Test/Measurements category

PandwaRF, A Portable Radio Analysis Tool

PandwaRF, is a portable low-power RF device that captures, analyses and re-transmits RF signals via an Android device or a Linux PC. It uses Bluetooth (BLE) or USB connection to transmit data in a simple and fast way, comes in the form of a controllable housing from a smartphone or a computer.

This pocket-size device operates at sub-1 GHz range, and it replaced the ‘standard SDR Grind’ of capturing, demodulating, analyzing, modifying and replaying by hand with a simple powerful interface.

The PandwaRF consists of a capable hardware device, tailored for beginners and advanced users, with an application that runs either on an Android device or on a PC. The Android interface provides full functionality to control and customize the PandwaRF easily using JavaScript.

Technical details of the PandwaRF:

  • Bluetooth Smart Module ISP130301, based on nRF51
  • CC1111 Low-Power SoC with Sub-1 GHz RF Transceiver
  • Multi frequencies (from 300 MHz to 928 MHz)
  • Multi modulation (ASK/OOK/MSK/2-FSK/GFSK)
  • Transmit and receive in half duplex mode
  • Support data rates up to 500 kBaud
  • Open hardware
  • Full speed USB: 12 Mbps (Linux or Android)
  • Bluetooth Smart 4.0 (Android/iOS)
  • USB charging & battery powered
  • 4 buttons to assign codes
  • 4 Status LEDs
  • 16 Mbit Flash Memory to save custom RF protocols
  • Rechargeable battery powered for stand-alone operation
  • Battery fuel gauge
  • RX amplifier for improved sensitivity: +13dB from 300MHz-1GHz
  • TX amplifier for higher output power: +20dB @ 433MHz & +17dB @ 900MHz
  • SMA connector for external antenna
  • Antenna port power control for external LNA
  • 22-pin expansion and programming header
  • Included: Battery and injection molded plastic enclosure

PandwaRF features are not fully complete yet, the developers had finished captured data processing offload, radio scripting (JavaScript & Python), RF packet sniffer, and spectrum analyzer. Other features are still in development process.

The device is available in three options, the Bare version is about $120 and comes without housing and without battery, the standard version is about $142 with battery and black case, in addition the extended version with enhanced features.

You can reach more information and order your PandwaRF on the official website.

Affordable DNA Detection Using A Smartphone

Researchers at UCLA have developed an improved method to detect the presence of DNA biomarkers of disease that is compatible with use outside of a hospital or lab setting. The new technique leverages the sensors and optics of cellphones to read light produced by a new detector dye mixture that reports the presence of DNA molecules with a signal that is more than 10-times brighter.

Nucleic acids, such as DNA or RNA, are used in tests for infectious diseases, genetic disorders, cancer mutations that can be targeted by specific drugs, and fetal abnormality tests. The samples used in standard diagnostic tests typically contain only tiny amounts of a disease’s related nucleic acids. To assist optical detection, clinicians amplify the number of nucleic acids making them easier to find with the fluorescent dyes.

Both the amplification and the optical detection steps have in the past required costly and bulky equipment, largely limiting their use to laboratories.

In a study published online in the journal ACS Nano, researchers from three UCLA entities — the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the California NanoSystems Institute, and the David Geffen School of Medicine — showed how to take detection out of the lab and for a fraction of the cost.

The collaborative team of researchers included lead author Janay Kong, a UCLA Ph.D. student in bioengineering; Qingshan Wei, a post-doctoral researcher in electrical engineering; Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering; Dino Di Carlo, professor of bioengineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Omai Garner, assistant professor of pathology and medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The UCLA researchers focused on the challenges with low-cost optical detection. Small changes in light emitted from molecules that associate with DNA, called intercalator dyes, are used to identify DNA amplification, but these dyes are unstable and their changes are too dim for standard cellphone camera sensors.

