic device. Quality of PCB determines the quality of all these devices. Modern technology makes possible the increasing miniaturization of integrated circuits, higher packing density, and smaller layout dimension, hence the higher demands on PCB arise. To get started making your first professional PCB, you first need to have a circuit design to work with.

Hobbyist level PCBs are generally designed in two different layouts. The first and most simple is a single sided layout which means that components and copper traces are only located on one side of the PCB. The second hobbyist-friendly design is the double-sided PCB. This board features a copper coating on both the top and bottom layers.

Schematic and Board Design Software

There are dozens of PCB CAD software available for you to design your first PCB with and all come with their own features. I have used several PCB CAD packages like:

Choosing a PCB CAD software to use depends on user and here is some things to consider when a CAD suite is selected:

  • Community Support – This is very important and can drive you a long way in your current and future design. Autodesk Eagle is one of those tools with a strong community, and many open source hardware projects and libraries are available for it.
  • Cost – The cost matters here. Some are available for free like CircuitMaker from Altium, UpVerter, and even Eagle has a free version.
  • Flexibility and Options
  • Easy to use

PCB design is usually done by converting your circuit’s schematic diagram into a PCB layout using your preferred PCB layout software.

[to be continued on PART 2]

ATtiny85 20MHz Internal Clock

Here is a new tutorial from technoblogy.com on how to run ATtiny85 with internal 20MHz clock.

The ATtiny85 is rated at a maximum clock speed of 20MHz at 4.5 – 5.5V. For some applications it would be nice to get the maximum speed without needing to buy a 20MHz crystal, or tie up two I/O lines driving the crystal. Here’s how to do it.

To test it I toggled an output at the clock frequency, and measured it with a frequency meter

The reading of 10MHz implies a clock frequency of 20MHz.

2ATtiny85 0MHz Internal Clock – [Link]

RELATED POSTS

ONYXX – A new wireless charger with 5000mAh capacity

NEW YORK, NY May 9th, 2018 — CheeNYC an NYC based company, are launching a new Wireless Charger/Power Bank named ONYXX. It will be the first Wireless Charger designed for outdoor use with water and dust resistant components starting at under $90.

For active lifestyle or just casual spill during your office work, ONYXX will stay safe and ready to deliver juice to your devices. We adjusted ports and buttons to be resistant to water splashing or light dust environments.

We are working with amazing vendors and we are happy with samples we developed and tested so far. We are using Qi wireless charging standard and heavy duty housing providing active lifestyle ready power bank.

Chris Johnson, founder at CheeNYC explains: “The wireless chargers today are designed for home or office and we wanted our ONYXX it to go even further “. Don’t stress when you are at the beach, fishing or at a pool side. A little splash or water will not hurt the ONYXX.

Some of ONYXX features include:

  • Induction Charging: The ONYXX can easily be charged on another wireless charger
  • 5000mAh
  • Dual Coils
  • Water and Dust resistant
  • USB Type-C ONYXX offers limited Early Bird deals at $49 for the first supporters. About: CheeNYC is a small New York-based team of entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers working on Qi technology based products. Established in 2017 by a diverse team of players from the US and UK

ONYXX offers limited Early Bird deals at $49 for the first supporters. About: CheeNYC is a small New York-based team of entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers working on Qi technology based products. Established in 2017 by a diverse team of players from the US and UK

SOURCE CheeNYC, Inc.

Zebra SBC – ARM based Single Board Computer from VersaLogic

VersaLogic has released a rugged, lasting, simple-to-use and ready-for-deployment Zebra VL-EPC-2701 board. The Zebra single board computer is a complete Arm-based embedded computer. It features several models that are available with power-efficient, single- or dual-core i.MX6 CPUs. The Arm-based Single Board computer comes in two models; which features either NXP i.MX6 Solo (single core), or the i.MX6 DualLite (dual core) processors.

Zebra SBC

With its 95 x 95 mm size, the compact board is easy to mount and perform future upgrades. Not only that, Zebra conforms to the size and mounting points of the industry standard COM Compact format. The Zebra NXP’s single-core i.MX6 Solo comes with an onboard 512MB DDR3L RAM, while the dual-core DualLite comes with a built-in 1GB RAM, both of which are expandable up to 4GB RAM. The Zebra offers an optional 8GB microSD card with Linux and supports Linux distributions and OSes that are compatible with the Cortex-A9 based i.MX6.

