BigClown: The IoT Kit for Makers

BigClown is a Modular IoT kit that is live on indiegogo.com. It’s wireless, open-source, running from batteries for years and with technical support.

Meet BigClown – the best IoT kit in the galaxy. BigClown will help you to build your own electronics. The kit modular, wireless, open-source, running on batteries for years and with support. Start creating your smart gadgets. It is as simple as building a castle from LEGO® bricks or an IKEA® cabinet. Support our risk-free project – delivery guaranteed! Hardware design, supply chain, and manufacturing are all set.

The project is 49% funded and has 30 days to go.

ATtiny85 runs at 0.000011574Hz clock

What is the lowest possible clock frequency at which a microcontroller can still do useful work? Here’s a little project that attempts to explore this weird question. by @ idogendel.com:

ATtiny85 runs at 0.000011574Hz clock – [Link]

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Physicists Of University of Rochester Have Created Polariton – A Particle With Negative Mass

A group of researchers led by Nick Vamivakas from the University of Rochester has successfully produced particles which have negative mass in an atomically thin semiconductor material. According to the researchers, they have created a device that can generate LASER light using a significantly small amount of energy. All made possible with the help of this so-called negative mass particles. Quantum physicist Nick Vamivakas from Rochester’s Institute of Optics says,

It also turns out the device we’ve created presents a way to generate laser light with an incrementally small amount of power. Interesting and exciting from a physics perspective,

Polariton – A new particle that has negative mass

Mass is often observed as a resistance or response to a force. It’s harder to push and to stop a bowling ball than a marble because of the inertia associated with the mass of the object. All objects that are made of matter must have the property of ‘mass’. Even elementary particles without rest mass have something called relativistic mass. They react to an externally applied force in the way you expect them to. Particles with ‘negative mass’ however exhibit the opposite reaction to an applied force. They tend to move toward the applied force direction than to move away from it.

“That’s kind of a mind-bending thing to think about because if you try to push or pull it, it will go in the opposite direction from what your intuition would tell you,” says Vamivakas.

The device they created to make negative mass consists of two mirrors. It is used to make an optical microcavity to capture light at different colors of the spectrum depending on the mirror spacing. An atomically thin Molybdenum diselenide semiconductor is then implanted into the microcavity. This interacts with the captured light. The small particles called excitons from the semiconductor combine with photons of the trapped light to form polaritons. This process of an exciton giving up its identity to a photon to produce a polariton results in an object with negative mass associated with it. Simply means when you try to push or pull it, it goes off in the opposite direction to the way you would assume.

The most probable practical applications according to the researchers would be:

  •  The physics of negative mass: It will enrich the understanding of the reaction behavior of polaritons on electric fields and external forces.
  •  As a laser fabrication substrate: Due to polaritons, lasers would function more efficiently than the conventional ones. They will require much lower power input.

Further information is available in the journal Nature Physics, with the title Anomalous dispersion of microcavity trion-polaritons.

3 in 1 Temperature Sensor Shield For Arduino Nano

This 3 in 1  shield for Arduino Nano helps to develop various temperature measuring applications. Arduino Nano shield consists of 3 different types of temperature sensors.

  1. MLX90614 non-contact temperature sensor
  2. 10K NTC Analogue Temperature Sensor
  3. Programmable Resolution 1-Wire Digital Thermometer

With this board is easy to make a contactless temperature meter using the earlier published 4 Digit display Nano shield,

Note : Only MLX90614 sensor can be used with display shield , DS18200 and NTC has to be removed as display uses those port pins.

3 in 1 Temperature Sensor Shield For Arduino Nano – [Link]

RDA5981 is a $1 Fully Integrated WiFi Chip with an ARM Core

RDA’s RDA5981 is a fully integrated low-power WiFi chip from RDA Microelectronics. RDA5981 is a fully built WiFi chip highly intended for applications in the areas of a smart home, audio applications and IoT applications. The RDA5981 is being used in devices running Baidu DuerOS, the Chinese alternative to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

RDA5981 WiFi Module

During the annual event of China’s semiconductor industry IC China 2016, RDA Microelectronics announced the RDA5981 during the event with promises of it reducing the size, power consumption, development costs of a smart device.

The RDA5981A is a low power MCU with IEEE802.11b/g/n MAC/PHY/radio integrated into one chip. The RDA5981 is powered by the ARM Cortex M4 plus FPU/MPU core running at 160MHz speed, a high performing processor for that application type. It has up to 288KByte of internal SRAM and additional 160Kbyte SRAM for Wi-Fi stack and flash cache but with only about 192Kbyte available for the user. It has up to 8MB of Flash, 2x ADC with a 10bit resolution, 8x PWM (Pulse Width Modulation), 4x SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) with a maximum clock frequency of about 20MHz, one I2C, 2x I2S, 2x UART and a total of about 14 GPIO Pins.

