OSD3358-SM-RED – A Reference, Evaluation, And Development Board From Octavo Systems

The OSD3358-SM-RED from Octavo Systems is a reference, evaluation, and development board for the OSD335x-SM series of System-in-Package (SiP) devices. It is powered by a 1 GHz processor, ADC, and 1 GB of DDR2 RAM into an enclosure of the size of a coin.

OSD3358-SM-RED single-board computer

The SiP needs a PCB, along with components like an Ethernet jack, power supply, IO pins, and USB sockets to communicate with the other complimentary electronic parts. These boards include several power options, including a micro-USB connector, barrel jack, and solder points for battery usage. Ethernet and USB connectors are included, along with expansion connectors setup so that BeagleBone Black Capes can be connected directly. Finally, a 9-axis IMU, barometer, and temperature sensor are included. Data from sensors can be collected directly without the help of extra hardware or software.

This board is longer and slightly wider than a Raspberry Pi, at an exact dimension of 108 x 54 mm. It’s also thicker at 32 mm due to the decision to mount the Ethernet jack on top of the two USB ports. A micro-SD card slot is included, though WiFi capability is not provided. For internet connectivity, the user needs to rely on wired or dongle connection.

It comes pre-loaded with a Debian Linux distribution, complete with drivers for the onboard sensors already available. It can also boot off of the SD card to load other Operating Systems. This board can be used in one of three ways: as a standalone device, a USB client, or using a UART port as a Linux terminal. In the standalone case, the user simply connects the micro-USB connector to an appropriate power source, then to a monitor via a micro-HDMI to HDMI adapter. Once booted up, the screen goes to a minimal Linux install, allowing the user to access a web browser, terminal, and other necessary tools that a developer can build upon.

At a cost of $199, this board wouldn’t be an appropriate substitute for a Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone in standalone situations, but it will certainly be useful for a professional upgrade to OSD335x-SM SiPs.

Heart-rate monitor on a small OLED display with MicroPython

By Martin Fitzpatrick @ martinfitzpatrick.name show us how to build the micro display heart-rate monitor.

Pulse sensors have become popular due to their use in health-monitors like the Fitbit. The sensors used are cheap, simple and pretty reliable at getting a reasonable indication of heart rate in daily use. They work by sensing the change in light absorption or reflection by blood as it pulses through your arteries — a technique jauntily named photoplethysmography (PPG). The rising and falling light signal can be used to identify the pulse, and subsequently calculate heart rate.

Heart-rate monitor on a small OLED display with MicroPython – [Link]

Broadcom AFBR-S50 ToF laser light sensor measures up to 10 meters

The AFBR – S50 is a multipixel distance and motion measurement sensor. It has an integrated 850nm vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) which uses a single voltage supply of 5V. It’s measurement rates are quick and as fast as 3 kHz, which is a distinguishing feature. However, this is not the reason why the AFBR – S50 stands out. It is different because unlike other Time of Flight (ToF) ranging sensors, the AFBR – S50 can measure up to 10 meters whereas similar sensors don’t get close to that.

The AFBR-S50

Furthermore, the sensor works on the principle of Optical Time of FlightTime-of-Flight principle (ToF) is a method for measuring the distance between a sensor and an object, based on the time difference between the emission of a signal and its return to the sensor, after being reflected by an object. If you have used the popular HC-SR05 Ultrasonic sensor, then you have seen this principle in action. The AFBR – S50 can be used both inside and outside to cover wide ranges of ambient light. It supports almost 3000 frames every second with an accuracy of less than one percent on diverse types of surfaces.

ToF Principle

The multi-pixel sensor works with up to 16 illuminated pixels out of 32 and with its best-in-class ambient light suppression of up to 200kLx, to ensure smooth usage outside. It uses SPI Interface to communicate with a host device. AFBR – S50 not only works outside but it is also equally effective on colored, white, black and metallic reflection objects.