This embedded computer boards provide connectivity via Gigabit Ethernet, USB, and CAN bus interfaces, as well as HDMI video support. They also provide a MikroBUS socket for expandability, and additional on-board I/O including I2C, audio, SPI, and GPIO. The Zebra embedded computer board has been programmed for a ready off-the-shelf deployment into demanding industrial, defense, and aerospace applications requiring rugged, durable, power efficient, industrial temperature.

Unlike many Arm-based modules, VersaLogic’s Zebra comes uniquely in some ways. The new product is a complete board-level computer. It requires neither additional carrier board nor, companion boards nor, connector break-out boards, or other add-ons to function. Since it was built to be exceedingly efficient, rugged and lasting, Zebra is rated for full industrial temperature operation of -40° to +85°C. Even at that, it consumes less than 3W of power during operation.

Here are the specifications of the Zebra SBC:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo or DualLite (1x or 2x Cortex-A9 cores @ up to 800MHz);
  • Graphics – Vivante GC2000 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB (Solo) or 1GB (DualLite) DDR3L SDRAM soldered, expandable to up to 4GB
    • MicroSD slot (bootable) with an optional 8GB card containing Linux
    • eMMC (MLC) socket with up to 32GB optional bootable storage
  • Networking — 1x Gigabit Ethernet port with network boot, latching connector
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI v1.4 port
    • Audio in/out jack
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 2x CAN 2.0B ports
    • 2x serial interfaces (1x 3.3V UART; 1x RS-232 debug)
    • 8x GPIO/DIO (3.3V)
    • 1x SPI, 2x I2C, and up to 3x PWM (reduces GPIO lanes)
    • MikroBUS expansion interface for Click boards
  • Other features —
    • 6-axis accelerometer/magnetometer
    • 10-year lifecycle support
    • optional cables
    • HW customization service available on 100+ unit orders
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C with 0.5 linear meters per the second airflow
  • Shock/vibration resistance — per MIL-STD-202G (vibration Method 204/214A; shock Method 213B)
  • Altitude resistance — to 4,570 meters
  • Power — 5 VDC input;
    • Consumption: 2.2W idle, 2.7W (Solo) or 3W (DualLite) typical
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95 x 20mm; compatible with COM Express Compact footprint and mounting holes
  • Weight — 62 g
  • Operating system – bootable Linux OS; compatible with other Linux and Android.

VersaLogic’s is offering an amazing 10+ year product life support for the board; this will ensure a long-term deployment in the field, free from expensive upgrades and migrations that come from products with a short disposable lifecycle.

The Zebra SBC is available for purchase starting at $196 for Solo with 512MB (VL-EPC-2701-EAK-005) or $239 for DualLite with 1GB (VL-EPC-2701-EBK-01), or $168 and $205 in OEM quantity. More information about the product is available on the product page.

Avalue ESM-APLC – An Apollo Lake board that gives option for the Celeron®N3350 or Pentium®N4200 SoC

The Apollo Lake SoC has already be used in several boards and modules. Avalue, a technology company that has launched several single board products and with focus on innovative embedded products has recently launched an embedded platform called the “ESM-APLC“, a Linux-ready COM that provides support for either the Intel Apollo Lake Celeron®N3350 or Pentium®N4200 SoC.

Avalue ESM-APLC

Avalue which isn’t new to the Apolo Lake board designs released the EQM-APL last fall, a Qseven module based on the Intel’s Apollo Lake. The ESM-APLC module to some extent inherit some similar attributes of the EQM-APL module, just like the EQM-APL module allows one to use between the Apollo Atom, Celeron or the Pentium SoC, the ESM-APLC does the same with the major exemption of the Atom SoC. The ESM-APLC drops the Apollo Lake Atom SoC in its build.

The EQM-APLC module measures at 95 x 95mm in a Type6 style shape COM Express Compact module. It is equipped with the Intel Apollo lake Pentium N4200 1.1GHz  or Celeron N3350 1.1GHz  SoC Processors both of which have a low 6W TDP. ESM-APLC supports one 204-pin DDR3L 1866 SO-DIMM (up to 8GB via single socket), and the module supplies up to 64GB of optional onboard eMMC 5.0. Extensive I/O support including 8 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x SATA III, 1 x UART, 1 x 8-bit GPIO, 1 x SMBus, 1 x LPC and 1 x I2C.

ESM-APLC provides a triple display interface option; it supports several graphics interfaces including dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS with support up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz, VGA Support up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz, HDMI support up to 3840×2160 @30Hz and DP support 4096×2160 @60Hz. HD Audio is not left behind in this wealth of features.

