Tag Archives: IoT

A nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit For Bluetooth 5 Applications

Bluetooth Low Energy and the Internet of things is believed to be the perfect matchmaking. Even though Bluetooth doesn’t necessary gives devices the ability to connect to the Internet they still have so much capacity. The Bluetooth Low Energy enabled solutions will increase the functionality of IoT Systems, by creating a reliable framework and efficient connectivity for the devices. Devices can use BLE to connect to each other thereby improving reliability, increasing range, mitigate security risk, reduce cost, and most importantly improve battery life.

The launch of the Bluetooth 5, which promise so much more are beginning to see some adoption in the open hardware industry, and a good example is the Particle Xenon using the Nordic nRF52840 SOC. The Nordic nRF52840 SoC is designed around an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU and comes with a 1 MB flash with cache and a 256kB of RAM.

The Makediary nRF52840 board
The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Board

Nordic recently announced that the nRF52840 now supports concurrent Thread and Bluetooth 5 wireless connectivity eliminating the previous requirement of disconnecting from one of the networks before connecting to the other. So, the potential from this announcement is enormous.

Recognising the possibility of Bluetooth 5 in addition to Thread connectivity, the teams at Makerdiary has launched a new development kit for the nRF52840 SoC called the nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit

The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Kit is a kit that will allow developers to explore Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth MeshThreadIEEE 802.15.4ANT and 2.4GHz proprietary wireless applications using the nRF52840 SoC. The kit comes integrated with the DAPLink debugger which provides a USB drag-and-drop programming, USB Virtual COM port and CMSIS-DAP interface.

The kit supports quite some software frameworks such as the  nRF5 SDK, nRF5 SDK for Mesh, OpenThread, ZigBee 3.0, Mbed OS 5, Zephyr, Mynewt, Web Bluetooth, iBeacon, Eddystone, and others. It works with the standard Nordic Software Development Tool-chain using GCC, Keil and IAR.

One significant take note of the board is the USB type C port available, a rare port used for hardware boards. The development board put up a ton of features like an ultra-low power 64-Mb QSPI FLASH memory, programmable user button, RGB LED, up to 24 GPIOs, antenna selection for custom applications.

Below are some of the device specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F WiSoC with 1 MB FLASH and 256 kB RAM, Arm TrustZone Cryptocell 310 security subsystem
  • External Storage – 64-Mbit QSPI flash
  • Wireless Connectivity (on-chip)
    • Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth Mesh
    • Thread, IEEE 802.15.4
    • ANT, 2.4GHz proprietary
    • On-chip NFC-A tag
    • An on-board 2.4G chip antenna
    • u.FL connector selectable for an external antenna
  • Programming / Debugging with DAPLink
    • MSC – drag-n-drop programming flash memory
    • CDC – virtual com port for log, trace and terminal emulation
    • HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
    • WEBUSB HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
  • USB – 1x USB type C port for power and programming
  • Expansion – 2x 18-pin breadboard-friendly headers with 24 GPIOs,   I2C, QSPI, UART, 6x analog input pins, SWD/JTAG, and power signals (VIN, GND, 3.3V, 5V)
  • Misc – Boot/Reset Button, User button and user RGB LED
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB type C connector; 3.3V regulator with 1A peak current output; VBUS & VIN Power-Path Management
  • Dimensions – 50mm x 23mm x 13mm with headers

Although the development board is an open source board and the design files are already available on Github, it is advisable you purchase the board to support them. Makerdiary nRF52840-MDK can be purchased for $42.90 on Seeed Studio, or directly on Makerdiary’s online store.

Cellular IoT with Blynk & Hologram

Use a $9 GSM module & the Hologram network to remotely control any Arduino with Blynk App.

Blynk is an awesome tool that allows you to build drag and drop apps for controlling hardware remotely! Its perfect for quickly creating useful IoT projects. This tutorial will run you through setting up Blynk for cellular control using an Arduino and a $9 GSM board.

Hologram.io is a cellular network provider perfect for makers. At $0.60 /mo plus $0.40 per mb, you’ll have plenty of data for most IoT projects.

Cellular IoT with Blynk & Hologram – [Link]

LoraDunchy – Arduino Compatibile LoRa module

Lora board with Arduino nano compatibile pinout and simple battery management. Small board with arduino nano compatibile pinout with power management and Murata ABZ LoRa module with STM32L0 microcontroller

Features:

  • LoRa module: Murata ABZ
  • Single cell LiPo cell charger on-board with charging signal internally connected to PA11 (via jumper)
  • Buck/Boost switching power supply for delivering stable 3,3V regardless of the battery voltage
  • Battery fuel gauge on-board to control the real status of the battery

LoraDunchy – Arduino Compatibile LoRa module – [Link]

The Internet of Arduino Challenge – Build an IoT Arduino Powered Product and you could win up to $50,000

The Arduino has been the number one development board for hackers, hobbyists, engineers and even product designers for a while. The Arduino Movement has powered a powerful maker’s community where anyone that can think of an idea can quickly make it happen, and this has birthed several Arduino powered products.