Broadcom has released two different versions of the sensor:

  • AFBR-S50MV680B
    • 680nm laser light source.
    • One illuminated pixel
    • FOV (Field Of View) 1.55° x 1.55°
    • Single voltage – 5V supply
  • AFBR-S50MV85G
    • 850nm laser light source
    • 9-16 illuminated pixels
    • FOV 6.2° x 6.2°
    • Single voltage – 5V supply

Below are the General Specifications for the Multipixel sensor:

  • Integrated 850nm laser light source.
  • Between 9-16 illuminated pixels.
  • FOV 6.2°x 6.2° (1.55 x 1.55°/pixel).
  • High-speed measurement rates of up to 3 kHz.
  • Variable distance range up to 10m.
  • Operation up to 200k Lux ambient light.
  • Works well on all surface conditions.
  • SPI digital interface (up to 20 MHz).
  • Single voltage supply 5V.
  • Integrated clock source.
  • Laser Class 1.
  • Accuracy < 1 percent.
  • Drop-in compatible with the AFBR-S50 sensor platform

Applications for the ToF sensor can be found in areas of industrial sensing, gesture sensing, distance measurement, robotics, drones, automation, and control. The AFBR-S50 is available, but the price is currently undisclosed. You can contact Broadcom sales for more information. More details can be found on the product page, and the AFBR-S50 datasheet can be found here.

Hardware Acronyms: SiP, SoC, SoM, CoM, SBC – What Are They?

If you are new into hardware or still familiarizing yourself to the hardware ecosystem, you will realize some common terms often appear which could sometimes sound confusing or something out of rocket science, but it’s not. Here’s a quick look at five common terms used in hardware products or boards and what they denote.

Let’s take a look at them –

System-in-a-Package (SiP)

Cross section of a SiP

A system in package (SiP) contains several ICs (chips) including a microprocessor on a single substrate such as ceramic or laminate. An example SiP can comprise several chips—such as a specialized processor, DRAM, flash memory—combined with passive components—resistors and capacitors—all mounted on the same substrate. This means that a complete functional unit can be built in a multi-chip package so that few external components need to be added to make it work.

SiP dies can be stacked vertically or tiled horizontally, unlike slightly less dense multi-chip modules, which place dies horizontally on a carrier. SiP connects the dies with standard off-chip wire bonds or solder bumps.

The appeal of a SiP is that it can be compact an otherwise complex system into a very simple package, making it easier to integrate into larger systems. It also simplifies PCB layouts.

Unlike a SOC that is based on a single silicon die, SiP can be based on multiple dies in a single package. SiP is believed to provide more interconnection in the future and possibly face out SoCs.

Package-on-a-Package (PoP)

Package on a Package

A Package-on-a-Package stacks single-component packages vertically, connected via ball grid arrays. Packages can be discrete components (memory, CPU, other logic) or a System-in-a-Package stacked with another package for added or expanded functionality.

PoP provides more component density and also simplifies PCB design. It can also improve signal propagation since the interconnects between components is much shorter.

System-on-a-Chip (SoC)

A System-on-a-chip (SoC) is a microchip with all the necessary electronic circuits and parts for a  given system, such as a smartphone or wearable computer, into a single integrated circuit (IC).

An SoC integrates a microcontroller (or microprocessor) with advanced peripherals like graphic processing unit (GPU), Wi-Fi module, or coprocessor.

Think of an SoC as a computer package inside a chip. The SoC integrates all components of a system into one. It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio-frequency functions – all on a single substrate. An SoC can be based around either a microcontroller (includes CPU, RAM, ROM, and other peripherals) or a microprocessor (includes only a CPU). It is also possible for SoCs to be customized for a specific application, including whatever components, memory, or peripherals necessary, ranging from digital/analog signal ICs, FPGAs, and IOs.

One of the major advantages of an SoC is that it is usually cheaper, smaller, easy to scale, and even more energy efficient. It is easier to build around a SoC for a product than to add several components individually. Despite its obvious advantages, SoC still has a significant disadvantage – you are going to be locked into that hardware configuration for life. This could be fine for consumer products, since you don’t expect any hardware upgrade or so but would limit hacking for makers related application.

A good example of an SoC is what we have in the Raspberry Pi; The Raspberry Pi uses a system on a chip as an almost fully-contained microcomputer. SoCs can help engineers speed up a product to market and even the adoption of new protocols, such as those Bluetooth 5 SoCs, that make it easier to integrate Bluetooth 5 into new products.

