Mcu category

Tomu – An ARM board which fits inside your USB connector

Tomu is a programmable computer that is so small that can fit entirely inside a computer’s USB port. It sticks out just a little bit, enough to allow you to press one of the two buttons on it’sy side. It also have two LED lights, to let you know what I’m up to. The project is coming soon on crowdsupply.com

Specifications

  • 25 MHz ARM Cortex M0+ CPU
  • Two LEDs
  • Two capacitive-touch buttons
  • 8 kilobytes of RAM
  • 64 kilobytes of flash
  • Full and Low Speed USB

ESP32-PICO-KIT Development Board

ESP32-PICO-KIT V3 is a mini development board based on the ESP32-PICO-D4 SIP module produced by Espressif. All the IO signals and system power on ESP32-PICO-D4 are led out through two standard 20 pin x 0.1″ pitch headers on both sides for easy interfacing. The development board integrates a USB-UART Bridge circuit, allowing the developers to connect the development board to a PC’s USB port for downloads and debugging. The board is available for $10 here.

Features:

  • 3.3V power regulator – AMS1117-3.3V
  • USB-TTL serial Bridge – CP2102
  • Auto reset circuit, arduino IDE compatible.
  • On Board ESP32 PICO IC and antenna
  • EN and Boot buttons, on board power indicator LED.

LED Heart Keychain

@ sasakaranovic.com build a heart shaped keychain that flashes 2 LED with the touch of your finger! Source files are available on github.

This one is a very simple but cool project, something that I would recommend to anyone who is interested into DIY electronics, gadgets and learning new stuff in general. It is definitely one of those projects that don’t require too much time but you can learn a lot by making it and also earn a lot of credit by sharing it with your friends and family.

LED Heart Keychain – [Link]

hackaBLE – tiny nRF52832 BLE development board

hackaBLE uses the Nordic nRF52832 which in turn is based on an ARM Cortex-M4 core. So you can really program it with any ARM compatible programmer. We do have a convenient solution though, in the form of our Bumpy blackmagic probe compatible SWD debugger and our PogoProg.

PulseRain M10 – FPGA Development board is Arduino compatible

Over the years FPGAs have become readily available to the maker community. They are now more accessible than ever as many development boards has seen the light. It’s now possible to embed a soft-core MCU into an FPGA  rather than using a hard-core ASIC MCU and here is where PulseRain comes into play with an open source design down to the silicon level.

The PulseRain M10 board embeds an open source soft MCU core (96 MHz) in an Intel/Altera MAX10 FPGA, while is Arduino compatible. In addition, the soft-core MCU features onboard resources like voice CODEC, microSD socket, SRAM, on-chip ADC, and dual IO voltages. The board will soon be available for funding on crowdsupply.com.

Features & Specifications

  • FPGA: Intel/Altera 10M08SAE144C8G
    • Logic Elements: 8 K
    • Block Memory: 378 Kb
    • User Flash Memory: 32 KB
    • 18 x 18 Multipliers: 24
    • Internal Configuration: 2 (This FPGA does not need external memory for configuration)
    • PLLs: 1
    • On-chip A/D Converter: 12 bit
    • Temperature Sensor: On-chip TSD (Temperature Sensor Diode)
    • Package: 144-pin EQFP
  • Microcontroller: Soft-core FP51-1T, with support package for Arduino IDE
    • Clock Rate: 96 MHz
    • Processor Core: Enhanced 1T 8051, with RISC implementation
    • Throughput: Single clock cycle execution for most instructions
    • Instruction Memory: 32 KB
    • Data Memory: 8 KB
    • On-chip Debugger: Yes (supports code download throughput of 921600 bps)
    • Open Source Compiler: SDCC (Small Device C Compiler)
  • Onboard Peripherals and Components:
    • Voice CODEC: Silicon Lab Si3000, with onboard microphone and speaker jack
    • DTMF Decoder: Available through software library
    • UART/PWM/I2C: The default configuration has 2 UARTs, 6 PWMs and 1 I2C
    • SRAM: 1 Mbit serial SRAM (Microchip 23LC1024)
    • microSD Socket: Molex 472192001
    • OpAmp and Potentiometer for Analog Input: 6 analog input channel, 1 potentiometer on A0
    • USB: USB/UART bridge (FT232R), with 921600 bps throughput
    • JTAG Header: Yes
    • Push Button: 2
    • Oscillator: 12 MHz crystal oscillator, with DIP package
    • LEDs: 6 (2 for USB/UART indication, 1 for IO power, 3 for general purpose)
  • Form Factor and Input/Outputs:
    • Arduino UNO Rev 3 Compatible Dimension: 2.1 inch x 3.2 inch
    • Maximum Height: 0.5 inch
    • IO Pin Map: Compatible with Arduino UNO Rev 3
    • IO Voltage: Dual voltage support (3.3 V / 5 V)
  • Power: 5 V USB or 7-12 VDC jack
  • Host Interface: microUSB

