Emcraft’s Unveils a i.MX 8M System-On-Module and a $349 Starter Kit

Emcraft, which is known primarily for its work in porting uClinux to various high-end MCUs recently unveiled its NXP i.MX 8M System On Module (SOM) which is Linux driven and a Starter Kit for the i.MX 8M SoM. The starter kit gives Gbe, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0, USB Type C and a Raspberry compatible 40 pin connection.

Emcraft i.MX 8M System-On-Module (SOM)

The 60 mm * 80 mm module is a mezzanine module that supports 512MB to 4GB of DDR3L or LPDDR4 RAM, up to 64GB eMMC 5.0 flash, a PMIC interface that supports WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.2 module with dual U.FL connectors. The i.MX 8M features up to four Cortex-A53 cores at 1.5GHz and a Cortex-M4 core for low-power and real-time operation.

The Emcraft i.MX 8M System-On-Module (SOM) supports only the quad-core version of the dual-core model. The i.MX 8M SoM hooks up to the Carrier board through a four 80-pin connectors. The i.MX 8M SoM starter kit is made up of two major items:

  • The i.MX 8M System On Module (SOM-IMX8M).
  • The development baseboard (IMX8M- SOM -BSB).

The i.MX 8M SoM Starter Kit extends out the features of the i.MX 8M SoM. The board features GbE, USB Type-C, USB 3.0 host, and micro-USB serial console ports. It also comes with some media interfaces like an HDMI 2.0 port, dual MIPI-CSI camera interface, and an audio I/O jack. The BSB baseboard also comes with a Raspberry Pi compatible 40 pin header, a 12V jack, dual Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), an IR receiver, reset and multiple push buttons and a boot selection switch. The board supplies the Arm JTAG and Arm JTAG+ETM debug connectors. The block diagram also shows a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express-based M.2 expansion socket, a Real Time Clock with battery holder, and a Secure Digital (SD) slot.

Starter Kit

Emcraft supports Linux as an operating system for the i.MX 8M Cortex-A53 processor core. All i.MX 8M System-On-Modules come preloaded with Linux and U-Boot. Full source files of U-Boot and the Linux BSP are provided for free download, along with the Linux distribution and cross-development environment. Both U-Boot and Linux are royalty-free making it easy to incorporate into commercial products.

The Starter kit is available for pre-orders online for $349 and has shipping scheduled for May 2018. More information about the i.MX 8M System On Module and the Starter kit can be found on the product page. You can find documentation about setting up the Linux environment for the Emcraft i.MX 8M System-On-Module (SOM) here.

OpticSpy – A Tool For Decoding Optical Data Transmission

Optical data transmission offers a different way of sending data between objects without the drawbacks associated with radio-frequency and wired-communications methods. Visual data communication uses light beam as the medium of data exchange. Optical data communication has applications everywhere, to the fiber-optics that pushes your connectivity to the world and even that old-school TV remote uses optical data transmission.
Aside from application in Fiber Optics, Optical Data Communication is also growing in a space called Li-Fi, a future potential alternative to Wi-Fi, where internet is transmitted through light beams. All these are generating more interest in this technology and makers are not left behind, thanks to a tool called OpticSpy. Ever want to be able to figure out what information a TV remote sends out to your TV? Or even what does those blinkenlights on your device, router or server is saying? OpticSpy might be the right tool to find out.
The OpticSpy modules provide a platform to explore, evaluate, and experiment with covert optical channels. They capture, amplify, and convert an optical signal or light signal into a digital form that can be analyzed or decoded with a computer. OpticSpy is excellent for exploring and experimenting with optical data transmission. OpticSpy is maker friendly, not only because it is open source hardware, but also it can connect directly to an Arduino, Logic Analyzer, and even a Raspberry Pi to process the raw data.
At the core of the OpticSpy design is the Maxim based Photodiode Receiver that can handle fiber-optic data rates up to 800kbps, a small potentiometer for fine-tuning a particular target signal, and an onboard USB-to-Serial interface for connection to a serial host device. OpticSpy is powered from the host computer’s USB port and uses an FTDI FT231X USB-to-Serial IC to provide the USB to Serial connectivity. When connected to a computer, OpticSpy will appear as a Virtual COM port and will have a COM port number automatically assigned to it. A terminal program like Putty or CoolTerm can be used to communicate to OpticSpy for reading of its decoded signal. It has been successfully tested with both visible and near-infrared light sources.
OpticSpy is going to give electronics hobbyists and hardware hackers ability to search for convert channels on existing modern devices, clone a device transmission, and even add optical data transfer functionality to a project. Some areas OpticSpy could find applications are:
The OpticSpy is currently in the crowdfunding stage on Crowd Supply, with a single unit costing $49. But, for $59 you can upgrade to the OpticSpy + Tomu Bundle, which allows you to experiment with transmitting and receiving data. The campaign ends March 31st, and orders are expected to ship at the beginning of May.

