Tag Archives: Arduino

A flexible Arduino Prototype

A lot of makers have started venturing into the wearable world in which everything is portable, invisible, light, flexible and functional. Many have found that using Arduino compromised two of those characteristics. Arduino is not flexible, and it is not invisible which is why it is hard to incorporate into this kind of projects.

NextFlex in Silicon Valley has created a prototype of a flexible Arduino, based on the Arduino mini. The prototype is printed on a polymer and then the standard components are bonded. This means that the device is not yet completely flexible since it includes some rigid components, but the company hopes that in the future components such as resistors and capacitors would be printable too.

The process for making the flexible Arduino involves automated screen printers and industrial inkjet printers for printing the circuit on a 1mm thick flexible plastic board. Then, the microcontroller silicon die is connected directly into the surface with high precision.

The conductive ink used is an advanced formulation of silver ink with bending and flexing capabilities, and with strong adhesion to the surface. The ink is not new in the market, but the company is working toward making more reliable and resilient materials.

This device could bring wearables to a whole new level of comfort and could also be used in a lot of situations such as when space is an important variable, or when weight could affect the correct functioning of the device. As a result, the device would not only be useful for makers, but also for students, product designers etc.

On June 26 of the current year, NextFlex will be taking about the project at the Sensors Expo & conference in San Jose, California.

Manufacturers think that prices in this kind of technology would drop rapidly, making it accessible for everyone to use on their projects. NextFlex wants to make this kind of technology the new mainstream for all kind of projects. Flexible microcontrollers could also be used in IoT and medical applications.

In conclusion, Arduino is already a beloved microcontroller because of its open source hardware and software, its ability to be easily programmed, and its low cost, but now it could also be known because of its practical presentation, and ability to be blended. This device is just a prototype and we should expect improvements in the future, but the future is looking bright for makers.

CIRCUITO.IO: A Platform for idea Development

Arduino is an open source hardware and software company that creates Single Board Controllers (SBC) and Microcontroller kits, and these kits come in a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) form. Arduino can be used by almost anyone because it is inexpensive and also easy for professionals and even amateurs to use. Despite the fact that Arduino kits come in a pre-assembled manner, one can get stuck trying to think of ideas for a project or experiment.

Circuit.io Platform

Situations, where ideas are not forthcoming, are not unusual as it is a brain freeze caused by tension. Arduino has provided open source hardware and software however without ideas to work on; the kits become useless. Most times, there could be a knowledge of what components to use but how to fix them together might be a problem. This is where circuito.io comes in, imagine having a platform that affords one the opportunity to create the coolest projects just by selecting components you want to use.

Circuito.io is an online tool for designing complete electronic circuits. The Circuito app generates instant and accurate schematics and code for your electronic circuit. You select the major building blocks, and it computes all the electrical requirements for your selection.

It has a fantastic interface that allows you to drag and drop different parts together. It also has three different sections that one needs to work on before testing, and the first is the Bill of Materials (BoM) called DESIGN.

Here, you check out all the materials available and you then select your preferred options. You choose the components you want, or you think you need and move on to the next section. The next section being the wiring tool which will process, add all necessary additional items required and in return give a well-labeled wiring diagram. Another exciting aspect about circuito.io is that it has an interface that allows you to step through each building component, guiding you through the creation of the circuit; This simply means that you are not working with a static diagram rather one that can move in different directions.

Circuito.io Code Section

It does not end there though, and it only gets better with circuito.io. After building with the aid of the diagram, one can move on to the CODE module; this is a part of the platform that gives examples on how to program every piece used in the previous steps. The platform will solve the problem of hundreds of Arduino users, and it will be a lot easier to program your circuit after going through sample sketches for various pieces. It even acts as a tutorial method for beginners. So if you are stuck on what Arduino project to work on, circuito.io might just be the app for you.

Arduino’s New Competitors in IoT Race

Arduino, a worldwide leader in microcontrollers and IoT has now added two new members to the family. IoT (internet of things) is a recent term used to describe common devices embedded with electronics, giving them new functionalities such as data gathering, wireless controlling etc. Arduino gave their users the ability to easily navigate through IoT world because of their user-friendly system and has launched different boards and shields throughout the years.

In May, Arduino unveiled the MKR WIFI 1010 and MKR NB 1500, two new wireless connectivity boards designed to compete in the internet of things development.

