Tag Archives: IoT

Expand Your ESP8266 Analog Inputs With $10

ESP8266 is a very powerful module for building an IoT or WiFi-based project. But since it has only one analog input, you may need to use another microcontroller or circuit to connect multiple sensors and data sources with your ESP8266.

Allaboutee created the second version of their analog expander board. Simply it is a board that lets you add eight analog inputs to your ESP8266 via I2C, the first version had only four inputs.

The expander is a 19x14mm board that is powered by a range of 2.7V to 3.6V, features 8 10-bit resolution analog inputs for sensors with an output voltage lower than 3.3V. Allaboutee developed some open source, easy to use libraries and examples:

Expander pinout:

  • VDD – 2.7V to 3.6V (If using with ESP8266 you’ll have to use 3.3V for this pin).
  • GND – Ground
  • SCL – I2C clock (connect this to GPIO0 of the ESP8266)
  • SDA – I2C data (connect this to GPIO2 of the ESP8266)
  • A0 -> A7 – Analog inputs (0v to 3.3V)

You can not use two or more boards to have more than 8 analog inputs because the chip’s I2C is factory fixed. If you do not connect a pin to anything, it will be “floating”, that means it’s value is not defined so it can be anything.

This video shows the expander board in action:

ESP8266 expander is available for $10 at tindie, it may be a bit expensive but with the cost of ESP8266, it is a very cheap alternative of the $100 Arduino Wifi shield.

“If you were to desire an Arduino based and thus easy to program, WiFi enabled microcontroller, then you could purchase an Arduino WiFi shield for $100+, OR you could instead get an esp8266 w/ breakout board for $6, A 3.3v voltage regulator for $1, the analog input expander $10 and an FTDI to USB 3.3v programmer $3.” – A review by Erol

ESP32 Review: Using the ESP32 with the Arduino IDE

In this video educ8s.tv reviews the ESP32, the successor of the popular ESP8266!

Hello guys, I am Nick and welcome to educ8s.tv a channel that is all about DIY electronics projects with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266 and other popular boards. You can subscribe to our channel by clicking on this button. Today I am very excited because we are going to see this new board which uses the new ESP32 chip and we are going to learn how to program it using the Arduino IDE. The ESP32 chip will be the heart of most of the projects we are going to build in the near future, because it offers everything we need in one low cost solution!

ESP32 Review: Using the ESP32 with the Arduino IDE [Link]

Control AC Voltages Safely And Easily with Sugar Device

Sugar Device is a tool designed to control AC Voltage and it promises to change the way you control AC applications forever.
Sugar team is targeting hobbyists, students, teachers and engineers to push their application to the next level, since it makes AC control easy, safe and compatible with a lot of development platforms. The mechanical case that comes with Sugar is offering protection to users while using AC voltages and preventing any electrical shock resulted by misuse.

You can control AC voltage using Sugar with two different ways: ON-OFF switch, and AC output voltage control. You can power Sugar using the AC C14 cable. This voltage provided is used to power the load connected and the internal circuits. The fuse holder is accessible, you can replace it easily whenever you need.

For the output, Sugar is providing a universal output socket to connect your load, and it is compatible with all AC power cable types. Sugar can work with 110V/220V and with 50Hz/60Hz. You can switch between the two options using a switch provided with two indicator LEDs.

Sugar Device also can be connected with 3.3V and 5V development boards like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Beaglebone using the RJ12 cable. Sugar had designed  a RJ Connector breakout to make it possible to connect your board and it will be available in all kits. Controlling the AC loads using your PWM pins and Sugar will be so simple.

This 150x120x47 mm size device supports WiFi and Bluetooth and is IoT ready. For example, ESP8266 can directly control Sugar Device since it has PWM output with Frequency of 1KHz.

Sugar Device comes in two editions: Sugar 300, a white device that control up to 300W, and Sugar 1000, a black one that can control up to 1000W. The second one is offered for hackers and professionals where the first is for newbies.

Sugar Device is now live on a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and still has a month to go. You can pre-order your Sugar 300 with a Power cord C14, RJ12 Cable, Sugar RJ Breakout and two AC fuse for only $49! Check the campaign video for more information.

In this video you can watch Sugar Device in Action, check it out!

Sugar device is the tool you need to expand the scope of your projects and control AC loads safely. Your dream of making your home smart can come true now with the use of this device. This device had came to life due to a cooperation with Fablab dynamic in Taipei, Taiwan. Such a cooperation will make it uncomplicated for makers to produce their own devices. Mohannad Rawashdeh and his team had tested many applications and used different platforms to ensure that Sugar is safe, practical and easy for everyone to use.

“When I was looking  for FabLab in Taiwan, I found FabLab Dynamic. They offered me a free space inside the lab to work and offered me all help I need to find component resources, using machines and instruments and contact with designers I need for my project” – Mohannad Rawashdeh, founder of Sugar Device and an electronics engineer.