But the team discovered an additive that stabilized the intercalator dyes and generated a large increase in fluorescent signal above the background light level, enabling the test to be integrated with inexpensive cellphone based detection methods. The combined novel dye/cellphone reader system achieved comparable results to equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars more.

To adapt a cellphone to detect the light produced from dyes associated with amplified DNA while those samples are in standard laboratory containers, such as well plates, the team developed a cost-effective, field-portable fiber optic bundle. The fibers in the bundle routed the signal from each well in the plate to a unique location of the camera sensor area. This handheld reader is able to provide comparable results to standard benchtop readers, but at a fraction of the cost, which the authors suggest is a promising sign that the reader could be applied to other fluorescence-based diagnostic tests.

“Currently nucleic acid amplification tests have issues generating a stable and high signal, which often necessitates the use of calibration dyes and samples which can be limiting for point-of-care use,” Di Carlo said. “The unique dye combination overcomes these issues and is able to generate a thermally stable signal, with a much higher signal to noise ratio. The DNA amplification curves we see look beautiful — without any of the normalization and calibration, which is usually performed, to get to the point that we start at.”

Additionally, the authors emphasized that the dye combinations discovered should be able to be used universally to detect any nucleic acid amplification, allowing for their use in a multitude of other amplification approaches and tests.

The team demonstrated the approach using a process called loop-mediated isothermal amplification, or LAMP, with DNA from lambda phage as the target molecule, as a proof of concept, and now plan to adapt the assay to complex clinical samples and nucleic acids associated with pathogens such as influenza.

The newest demonstration is part of a suite of technologies aimed at democratizing disease diagnosis developed by the UCLA team. Including low-cost optical readout and diagnostics based on consumer-electronic devicesmicrofluidic-based automation and molecular assays leveraging DNA nanotechnology.

This interdisciplinary work was supported through a team science grant from the National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program.

 

Source: UCLA

ULINKplus, A Debug Adapter With Power Measurment

While building an ultra-low power application, sensitive hardware and software validation is required to reach system and long battery life. Testing will need an interaction with the tested parts, like simulating input pins of the target application.

These difficulties could be solved with ARM’s new debug adapter “ULINKplus“. It connects the target system with the PC through USB port using a 10-pin Cortex Debug connector. Its power measurement technology allows developers to program, debug, and analyze their applications and their power consumption.

Main features of ULINKplus are:

  • Integrated power measurement synchronized to event tracing which makes it easy to optimize the overall energy envelope of a system.
  • Isolated JTAG/serial-wire connection to the target hardware is essential for testing applications such as motor control, power converters, or systems with sensitive analog processing.
  • Additional test I/O pins are accessible from the debugger and debug scripts to interact with the target and control automated test stands.

ULINKplus, together with MDK, provides extended on-the-fly debug capabilities for Cortex-M devices. You can control the processor, set breakpoints, and read/write memory contents, all while the processor is running at full speed. High-Speed data trace enables you to analyze detailed program behavior.

In addition to downloading programs to your target hardware, you will be able to examine memory and registers, single-step through programs and insert multiple breakpoints, to run programs in real-time, program Flash memory, and to connect to running targets (hot-plugging).

Live data from power measurement

ULINKplus offers a high speed connections that reach 50 Mbit/s for data and event trace for Cortex-M, 20 MHz JTAG clock speed, and 3 MBytes/s high-speed memory read/write.

ULINKplus technical specifications:

  • Compact case 62 x 44 x 11 mm (dust-protected)
  • JTAG/SWD: 20 MHz JTAG clock, 50 MHz serial-wire trace, 10-pin Cortex debug connector, 1 kV isolation
  • Memory access 3 MB/sec, serial-wire trace up to 50 Mbit/sec
  • Power measurement: 2 x 16-bit A/D, 400 KSamples/sec, 3-pin connector, 1 kV isolation
  • Test I/O: 9 digital in/out, 4 analog in, 1 analog out, 3.3 V switchable output voltage (11-pin connector)
  • Debug connection: USB2.0 (to host PC), CMSIS-DAP protocol

According to ARM, ULINKplus will be available from this month.