High Performance SBC TS-7800-V2 Runs Debian With Linux 4.4.8

Back in 2007, Technologic Systems announced the TS-7800, a single-board computer (SBC) that was able to boot Linux 2.6 in under two seconds. At its core, The TS-7800 is equipped with a Marvel 500MHz ARM9 CPU and includes a user-programmable on-board FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) with 12,000 LUTs (look-up tables). The TS-7800 was a powerful board at that point and a template for other SBCs to follow in the years to come.



March 2018, Technologic Systems announced their latest single board computer, the TS-7800-V2. The TS-7800-V2 is a significant upgrade of their 2017 debuted TS-7800 V1 SBC and replaced the core features of the TS-7800. Technologic has swapped out the old ARM9 based, 500MHz Marvel Orion 88F5182 processor for the faster Marvell 1.3GHz Armada 385 ARM Cortex A9 high-performance dual-core CPU. The Marvel Armada 385 is designed to provide extreme performance for applications which demand high reliability, fast bootup/startup, and consistent connectivity.

Just like the TS-7800 offers backward compatibility to the TS-72xx boards, the TS-7800-V2 also maintains compatibility to the V1 model in areas of electrical, mechanical, software and measures just about 119 x 97mm.

The TS-7800-V2 CPU, the Armada 385 can work up to 1.8GHz if one goes with the commercial temperature option instead of the default -40 to 85°C version. It also offers a faster companion FPGA at 20K LUTs as compared to the 12K LUT of the TS-7800. The TS-7800-V2 ships with 1GB RAM, 2GB to 64GB eMMC, and both SD and microSD slots. Additionally it offers a SATA interface, an option for increasing the device memory space and PC/104 expansion slot. The TS-7800-V2 is equipped with Gigabit Ethernet port for networking, dual USB host ports, a micro-USB console port, an RS232 port, a CAN header, accelerometer, watchdog, an onboard ADC, Real-time clock, DAC and other features.

The following are the device specifications:

  • Processor – Marvell Armada 385 Dual-Core 1.3GHz ARM CPU
  • RAM – 1 GB RAM
  • Flash – 4GB MLC eMMC, which can be configured to a more robust 2GB SLC eMMC
  • Networking –
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • Optional WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 BLE module
  • External Storage –
    • Full-size SD socket
    • microSD socket
    • 2X SATA port
    • Optional mSATA socket
  • Other I/O –
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports
    • 1x USB device port for console
    • 10x Serial/COM port
    • 2x RS-485 or optional 1x full duplex RS-485/RS-422 port
    • CAN Bus
    • SPI Bus
    • I2C Bus
    • 110x GPIO
  • FPGA – 20k LUT Cyclone FPGA (145 various I/O pins)
  • Power – 5 VDC  with optional daughter card for 8V-28V support
  • Operating Temperature – Fanless industrial range of -40 to 85 °C
  • Dimensions – 97 x 119mm
  • Operating system – Debian Linux
TS-7800 V2 Block Diagram

The TS-7800-V2 SBC runs Debian Jessie with Linux Kernel 4.4.8. The SBC starts at $279 in single units, with volume discounts reaching $229. More information may be found on Technologic Systems TS-7800-V2 product page.

The TS-7800-V2 is truly a high end, general purpose single board computer ideal for smart devices, auto entertainment systems, medical systems, enterprise-class intelligent control, plant automation, or any industrial embedded systems.