RDA5981 Block Diagram

Concerned about Security, the RDA5981 has an onboard hardware cryptographic accelerator supporting AES/RSA, and a True Random Number Generator (not the one you use software to generate), and lastly a CRC accelerator for improved performance. It includes an onboard TCP stack which could either support SSL, TLS or even both.

Unlike the ESP8266, one the maker’s favorite Wi-Fi module, the RDA5981 includes USB2.0 features.

RDA5981 A/B/C processor specifications:

  • CPU – Arm Cortex-M4 +FPU/MPU core @ up to 160 MHz
  • Memory –
    • Up to 448 KB SRAM for network stack and application
    • User available memory is 192Kbyte
  • Storage –
    • Up to 32Mbit SPI flash
    • Support 64M PSRAM expansion
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi
      • 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n WiFi up to 150 Mbps with 20/40 MHz bandwidth
      • WPA, WPA2, WEP, TKIP, CCMP security
      • STA, softAP, P2P, STA+softAp, STA+P2P modes
      • A-MPDU, A-MSDU, HT-BA
    • TCP/IP stack with SSL and/or TLS
  • Host Interfaces – SPI / UART (AT command set) / USB2.0
  • Peripherals – 14x GPIO, 2x UART, 2x I2S, 1x I2C, 8x PWM, 4x SPI, 1x SDMMC, 1x USB2, 2x ADC
  • Security –
    • Hardware crypto accelerator AES/RSA,
    • True random number generator (TRNG)
    • CRC accelerator
  • Misc – Watchdog, 16×16 bits eFuse configuration
  • Package – 5×5mm2 QFN package, 0.4mm pitch QFN-40
  • Temperature –
    • -30oC to +80oC
  • Voltage – 3.0V – 3.5V

The board can be programming with AT commands or using mBed and the company provides support for FreeRTOS and mbedOS5.1 for the chip. More information about the device specification can be found on the Electrodragon Wiki

The RDA5981A IC is expected to sell for around $1 and an RDA5981A Wi-Fi module is available for sale at $1.92 from Electrodragon.

3D Printed Objects that can connect to Wi-Fi without any Electronics

The world has seen an exponential growth of the Internet of things, where things are becoming connected. Every physical object is giving the chance to be connected to the internet and emit some data about itself with just the addition of some chips, and some form of wireless interface. Your Electric kettle can basically tell you when it’s ready or even prepare itself down for you.

Researchers have estimated will we have billions of connected objects in the coming years which are already creating security and privacy concerns. Concerns like; what if my device gets hacked, infected with malware or my mission-critical device suddenly losses it’s power. What if we still could achieve this connectivity possibility without having to rely on much electronics? Researchers at the University of Washington have created a range of 3D-printed plastic objects that can communicate with a router even though they’re not connected to the internet and don’t contain any electronics.

The researchers at the University of Washington have found ways to create connected objects with only 3D printed parts and an antenna. They receive funding from the National Science Foundation and Google.

First; they design and 3D printed a combination of plastics like springs, switches, knobs, gears and copper filaments to serve as an antenna. Then, they leverage a technique called “Backscatter Techniques” to transmit the signal to Wi-Fi enabled device. Backscatter systems use an antenna to transmit data by reflecting radio signals emitted by a Wi-Fi transmitting device or a router. Information can be embedded in those reflected patterns and can be decoded by a Wi-Fi receiver. In this case; the antenna is used to reflect the radio signals back to a Wi-Fi receiving device which could by a smartphone and physical motion on the antenna, like a regular tapping cause some form harmonics on the transmitted signal, where this harmonic will serve as the embedded information.

The 3-D printed gears (in white) and spring (blue spiral) toggle a switch (white box with a grey surface) made of conductive plastic. The switch changes the reflective state of a 3-D printed antenna (gray strip) to convey data to a WiFi receiver. Mark Stone/University of Washington

For example – as you pour a fluid ( a liquid detergent, water or even fuel) out of its containing bottle, attached to it a 3D printed gear on the outlet. The speed the gears turns will tell how much fluid content is left and if connected to some form of a switch that can bounces on and off an antenna due to the movement of the gears will make the antenna transmit those changes out with the reflected Wi-Fi signal. The receiver can track how much fluid is left and when it dips below a certain amount, it could possible automatically send a message to your Amazon app to order more or an SMS to notify you of current status.