Open Source UV Index Detector

Boris Landoni @ open-electronics.org documents his UV index detector.

It measures solar radiation and visualizes the corresponding value on the integrated display of a miniaturized Arduino, in order to tell us when to expose ourselves to the sun…

Open Source UV Index Detector – [Link]

Early Diagnosis Now Possible With Smart Bandage

IoE era is here since we are able now to add mobile radio capabilities in our applications! The latest incarnation of the cell phone network will offer internet connectivity and possibilities that could only be dreamt of previously depending on your standpoint, and many more factors.

And now let’s embed these concept in medical applications, like “Smart Bandage” . It is conceivable that sensors embedded in a medical dressing could continuously monitor the wound healing process and send alerts to medical personnel when an infection is detected.  Maybe the patient could not tell accurately  since the pain is not a valid indicator of biological dysfunction. The problem is that we all have different thresholds; some stalwarts may endure the pain and only end up visiting a doctor as a last resort when the simple infection has developed into something nastier. Other patients will be convinced that a slight twinge is evidence of a life threatening condition. An objective assessment of the patient’s state of health will not only be reassuring to the patient, but also lead to a more efficient use of medical resources and reduced health care costs.

For this reason, band-aids with sensors and 5G network interfaces seem like a win-win formula. They will give the doctor an early indication of problems and may even be able to run rudimentary diagnostics to indicate the cause of the problem. Instead of long waiting times for appointments and expensive laboratory tests we could, for example get an immediate recommendation of an effective antibiotic. This is just one small example of the many benefits that the IoE will eventually bring to medical care in the future.

“That intelligent dressing uses nano-technology to sense the state of that wound at any one specific time. It would connect that wound to a 5G infrastructure and that infrastructure through your telephone will also know things about you – where you are, how active you are at any one time. You combine all of that intelligence so the clinician knows the performance of the specific wound at any specific time and can then tailor the treatment protocol to the individual and wound in question.” – Prof Marc Clement, chairman of the Institute of Life Science (ILS).

 

Via: Elektor

1 Cent Lab-On-A-Chip For Early Diagnostics

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a way to produce a cheap and reusable diagnostic “lab on a chip” with the help of an ordinary inkjet printer. At a production cost of as little as 1 cent per chip, the new combination of microfluidics, electronics and inkjet printing technology could usher in a medical diagnostics revolution like the kind brought on by low-cost genome sequencing, said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics and director of the Stanford Genome Technology Center.

Lab on a Chip – Zahra Koochak

The lab on a chip consists of two parts: a clear silicone microfluidic chamber for housing cells and a reusable electronic strip and  a regular inkjet printer that can be used to print the electronic strip onto a flexible sheet of polyester using commercially available conductive nano-particle ink.

“Enabling early detection of diseases is one of the greatest opportunities we have for developing effective treatments,” Rahim Esfandyarpour said, a PhD and an engineering research associate at the genome center. “Maybe $1 in the U.S. doesn’t count that much, but somewhere in the developing world, it’s a lot of money.”

Designed as a multi-functional platform, one of its applications is that it allows users to analyse different cell types without using fluorescent or magnetic labels that are typically required to track cells. Instead, the chip separates cells based on their intrinsic electrical properties:

When an electric potential is applied across the inkjet-printed strip, cells loaded into the microfluidic chamber get pulled in different directions depending on their “polarisability” in a process called dielectrophoresis. This label-free method to analyse cells greatly improves precision and cuts lengthy labeling processes.