The module expansion port comes with 3x PCIe GEN2 x1 interfaces and an optional 4 PCIe x1 or 1 PCIe x4 that comes at the cost of sacrificing the Ethernet. The module is expected to work optimally in 0 to 60°C operation with a wide range of temperature input (9- 19V AT/ATX input with ACPI 3.0. TPM 2.0 is optional). ESM-APLC is ideal for customers who need optimized processing and graphics performance with low power consumption in a long product life solution, such as embedded board, MID/UMPC, Microserver/Server and Consumer Electronics.

The module supports either Linux Kernel 4.5 and Windows® 10 Enterprise (64-bit). The module is available for purchase with no publicly disclosed price but can be obtained by contacting Avalue. More information about the product is available on the product page, and the datasheet can be downloaded here.

Particle E-Series Modules – LTE Connectivity designed for IoT

Building an Internet of Things based system has always been an exciting art that usually comes with one major challenge to overcome – Connectivity. A smart system or an even intelligent system that collects data without having any network capability can’t be called an IoT system and it’s that device connectivity that gives it the IoT factor. Cellular connectivity has been one of the go-to connectivity for IoT system, and 2G networks have been the umbrella for this connectivity option mostly because it is virtually available everywhere.

Particle IoT 4G ESeries LTE

Despite the success that 2G & 3G networks have brought to the adoption of Internet of Things application, they are also slowly being phased out for the more robust, better 4G networks. Countries like Australia have stopped a nationwide use of 2G networks and some other countries already making plans to do the same. Particle, a developer of networking hardware and software for connected devices that has released several IoT focused boards in the past, like the Particle Photon and Particle Cellular Modules, has recently launched new LTE modules for 4G networks. These new devices aim those people whose devices depend on 2G and 3G networks and comes with a cloud and SIM support.

The LTE modules are part of Particle’s existing E Series suite, which comes bundled with the Particle Device Cloud, Device OS, and Particle’s collection of developer tools. The E Series modules are powered by an STM32F205 ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller running at 120MHz with features a 1MB Flash, 256KB RAM, and a wealth of GPIO. The modules integrate the industry-leading u-blox Sara cellular modems that provide support for 2G, 3G, and LTE M1/NB1 radios.

The LTE E Series modules are build on their famous Electron cellular prototyping kit, and they all come with standard wireless and cellular certifications – PTCRB Certified, FCC/CE/IC/GCF Certified, and RoHS Compliant. Also, they offer an extended operating temperature range from -20 to 85C for hostile environments. The modules come in 3 family types as listed below:

  • Electron development kit
  • E Series evaluation board
  • E Series modules

(more…)

Getting started with FPGA? Try the Arduino IDE Compatible Snō Module

Field-programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are the next generation of programmable logic devices. Although they are fantastic devices for circuit programming, finding your way around them might not be so easy. Designing with FPGAs comes with considerable difficulty, due to its elusive nature and intricacies that attend its learning.

An FPGA is a device that allows you to program real-time circuits instead of emulating them. This device has the ability to be programmed for a specific function by the end user instead of its manufacturer.

Arduino Snō Module
Snō Module

The Snō FPGA module by Alorium Technology has been built to give an easier programming experience by integrating a compatible ATMega328 controller, the same microcontroller that powers the popular Arduino Uno board, making the FPGA module work with the Arduino IDE.

The Arduino Snō Module board is powered by low-end Intel MAX 10 FPGA Chip, an FPGA chip with 1,000 logic array blocks. The board measures at 0.7 x 1.7 inches. The Snō is programmable with Arduino embedded 8-bit AVR instruction set. Also, the Snō has an intriguing workflow for programming the FPGA – Through the Arduino IDE, you can use the pre-programmed or downloadable XBs (Xcelerator Blocks) that can configure the FPGA for functions like servo control and NeoPixel operation.

A handful of people acquire FGPAs for simple pre-defined functions that could easily be handled by a micro-controller. And this explains why the Snō FPGA module also comes with a feature that allows you to program completely custom circuits to handle whatever task you want. Their OPENXLR8 workflow gives you the ability to program and upload new XBs for your own functions.

The first step in setting up your computer to program and connect with the Snō is to install the standard Arduino IDE software. The Arduino is compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Linux. On a final note, the Arduino Snō is generally configurable, boast a higher performance and is fast.

The Sno board is available for purchase at competitive $49 price tag. You can buy it online from either Mouser Electronics or Arrow. More information can be found on the product page here.