You can check the campaign page to know the offers and full specifications. More information are provided on Sugar Device website. Many tutorials are added to this page and source files will be added soon on Github.

SmartPID, The New Open Platform For Your Projects

ARZAMAN Smart Engineering is a small innovative Italian startup company that develops smart hi-tech solutions, by working on specific ideas for a specific hobbyist market. ARZMAN has just launched a new product: SmartPID!
SmartPID Controller is a hi-tech product that facilitates temperature and process control. It has the ability to control any thermos-regulated process, heating or cooling, and also it can control any application in your home. In addition, it is compatible with Arduino, so you have the chance now to move your applications to the next step!

It is provided with two apps: smart thermostat app and the smart brewing app. The smart thermostat app can be used for any thermal regulated process, while the brewing app is is a vertical application that is dedicated to brewing process automation from mashing to boiling.

SmartPID is IoT-ready,cloud-connected, and runs PID algorithm. In addition, it has the  following features:

SmartPID is powered by SAMD21 32-bit ARM® Cortex®-M0+ by Atmel and it has 8 Mb EEPROM and ESP8266 WiFi module with many other specifications and advantages as shown in the picture.

It is totally compatible with Arduino since it
has SAMD21 processor, a dedicated USB bootloader and board definition, can be programmed with Arduino IDE and can use the libraries available.

SmartPID comes with a mobile app to control and monitor the project installed. Check this video to see the app in action.

“SmartPID is not a simple controller or thermostat, is more an “open platform” powerful and flexible where the resources and I/O can be used for different applications, different environments and integration. My idea is to develop an ecosystem of “vertical” applications on top of a common set of features” -Davide Arzarello, founder of ARZAMAN Smart Engineering.

SmartPID is now live in a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and it has only one week to go. You can pre-order it now preloaded with the thermostat app for around €89. Check SmartPID website and the campaign page to know more details and specifications. You can see SmartPID in action in this promo video:

AS7221, An IoT Smart Lighting Manager

ams AG, a multinational semiconductor manufacturer and provider of high performance sensors and analog ICs, had announced the AS7221, an integrated white-tunable smart lighting manager that can be controlled through its network connection by means of simple text-based commands.

AS7221 Block Diagram

AS7221 is a networking-enabled IoT Smart Lighting Manager with embedded tri-stimulus color sensing for direct CIE color point mapping and control. IoT luminaire control is through a network connection, or by direct connection to 0-10V dimmers, with control outputs that include direct PWM to LED drivers and analog 0-10V to dimming ballasts. A simple text-based Smart Lighting Command Set and serial UART interface, enable easy integration to standard network clients.

Key features of AS7221:

  • Calibrated XYZ tri-stimulus color sensing for direct translation to CIE 1931/1976 standard observer color maps
  • Autonomous color point and lumen output adjustment resulting in automatic spectral and lumen maintenance
  • Simple UART interface for connection to network hardware clients for protocols such as Bluetooth, ZigBee and WiFi
  • Smart Lighting Command Set (SLCS) uses simple text-based commands to control and configure a wide variety of functions
  • Directly interfaces to 0-10V dimmer controls and standard occupancy sensors
  • Built-in PWM generator to dim LED lamps and luminaires
  • 12-bit resolution for precise dimming down to 1%
  • 0-10V analog output for control of conventional dimming ballasts in a current steering design
  • 20-pin LGA package 4.5mm x 4.7mm x 2.5mm with integrated aperture

“The next generation of lighting will be defined by three key characteristics: controllability, adaptation and connected architectures,” said Tom Griffiths, Senior Marketing Manager at ams. “Our new family of smart lighting managers meet those criteria. With this latest entry, we are addressing the luminaire manufacturers’ critical time-to-market challenge for developing and deploying a spectrally tunable luminaire that is cost-effective, accurate, and which smoothly integrates into the Internet of Things”.

The AS7221 is the first extension to ams’s recently announced Cognitive Lighting™ smart lighting manager family. The compact AS7221 will be available in a 5x5mm LGA package, for flexible integration into both luminaires and larger replacement lamps.

There are main domains of AS7221 applications, some of them are:

  • Smart home and smart building
  • Variable CCT general lighting industrial lighting
  • Retail and hospitality lighting with white-color tuning
  • LED tro ers, panel and downlights
  • LED replacement lamps (LED bulbs)
AS7221 Functional Diagram

Pricing for the AS7221 Spectral Tuning IoT Smart Lighting Manager is set at $3.13 in quantities of 10,000 pieces, and is available in production volumes now.

You can find AS7221 datasheet here.

Android Things, Google’s IoT Platform

Google had launched Android Things,  a new comprehensive IoT platform for building smart devices on top of Android APIs and Google’s own services. Android Things is now available as a developer preview.