System on Module (SoM) / Computer on Module (CoM)

Computer on a module

A System on a Module (SoM) and Computer on Module usually refers to the same thing. A Computer-on-a-module is a step above an SoC. It means a computer or system packaged in a single module. CoMs usually provide every piece you need to build a complete system; they incorporate an SoC (most of the time), connectivity, multimedia and display, GPIO, operating system, and others into one single module.

SoM based designs are usually scalable. SoMs/CoMs are usually paired with a carrier board. These carrier boards are usually used to extend out the SoMs functionality or parts. A SoM helps system designers realize a fully customized electronics assembly, complete with custom interfaces and form factor without the effort of a ground-up electronics design. Customers can purchase an off-the-shelf SoM and marry it to an easy to develop custom baseboard to create a solution functionally identical to one that is fully custom-engineered.

CoMs provide a plug-and-play type advantage since a CoM can be replaced or upgraded within a carrier, without having to change the carrier. There are some benefits to the SoM approach vs. ground-up development. These include cost savings, reduced risk, a variety of CPU choices, decreased customer design requirements, and a small footprint.

Unlike an SBC, a computer-on-module is a type of single-board computer made to plug into a carrier board, baseboard, or backplane for system expansion.

Single Board Computers (SBCs)

A Raspberry Pi SBC

single-board computer (SBC) is a complete computer built on a single circuit board, with a microprocessor(s), memory, input/output (I/O) and other features required for a functional computer. Single-board computers were made as demonstration or development systems, for educational systems, or for use as embedded computer controllers.

Single-board computer builds on SoC to provide a full-fledged computer on small circuit board. Examples of popular SBCs are Raspberry Pi boards, Nvidia Jetson, Beaglebone, and several others.

Linux-driven COM And Carrier Board Powered by Zynq SoC

MYIR Tech has launched an $85 module, Xilinx Zynq-7010 or -7007S that runs on MYC-C7Z010/007S CPU Module. MYC-C7Z010/007S CPU Module is a part of their newly launched sandwich-style, $209 MYD-Y7Z010/007S Development Board. There’s an open source Linux 3.15.0 based BSP for the module, and the MYD-Y7Z010/007S carrier board ships with schematics. Both the module and development board can withstand -40 to 85°C temperature range.

MYC-C7Z010/007S CPU Module

MYC-C7Z010/007S CPU Module
MYC-C7Z010/007S CPU Module

Xilinx’s Zynq-7010 has dual-core Arm Cortex-A9 block as the Zynq-7015 or Zynq-7020, which is available along with the Z010 on the earlier MYC-C7Z010/20 module. However, the Zynq-7010 SoC has more FPGA logic cells (28K). On the other hand, the Zynq-7007S is limited to a single Cortex-A9 core and a 23K logic cell FPGA. The Zynq-7010 ranges from 667MHz to 866MHz while the 7007S can operate from 667MHz to 766MHz.

The MYC-C7Z010/007S has 75 x 50mm dimension. It ships with 512MB DDR3 SDRAM4GB eMMC, and 16MB quad SPI flash. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet PHY and external watchdog. A 1.27mm 180-pin stamp-hole (Castellated-Hole) expansion interface is also there for ARM and FPGA interfaces that are useful to improve shock resistance. Supported I/O incorporates single USB and SDIO interfaces plus a pair of serial, I2C, CAN, SPI, and 16-channel ADC.

MYD-Y7Z010/007S dev board

MYD-Y7Z010/007S Dev Board
MYD-Y7Z010/007S Dev Board

The 153 x 80mm MYD-Y7Z010/007S Development Board expands the MYC-C7Z010/007S CPU module with 3x GbE ports, a USB 2.0 OTG port and a DB9 combo port with isolated RS232, RS485, and CAN signals. There’s also a microSD slot for memory expansion and a debug serial port.

An optional, $29 MYD-Y7Z010/007S I/O Cape plugs into the GPIO interface offering an HDMI port, a user button, and LCD, camera, and dual Pmod connectors. The LCD interface supports optional MYIR 7- or 4-inch capacitive and resistive LCD modules. The HDMI port only supports 720p resolution for now. The MYD-Y7Z010/007S board is further equipped with a reset key and boot switch. There’s also a 12V/2A DC input.