Rahim Esfandyarpour helped to develop a way to create a diagnostic “lab on a chip” for just a penny.
Zahra Koochak

The tool is designed to handle small-volume samples for a variety of assays. The researchers showed the device can help capture single cells from a mix, isolate rare cells and count cells based on cell types.The low cost of the chips could democratize diagnostics similar to how low-cost sequencing created a revolution in health care and personalized medicine, Davis said. Inexpensive sequencing technology allows clinicians to sequence tumor DNA to identify specific mutations and recommend personalized treatment plans. In the same way, the lab on a chip has the potential to diagnose cancer early by detecting tumor cells that circulate in the bloodstream.

Via: Stanford Medicine

Fast Single-Pixel Camera

Compressed sensing is an new computational technique to extract large amounts of information from a signal. Researchers from Rice University, for example, have built a camera that can generate 2D-images using only a single light sensor (‘pixel’) instead of the millions of pixels in the sensor of a conventional camera.

This compressed sensing technology is rather inefficient for forming images: such a single-pixel camera needs to take thousands of pictures to produce a single, reasonably sharp image. Researchers from the MIT Media Lab however, have developed a new technique that makes image acquisition using compressed sensing fifty times more efficient. In the example of the single-pixel camera that means that the number of exposures can be reduces to several tens.

One intriguing aspect of compressed sensing is that no lens is required – again in contrast with a conventional camera. That makes this technique also particularly interesting for applications at wavelengths outside of the visible spectrum.

In compressed sensing, use is made of the time differences between the reflected light waves from the object to be imaged. In addition, the light that strikes the sensor has a pattern – as if it passed through a checkerboard with irregular positioned transparent and opaque fields. This could be obtained with a filter or using a micro-mirror array where some mirrors are directed towards the sensor and others are not.

The sensor each time measures only the cumulative intensity of the incoming light. But when this measurement is repeated often enough, each time with a different pattern, then the software can derive the intensity of the light that is reflected from different points of the subject.

Source: Elektor

110 GHz spectrum analyzer fits in your pocket

The MS2760A is the latest release in the Ultra-portable family of USB driven instruments – it can perform spectrum measurements from 9kHz to 110GHz in the industries smallest and lightest form factor. by Clemens Valens @ elektormagazine.com:

There was a time, and not so long ago, that spectrum analyzers were large and heavy instruments that had to be wheeled around on a trolley or mounted in a van for field operations. And their upper frequency stopped at say 10 GHz for the really expensive ones. Oh, how things have changed! Today it is possible to carry a spectrum analyzer in your pocket, or stick it on a drone and fly it around. What’s more, it measures frequencies up to 110 GHz.

110 GHz spectrum analyzer fits in your pocket – [Link]

How to Build a Bi-Fuel (LPG & Unleaded) Trip Computer Using Arduino

Nikos Stavrou @ instructables.com build a bi-fuel trip computer using arduino and has a detailed tutorial on it. The computer can measure both LPG and unleaded fuel consumption. He writes:

The main reason I made this project is the lack of a trip computer that is designed for LPG powered cars.

I named it Bi-TripCo as it can measure the fuel consumption for both fuel systems of a Bi-Fuel car (LPG and Unleaded).

Some might say: “ok, a similar one, no big deal!”. Don’t rush.There are many (or some) tools out there, that can calculate the consumption of conventional fuel systems, which are very easy to use: just plug it into the OBD port of your car – unless you have an older car which does not have one, like mine. And, of course, there are some very good implementations based on Arduino, which can calculate many things related to the Unleaded fuel consumption. But those tools can not be used on an LPG powered car.

How to Build a Bi-Fuel (LPG & Unleaded) Trip Computer Using Arduino – [Link]

RELATED POSTS

USB Curve Tracer

A small and inexpensive USB-based curve tracer used for troubleshooting electronics in the style of the Huntron Tracker 2000. by Jason Jones:

This documents a USB-based curve tracer based on the PIC24FV16KM202, which is a modest 16-bit microcontroller. The board uses a PC screen OR an oscilloscope in XY mode as a display and may connect to multimeter probes for functionality.

USB Curve Tracer – [Link]

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