Fujitsu Electronics Europe expands its Bluetooth Low Energy portfolio

Adding components from Ambiq Micro and Talent Highland, Fujitsu Electronics Europe has increased its Bluetooth Low Energy portfolio.

The additional products offer customers high integration, low power consumption and flexibility, says Fujitsu Electronics Europe (FEE), and it has produced the ClickBeetle reference platform (pictured) to facilitate the integration of Bluetooth Low Energy products into applications.

Ambiq Micro’s Bluetooth Low Energy components make Bluetooth Low Energy applications more powerful and efficient, claims FEE. The Cortex M4 in Apollo 2 operates at up to 48MHz at only 10-microA/MHz with a deep-sleep current of two micro A. Apollo 1 operates at up to 24MHz at 34-micro A/MHz and has a deep-sleep current of 143-nanoA. Additional components offer the possibility of lowering the deep-sleep current to 22-nanoA. Depending on the requirements, Ambiq Micro offers different bundle packages to combine its Apollo 1 and Apollo 2 microcontrollers or real time clocks with an EM9304 BLE communication chip. Combinations of microcontroller and Bluetooth Low Energy chips are suitable for high-performance applications, while combinations of real time clocks and Bluetooth Low Energy are ideal for cost-sensitive Bluetooth Low Energy beacons. Packages range from BGA, CSP and QFN packages. For very small applications, Ambiq Micro also offers a SoC that combines the Apollo 2 microcontroller and EM9304 BLE in a 4.0 x 4.0mm LGA package with 64 pins.

Customers who would like to integrate Bluetooth Low Energy further can also use a Talent Highland SIP. Components such as a DA14580 with ARM Cortex M0 16 MHz and 42kbyte RAM, 1Mbit SPI flash, crystals, passive components and antenna are bundled in a package measuring only 7.0 x 7.0mm. Thanks to the internal DC/DC converter, the small module also supports three and 1.5V batteries. Depending on the requirements, FEE customers can also create their own package with their own components.

FEE offers its reference platform, ClickBeetle, for application-oriented evaluation and development. It measures just 16 x 26mm and uses a hardware-independent fixed pin layout, making it easy to replace and evaluate Bluetooth Low Energy components, says Fujitsu.

Adafruit RGB Matrix Bonnet – Control RGB Matrix Display Easily with a Raspberry Pi

RGB Matrix displays are a great way adding interactions to a project and displaying objects in a 2D space. RGB LED matrices can be used as a display for playing games, display animations, watch movies, display sensor data, and much more can be the done with these big and beautiful LED displays. Of course, RGB Matric display is best controlled with a high-speed processor like FPGA, but you can still use the Raspberry Pi to control them also. Most of the things (if not everything) the Raspberry Pi can output to a monitor can be displayed on LED matrices display.

Adafruit RGB Matrix Bonnet

Adafruit has announced the arrival of its RGB Matrix control board for the Raspberry Pi called the Adafruit RGB Matrix Bonnet. The Matrix Bonnet allows one to use the popular Raspberry Pi to control RGB Matrics displays to create a colorful scrolling display, view short videos, and for showing animations. The matrix board plugs easily into the Pi and works on any Raspberry Pi with a 40-pin GPIO header – Zero, Zero W/WH, Model A+, B+, Pi 2 and Pi 3. If you still use the old model 26-pin boards like the Model A or Model B, unfortunately, the bonnet can’t plug into them, and you will need the newer boards.

Adafruit RGB Bonnet

The Matrix control board can work with any 16 x 32, 32 x 32 or 32 x 64 RGB LED Matrices with HUB75 connections. It is also possible to use the bonnet board with 64 x 64 matrix display by doing some hardware hacking – soldering a small jumper on the PCB. And yes, you can get more displays by chaining multiple matrices together for a bigger display. Chaining numerous displays together will also cause some extra workload on the Raspberry Pi itself.

The bonnet board is quite rugged and comes with an inbuilt power protection circuitry to protect the board from short circuits, over and under-voltages. It has onboard level shifters to convert the RasPi’s 3.3V to 5.0V logic which will create a glitch-free matrix driving for 5V logic RGB Matrix display. It also comes fully assembled and no need for any extra soldering work.

The main advantage of the Adafruit RGB Matrix bonnet is that it will allow you to interact with RGB matrix display while avoiding the complicated wiring involved with connecting those displays.

Adafruit Bonnet connected to a Pi

The RGB Matrix Bonnet for Raspberry Pi is now available to purchase priced at $14.95 and can be bought on the Adafruit online store. The bonnet works with only HUB75 type RGB matrices and not the likes of NeoPixel, DotStar or other ‘addressable’ LEDs. For more information about using the bonnet, check out the product page on Adafruit.

MC33035 Brushless motor driver breakout board

The board shown here is a breakout board for MC33035 brushless motor controller. It requires an output buffer IPM module or Mosfets to complete the closed loop brushless motor driver. MC33035 IC is the heart of the project; the project provides 6 PWM pulses as well 6 Inverse pulses outputs. On board Jumpers helps to change the Direction, Enable, Brake, and 60/120 phasing Header connector provided to connect the Hall sensors and supply, on board LED for Power and fault, P1 potentiometer helps to change the speed.

