Tag Archives: ARM

Google Reveals Four New ARM-based production Boards For Android Things 1.0

Earlier this month, Google released Android Things 1.0 and announced many consumer products that will ship in the coming months based on the stripped-down, IoT-oriented Android variant. Google uncovered four ARM-based production boards for Android Things 1.0: Innocomm’s i.MX8M based on WB10-ATIntrinsyc’s Open-Q 212A and Open-Q 624A, based on the Snapdragon 212 and 634, respectively, and the MediaTek MT8516.

The most important news with the first market-ready release of Android Things is that Google is offering free OTA security and patch updates for three years to all targeted devices. However, Google needs a licensing deal to deploy more than 100 commercial systems using the OTA updated long-term version of Android Things, and the OS itself is “managed” and tightly controlled by Google.

The modules share the same small footprints of about a 50 x 50mm. They also focus on audio features that might support integration with the Google Assistant voice agent. The first round of consumer devices using Android Things are smart speakers and automation hubs that integrate Google Assistant.

WB10-AT

InnoComm Google WB10AT COM
InnoComm Google WB10AT COM

InnoComm’s 50 x 50mm WB10-AT COM is almost identical to the WB10 module announced in March. The only difference except for the OS is that the AT version ships with 1GB LPDDR4 instead of 2GB. The WB10-AT includes a 1.5GHzCortex-A53 based NXP i.MX8M Quad SoC with a 266MHz Cortex-M4 core. It extends 8GB eMMC, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and a GbE controller.

The WB10-AT allows HDMI 2.0 with 4K HDR support, as well as extensive audio I/O enabled by the audio-savvy i.MX8M. Audio specs include 4x SAI, DSD512, and S/PDIF.

Open-Q 212A Development Kit

Open-Q 212A board and module
Open-Q 212A board and module

Intrinsyc’s Open-Q 212A is a sandwich-style SBC designed for next-gen smart speaker and voice-controlled home hub products. There is a new 50 x 46.5mm Open-Q 212A Android Things SOM with a quad-core, Cortex-A7 Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 (SDA212) — the lowest-end SoC available for Android Things mounted on a 170 x 115mm carrier board.

The new module provides 1GB LPDDR3, 4GB eMMC, WiFi-ac, and BT 4.2. The 12V carrier board adds 2x USB host ports, a micro-USB client port, and a micro-USB debug port. It also includes a MIPI-CSI and MIPI-DSI interfaces, with the latter capable of up to 720p LCD displays. PCB antennas are also available.

Open-Q 624A Development Kit

Open-Q 624A
Open-Q 624A

This new sandwich-style kit is Google’s high-end Android Things platform. It connects a new Open-Q 624A Android Things SOM and carrier board, each of which is the same size as their Open-Q 212A counterparts.

The module extends 2GB RAM4GB eMMCWiFi-ac, BT 4.2, and a new, undocumented octa-core Snapdragon 624 SoC based on the existing Snapdragon 625. Like the Snapdragon 625, the 624 provides 8x Cortex-A53 cores at up to 1.8GHz along with an Adreno 506 GPU with support for 4K @ 30fps video. Google calls the Snapdragon 624 the SDA624, and in one place Intrinsyc refers to it as the APQ8053, which is also the name of the Snapdragon 825.

The Open-Q 624A carrier board has a feature set that is very similar to that of the similarly sized Open-Q 212A board. However, it adds a USB 3.0 Type-C port, sensor expansion and haptic output, and an optional GPS receiver, which like the module’s WiFi and Bluetooth, is available with an antenna.

MediaTek MT8516

MediaTek MT8516
MediaTek MT8516

Google refers to the MT8516 as a virtual SoM, as opposed to the other physical modules, and suggests that the module’s capabilities are directly integrated into a reference board designed for high volume applications.

