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]

This is the next part of  MAKING YOUR FIRST PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD – GETTING STARTED WITH PCBWAY [Part 1] Series.

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.

CANable: the open source USB to CAN adapter

An open-source USB to CAN adapter:

It supports CAN bit-rates of up to 1 Mbit/s. The product comes with an open-source SocketCAN driver software. It features a Micro-USB connector and a 4-pin screw terminal with CAN_H, CAN_L, 5-V supply, and ground. The CANable device is a hardware clone of Eric Evenchick’s CANtact project, an open-source USB-to-CAN hardware adapter

CANable: the open source USB to CAN adapter – [Link]

UP AI Edge – an edge platform works across Intel CPU, GPU, VPU and FPGA

UP Bridge the Gap – a brand of AAEON Europe – is proud to bring its latest innovation at Kicksarter. Introducing UP AI Edge: an x86 computing platform works across Intel CPU, GPU,VPU and FPGA to  enable Artificial Intelligence on the Edge.

Most IT solutions available today are focused on connecting Edge devices to the cloud and these deployments face challenges related to latency, network bandwidth, reliability and security. Experts in this field agree that not all the tasks and decision-making processes can be addressed in cloud-only models.

UP AI Edge is the solution for cloud limitations by bringing AI performance and hardware acceleration not ‘at’ but ‘ON’ the Edge of the Internet of Things and of the latest technology.

UP AI Edge is the only AI on the Edge platform fully powered by Intel technology and it consists of : (more…)

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]

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