Programming the ATtiny10 using Arduino IDE

David Johnson-Davies @ technoblogy.com has a nice guide on how to program ATtiny10 6-pin mcu using the arduino IDE. Programming is done using the widely available USBasp programmer from Thomas Fischl. Examples are also included on the guide.

Unlike the SPI protocol used to program the larger AVR chips, such as the ATmega328 in the Arduino Uno, the ATtiny10 uses a programming protocol called TPI (Tiny Programming Interface) which needs only five wires. Fortunately Thomas Fischl’s excellent USBasp programmer supports this protocol [3]; you can build your own, order one from his site, or they are widely available on eBay [4], Banggood [5], etc.

Ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontrollers

Developers can implement simple sensing functions with TI’s lowest-cost microcontroller family

Texas Instruments (TI) on November 10, unveiled its lowest-cost ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontrollers (MCUs) for sensing applications. Developers can now implement simple sensing solutions through a variety of integrated mixed-signal features in this family of MSP430 value line sensing MCUs, available for as low as US$0.25 in high volumes. Additions to the family include two new entry-level devices and a new TI LaunchPad development kit for quick and easy evaluation.

Features and benefits of TI’s MSP430 value line sensing MCUs

  • Developers now have the flexibility to customize 25 common system-level functions including timers, input/output expanders, system reset controllers, electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) and more, using a library of code examples.
  • A common core architecture, a tools and software ecosystem, and extensive documentation including migration guides make it easy for developers to choose the best MSP430 value line sensing MCU for each of their designs.
  • Designers can scale from the 0.5-KB MSP430FR2000 MCU to the rest of the MSP430 sensing and measurement MCU portfolio for applications that require up to 256 KB of memory, higher performance or more analog peripherals.

The new MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100 MCUs (with 0.5 KB and 1 KB of memory, respectively) and the new development kit join the MSP430 value line sensing family which includes the MSP430FR2111, MSP430FR2311, MSP430FR2033, MSP430FR2433 and MSP430FR4133 microcontroller families and their related development tools and software.

Pricing and availability

Developers can purchase the value line sensing portfolio through the TI store, priced as low as US$0.29 in 1,000-unit quantities and US$0.25 in higher volumes. Additionally, the new MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit (MSP-EXP430FR2433) is available from the TI store and authorized distributors for US$9.99. Today through Dec. 31, 2017, the TI store is offering the LaunchPad kit for a promotional price of US$4.30.

For more information visit: www.ti.com/ValueLine-pr

Atmel ATmega8 – A World-Famous Microcontroller Created By Two Annoyed Students

AVR is a family of microcontrollers developed by Atmel beginning in 1996. These are modified Harvard architecture 8-bit RISC single-chip microcontrollers. The Atmel AVR core combines a rich instruction set with 32 general purpose working registers. Atmel’s ATmega8 comes from the AVR line of microcontroller and it is a gem of the modern maker movement. It is used as the heart of the first generation of the Arduino board to be widely adopted by electronics hobbyists. Countless creative projects are designed with those cheap yet powerful chips.

ATmega8 was originally developed in the early 1990s by two students at the Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyAlf-Egil Bogen, and Vegard Wollan. Microcontrollers are different from microprocessors in terms of built-in memory and I/O peripherals. They typically have their own onboard program memory and RAM, rather than relying on external chips for these resources.