Android Things was basically launched as an enhancement for Brillo, Android based OS used for embedded development in particular for low-power IoT devices, and it is based on its feedback and best practices. Google had announced Android Things as re-branding of Brillo to solve many issues like the security of IoT devices.

Platform Architecture

Both work in conjunction with Weave, an open, standardized communications protocol that supports various discovery, provisioning, and authentication functions. Weave enables device setup, phone-to-device-to-cloud communication, and user interaction from mobile devices and the web. The chief benefit is allowing a “standardized” way for consumers to set up devices. Belkin WeMo, LiFX, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link and First Alert will adopt Weave to make their devices able to interact with some Google products like Google Assistant.

One of the great things about Brillo was the security issue with IoT applications solved by choosing to use secure boot and signed over-the-air updates and providing timely patches at the OS level. Partnered with hardware manufacturers to build new devices based on Intel Edison, NXP Pico and the Raspberry Pi 3, Google will build the needed infrastructure to run the OS updates and fix security issues respectively on these devices.

Android Things makes developing connected embedded devices easy by providing the same Android development tools, best-in-class Android framework, and Google APIs that make developers successful on mobile. For more details about Android Things you can check the documentation provided here, where you can find also the developer’s preview.

Apollo2 MCU Paves The Way For New Generation IoT Devices

Ambiq Micro, the leader in ultra-low power solutions, launched  the Apollo 2 Wearables and IoT Platform. The Platform offers breakthrough power consumption of under 10 μA/MHz, which allows for double the battery life in wearable devices. Apollo 2’s performance will lead to longer battery life, enhanced intelligence and improved functionality in wearables and IoT consumer electronics (CE) products. Ambiq Micro’s Apollo 2 Platform provides dramatic reductions in energy consumption through its patented Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology (SPOT™) technology.

“The incredible pace of Moore’s Law disrupted computing every year or two and took us from room-sized supercomputers to billions of pocket-sized mobile phones,” said Scott Hanson, founder and CTO, Ambiq Micro. “Ambiq Micro’s SPOT technology will bring a similar pace of innovation to the IoT. As the foundation of our Apollo MCU, SPOT allows us to drive energy consumption below what we previously imagined was possible. With Apollo 2, we extend the SPOT technology to achieve new efficiencies for the next wave of IoT and connected devices.”

Apollo 2 MCU key features and specifications

  • Ultra-low supply current
    • <10 μA/MHz executing from flash at 3.3 V
    • <10 μA/MHz executing from RAM at 3.3 V
  • ARM Cortex-M4 Processor up to 48 MHz with FPU, MMU, wake-up interrupt controller with 32 interrupts
  • Ultra-low power memory
    • Up to 1 MB of flash memory for code/data
    • Up to 256 KB of low leakage RAM for code/data
    • 16kB 1 or 2-way Associative Cache
  • Ultra-low power interface for off-chip sensors
    • 14 bit, 15-channel, up to 1.2 MS/s ADC
    • Voltage comparator
    • Temperature sensor with +/-2ºC accuracy
  • Serial peripherals – 6x I2C/SPI master,1x I2C/SPI slave,2x UART, PDM for mono and stereo audio microphone
  • Clock sources
    • 32.768 kHz XTAL oscillator
    • Low frequency RC oscillator – 1.024 kHz
    • High frequency RC oscillator – 48 MHz
    • RTC based on Ambiq’s AM08X5/18X5 families
  • Wide operating range – 1.8-3.6 V, –40 to 85°C
  • Package –  2.5 x 2.5 mm 49-pin CSP with 34 GPIO; 4.5 x 4.5 mm 64-pin BGA with 50 GPIO

You can check the product page to know more about Apollo2, but for further information and documentation you have to contact Ambiq Micro.

Source: Ambiq Micro, CNXSoft

MKRZero, Arduino Newest Family Member

Arduino had announced a new member of its family: MKRZero! This new board comes with the size of 61x25mm MKR1000 board and the power of ARM-core Arduino Zero.

The ARM-core board consists of an on-board SD connector with dedicated SPI interfaces (SPI1) that make it easy to browse your files with no extra hardware.

You can power your MKRZero using a micro-USB cable or a LiPo battery, but you should pay attention that the operation voltage is 3.3.V and applying higher voltages to any I/O pin will ruin the board. To guarantee the voltage, you can use a battery and monitor it using analog converter.

The small size, low power consumption, integrated battery management, and integrated SD management are some of the advantages of this great tiny board.