The team has printed several objects and tools that were able to sense and send information to other connected devices: a button, a wind-speed measuring device, a dial, and a movable gear. When they’ve moved – such as when the button is pressed, the dial is turned, the wind blows through the devices, and so on – the antenna will transmit this change to receiving unit and some actions can be taken. Those devices can then be used to interact with the internet – the button turned on a computer, the dial scrolled a web browser, and a slider controlled a digital slider.

 

This whole communication is unidirectional, means it can only transmit information and not receive back. The team’s work opens up the possibility of adding internet connectivity to everyday items. You can have a water flow measurement device that could, in theory, be incorporated into the design of any bottle, so if you’re running out of juice, detergent, or milk, the speed at which liquid is flowing over the sensor could alert the web to reorder that item for you.

The team is making their 3D models available to the public so that anyone can utilize these objects at home.

Rohde & Schwarz RTB2004 10-Bit, 2.5GS/s MSO Oscilloscope Review, Teardown & Experiments

In this episode Shahriar reviews the Rohde & Shwarz RTB2004 10-Bit oscilloscope. With its high-resolution touch-screen, intuitive and capable GUI as well as excellent analog/digital performance this scope competes very well against other 2000 series instruments from Tektronix and Keysight. This extensive review includes instrument teardown, overview and dedicated experiments as follows

Rohde & Schwarz RTB2004 10-Bit, 2.5GS/s MSO Oscilloscope Review, Teardown & Experiments – [Link]

Writing to flash and EEPROM on the tinyAVR 1-series

Update your tinyAVR code to access memories when using 1-series tinyAVRs. Link here (PDF)

On tinyAVR® 1-series devices, access to Flash memory and EEPROM has been changed from that on previous tinyAVR devices. This means that existing code for writing to Flash and EEPROM on older devices must be modified in order to function properly on tinyAVR 1-series devices. This application note describes what has changed and how to adapt code to these changes.

Writing to flash and EEPROM on the tinyAVR 1-series – [Link]

Panasonic PAN9420 is a standalone fully embedded Wi-Fi Module

Building an Internet of Things infrastructure most times depends upon the wireless connectivity, but there are many options for wireless and not every device is IP addressable – a requisite feature for IoT. There are many wireless interface options, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lora, RFID and Satellite, each with their own unique balance of power, range, data rates, mesh networking, interference immunity, and ease of use. However, some interfaces are not yet native-IP enabled, so cannot be addressed directly or exchange data with other devices and servers over the Internet. These then require a separate gateway, adding expense and complexity to the final solution.

PAN9420 Wi-Fi module

This is where Wi-Fi stands out: it is based on the IEEE 802.11 standards with native IP addressability, is ubiquitous, well understood, and can scale well in terms of data rates to optimize for power consumption. The PAN9420 is a 2.4 GHz ISM band Wi-Fi-embedded module from Panasonic.

The PAN9420 is a fully embedded stand-alone 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi module and the successor of the PAN9320.  It includes a wireless radio and an MCU for easy integration of Wi-Fi connectivity into various electronic devices. The module is specifically designed for highly integrated and cost-effective applications and includes a fully shielded case, integrated crystal oscillators, and a chip antenna.

The PAN9420 is a 29.0×13.5×2.66mm SMT package with a fully shielded case and a high-performance Marvell® 88MW300 MCU/WLAN System-on-Chip (SoC) inside, an integrated crystal oscillator at 38.4MHz, a clock crystal at 32.768KHz, medium access controller, encryption unit, boot ROM with patching capability, internal SRAM, and a chip antenna with option for a selectable external antenna. It also comes with an integrated web server, over-the-air firmware update, two UART interfaces, and a full security suite.

Block Diagram for the PAN9420 module

Simultaneous Wi-Fi connections can easily be implemented from the module with other smart devices as a result of its support for parallel access point and infrastructure mode. Client (STA), a micro access point (μAP), and Ad-hoc mode (Wi-Fi Direct) applications are enabled by the pre-programmed Wi-Fi SoC firmware. Raw data can be sent over the air from UART to smart devices, web servers, or PC applications with the transparent mode.

Unlike the PAN9320, the PAN9420 has an enhanced temperature range of -40 °C to +85 °C and reduced power consumption in transmitting, idle and power down. The PAN9320 and PAN9420 both have the same PCB configuration making it easy to migrate from PAN9320 without any changes to the PCB design. With a power supply of 3.0 to 3.6V and a power down mode current consumption less than 1mA, the PAN9420 is suitable for low power applications and should run comfortably with coin cell batteries.