The first one is the descendant of MKR1000, but it now offers low power consumption, and comes equipped with an ESP32- based module manufactured by u-blox. This gives the board 2.4 GHz WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity.

The second one is designed to work over cellular/LTE networks and supports transmissions via AT&T, T – Mobile, Verizon etc. Additionally, it provides faster communication, and power saving because of faster wake up and connection times.

Both boards are compatible with Arduino Uno, MEGA and all MKR boards, and both operate at 3.3 v and have 22 digital I/Os and seven analog inputs. They will be available for sale in the Arduino store in June of this year.

MKR1010 is fully compatible with the Arduino cloud, and has open- source WIFI firmware with allows the user to easily edit, upgrade and fix security flaws. Also, it has two processors, one based on ARM core technology, and the other one based on dual- core Espressif IC. ECC508, a chip for crypto authentication is included for secure communication.

MKR1010 measures only 61.5 mm x 25 mm, and weights only 32 gr making it perfect for IoT projects where size might be a concern, or when the device is meant to go unnoticed. MKR NB 1500 is slightly smaller.

Internet of things has turned into a competition over fastest connections and accurate results. It has been used everywhere from architecture, to medicine and transportation.  Massimo Banzi the Arduino co-founder said,

The new boards bring new communication options to satisfy the needs of the most demanding use cases, giving users one of the widest range of options on the market of certified products

Arduino´s new MKR boards will provide users with new capabilities which will lead to more projects with better performance even in the most demanding areas of the market.

Arduino Unveils its First FPGA Board with MKR Vidor 4000, and an updated Uno WiFi Board

One of the most significant players of the open-hardware movement, The Arduino (Arduino Foundation) has finally released a set of exciting new boards after long time. The Arduino movement at some point had some legal troubles which affected the pace of hardware development, and after getting resolved, this pace is rising back and surely more boards will be coming soon.

During the Arduino Day 2018 at the Bay Area Maker Faire, Arduino announced several new products. One of those products is the MKR Vidor 4000, an FPGA-based board and Uno WiFi Rev 2, an upgraded UNO WiFi board featuring the new Microchip ATmega4809 MCU.

Arduino Vidor 4000

The MKR Vidor 4000 is the first-ever Arduino based on an FPGA chip, equipped with a SAM D21 microcontroller, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an ECC508 crypto chip for secure connection to local networks and Internet. MKR Vidor 4000 is the latest addition to the MKR family, designed for a wide range of IoT applications, with its distinctive form factor and substantial computational power for high performance. The board will be coupled with an innovative development environment, which aims to democratize and radically simplify access to the world of FPGAs.

An FPGA is a Field Programmable Gate Array. In other words, it is reconfigurable hardware. Unlike a microcontroller, an FPGA is not running software. Instead, its gate arrays change configuration for a specific task. FPGAs has been considered a hard topic for some hardware enthusiasts to understand and implement, but with the launch of this FPGA focused maker’s board this barrier might just be coming down. FPGA gives us true parallel processing as compared to the use of an interrupts driven implementation in microcontroller system. The Vidor 4000 FPGA board is also capable of audio and video processing.

 

“The new MKR Vidor 4000 will finally make FPGA accessible to makers and innovators,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder. “And we are looking forward to changing the game yet again.”

Below are the MKR Vidor 4000 specifications:

  • FPGA part
    • FPGA – Intel Cyclone FPGA with 16K Logic Elements, 504Kbit of embedded RAM and 56 18×18 bit HW multipliers for high-speed DSP
    • System Memory – 8 MB SDRAM
    • Storage – 2 MB QSPI Flash (1MB for user applications)
    • Micro HDMI connector
    • MIPI camera connector
    • mini PCIe connector with up to 25 user programmable pins
  • MCU – Microchip SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power Arm MCU  @ 48 MHz with 256 KB flash, 32 KB SRAM
  • Connectivity – Wifi & BLE powered by U-BLOX NINA W10 Series module
  • I/Os driven both by SAMD21 and FPGA
    • 8x Digital I/O Pins
    • 12x PWM Pins (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, A3 – or 18 -, A4 -or 19)
    • 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
    • 7x analog input pins (ADC 8/10/12 bit)
    • 1x analog output pins (DAC 10-bit)
    • 8x external Interrupts (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, A1 -or 16-, A2 – or 17)
    • DC Current per I/O Pin – 7 mA
  • USB – 1x micro USB device/host port
  • HW Security – ECC508 crypto chip
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB/VIN
    • Battery – Supports Li-Po single cell, 3.7V, 700mAh minimum
    • Circuit Operating Voltage – 3.3V
  • Dimensions – 61.5 x 25 mm
Arduino Uno WiFi Rev 2
Arduino Uno WiFi Rev 2

The new Uno WiFi Rev 2 is built around the new Atmega 4809, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module (replaces the ESP8266 in the previous version), an onboard IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), and a Microchip ECC608 crypto chip for hardware security. The ATmega 4809 provides 6KB of RAM, 48KB of flash, three UARTS, Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), and an integrated high-speed ADC.