DC-DC converter starts up and operates from a single photocell

by Marian Stofka @ www.edn.com:

The bq25504 from Texas Instruments is a good candidate to become a milestone on the road to micro-power management and energy harvesting. A prominent feature of this IC is its ability to start up at a supply voltage as low as 330 mV typically, and 450 mV guaranteed. With an SMD inductor and a few capacitors and resistors, it forms a dc-dc converter with a high power efficiency that is unprecedented, especially in the ultralow-power region.

DC-DC converter starts up and operates from a single photocell – [Link]

Triaxis magnetic position sensor IC is ASIL-ready

Melexis’ next-generation monolithic magnetic sensor family, consisting of the MLX90371 and MLX90372, provides robust absolute position sensing for various applications. By Julien Happich @ eenewseurope.com:

Both devices consist of a Triaxis Hall magnetic front end, an analog to digital signal conditioner, a DSP for advanced signal processing and an output stage driver. Due to the Integrated Magneto Concentrator (IMC) they are sensitive to magnetic flux in three planes (X, Y & Z). This facilitates the decoding of the absolute rotary or linear position of any moving magnet, enabling the design of non-contact position sensors. The MLX90371 offers analog or PWM output while the MLX90372 offers SENT (SAE J2716 rev Apr 2016) or PWM output.

Triaxis magnetic position sensor IC is ASIL-ready – [Link]

Upgrade your Industrial Design with Broadcom Parts

Optocouplers – Industrial Fiber – Encoders

New Packages/ More Features/ Better Performance

Get the benefit of enhanced system design through the newest features at the same or lower price with a longer-term assurance of supply.

ACPL-352JThis 5A gate drive optocoupler is a device with integrated fail-safe IGBT and MOSFET diagnostics, protection and fault reporting.

ACPL-C799 is a 1-bit, second-order sigma-delta (Σ-Δ) modular that converts an analog input into a high-speed data stream with galvanic isolation based on optical coupling technology.

AFBR-57E6APZ-HTLow Power 125MBd SFP Transceiver for Fast Ethernet & FDDI (-40°C to +95°C Temperature).

AFBR-59E4APZ-HTThe AFBR-59E4APZ-HT is a new power-saving Small Form Factor transceiver that gives the system designer a product to implement a range of solutions for multimode fiber Fast Ethernet.

AEDR-8700 SeriesThe Broadcom AEDR-871x is a 3-channel reflective optical encoder device providing dual channel quadrature digital outputs and an index channel digital output.

EBV & Broadcom @ PCIM 2018

MP3 player using Arduino and DFPlayer mini

Hi guys, welcome to this tutorial. Today, we will build an mp3 player using an Arduino and the DFPlayer mini MP3 module.

The DFplayer mini is a small, low-cost mp3 module with a simplified audio output that can be connected directly to a speaker or an earphone jack. The module can be used as a stand-alone module with attached battery, speaker, and push buttons or used in combination with a microcontroller or development board like the Arduino, enabled for RX/TX (Serial) communication, thus through simple serial commands we can play music and perform other functions like playing the next and previous song, shuffle, pause the song currently being played etc. The module comes with an SDcard slot and supports both FAT16, FAT32 file system.

MP3 player using Arduino and DFPlayer mini – [Link]

OpenEmbed Releases em3399 Rockchip RK3399 SoM plus an Evaluation Kit

The RK3399 processor from Rockchip has seen adoption in some boards in recent times. The Rockchip RK3399 processor has been deployed on boards like the Odroid-N1 board, Firefly’s Firefly-RK3399, the Theobroma RK3399-Q7 SoM, and more recently the Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi RK3399.

The RK3399 is a low power, a high-performance processor for computing, personal mobile internet devices, and other smart device applications. Based on Big Little architecture, it integrates dual-core Cortex-A72 and quad-core Cortex-A53 with a separate NEON coprocessor and also a Mali T860 MP4 GPU all in one single package. It is the processor to beat and due to its display capabilities has made it seen applications in TV Boxes especially in China.

em3399 SoM

If you are still on the lookout for a system-on-module based on Rockchip RK3399, then another SoM to put for consideration is the OpenEmbed em3399. OpenEmbed has launched their first system-on-module referred to as the em3399 SoM board and even comes with an optional “emPAC-RK3399-EVB” evaluation board.