The Internet of Things is steadily becoming the talk of the day with several millions of devices getting connected every hour. The Internet of Things is expected to disrupt our everyday lives by giving us more insight into our daily data thereby improving our lives. Imagine giving cars the ability to detect portholes on the road when driving; this data can be collected, aggregated and possibly predict the likelihood of a road accident (due to bad roads), traffic congestion, and also the overall state of the road. If this information is given to the right body, they can know what roads they should focus their resources on.

To give people the chance to build an IoT focus product, the Arduino movement has released several IoT focused boards like the Arduino MKR 1000, Arduino Yun, Arduino Vidor 4000, Arduino Industrial 101, Arduino Plus Esp8266, and several others. You can find more Arduino IoT boards here. Now, the Arduino Movement in partnership with the electronics supplier Arrow and Indiegogo wants to give more power to the maker’s community by creating an Internet of Arduino Challenge where winners can go and win up to $50,000 in funding.

The contest is all about creating an IoT product that is powered by an Arduino board. The possibilities are endless with Arduino. Pair that with the engineering and production resources from the Arrow Certification Program, and you can have the next successful Indiegogo campaign. Submit your design now for a chance to win $50,000 in funding. Entries opened May 12th, 2018, and ends August 31st, 2018.

The IoT revolution is beginning, and it will change the way we think and work. In fact, many of the mindless activities we perform on a daily or weekly basis can go away entirely, leaving us more time to read, play with the kids or go on that nice long weekend ride. It will also advance every company in the world. Companies must begin a digital transformation, or they might go out of business. Even if you don’t win the challenge, you will never lose because, in this developing IoT Industry, there is never a loser.

We are on the cusp of a new revolution. It will be very similar to when the internet began to take shape in the early 2000s. Many companies weren’t quite prepared. Some fought the revolution. Some ignored it. Those companies are no longer.

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:

Orange Pi 3G IoT Board- A Cost Effective IoT Hacker Board

The Shenzhen based company, Xulong who makes the famous Raspberry Pi Clone; Orange Pi has recently launched a new IoT board to expand its IoT family line. The company who launched a 4G board, the Orange Pi 4G board early this year has announced the Orange Pi 3G IoT board, an IoT board that offers worth comparison to the 4G board and comes cheaper.

Orange Pi 3G IoT Board
Orange Pi 3G IoT Board

Just like its other released boards, the Orange Pi 3G is also an open source board. The SBC (Single Board Computer) is powered by a dual Cortex-A7 MediaTek MT6572 running at 1.2GHz speed, a bit lower than the quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6737 found on the Orange Pi 4G board and higher than the single-core 1GHz RDA Micro 8810PL  found on the Orange Pi 2G board.

The Orange 3G boards provide a compromise between using the slower 2G board and the most expensive 4G board. The board will allow users to deploy IoT solution on the widely available 3G networks as compared to 4G networks. The board doesn’t just come with only 3G cellular connectivity but also includes WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS making it an ideal candidate for use as an IoT gateway.

The board is equipped with a 512MB DDR2 RAM, an onboard 4GB eMMC memory and support for a MicroSD card. It comes equipped with the standard 40-Pin header found on the Raspberry Pi, and this will allow it to have compatibility with some Raspberry Pi Hats.

The following are the specifications listed for the Orange Pi 3G-IOT:

  • Processor — MediaTek MT6572 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz); Mali-4000 MP1 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB DDR2
    • 4GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot with hot-plug support
  • Wireless:
    • WiFi, Bluetooth, FM, and GPS combo module
    • 3G — GSM 850/900/1800/1900; WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8; TD-CDMA; CDMA2000
    • Mini-SIM card slot
    • WiFi/BT antenna connectors (ext. antennas may be optional)
  • Display/Media:
    • LCD interface (FWVGA via FPC ZIF connector) with capacitive touch
    • MIPI-CSI camera interface
    • 3.5mm earphone audio jack
    • Mic
    • Optional speaker
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB port with power support
    • 40-pin expansion header
  • Other features — 2x LEDs
  • Power — 5V 2A via micro-USB; power button; optional battery
  • Dimensions — 68 x 52mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.4 with C, C++, Kotlin, Java, Shell, and Python support

One major talking point for the Orange Pi 3G-IoT is the OS support. It is still stuck at the ancient Android 4.4 firmware while the Orange Pi 4G already supports Android 8.1. Linux operating system support doesn’t seems to be available for the Orange Pi 3G but we can’t rule it out since the company normally release the Android SDK which also includes an Linux kernel.