The Uno WiFi Rev 3 is expected to upgrade projects that need IoT connectivity using the classic Arduino form factor and will find applications in the areas of automotive, drones, agriculture, consumer electronics, IoT gateway, and others.

Pricing information has not been disclosed so far, but it’s expected the Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 to have a price around $60. The Vidor 4000 and the Uno WiFi Rev 2 boards are expected to start selling at the end of June.

Getting started with FPGA? Try the Arduino IDE Compatible Snō Module

Field-programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are the next generation of programmable logic devices. Although they are fantastic devices for circuit programming, finding your way around them might not be so easy. Designing with FPGAs comes with considerable difficulty, due to its elusive nature and intricacies that attend its learning.

An FPGA is a device that allows you to program real-time circuits instead of emulating them. This device has the ability to be programmed for a specific function by the end user instead of its manufacturer.

Arduino Snō Module
Snō Module

The Snō FPGA module by Alorium Technology has been built to give an easier programming experience by integrating a compatible ATMega328 controller, the same microcontroller that powers the popular Arduino Uno board, making the FPGA module work with the Arduino IDE.

The Arduino Snō Module board is powered by low-end Intel MAX 10 FPGA Chip, an FPGA chip with 1,000 logic array blocks. The board measures at 0.7 x 1.7 inches. The Snō is programmable with Arduino embedded 8-bit AVR instruction set. Also, the Snō has an intriguing workflow for programming the FPGA – Through the Arduino IDE, you can use the pre-programmed or downloadable XBs (Xcelerator Blocks) that can configure the FPGA for functions like servo control and NeoPixel operation.

A handful of people acquire FGPAs for simple pre-defined functions that could easily be handled by a micro-controller. And this explains why the Snō FPGA module also comes with a feature that allows you to program completely custom circuits to handle whatever task you want. Their OPENXLR8 workflow gives you the ability to program and upload new XBs for your own functions.

The first step in setting up your computer to program and connect with the Snō is to install the standard Arduino IDE software. The Arduino is compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Linux. On a final note, the Arduino Snō is generally configurable, boast a higher performance and is fast.

The Sno board is available for purchase at competitive $49 price tag. You can buy it online from either Mouser Electronics or Arrow. More information can be found on the product page here.

Using a Soil Moisture Sensor with Arduino

Hi guys, welcome to today’s tutorial. Smart farms are becoming very popular as everyone is beginning to see the benefits in terms of crop health and yield and I know a lot of people that will be interested in smart farm automation. That’s why today, we will be looking at how to use a soil moisture sensor with an Arduino to determine the moisture content in the soil.

Soil moisture is generally the amount of water that is held in spaces between soil particles. It’s is a very important factor that determines the growth of crops and their health.

Instead of the old gravimetric method of measuring soil water content, the soil moisture sensor measures the volumetric water content indirectly by using other properties associated with the soil. The soil moisture sensor used for this tutorial uses electrical resistance of the soil to determine the soil humidity. The electrical resistance of the soil reduces with increase in the amount of water in the soil. The electrical resistance in the soil, however, increases with reduction in the amount of water in the soil. The sensor consists of a probe and a comparator with an adjustable potentiometer which can be used to set the sensitivity of the sensor.

Using a Soil Moisture Sensor with Arduino – [Link]

Use a Comparator or Op-Amp to Simplify Light Dependent Resistor Output

If your project calls for light sensitivity, it’s hard to beat light dependent resistors (LDRs), also known as photoresistors. They’re available for a few cents each, and their resistance varies based on how much light they receive. In the dark, these devices produce resistances in the megohm range, and can fall to hundreds of ohms or even less when exposed to sufficient light. You first instinct when prototyping this type of device is likely to use an analog input on an Arduino or similar dev board to sense voltage levels. This works quite well in many situations, but you may also want to consider a comparator or operational amplifier (op-amp) to turn this analog input into a simple on/off signal. You could also use one of these components by itself to produce a usable output without the use of a microcontroller.