The em3399 SoM supports 2GB to 4GB DDR3L RAM and 16GB to 128GB eMMC 5.1. It provides support for HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, MIPI-DSI (dual-channel) and eDP 1.3 display interfaces. It comes with a 2x MIPI-CSI camera interface, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, USB type C, USB 2.0, SPi, i2C, GPIO and several others.

The following are some of the specifications of the OpenEmbed em3399:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with 2x Cortex-A72 cores, 4x Cortex-A53 cores, and an Arm Mali-T860MP4 GPU
  • System Memory –  2GB or 4GB DDR3L RAM
  • Storage – 16GB to 128GB eMMC 5.1 flash
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet transceiver (Atheros AR8033)
  • Power Management – Rockchip RK808D PMIC
  • 2x 120-pin board-to-board connectors (0.8mm pitch)
    • Camera – 2x MIPI-CSI (up to 13MP or dual 8MP); VOP (up to 5MP)
    • Audio – S/PDIF output, 8-channel I2S, HDMI and DP
    • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
    • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host ports or 2x USB type C, 2x USB 2.0 host
    • 1x PCI-e x1
    • 5x SPI, 8x I2C, 100+ GPIOs
  •  Display:
    • HDMI 2.0 port with audio for up to 4K @ 60Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 with audio for up to 4K @ 60Hz
    • MIPI-DSI (dual-channel) at up to 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz
    • eDP 1.3 (4-lane)
  • Dimensions – 84 x 55 mm
emPAC-RK3399-EVB development board

The emPAC-RK3399-EVB evaluation board has the same footprint as the em3399 SoM and stacks on top of the module via a dual 120-pin connector. The em3399 SoM is layered between the carrier board on top and also a heatsink on the bottom.

The emPAC-RK3399-EVB development board extends the em3399 with single a Gigabyte Ethernet port, USB 3.0, and USB Type-C ports, as well as dual USB 2.0 ports. It also extends out the HDMI 2.0 port, an audio jack, and MIPI-CSI and eDP connectors. A Wireless WiFi/Bluetooth module is available, and 20 GPIO pins have been extended out as well.

The following are the specification of the emPAC-RK3399-EVB:

  • 2x 120-pin board-to-board connectors for em3399 CPU module
  • Display – HDMI 2.0a port, eDP connector, DisplayPort via USB type C port (TBC)
  • Audio – Via HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack (mic + stereo audio)
  • Camera – 1x CSI connector
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi & Bluetooth module
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB type C port
  • Expansion – 20-pin GPIO/Debug header with GPIOs, UART, 3.3V, 3.3V, 1.8V, GND
  • Misc – Power, Recovery and reset buttons; 5V power LED; 2-pin RTC battery header
  • Power Supply – 12V DC via power barrel jack
  • Dimensions – 84 x 55 mm

The company provides support for Android 7.1 and a Linux distribution with an Ubuntu Core still under development. You can purchase the SoM and the evaluation board on the OpenEmbed’s Taobao page for respectively 650 CNY ($102.50) or 899 CNY (~$142 US) for the 2GB/16GB configuration and 950 CNY ($151) or 1,199 CNY ($189) or for the 4GB/32GB models.

Arduino FM Radio project with a Nokia 5110 display and TEA5767 module

Our friends on educ8s.tv uploaded a new version of their FM Radio on breadboard based on TEA5767 module.

I have built a new, improved version of the FM radio project, which resolves the issues we had in the previous version of the project. The sound quality the project now offers is much better, and it has some new features as well. But first, let’s hear it play a YouTube safe song I am broadcasting using this small FM transmitter.

Arduino FM Radio project with a Nokia 5110 display and TEA5767 module – [Link]

DIY 200KHz Oscilloscope

Check out this DIY 200Khz oscilloscope sell on Tindie.com

If you’d rather spend even less money—but more time—then there are DIY kits that cost even less. One example is the DSO Shell Oscilloscope kit, listed for around $35. The device features a 12-bit sampling resolution, and a maximum bandwidth of 200KHz. It also has a rotary encoder for adjustments, and as the name implies, a nice housing to protect the instrument’s insides.

DIY 200KHz Oscilloscope – [Link]