Whatever the form factor, the MT8516 provides a quad-core, 1.3GHz Cortex-A35 processor with 4GB eMMC, WiFi, BT, and RF. The platform is intended for voice assistance and other audio applications and provides 4-channel I2S x2, 8-channel TDM, and 2-channel PDM input for voice input control and connected audio.

The Cortex-A35 cores draw about 33 percent less power per core and occupy 25 percent less silicon area than Cortex-A53. The -A35 design lies at the heart of NXP’s i.MX8X SoC, which is also available in two dual-core models. The i.MX8X is found on Phytec’s phyCore-i.MX 8 module.

More information may be found on this Google Android Things Supported Platforms page, as well as at these four product pages:

Zebra SBC – ARM based Single Board Computer from VersaLogic

VersaLogic has released a rugged, lasting, simple-to-use and ready-for-deployment Zebra VL-EPC-2701 board. The Zebra single board computer is a complete Arm-based embedded computer. It features several models that are available with power-efficient, single- or dual-core i.MX6 CPUs. The Arm-based Single Board computer comes in two models; which features either NXP i.MX6 Solo (single core), or the i.MX6 DualLite (dual core) processors.

Zebra SBC

With its 95 x 95 mm size, the compact board is easy to mount and perform future upgrades. Not only that, Zebra conforms to the size and mounting points of the industry standard COM Compact format. The Zebra NXP’s single-core i.MX6 Solo comes with an onboard 512MB DDR3L RAM, while the dual-core DualLite comes with a built-in 1GB RAM, both of which are expandable up to 4GB RAM. The Zebra offers an optional 8GB microSD card with Linux and supports Linux distributions and OSes that are compatible with the Cortex-A9 based i.MX6.

This embedded computer boards provide connectivity via Gigabit Ethernet, USB, and CAN bus interfaces, as well as HDMI video support. They also provide a MikroBUS socket for expandability, and additional on-board I/O including I2C, audio, SPI, and GPIO. The Zebra embedded computer board has been programmed for a ready off-the-shelf deployment into demanding industrial, defense, and aerospace applications requiring rugged, durable, power efficient, industrial temperature.

Unlike many Arm-based modules, VersaLogic’s Zebra comes uniquely in some ways. The new product is a complete board-level computer. It requires neither additional carrier board nor, companion boards nor, connector break-out boards, or other add-ons to function. Since it was built to be exceedingly efficient, rugged and lasting, Zebra is rated for full industrial temperature operation of -40° to +85°C. Even at that, it consumes less than 3W of power during operation.

Here are the specifications of the Zebra SBC:

  • Processor — NXP i.MX6 Solo or DualLite (1x or 2x Cortex-A9 cores @ up to 800MHz);
  • Graphics – Vivante GC2000 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB (Solo) or 1GB (DualLite) DDR3L SDRAM soldered, expandable to up to 4GB
    • MicroSD slot (bootable) with an optional 8GB card containing Linux
    • eMMC (MLC) socket with up to 32GB optional bootable storage
  • Networking — 1x Gigabit Ethernet port with network boot, latching connector
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI v1.4 port
    • Audio in/out jack
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 2x CAN 2.0B ports
    • 2x serial interfaces (1x 3.3V UART; 1x RS-232 debug)
    • 8x GPIO/DIO (3.3V)
    • 1x SPI, 2x I2C, and up to 3x PWM (reduces GPIO lanes)
    • MikroBUS expansion interface for Click boards
  • Other features —
    • 6-axis accelerometer/magnetometer
    • 10-year lifecycle support
    • optional cables
    • HW customization service available on 100+ unit orders
  • Operating temperature — -40 to 85°C with 0.5 linear meters per the second airflow
  • Shock/vibration resistance — per MIL-STD-202G (vibration Method 204/214A; shock Method 213B)
  • Altitude resistance — to 4,570 meters
  • Power — 5 VDC input;
    • Consumption: 2.2W idle, 2.7W (Solo) or 3W (DualLite) typical
  • Dimensions — 95 x 95 x 20mm; compatible with COM Express Compact footprint and mounting holes
  • Weight — 62 g
  • Operating system – bootable Linux OS; compatible with other Linux and Android.

