Comparing the Top 5 PCB CAD Programs

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sfcircuits.com compares the top 5 PCB CAD Programs, DipTrace, Eagle, Altium, Pads and Orcad:

There are several programs available that range from simple and intuitive to highly sophisticated.

They range from free or inexpensive to high-end/premium.

They come feature-less or feature-heavy.

All of the tools are different and unique in their own way. Ultimately, your needs and preferences should drive what CAD program you use. This guide is structured to help you decide which is optimal or explore alternatives.

Comparing the Top 5 PCB CAD Programs – [Link]

EspoTek Labrador – Oscilloscope, Signal generator, Power supply in one tiny board

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EspoTek Labrador is a small, portable, USB-connected electronics lab-on-a-board that includes an oscilloscope, waveform generator, power supply, logic analyzer, and multimeter.

The EspoTek Labrador plugs directly into a solderless breadboard and connects to any Windows, Mac, or Linux computer via microUSB. A custom software interface lets you see and interact with your waveforms on-screen. Careful planning and a lot of work has been put into making the interface intuitive for those new to electronics, while keeping it powerful for those familiar with the instruments. Experienced engineers, don’t fear – you can do things like manually adjust the ADC gain and UART parameters. These kinds of function have just been moved away from the main screen, keeping things clean and simple for newer users.

EspoTek Labrador – Oscilloscope, Signal generator, Power supply in one tiny board – [Link]

BeagleCore: an embedded industrial/IoT computing module, in distribution

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Distributor Conrad Business Services has added an open-source module and starter kit based on the BeagleBone Black, as a rapid development tool. By Graham Prophet @ edn-europe.com:

The result of an agreement between Conrad (Hirschau, Germany) and BeagleCore, the BCM1 embedded computing module and BCS1 starter-kit will be exclusively available to Conrad’s customers world-wide. Heavily based on the BeagleBone development board, these devices provide small, simple and powerful building blocks for creating and testing new technologies for industrial and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Conrad offers them as suited for professional and industrial embedded solutions.

ICS501 simple frequency multiplier

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Scott from SWHarden has published a new build:

Today I made a high frequency multiplier using a single component: the ICS501 PLL clock multiplier IC. This chip provides 2x, 5x, 8x (and more) clock multiplication using an internal phased-lock loop (PLL). At less than a dollar on eBay, $1.55 on mouser, and $0.67 on Digikey, they don’t break the bank and I’m glad I have a few in my junk box! I have a 10MHz frequency standard which I want to use to measure some 1Hz (1pps) pulses with higher precision, so my general idea is to use a frequency multiplier circuit to increase the frequency (to 80 MHz) and use this to run a counter IC to measure the number of clock pulses between the PPS pulses.

ICS501 simple frequency multiplier – [Link]

Portable temperature, humidity and ambient light datalogger

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Jesus @ jechavarria.com pointed us to his latest project, a portable temp, humidity and ambient light datalogger.

Hi all! I’m continuing here with the last board I design and now I’m continuing testing. It’s a battery-powered small datalogger based on a PIC18F2620 microcontroller. The idea comes a few months ago, talking with a friend. He needs something to  monitoring temperature and humidity inside a sea container, for a three weeks travel from Spain to China. Low consumption is important, in order to have maximum autonomy with a small battery.

Portable temperature, humidity and ambient light datalogger – [Link]

Single-chip end-to-end security for IoT devices connected to the Amazon cloud

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Max Maxfield @ embedded.com discuss about IoT security and single chip solutions to this issue.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to change the world, but only if it’s secure. Securing the IoT is currently one of the greatest challenges for the creators of IoT devices and the providers of cloud services.

In order to address this problem, the folks at Amazon have teamed with the guys and gals at Microchip to create a seamless solution in the form of the ECC508A crypto-companion chip, which is presented in a variety of packaging options.

Single-chip end-to-end security for IoT devices connected to the Amazon cloud – [Link]

RELATED POSTS

openSip+Puff for people with limited mobility

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Low-cost, open-source “sip-and-puff” interface to enable new methods of expression for people with and without limited mobility. by Jason Webb:

Commercial sip and puff devices have been available for quite some time but are generally prohibitively expensive, highly specialized, limited in expressivity, require poorly-written and restrictive software and rely on clunky, out-of-date hardware that makes it difficult or impossible to integrate with modern operating systems and even basic software.

Therefore the main objective of openSip+Puff is to provide a cheap, simple, open and modern alternative input method based on the breath of a user that can be easily mapped to a variety of common actions like mouse clicks and keypresses.

openSip+Puff for people with limited mobility – [Link]

SunDuino – Run your C application using solar power

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SunDuino is a Single Board Computer with integrated Battery Charger, Voltage Regulators, I2C, Digital and Analog IO. It’s main benefit is that it can run a compiled C app for years on a small battery or forever using built in solar charger. A background RTOS provides SLEEP functions for reducing operating current to 100ua while providing 125ms periodic wakeups. Sunduino comes in 25W and 10W versions to better suit your application. Take a look at the manual and Datashseet. Also the schematic and PCB layout is available for free.

Key benefits of SunDuino:

  1. Battery charging logic is optimized for long battery life using temperature monitor. The SunDuino is a software defined charger, it supports many battery chemistries and sizes.
  2. Low current operation provides long battery life and runtime. An internal RTOS keeps battery monitoring, power event monitoring, user C Application and SLEEP mode all operating on a 100ua drain. Small batteries can run for years.
  3. Regulated output voltages of +5. +3.3 and +/-12 for the powering of external hardware. Radios, other processors, relays and LEDs are examples of external hardware which requires regulated voltages.
  4. Runs compiled C Applications and various library function for complete user control of power operation. Greatly simplifies system integration.

SunDuino – Run your C application using solar power – [Link]

FemtoFET – 20V 500mA 0.6×0.7mm MOSFET From TI

Texas Instruments “TI” recently announced  FemtoFET series.
There are N-channel MOSFETS like CSD15380F3 and P-channel MOSFETS like CSD25480F3 and CSD23280F3 in this series. These transistors are SMD (Surface Mount Devices) available in a very small package, the land grid array (LGA) package.

Traditional SOT-23 package next to the CSD18541F5 LGA package. Image Source: TI
Traditional SOT-23 package next to the CSD18541F5 LGA package. Image Source: TI

To explore this family we will highlight the FemotoFET MOSFET CSD15380F3. It has a 20V Vds, 990 mohm Rds @ Vgs=8, 500mA maximum Id, 0.5W power dissipation and ultra-small LGA Footprint 0.73 mm × 0.64 mm which make it suitable for many handheld and mobile applications.

Pin-out of CSD15380F3
Pin-out of CSD15380F3
LGA Package
LGA Package

The new MOSFET has Qg = 0.216 nC Ultra-low capacitance and that improves switching speeds in data line applications.

Table Source: Product Page
Table Source: Product Page

It’s available on Mouser for 0.47$ for 1 unit order and 0.05$ for 1,000 unit order and need 6 weeks lead time.
Via: TI E2E Community Blog