LDR Analog Input to Microcontroller

An LDR setup for Arduino Analog Input. Illustration: Jeremy S. Cook in Fritzing

First, let’s examine how a microcontroller would see an LDR input. Using the circuit illustrated in the figure above with an Arduino Uno, an LDR is attached to 5VDC, then routed to the analog input A0. Voltage at the intersection of A0, the resistor, and LDR is divided between the fixed resistor and LDR, which decreases its resistance as light is applied. Voltage at this analog input increases with the lowered resistance in proportion to the amount of light the LDR sees.

The Arduino board is thus able to sense the resulting voltage level and convert it to an analog value. A threshold can be setup to respond to different light levels as on or off, or the analog signal can be used for proportional control. Note that the resistor in this illustration is just a placeholder; it would need to be adjusted based on your LDR sensitivity. You can also use a trimming resistor to tweak output values as needed.

Comparator Digitizes Analog Signal

What if you need light input, but just want an on/off value? Analog inputs can handle this programmatically, but if you’re using an Arduino Uno you’re restricted to the 6 analog pins. There’s also the normally minor issue of additional program complexity. If you need more performance out of your setup, you could turn to a comparator, or operational amplifier (op-amp) set up to act as one, to convert this analog value into a simple on/off signal.

Caption: An LDR and LM358 Op-amp setup to detect light as a binary signal to an Arduino Uno Illustration: Jeremy S. Cook in Fritzing

For example, if you were going to use an LM358 op-amp and LDR to detect light, you could tie the V+ (pin 8) to the 5V supply of your Arduino, ground (pin 4) to the Arduino’s ground, and output A (pin 1) to a digital pin on your Arduino board. The inverting input (pin 2) would be hooked to a voltage divider between +5V and ground, and your LDR would be setup in a voltage divider on the non-inverting input (pin 3). Here the LDR would act as the resistor from +5V to the op-amp input, and the set resistor would run to ground.

This will give you an on/off input to your Arduino without mucking about with any extra programming. Note that because of the way this op-amp operates, the output will be less than 5V, but will be sufficient to trigger the needed input. Obviously this will add some wiring complexity—more work than a few lines of code—so it’s not ideal in all situations.

Comparator Sans Arduino

You’re probably wondering at this point why you wouldn’t simply get a dev board capable of more analog inputs if that’s what is needed. After all, hooking up additional wiring or adding more complication to your PCB isn’t trivial. Certainly there are some applications that call for this, but for really simple electronics, you may not need a microcontroller at all.

Caption: An LDR and LM358 Op-amp setup to turn an LED on when there isn’t sufficient light available.
Illustration: Jeremy S. Cook in Fritzing

One such simple application would be a light that you want to come on when the ambient light drops below a certain threshold. In this application, you’d want to put the resistors only voltage divider on the non-inverting input (pin 3), while the LDR voltage divider would be placed on the inverting input (pin 2). This would cause the voltage on pin 2 to be larger than pin 3 when the light is on, turning the output (pin 1) on when there isn’t enough light.

Of course LDRs are but one type of sensor, and there are many models of op-amps and comparators with different characteristics available depending on your needs. If you’re just starting out with sensors and electronics, using a dev board like an Arduino is a great choice. As you advance in your knowledge, you might also consider analog electronics for your builds. While not appropriate or necessary for every project, it’s a great tool to have available when purely digital processing doesn’t quite fit your application.

Jeremy S. Cook and Zach Wendt are engineers who enjoy sharing how electronic components can best impact applications. Jeremy writes for a variety of technical publications. Zach works for Arrow Electronics, a major supplier of Arduino products.

RAK8211-NB iTracker – An All Weather IoT Board designed for Asset Tracking with Bluetooth 5.0

In the last few years, we have seen a lot of love poured towards the hardware ecosystem especially hardware related to the Internet of Things applications (hardly would you find any board that doesn’t have one or two IoT offerings). Some boards give basic IoT functionality like providing you with a basic IoT connectivity interface with no extra add-ons while some boards goes the extra mile by providing more, RAK8211-NB iTracker is one of those boards.