VersaLogic’s is offering an amazing 10+ year product life support for the board; this will ensure a long-term deployment in the field, free from expensive upgrades and migrations that come from products with a short disposable lifecycle.

The Zebra SBC is available for purchase starting at $196 for Solo with 512MB (VL-EPC-2701-EAK-005) or $239 for DualLite with 1GB (VL-EPC-2701-EBK-01), or $168 and $205 in OEM quantity. More information about the product is available on the product page.

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.

Artila M-X6ULL is a Linux-ready Cortex-A7 SoM with a Real Time patch

Artila Electronics, a professional in development and manufacture of ARM-based embedded Linux systems, has released a SODIMM module M-X6ULL based on NXP i.MX6ULL processor family. The new M-X6ULL is designed to meet the needs of many general embedded applications that require power efficient, high performance and cost optimized solution, as well as embedded systems that require high-end multimedia applications in a small form factor.

Artila’s “M-X6ULL
Artila’s M-X6ULL

The i.MX 6ULL is a power efficient and cost-optimized processor family featuring an advanced implementation of a single Arm® Cortex®-A7 core, that can operate at speeds up to 900 MHz. The i.MX 6ULL application processor includes an integrated power management module that reduces the complexity of an external power supply and simplifies power sequencing. Each processor in this family provides various memory interfaces, including 16-bit LPDDR2, DDR3, DDR3L, raw and managed NAND flash, NOR flash, eMMC, Quad SPI and a wide range of other interfaces for connecting peripherals such as WLAN, Bluetooth®, GPS, displays and camera sensors.

The Artila NXP i.MX 6ULL is clocked up to 800MHz and is Linux ready. The module is notable for offering Linux 4.14 with the PREEMPT_RT real-time patch which could make the module find applications in areas that needs real-time interaction. The SODIMM styled ultra-compact module measures only 68 x 42mm. The module provides support for interfaces like CAN, UART, USB, SD, LCD, GPIO, SD, Ethernet, and some others which are accessible through the module’s 200-pin expansion connector. The module ships with 512MB of DDR4 RAM, a 4GB onboard eMMC, and a 16MB NOR flash. It provides one 24bits digital parallel display interface that supports max 85MHz display clock and up to WXGA (1366 x 768) at 60Hz, a touch controller that can support 4-wire and 5-wire resistive touch panel. The module is 5V rated and consumes about 0.75 Watts.

Artila provides software packages such as PHP, Python, Perl, Node.js, and Node-RED which are available for free and the Linux BSP includes GCC 6.2.x + glibc 2.24, U-Boot, X11 GUI engine, and more. These software packages can be updated through the Artila repository by issuing the standard Linux apt-get command. The module can be booted either from the onboard eMMC or an external SD card.

Just like every other SoM board maker, Artila is providing an optional M-X6ULL starter kit to go with the module. The starter kit expands out the module microSD slot, dual Fast Ethernet ports, a USB2.0 host port, and micro-USB ports. The kit is further equipped with a 24-bit LVDS interface with resistive touch support and an audio output jack.

The specification for the starter kit is shown below:

i-MX6ULL Starter Kit Specification

The major target applications of this module are Industrial HMI & Access Control, IOT gateway, Industrial control & automation and Test and measurement. Attila’s M-X6ULL SoM is available for order but the price is not disclosed yet.

High Performance SBC TS-7800-V2 Runs Debian With Linux 4.4.8

Back in 2007, Technologic Systems announced the TS-7800, a single-board computer (SBC) that was able to boot Linux 2.6 in under two seconds. At its core, The TS-7800 is equipped with a Marvel 500MHz ARM9 CPU and includes a user-programmable on-board FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) with 12,000 LUTs (look-up tables). The TS-7800 was a powerful board at that point and a template for other SBCs to follow in the years to come.