The MC33035 is a high performance second generation monolithic brushless DC motor controller containing all of the active functions required to implement a full featured open loop, three or four phase motor control system. This device consists of a rotor position decoder for proper commutation sequencing, temperature compensated reference capable of supplying sensor power, frequency programmable saw tooth oscillator, three open collector top drivers, and three high current totem pole bottom drivers ideally suited for driving power MOSFETs. Also included are protective features consisting of under voltage lockout, cycle−by−cycle current limiting with a selectable time delayed latched shutdown mode, internal thermal shutdown, and a unique fault output that can be interfaced into microprocessor controlled systems. Typical motor control functions include open loop speed, forward or reverse direction, run enable, and dynamic braking. The MC33035 is designed to operate with electrical sensor phasings of 60°/300° or 120°/240°, and can also efficiently control brush DC motors.

MC33035 Brushless motor driver breakout board – [Link]

Arduino distance meter with Ultrasonic Sensor (HC SR04) and Nokia 5110 LCD display

Ultrasonic Sensor

Measuring distance is so important in today’s world that things like driverless cars will be impossible without it, that description is probably enough to describe how important knowing the distance between two objects can be. For that reason, today we will be building a distance meter using the Arduino and the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor.

The HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor is a cheap ranging sensor capable of measuring a distance between 20 – 400cm without contact and at an accuracy of up to 3mm. The sensor is made up of a transmitter and receiver with operating frequency of around 40khz. It uses the echo principle for distance measurement by emitting an ultrasonic wave of 40khz. If there is an object in its path, the emitted wave is reflected and the reflected signal is received via the receiver. The time elapsed between the transmission of the signal and the reception of the echo is then used to determine the distance between the sensor and an object in its path.

Arduino distance meter with Ultrasonic Sensor (HC SR04) and Nokia 5110 LCD display – [Link]

Rohde & Schwarz ZNLE 1MHz – 6GHz Vector Network Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments

Rohde & Schwarz ZNLE 1MHz – 6GHz Vector Network Analyzer Review, Teardown & Experiments – [Link]

Adafruit Metro 328 – An Arduino Uno Compatible Development Board

The Adafruit Metro 328 development board is an alternative to the Arduino Uno with an equivalent and compatible board design. It’s designed and manufactured by Adafruit. The Metro 328 just like other Arduino Uno clones is also based on the famous Atmega 328P that has been used in various development boards and projects.

Adafruit Metro 328

The Metro 328 offers an ATmega328 microcontroller with Optiboot (UNO) Bootloader and a ton of other features you won’t find on the Arduino Uno board. The Metro board is equipped with 19 GPIO pins unlike the Arduino Uno 14, analog inputs, UART, SPI, I2C, timers, and PWM. Six of its GPIO pins are for Analog input with two reserved for the USB to Serial Converter. Just like the standard Arduino Uno, it also includes 6 PWM pins on 2x 8bit timers and 1x 16bit timers.

Another significant distinction between the Metro and the Arduino Uno is the USB to Serial converter. The Arduino Uno is based on the Atmega USB-UART bridge (ATMEGA16U2), but the Metro 328 is based on the FTDI FT231X that provides excellent driver support in all operating systems with a more reliable data transfer unlike the former. It comes with four indicator LEDs, on the front edge of the PCB, for easy debugging. One green power LED, two RX/TX LEDs for the UART, and a red LED connected to pin PB5.

The Metro board has an on and off switch for the DC jack so you can turn off your setup easily. It also uses the conventional micro USB connector found around. Even though the Logic level of the Metro is 5V, it can be converted to 3.3v logic by cutting and soldering a closed jumper.

The following are the Metro 328P specifications:

  • ATmega328 microcontroller with Optiboot (UNO) Bootloader
  • USB Programming and debugging via the well-supported genuine FTDI FT231X
  • Input voltage: 7-9V (a 9VDC power supply is recommended)
  • 5V regulator can supply peak ~800mA as long as the die temp of the regulator does not exceed 150*C
  • 3.3V regulator can supply peak ~150mA as long as the die temp of the regulator does not exceed 150*C
  • 5V logic with 3.3V compatible inputs can be converted to 3.3V logic operation
  • 20 Digital I/O Pins: 6 are also PWM outputs, and 6 are also Analog Inputs
  • 6-pin ICSP Header for reprogramming
  • 32KB Flash Memory – 0.5K for bootloader, 31.5KB available after bootloading
  • 16MHz Clock Speed
  • Compatible with “Classic” and “R3” Shields
  • Adafruit Black PCB with gold plate on pads
  • 53mm x 71mm / 2.1″ x 2.8″
  • Height (w/ barrel jack): 13mm / 0.5″
  • Weight: 19g

The Metro 328 board is now available with headers already in place for $19.50 directly from the online Adafruit store. If you don’t want a Metro with the headers attached for super-slimness, check out the Metro without Headers.