The board is available for purchase at the cost of $19.90 and can be purchased online from Aliexpress.

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.

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.

BlkBox BB-E01P – The World’s Smallest ESP8285-Based WiFi Module

Back in March 2016, Espressif Announced the ESP8285 Wi-Fi Chip, a supposed killer of the favorite ESP8266 chip. The new chip is an ESP8266, but with the flash memory onboard –  1MB flash memory. Espressif’s ESP8285 delivers highly integrated Wi-Fi SoC solution to meet users’ constant demands for efficient power usage, compact design and reliable performance in the Internet of Things industry. With the complete and self-contained Wi-Fi networking capabilities, ESP8285 can perform either as a standalone application or as the slave to a host MCU. When ESP8285 hosts the application, it promptly boots up from the flash. The Chip is also ultra-small as compared to the ESP8266 making it suitable for applications like in wearables.

Taiwan based Blkbox may have designed the world’s smallest WiFi IoT module with their Espressif Systems ESP8285 based BB-E01P module which is pin-compatible with the ESP-01 module, and measuring just 10×14 mm. Several ESP8285 modules have been released, but the Blkbox version is probably the smallest ever. Itead Studio’s PSF-A85, an ESP8285 Wireless Module measures just 14mm*135mm, and even the Electrodragon ESP8285 WiFi module measures 15.5mm x 17.8mm. With this, the Blkbox module might be the smallest we currently have. The BB-E01P is the equivalent of the Blkbox predecessor BB-E01 with reduced dimensions.

BB-E01P ESP8285 Pinout

The following are the specification of the Blkbox BB-E01P ESP8285 WiFi module:

  • WiFi SoC – Espressif ESP8285 WiFi SoC with 1MB internal flash
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with chip antenna
  • Expansion – 8-pin (2.54mm pitch) with Tx/Rx, CP, RS, GPIO0, GPIO2, 3V, GND (Same layout as ESP-01)
  • Interface – UART
  • Misc – Jumper supports Deep Sleep Mode (AT+GSLP)
  • Firmware Version: AT v1.6 / SDK v2.2
  • Power Supply – 3V -3.6V
  • Dimensions – 10 x 14 mm
  • Pin Pitch – 2.54mm

The Blkbox board is preloaded with the firmware version AT v1.5/SDK v2.2. Just like every other Blkbox boards, the module can be purchased on Tindie for $6.80 + shipping.

AIOT-MSSP01 – AAEON’s Intelligent Vending Development Kit & UP Board

(Taipei, Taiwan – April 24, 2018) – AAEON, a leading developer of industrial computers and intelligent retail systems, releases an updated version of its Intelligent Vending Development Kit. The kit is a complete hardware solution that makes it easier than ever before for retailers to implement the latest smart vending technologies.

The kit includes a vending machine controller unit, a separate UP Board PC unit to handle the interactive retail functions, a motor for the machine’s internal mechanisms, a camera, a QR Code device, and all the cables needed to connect these components. Additional WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity components are also available on request.

AAEON is now offering two versions of its Intelligent Vending Development Kit, but both come with the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise OS and a customer-friendly API pre-installed. The kits also utilize the power of the UP Board and its Intel® Atom™ x5-z8350 processor and DDR3L memory to manage a fast, effective facial recognition program.

As a customer approaches the vending machine, an image of their face is captured and their age range, gender and mood are detected. Based on the results, a particular set of products are recommended. Crucially, the process happens almost instantaneously, so there’s no risk of the customer being inconvenienced.

The latest version of the development kit also incorporates Microsoft Azure and Power BI services. With this service, information about every product sold and the gender, age range and mood of each buyer is collated by Azure and broken down by Power BI’s data analytics tools. The result is real-time inventory control information and a series of insightful customer behavior reports and charts that operators can access at any time. Users who buy this version of the development kit will also receive a 60-day free trial for the Power BI Pro service.

“Intelligent vending machines represent the future of automatic retailing,” AAEON design manufacturing product manager Brenda Huang said. “Increasingly, customers are both expecting and relying on intelligent, interactive systems, and the data these machines collect will also give businesses an edge over their competitors.”