RAK8211-NB iTracker

Rak Wireless, the Chinese based hardware company has recently launched a new IoT focused board called the RAK8211-NB iTracker based on the Quectel BC95-G NB-IoT Module, Nordic Semi nRF52832 Bluetooth 5 chip, and Quectel L70-R GNSS module. The Quectel BC95-G is a high-performance NB-IoT module which supports multiple frequency bands of B1/B3/B8/B5/B20/B28* with extremely low power consumption. The ultra-compact 23.6mm × 19.9mm × 2.2mm profile makes it a perfect choice for size-sensitive applications like the RAK8211-NB iTracker. The Quectel provides a flexible and scalable platform for migrating from GSM/GPRS to NB-IoT networks.

The RAK8211-NB is a module geared towards asset tracking and management due to its arrays of features, and it’s one of those board that supports the new Bluetooth 5.0. The board includes a vast array of connectivity options (NB-IoT, BLE 5.0 and GPS). The asset tracker module comes with five different sensors to monitor motion and environmental data, and can optionally be powered directly by a solar panel. It comes with accompanying sensors like an accelerometer, a light sensor and a barometric sensor. At the heart of the RAK8211-NB is the Nordic NRF52832 SoC. The nRF52832 SoC is built around a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M4F CPU with 512kB + 64kB RAM. The embedded 2.4GHz transceiver supports Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT, and proprietary 2.4 GHz protocol stack.

The RAK8211-NB module is Arduino friendly and can be programmed using the IDE. The board also provides SWD interface for programming the NRF52832 core. The combination of BLE and NB-IoT offers flexible low power consumption development along with a myriad of application option ranging from telemetry to live tracking and environment sensing. The RAK8211-NB iTracker provides applications in the following areas:

  • Vehicle location/fleet transportation management.
  • Safety monitoring of old/young children.
  • Animal protection and animal husbandry management.
  • Asset tracking and management.
  • Prototyping for NB-IoT Applications.

The below are some of the specifications of the module:

  • Connectivity
    • NB-IoT via Quectel BC95-G (Global) wireless communication module + SIM card socket
    • Bluetooth 5 via Nordic Semi nRF52832 Arm Cortex-M4F micro-controller (Arduino compatible)
    • GPS/GLONASS via Quectel L70 GNSS module
  • Sensors
    • LIS3DH ultra-low-power, high-performance 3-axes “nano” accelerometer
    • LIS2MDL ultra-low-power, high-performance 3-axis digital magnetic sensor.
    • Tilt sensor
    • BME280 pressure, humidity and temperature sensor
    • The OPT3001 intensity of light sensor
  • Expansion – 3x headers with SWD, 2x sensor out + tilt out (also usable as GPIO and analog inputs), 3.3V, GND, and reset
  • Power Supply – 3.5V to 18V via solar panel (P2) or battery (P3)
  • Dimensions – 43mm x 38mm x 18mm
  • Temperature Range – 40°C to +85°CBLE Features

The company provides instructions to use the module with the Arduino IDE, Espruino (JavaScript) and Arm Keil tools. The RAK8211-NB iTracker kit is available and sells for $98.40 + shipping on Aliexpress. Rak Wireless also offers another variant of RAK8211 with RAK8211-G based on the most of the same features, except GPRS is used instead of NB-IoT. It is sold for $87.40 + shipping.

Using a Hall Effect Sensor with Arduino

Hall Effect Sensor

Hi guys, welcome to today’s tutorial. Today we will look at how to use a hall effect sensor with Arduino.

A hall effect sensor is a sensor that varies its output based on the presence or absence of a magnetic field. This means that the output signal produced by a Hall effect sensor is a function of magnetic field density around it. When the magnetic flux density around it exceeds a certain pre-set threshold value, the sensor detects it and generates an output voltage sometimes called the hall voltage to indicate the presence of the magnetic field.

Hall sensors are becoming very popular due to their versatility and they are used in many different applications. One of the popular applications of hall effect sensors is in automotive systems where they are used to detect position, measure distance and speed. They are also used in modern devices like smartphones and computers and also used in different type of switches where the presence of a magnetic field is used to either activate or deactivate a circuit.

Using a Hall Effect Sensor with Arduino – [Link]

PID temperature control with Arduino

PID temperature control with Arduino UNO.

If you want to keep something at a certain temperature, say a block of aluminum, you’ll need a thermocouple and some sort of heating element. While you could turn a heater on and off abruptly in a sequence appropriately known as “bang-bang,” a more refined method can be used called PID, or proportional-integral-derivative control. This takes into account how much the temperature is outside of a threshold, and also how it’s changing over time. [via]

PID temperature control with Arduino – [Link]