Embedded World Free Ticket from OEMsecrets

Join at Embedded World 2018

Next Tuesday 27th February – Thursday 1st March, meet OEMsecrets at the world’s leading embedded systems conference in Nuremberg, Embedded World. Get your free ticket and meet us for a Tucher or two on stand 4A-612 to rehydrate!

We’ll showcase our latest site developments, including new API capabilities and future site features such as our parametric search. As part of our badge scan promotion and in partnership with Avnet Silica, we’ll also be handing out high-value giveaways. We all look forward to welcoming you on to our booth. See you next week, prost!

Constant current linear LED driver IC improves efficiency for LED strips

The BCR430U constant current linear LED driver IC’s drop performance regulates LED current in standalone operation for LED lighting. No external power transistor is needed, says Infineon Technologies. Typical applications for the BCR430U include LED strips, architectural LED lighting, LED displays and retail, appliance and emergency lighting.

The voltage drop of the integrated driver IC can go down to 135mV at 50mA. This improves overall efficiency and provides the voltage headroom required to compensate for LED forward voltage tolerances and variances in the supply voltage, explains Infineon, for more flexibility in lighting design. Using the BRCU430U, additional LEDs can be added to lighting designs without changing the supply voltage.

The LED driver current ranges between five and 100mA, and can be easily adjusted via high Ohmic resistor on a dedicated pin. The supply voltage ranges between 6.0 and 42V. For safe and reliable operation and to extend the LED lifetime, a smart over-temperature controlling circuit reduces the LED current when the junction temperature is very high.

The BCR430U is available now in a SOT-23-6 package.

Robby – A Simple and Powerful Robot to Learn Electronics and Programming

Robby Robot

Over the years we have seen a significant interest in people wanting to learn electronics and programming but are mostly handicapped with what they could build. Over time, learning has been proven to be more reliable when learning is more practical, and we can quickly grasp the concept if one is seeing what he or she is building in real-time and promptly learn why it works the way it works.

Lego Education robotics which has been around for a while, has allowed students to become active leaders in their education as they build everything from animals for a robotic zoo to robots that play children’s games. Lego has been tremendous, and it has quite helped students grasped the concept of engineering and programming, but one of the significant drawbacks with Lego is; it has not been fully developed for the makers open source movement and also comes with a high-cost price, unlike some Arduino based development environments.

The Arduino has caused a revolution in bringing artists into the world of robotics. It has spawned numerous offshoots from very small to wearable processors. Building something with Arduino requires some necessary electronic circuity skills and basic programming which sometimes could be intimidating for the complete novice. Robby from Mr. Robotics is a new education robot for anyone interested in learning more about robotics while also learning about robotics and programming. Robby is based on the Arduino ecosystem.

The team from Mr. Robotics based in Lille, France are crowdfunding their new educational robot called Robby, a tool to learn electronics and programming while having fun. The team at Mr. Robotics believe in this technologically advancing world, everyone should have the opportunity to be imaginative and use it for creation and development. That will need to provide the enabling environment for grooming interest in programming while cultivating natural curiosity, Robby could be the tool to bridge those gaps.

“The creativity is the intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

ROBBY robot is entirely hackable and adaptable with Plug & Play modules for any design scenario. So, today you can design to plug in a particular sensor and decide tomorrow you want another sensor in that position. Just unplug and plug back. The robot kit is fully programmable and allows you to add your own modules and sensors as well as choose your own architecture providing an open source scalable system complete with plug and play sensors. The robot kit is ideal for educational applications as well as keen hobbyists and makers.

At the heart of Robby is the ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit microcontroller running up to 120 Mhz, and comes with three 12V DC precise motors and incremental encoders for direction, position and speed measurement. It includes a 12V extra Lipo 3S battery, Wi-Fi, USB and Bluetooth, buzzer and an open chassis for adding modules, sensors, components, and breadboard. Robby can be programmed with Blocky (graphical drag and drop block like programming) and with the Arduino IDE.

The Robby Robot is available to back via Kickstarter with pledges starting from €179 for the starter kit, €199 for the Explorer Kit, and €289 for the Creator kit. Mr. Robotics is offering the option of personalized kits costing up to €550 and some other customized packages. If Robby is successfully funded, worldwide shipping is expected to take place during August 2018.

More information about Robby can be found on their website here and their Kickstarter campaign.

Digi-Key launches a common parts library for the KiCad EDA Tool

Digi-Key Electronics has announced that it is in beta release of a library containing almost 1,000 common parts for the open-source KiCad schematic capture and PCB tool. By Ally Winning @

The library will be hosted on the Digi-Key website. It was built after Digi-Key analyzed the top 1,000 parts that KiCad users would require. The library combines schematic symbols and PCB footprints into atomic elements and adds fields including part numbers and datasheet links. As the library has the same license as KiCad’s main library, it is freely available to all developers. The final release of the library is planned for early 2018.

Digi-Key launches a common parts library for the KiCad EDA Tool – [Link]