 

TS-7800-V2

March 2018, Technologic Systems announced their latest single board computer, the TS-7800-V2. The TS-7800-V2 is a significant upgrade of their 2017 debuted TS-7800 V1 SBC and replaced the core features of the TS-7800. Technologic has swapped out the old ARM9 based, 500MHz Marvel Orion 88F5182 processor for the faster Marvell 1.3GHz Armada 385 ARM Cortex A9 high-performance dual-core CPU. The Marvel Armada 385 is designed to provide extreme performance for applications which demand high reliability, fast bootup/startup, and consistent connectivity.

Just like the TS-7800 offers backward compatibility to the TS-72xx boards, the TS-7800-V2 also maintains compatibility to the V1 model in areas of electrical, mechanical, software and measures just about 119 x 97mm.

The TS-7800-V2 CPU, the Armada 385 can work up to 1.8GHz if one goes with the commercial temperature option instead of the default -40 to 85°C version. It also offers a faster companion FPGA at 20K LUTs as compared to the 12K LUT of the TS-7800. The TS-7800-V2 ships with 1GB RAM, 2GB to 64GB eMMC, and both SD and microSD slots. Additionally it offers a SATA interface, an option for increasing the device memory space and PC/104 expansion slot. The TS-7800-V2 is equipped with Gigabit Ethernet port for networking, dual USB host ports, a micro-USB console port, an RS232 port, a CAN header, accelerometer, watchdog, an onboard ADC, Real-time clock, DAC and other features.

The following are the device specifications:

  • Processor – Marvell Armada 385 Dual-Core 1.3GHz ARM CPU
  • RAM – 1 GB RAM
  • Flash – 4GB MLC eMMC, which can be configured to a more robust 2GB SLC eMMC
  • Networking –
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • Optional WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 BLE module
  • External Storage –
    • Full-size SD socket
    • microSD socket
    • 2X SATA port
    • Optional mSATA socket
  • Other I/O –
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports
    • 1x USB device port for console
    • 10x Serial/COM port
    • 2x RS-485 or optional 1x full duplex RS-485/RS-422 port
    • CAN Bus
    • SPI Bus
    • I2C Bus
    • 110x GPIO
  • FPGA – 20k LUT Cyclone FPGA (145 various I/O pins)
  • Power – 5 VDC  with optional daughter card for 8V-28V support
  • Operating Temperature – Fanless industrial range of -40 to 85 °C
  • Dimensions – 97 x 119mm
  • Operating system – Debian Linux
TS-7800 V2 Block Diagram

The TS-7800-V2 SBC runs Debian Jessie with Linux Kernel 4.4.8. The SBC starts at $279 in single units, with volume discounts reaching $229. More information may be found on Technologic Systems TS-7800-V2 product page.

The TS-7800-V2 is truly a high end, general purpose single board computer ideal for smart devices, auto entertainment systems, medical systems, enterprise-class intelligent control, plant automation, or any industrial embedded systems.

IQ Motor Module – An Integrated Motor With A Closed Loop Controller And Position Sensor

The drone industry is booming, and the technology is just… cool, to put it plainly. Flying robots, many of which are completely autonomous delivering our goods and also spying on us. Makers and hobbyist are getting on the bandwagon, making their customized drones with available parts. With the boom of UAV (Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle) and Drone technology also comes the growth of issues.

IQ Motion Module

Electric motors are one of the most fundamental parts of electric based flying objects like drones. Drones usually use brushless DC paired with an ESC (electronic speed control) unit for speed regulation and a possible flight controller for position handling. Building your own drone either for the fun of it or a special purpose means you have to go through the hurdle of selecting the Motors, ESC, controller etc. You also have to choose which strength to prioritize and not to mention of potential compatibility or over/under powering issues. But with IQ Motor Module, you don’t have to worry about all those. The drone industry has relied on hobby-grade motors and controllers for too long. Now, IQ is bringing advanced motor control to the drone industry and other robotics fields at an affordable price.