When Bogen and Wollan were in university, they faced trouble in following the steep learning curve of the complex instruction sets for microprocessors. Most of the processors used in those days were CISC (Complex instruction set computer) based. They wanted to design a RISC (reduced instruction set computer) based microcontroller with an aim in mind to create something that would be easy to program and relatively powerful. Bogen explained in a YouTube video,

I found them very hard to us. The learning curve to get to use them was hard; I found the development tools crappy. And also I saw that the performance of the products was not where I wanted it to be.

Bogen
Alf-Egil Bogen – one of the creators of the AVR core

Computers, that are typically used on the day-to-day basis, use Von Neumann architecture. In this architecture, programs are loaded into the RAM first and then executed from the same. AVR uses the Harvard architecture, in which program memory and working RAM are kept separate, thus enables faster execution of instructions. The first prototype of AVR used ROM, which is not re-writeable, as the program memory. Later Atmel added easily programmable (and reprogrammable) flash memory to the processor core. The first commercial AVR chip, the AT90S8515, was released in 1996. Wollan says in a video,

instructions and stuff were things we were actually thinking of from the very beginning to make it efficient and easy to use from a high-level point of view

Wollen
Vegard Wollen – another creator of AVR

WISP – Re-programmable Microcontroller That Runs On Energy Harvested From Radio Waves

A new research initiative between the University of Washington’s Sensor Lab and the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands has created a microprocessor that can power itself through stray radio waves and receive programmable updates in the same fashion. While the RISC-derived 16-bit microcontroller CPU is very weak compared to modern standards, it’s much more powerful than any other device that’s powered by ambient energy in the environment with no battery required.

The WISP 5 - Microchips and sensors run from radio wave's energy
The WISP 5 – Microchips and sensors run from radio wave’s energy

This battery-free system is equipped with a sensor and a microchip, which can be powered entirely by radio waves harvested from the air and is up to 10 times faster than similar ambient-powered devices. Best of all, in contrast to similar devices, it can also download executables, allowing it be reprogrammed or upgraded to newer version of firmware whenever needed. This has significant implications for the Internet of Things development and for ambient computing as a whole.

The variety of handheld, portable technology, and wearable gadgets available today is truly amazing. In order to make devices even more compact and thinner, manufacturers typically try to shrink their designs as much as possible. Unfortunately, device size is ultimately limited by the batteries, all of which have a certain capacity before they dry out and must be recharged again. It is a challenge for engineers and designers to balance battery life with function and aesthetics.

The project of radio wave-driven microcontroller is dubbed WISP, or Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform. RFID (CRFID) technology is an example of  WISP. In particular, WISP is capable of being powered passively by converting radio frequencies emitted by conventional RFID (radio frequency identification) readers into electrical power. The project’s latest accomplishment is the addition of Wisent (short for “wirelessly sent”), a faster and more reliable downstream communication-oriented protocol for CRFIDs that can tolerate fluctuations in operating power.

The WISP is constructed out of an open source, open architecture EPC Class 1 Generation 2 RFID tag that incorporates a fully programmable 16-bit microcontroller, in addition to any add-on sensors. It differs from ordinary RFID tags as it is programmable, and can be multi-functional. The team writes in their research paper,

The novelty of Wisent is its ability to change adaptively the frame length sent by the reader, based on the length throttling mechanism, to minimize the transfer times at varying channel conditions. Wisent enables wireless CRFID reprogramming, demonstrating the world’s first wirelessly reprogrammable CRFID.

STMicro Introduces 20 Cents MCU in 8-Pin Package

STMicro has launched STM8S001J3, a new 8-bit micro-controller that sells for $0.20 per unit in 10k quantities. STM8S001J3 is also the first STM8 MCU offered in 8-pin package (SO8N), and should compete with some of the Microchip Attiny or PIC12F series micro-controllers.

STM8S001J3 has small package and little number of pins, but still it embeds rich set of peripherals. Below some of key features of this device:

  • Core and system
    • Flexible clock control capable to use three clock sources: 2 internal (HSI 16MHz, LSI 128kHz), 1 external clock input.
    • Wide operating voltage range: from 2.95V to 5.5V
    • 5 I/Os
    • 8- and 16-bit timers
  • Memories
    • 8k Flash
    • 1k RAM
    • 128 Bytes EEPROM
  • Conenctivity and debug
    • UART
    • SPI
    • I2C
    • Single Wire Interface Module
  • Analog
    • 10-bit ADC with 3 channels