It’s available in an Evaluation Kit containing one PAN9420 Mother Board (MB), one PAN9420-ETU daughter board which includes the PAN9420 FCC approved version, and one USB-cable packaged in a large case. The PAN9420 FCC version module already comes preinstalled with a firmware for easy deploying IoT based applications. The Evaluation Kit is going for around $128 and the PAN9420 module is costing at about $20.76 on digikey.

Portwell eNuC SBC is powered by Apollo Lake SoCs with Display Ports

The Intel Apollo Lake SoCs officially known as the Intel Atom® processor E3900 series, Intel® Celeron® processor N3350, and Intel® Pentium® processor N4200 platform empowers real-time computing in digital surveillance, new in-vehicle experiences, advancements in industrial and office automation, new solutions for retail and medical, and more. Intel which has also pioneered the Embedded NUC (eNUC) through its Intel NUC system is paving the way for the development of Next Generation Single Board Computers (SBCs).

PortWell, the makers, and innovator of several industrial embedded computing solutions who just released the recent Pico ITX Apollo Lake SoC board have just released the Portwell “WUX-3455” board, a small form factor embedded system board featuring the Intel Celeron Processor J3455, known as Apollo Lakes and also part of their WUX-3350 mini PC board series.

Portwell’s WUX-3455 is a 4×4-inch (101.6mm x 101.6mm) Embedded NUC form factor board, based on the Intel Celeron J3455 Processor plus DDR3l SO-DIMM supporting up to 8GB 1866/1600 MT/s, up to 6x USB ports 3.0 and 2.0, up to 64GB eMMC 5.0 flash storage, onboard microSD 3.0 Socket, one COM port using the RJ45 connector for RS-232, one DisplayPort (DP) and one HDMI with resolution supporting 4K videos.

With a display port and one HDMI port offering a resolution of about 4096 x 2160 and an onboard Realtek ALC255 driven audio I/O, the Portwell WUX-3455 board isn’t shy away from producing 4K videos with surrounding audio, and enough multiple storage interfaces to hold content. The board is equipped further with Gigabit Ethernet, RS-232 ports and enough USB Ports, data communication is made easy. It provides an M.2 slot support, for various wireless options, and a TPM chip is optional.

The Portwell WUX-3455 delivers robust performance, yet it operates with thermal design power (TDP) under 6W/10W for fanless applications. Going with the quad-core Celeron J3455 gives 10W TDP at about 1.5GHz to 2.3GHz, the quad-core Pentium N4200 generates 6W TDP at about 1.1GHz to 2.5GHz, and the dual-core Celeron N35550 generates 6W TDP at about 1.1GHz to 2.5GHz. It also supports a wide voltage of power input from 12V to 19V and a 0 to a 60oC temperature range for rugged applications.

The following below are some of the specifications for the WUX-3455 SBC:

  • Processor –
    • Intel® Pentium® N4200, 4 cores, 1.1GHz/2.5GHz, 6W TDP
    • Intel® Celeron® N3350, 2 cores, 1.1GHz/2.4GHz, 6W TDP
    • Intel® Celeron® J3455, 4 cores, 1.5GHz/2.3GHz, 10W TDP
  • Memory –  up to 8GB DDR3L-1866/1600/1333MHz via 2x SODIMMs
  • Storage Options –
    • 1x SATA III
    • 1x MicroSD 3.0
    • Up to 64GB onboard eMMC 5.0
  • Display & Audio:
    • HDMI 1.4a port at up to 3840 x 2160
    • DisplayPort at up to 4096 x 2160
    • Intel HD Audio and Realtek ALC255 HDA codec
    • Audio jack with line-out or mic-in
  • Networking — 1x GbE port (Realtek RTL8111H)
  • Others:
    • 4x USB 3.0 ports on the rear I/O
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports onboard with pitch 2.0 header
    • RS232 port
  • Expansion — M.2 E+A key for WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, 4G
  • Other features — Watchdog; hardware monitoring; optional TPM 2.0
  • Power — 12-19VDC input jack
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 60°C
  • Dimensions — 101.6 x 101.6mm (4×4-inch eNUC form factor)

The PortWell WUX-3455 board can find applications the areas of digital signage in public spaces (stadiums, museums, transportation systems, corporate buildings, healthcare facilities, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and more), manufacturing, industrial automation, office automation, video analytics, security surveillance, to end-to-end solutions for the ever-evolving and ever-expanding IoT use cases.

The WUX-3455 is available through Portwell, Arrow Electronics, and Avnet. More information about the WUX-3455 may be found in the WUX-3455 announcement.