The IQ Motor Module from IQ Motion Control is an integrated motor and controller with an embedded position sensor that is designed to change some of the challenges faced with drone, flying object set up by combining all of those capabilities (motor, electronic speed control, controller, position sensing) into a single versatile unit. The module is made up of three major components: a brushless DC motor, a motor controller, and a position sensor. With position-sensing and advanced calibration and control algorithms, IQ can optimize motor performance and give users unprecedented control over their vehicles and machines.

The IQ module provides serial communication interface as well as standard hobby protocols making it widely compatible with the possible vehicle and drone design. It also comes with some features built in like, a 40 ms response time, over-current protection, active freewheeling, anti-cogging, mo delay with zero crossing, jitter-free startup, regenerative and active braking, and many others. The velocity and position control is based on a tunable PID + Feed Forward control.

The controller is built on a 32-bit 64 MHz Arm Cortex MCU and has two firmware options, a high-speed module, and a precision module both in a 2306 size. The high-speed module provides a constant rpm of 2200 KV, and the precision module a constant rpm of 220 KV. Both motor will have an estimated peak current of 30 A and estimated peak voltage of 25.2 V. The speed firmware is specially designed to drive propellers or any application with a target velocities. A position firmware for precision is useful for 3D printers, robots, and machine tools. The firmware can be reflashed at any time by the user, so you can always reuse your IQ Motor Modules. It comes with a power and efficiency boost; Sinusoidal commutation to give a 20% increase in battery life and Trapezoidal commutation to provide about 4.8% more shaft power.

The IQ Motor Module is suitable for a wide variety of applications including consumer and enterprise drones, as well as many other robotic projects. The new IQ Motor Module will offer “unparalleled performance.” You can back the Crowd Supply campaign until May 10th, and a single IQ Motor Module will cost you $80, or $305 for a pack of four. Orders will be shipped in September 2018.

Neutis N5 is a Tiny Quad Core System on a Module

Neutis N5 is a tiny quad-core system on a module from Emlid. Emlid which is known for its Navio2 Autopilot HAT for the Raspberry Pi and some other drone accessories is venturing into the mainstream embedded market with its Neutis N5 computer on a module.

Neutis
Neutis N5

Unlike the other previous boards and products, the Neutis N5 is expected to be a complete spinoff from Emlid mostly due to the fact it is on display on a new Neutis.io website and has no reference on the Emlid website.

In a very tiny (yes, really tiny) package, of about 41 x 29.5mm square with a 4.3mm thickness, the Neutis packed a host of features and power. At the heart of the Neutis is a 64-bit quad-core ARM® Cortex®-A53 processor with a max speed of 1.3GHz and based on the prevalent Allwinner H5. Also comes powered by the Mali 450 MP4 GPU. The Neutis N5 ships with a RAM of 512 MB DDR3, a storage option of 8 GB eMMC, has onboard Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth (Bluetooth 4.0 dual-mode BLE), and an extended temperature range. It has a tamper-resistant dedicated crypto chip for storing cryptographic keys, unique ID, random number generation and many more.

Neutis N5 Pinouts

This module runs modern Linux kernel based on the mainline version. It’s based on the industry-standard Yocto build which provides support to craft a custom Linux distribution or use the pre-configured Debian. Neutis comes with an OTA support, providing an easy and safe way to deliver updates to the devices in the future.

The Neutis comes with a dual 80-pin expansion connector with some I/O ports being multiplexed. It provides interfaces for Audio, Ethernet, HDMI, USB, OTG, SPI, I2C, UART, SDIO, PCM, Line-out/Line-in, and up to 38x GPIO ports. The module runs on 3.3V and core voltage of 1.1-1.3V power and supports a temperature range of -25 to 85°C.