The MYC-C7Z010/007S module with the Zynq-7010 is available now for $85. The MYD-Y7Z010/007S Development Board is available with the Zynq-7010 based module for $209. More information is available at MYIR’s MYC-C7Z010/007S and MYD-Y7Z010/007S product pages.

Voxos – A Glass That Allows Listening With Your Bones

In the last few years, we have seen an increasing interest in smart glasses. Some analysts believe that in the next few years, smart glasses will be at the center of consumer and business electronics in the same way that smartphones are today. Companies and Startups like Google, Intel, Vue, Vuzix, and many others have all come up with their smart glass initiative, and even Apple has many smart-glasses patents with possibly over hundreds of engineers working on that field. One of the challenges that come with smart glasses is that they usually don’t always look socially acceptable, and most are always geeky like. Voxos is hoping to change that, by building a smart glass that looks like every-day regular glass.

Voxos Smart Glass

Voxos on the surface looks like your typical eyeglasses, but there is more to it. Voxos is a smart glass that allows to listen to music without actually plugging in an earphone or headset. The smartness in Voxos comes from its built-in bone conduction technologyBone conduction uses the natural vibrations of a person’s bones — such as skull, jaw, and cheekbones — to hear a sound. So, the bone conduction technology works by vibrating sound through your skull opposed to straight into your ear like standard earphones. This means you can hear your environment while listening to Music, Podcasts, Map Navigation, Audio Assistant, Google Maps, Audiobooks, Fitness Apps and more at all times without being disconnected from their surroundings.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Technological advances in mobile technology and improved data streaming have increased access to on-demand streaming music. The number of paying subscribers has highly increased in the last five years. Music lovers are gearing up for better musical experience going for high-quality headphones, noise-canceling headphones, and earplugs. These accessories are becoming more common while offering an all-encompassing musical experience but this might be coming at an extreme price—and that price just might cost one their life. Studies have shown that a number of accidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones are on the rise. Aside from potential accidents that could be caused by putting on an earphone, another concern is ear-infection causing germs from sharing ear-phones or from not changing the headphone sponges. Voxos, on the other hand, has less of these concerns. Voxos takes bone conduction to the next level and creates the safe and convenient alternative to ear plugin headsets, especially for outdoor activities.

Voxos Smart Glass Parts

Voxos are designed to be worn during extensively long periods, and they can last a whopping 10 hours of active playing. Voxos connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and works with most apps. Voxos is integrated with a touchpad on the right side and will allow the user to interact with the main function of the phone by just swiping or tapping the glass. It also comes with a USB interface for charging the inbuilt battery and two buttons for parring mode, volume up, and volume down activity.

With it’s generic and sporty look Voxos fits with every outfit and it’s waterproof. The perfect fit makes wearing it not only fashionable but also convenient. Voxos is indeed great for drivers, but it is also perfect for others, such as cyclists, pedestrians and anybody on the road!

Even though the bone conducting technology in Voxos is already existing in some other smart glasses, we expect in the near future that Smart glasses will improve to the point of becoming mainstream in both everyday life and in the enterprise. And the direction for smart glasses is already being set in leading-edge smartphones like Apple’s iPhone X.

Voxos smart glasses are currently not available, but you can sign up on the company’s website to know when it will be available and even get a 40% off your purchase. Voxos is expected to launch an Indiegogo campaign very soon and possibly a Kickstarter one as well.

SGPC3 – Air Quality Sensor for Battery-Driven Applications

Sensirion, the expert in environmental sensing, now offers the ultra-lower power gas sensor SGPC3. The SGPC3 makes indoor air quality sensing available for mobile and battery-driven applications. With an average supply current of less than 0.07 mA the SGPC3 is able to provide indoor air quality measurements with several years of battery lifetime. Based on Sensirion’s SGP multi-pixel platform the SGPC3 offers a complete gas sensor system integrated into a very small 2.45 x 2.45 x 0.9 mm3 DFN package featuring I2C interface and a fully calibrated and humidity-compensated air quality output signal

Sensirion’s MOXSens® Technology provides the SGPC3 with an unmatched robustness against contamination by siloxanes resulting in outstanding long-term stability and accuracy. The combination of ultra-low power consumption and long-term stability makes the SGPC3 the perfect choice for indoor air quality monitoring in mobile and battery-driven smart home applications. Evaluation and testing is supported by application notes and example code; the SGP evaluation kits are also available through Sensirion’s distribution network.

Visit Sensirion’s website to see where you can order the SGPC3 gas sensor or to learn more about its specifications and features: www.sensirion.com

Discover more about the most relevant environmental parameters and Sensirion’s other innovative environmental sensor solutions at www.sensirion.com/environmental-sensing

LED BLE Matrix Heart Display

8*16 LED matrix display with bluetooth low energy to connect to any smart phone. By Nitesh:

This LED matrix is a heart shaped circuit which you can make/buy(from me) and gift to your valentine or crush and spread your love. It can be worn as a necklace or as a badge. It has got BLE so you can display any text message on the necklace using a smart phone.

LED BLE Matrix Heart Display – [Link]

Harmonic Function Generator using ATtiny85

David Johnson-Davies published another great and detailed project based on ATtiny85. It’s an harmonic function generator with an OLED display.

This article describes a simple function generator based on an ATtiny85 which allows you to generate a virtually unlimited number of waveforms using additive harmonic synthesis, by specifying the amplitude of each of the waveform’s harmonics.

It includes a volume control, audio amplifier, and loudspeaker so you can hear the waveforms. It’s not only a useful waveform generator, but also a good introduction to the composition of musical notes.

Harmonic Function Generator using ATtiny85 – [Link]

Connect Tech’s V7G System Is An AI-Targeted SBC with 5th Gen Xeon-D CPU And Nvidia Pascal Cards

Connect Tech Inc’s V7G System, which is also listed as the “COM Express Type 7 + GPU Embedded System”, is the first Xeon-D based SBC-like product. The V7G houses a 5th Gen “Broadwell” Xeon-D based COM Express Type 7 module and it can house three Nvidia Pascal-driven graphics boards. No OS support was listed yet, but it is expected to work with Linux or Windows.

This 216 x 164mm footprint system can drive 4x independent display outputs. Alternatively, it could also be used for headless GPGPU CUDA processing for Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence applications.

V7G - COM Express Type 7 + GPU Embedded System
V7G – COM Express Type 7 + GPU Embedded System

The V7G is the successor to its earlier, Xeon-E3 and Type 6-based “COM Express + GPU Embedded System”, which similarly offers the choice of Nvidia Quadro P3000 and P5000 boards. Instead of the V7G’s new Nvidia Tesla P6 option, the earlier model offers Nvidia Tesla M6 and GeForce GTX 1080 or 1050Ti graphics options. The V7G combines 10GbE and HDMI support, as well as new mini-PCIe and M.2 expansion slots.

The user can choose from a 12-core, 1.5GHz Xeon-D1559 or a 16-core, 1.3GHz Xeon-D1577, both with 45W TDP CPUs for the module. The module also comes with up to 48GB DDR4 (2400MT/s) ECC RAM. Both the 100W Quadro P5000 and more recent, 90W Tesla P6 (PDF) offer 2048 CUDA cores. The Quadro P3000, which launched last year, is limited to 1280 CUDA cores but has a lower power consumption of 75W.

The Tesla P6 is a GPU accelerator optimized for blade servers and designed originally for deep learning, visualization, and virtualization. As a drawback of this, the Tesla P6 equipped version of the V7G board lacks HDMI ports.

Storage department includes dual SATA interfaces and dual M.2 M-Key with the support of NVMe. The board implements 4x GbE and 2x 10GbE ports. The design is said to support a future upgrade path to 4x 10GbE ports.

There are also eight USB port, 4x USB 3.0 and 4x USB 2.0 ports, a micro-USB console port, and 8-bit GPIO. For expansion, there are dual mini-PCIe slots and two more M.2 slots with PCIe expansion. A heat spreader is included but the fan is optional.

The V7G (COM Express Type 7 + GPU Embedded System) is available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at Connect Tech’s V7G product page.