Neutis Development Board

The module comes with FCC and CE certification (pending approval) which will help streamline product certification. Each module has a unique ID which allows convenient management of product patch and includes a time-saving parallel flashing tool. In addition to the module, Emlid is also offering a development kit that provides all the peripheral interfaces on standard ports and 0.1” (2.54 mm) pitch pins for quick prototyping. The kit extends out the following ports of the COM (Computer on a Module):

  • 2 x USB 2.0 Type A
  • 1 x USB 2.0 OTG Micro-B
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x 3.5 mm jack A/V out
  • 1 x MicroSD card slot
  • 1 x RJ45 10/100M Ethernet

The Neutis N5 will be available in April for $49 for single units, with volume discounts available. More information about the Neutis N5 product can is found on the product website.

Robby – A Simple and Powerful Robot to Learn Electronics and Programming

Robby Robot

Over the years we have seen a significant interest in people wanting to learn electronics and programming but are mostly handicapped with what they could build. Over time, learning has been proven to be more reliable when learning is more practical, and we can quickly grasp the concept if one is seeing what he or she is building in real-time and promptly learn why it works the way it works.

Lego Education robotics which has been around for a while, has allowed students to become active leaders in their education as they build everything from animals for a robotic zoo to robots that play children’s games. Lego has been tremendous, and it has quite helped students grasped the concept of engineering and programming, but one of the significant drawbacks with Lego is; it has not been fully developed for the makers open source movement and also comes with a high-cost price, unlike some Arduino based development environments.

The Arduino has caused a revolution in bringing artists into the world of robotics. It has spawned numerous offshoots from very small to wearable processors. Building something with Arduino requires some necessary electronic circuity skills and basic programming which sometimes could be intimidating for the complete novice. Robby from Mr. Robotics is a new education robot for anyone interested in learning more about robotics while also learning about robotics and programming. Robby is based on the Arduino ecosystem.

The team from Mr. Robotics based in Lille, France are crowdfunding their new educational robot called Robby, a tool to learn electronics and programming while having fun. The team at Mr. Robotics believe in this technologically advancing world, everyone should have the opportunity to be imaginative and use it for creation and development. That will need to provide the enabling environment for grooming interest in programming while cultivating natural curiosity, Robby could be the tool to bridge those gaps.

“The creativity is the intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

ROBBY robot is entirely hackable and adaptable with Plug & Play modules for any design scenario. So, today you can design to plug in a particular sensor and decide tomorrow you want another sensor in that position. Just unplug and plug back. The robot kit is fully programmable and allows you to add your own modules and sensors as well as choose your own architecture providing an open source scalable system complete with plug and play sensors. The robot kit is ideal for educational applications as well as keen hobbyists and makers.

At the heart of Robby is the ARM Cortex-M4F 32-bit microcontroller running up to 120 Mhz, and comes with three 12V DC precise motors and incremental encoders for direction, position and speed measurement. It includes a 12V extra Lipo 3S battery, Wi-Fi, USB and Bluetooth, buzzer and an open chassis for adding modules, sensors, components, and breadboard. Robby can be programmed with Blocky (graphical drag and drop block like programming) and with the Arduino IDE.

The Robby Robot is available to back via Kickstarter with pledges starting from €179 for the starter kit, €199 for the Explorer Kit, and €289 for the Creator kit. Mr. Robotics is offering the option of personalized kits costing up to €550 and some other customized packages. If Robby is successfully funded, worldwide shipping is expected to take place during August 2018.

More information about Robby can be found on their website here and their Kickstarter campaign.

HiFive Unleashed – The First RISC-V-based Linux development board

RISC-V is an open specification of an Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). That is, it describes the way in which software talks to an underlying processor – just like the x86 ISA for Intel/AMD processors and the ARM ISA for ARM processors. Unlike those, however, the RISC-V ISA is open so that anyone can build a processor that supports it. Just as Linux revolutionize the software world, RISC-V could create a substantial impact on the hardware world. This open-source chip project is might just go out to break the dominance of proprietary chips offered by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

hifive-unleashed-board
Hi-Five Unleashed-board

Silicon Valley-based company SiFive has released the world first RISC-V based Linux development board called Hi-Five Unleashed. SiFive which has previously released the HiFive1, a RISC-V-based, Open-Source, Arduino-Compatible Development Kit. The HiFive Unleashed is powerful enough to run Linux distributions.

HiFive Unleased Block Diagram

Hi-Five Unleashed was designed around the RISC-V based, quad-core, 1.5GHz U540 SoC (Freedom U540). The Freedom U540 is the first multi-core SoC featuring the open source RISC-V ISA with 4x 1.5GHz “U54” cores and a management core, fabricated with TSMC’s 28nm HPC process, and also the first to offer cache coherence. The U54-MC Core’s high-performance and flexible memory system make it ideal for applications such as AI, machine learning, networking, gateways, and smart IoT devices. It has no GPUs or other coprocessors, but the open source hardware design is intended to encourage third parties to collaborate to develop one.

The Hi-Five Unleashed is a minimalist board that uses one Freedom U540 paired with 8GB DDR4 ECC RAM, as well as 32MB Quad SPI Flash, a microSD card slot for external storage, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an FMC connector for future expansion cards. The development board is still barebone for now and mostly intended for developers and not the general public; it lacks hobbyist helpful resources like a video output and USB support, none of those are available on the board.

The following are some of the HiFive Unleashed specifications:

  • SoC – SiFive Freedom U540 with 4x U54 RV64GC application cores @ up to 1.5GHz with Sv39 virtual memory support
    • 1x E51 RV64IMAC Management Core
    • 2 MB L2 cache
    • 28 nm TSMC process
  • System Memory – 8GB DDR4 with ECC
  • Storage –  32MB Quad SPI Flash from ISSI
    • MicroSD card for removable storage
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Debugging – Micro USB port connector to FTDI chip
  • Expansion – FMC Connector for future add-in cards
  • Misc – On-off switch, various configuration jumpers
  • Power Supply – 12V DC input

The board is currently available for order at Crowd Supply for $999 and is expected to ship on June 30th. An earlier access board goes for $1250, which will ship on March 31st. RISC-V has grown from an academic project which first started in 2006 at UC Berkely, and now to a welcome, acceptable alternative to existing ISA and a potential game-changer in the long run.

In the future, we are not only going to build powerful open source based system but also understand their internal working and avoid something like the Spectre and Meltdown bugs that affected the likes of Intel processor.

SensiBLEduino – A full fledge ‘hardware-ready’ development kit for IoT and supports Arduino

IoT which translates to the Internet of Things has been a significant buzz for the last five years while disrupting major Industries (from Agriculture, Energy, Healthy, Sports and several others).

SensiBLEduino
SensiBLEduino Development Kit

IoT adoption has seen rapid development in the makers’ world, with different makers and manufacturers producing various forms of boards, chips, software to facilitate quick IoT development. Boards like ESP8266 from Espressif System is used for rapid prototyping and a low-cost choice for Wi-Fi-based IoT applications. Israeli based IoT firm SensiEdge has launched the SensiBLEDuino, an off-the-shelf, hardware-ready development kit based on the open-source Arduino for rapid prototyping of IoT applications.

SensiBLE is a full fledge customizable solution for those wanting to design IoT products. It helps to fasten development with a variety of sensors onboard, along with Bluetooth LE 4.1 capabilities and a low-power ARM® 32-bit Cortex®-M4 CPU with FPU. Some of the main challenges when embarking on IoT product development are; what platform will I use? What sensors are available to achieve my goal(s)? How do I handle connectivity? What about the Cloud Platform to use, and so on. Developers or product designer always result in the use of several boards or modules to achieve this while also increasing the time to bring the product to life. The SensiBLE kit removes most of these fears; it combines hardware and software in tiny form factor to allow developers get their product to market quickly at lower development costs. (more…)