MKRZero has 22 digital I/O pins, 12x PWM, 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C,32x LED_BUILTIN, 7x analog input pins, 1x analog output and 8x external interrupts. Here are the hardware specifications:

  • Microcontroller: SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power ARM MCU
  • Board Power Supply (USB/VIN): 5V
  • Supported Battery: Li-Po single cell, 3.7V, 700mAh minimum
  • DC Current for 3.3V Pin: 600mA
  • DC Current for 5V Pin: 600mA
  • Circuit Operating Voltage: 3.3V
  • DC Current per I/O Pin: 7 mA
  • Flash Memory: 256 KB
  • Flash Memory for Bootloader: 8 KB
  • SRAM: 32 KB
  • Clock Speed: 32.768 kHz (RTC), 48 MHz

If you program your boards using Arduino Web Editor then everything is set. But to program MKRZero using Arduino IDE, you need to update the IDE by adding the new Intel SAMD Core by selecting Tools> Boards Manager as shown in the picture.

Due to its small size, MKRZero is said to be the best fit for your next innovative projects in wearable technology, high-tech automation, robotics, and much more. Some tutorials for projects using MKRZero are available now on Arduino project hub.

You can purchase the board for $22 from here. You can learn more about MKRZero at the announcement, product page, and the guide.

Bluetooth 5 Is Here!

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has officially launched the core specifications of the new version of Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5. These specifications include longer range, faster speed, and larger broadcast message capacity, as well as improved interoperability and coexistence with other wireless technologies than recent Bluetooth versions, making it possible to advance IoT applications and usages.

Bluetooth is revolutionizing how people experience the IoT. Bluetooth 5 continues to drive this revolution by delivering reliable IoT connections and mobilizing the adoption of beacons, which in turn will decrease connection barriers and enable a seamless IoT experience” says Mark Powell, SIG’s executive director.

Keeping up with powering IoT, Bluetooth 5 has some additional features that better enable industrial automation and whole home coverage by addressing challenges like range and download speeds. It is said to improve location awareness with a smarter technology that collects data to provide personalized experiences for the end user.

While doubling the speed to enable the making of more responsive devices, Bluetooth 5 developers didn’t miss to maintain low-power consumption that results a faster data transfer.

By 2021, ABI Research predicts 48 billion internet-enabled devices will be installed, and Bluetooth—predicted to be in nearly one-third of those devices—is a cornerstone of that growth.

“The global wireless connectivity market is growing rapidly, with an anticipated 10 billion annual IC shipments by 2021,” said Andrew Zignani with ABI Research. “The introduction of Bluetooth 5 will create new opportunities in various verticals of the IoT market by reducing complexity and cost and giving manufacturers greater flexibility in targeting multiple applications and use cases.”

Within two to six months, new products are expected to be launched using this ubiquitous technology, so stay tuned!

More details about Bluetooth 5 here: www.bluetooth.com/bluetooth5

First Solid-State Multi-Ion Sensor for Internet-of-Things Applications By Imec & Holst Centre

At last week’s IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco (USA), imec, the world-leading research and innovation hub in nano-electronics and digital technology and Holst Centre debuted a miniaturized sensor that simultaneously determines pH and chloride (Cl-)levels in fluid. This innovation is a must have for accurate long-term measurement of ion concentrations in applications such as environmental monitoring, precision agriculture and diagnostics for personalized healthcare. The sensor is an industry first and thanks to the SoC (system on chip) integration it enables massive and cost-effective deployments in Internet-of-Things (IoT) settings. Its innovative electrode design results in a similar or better performance compared to today’s standard equipment for measuring single ion concentrations and allows for additional ion tests.

Sensors based on ion-selective membranes are considered the gold standard to measure ion concentrations in many applications, such as water quality, agriculture, and analytical chemistry. They consist of two electrodes, the ion-sensitive electrode with the membrane (ISE) and a reference electrode (RE). When these electrodes are immersed in a fluid, a potential is generated that scales with the logarithm of the ion activity in the fluid, forming a measure for the concentration. However, the precision of the sensor depends on the long-term stability of the miniaturized RE, a challenge that has now been overcome.

“The common issue with such designs is the leaching of ions from the internal electrolyte, causing the sensor to drift over time,” stated Marcel Zevenbergen, senior researcher at imec/Holst Centre. “To suppress such leaching, we designed and fabricated an RE with a microfluidic channel as junction and combined it with solid-state iridium oxide (IrOx) and silver chloride (AgCl) electrodes fabricated on a silicon substrate, respectively as indicating electrodes for pH and Cl-. Our tests demonstrated this to be a long-term stable solution with the sensor showing a sensitivity, accuracy and response time that are equal or better than existing solutions, while at the same time being much smaller and potentially less expensive.”

“We are providing groundbreaking sensing and analytics solutions for the IoT,” stated John Baekelmans, Managing Director of imec in The Netherlands. “This new multi-ion sensor is one in a series that Holst Centre is currently developing with its partners to form the senses of the IoT. For each sensor, the aim is to leapfrog the current performance of the state-of-the-art sensors in a mass-producible, wireless, energy optimized and miniaturized package.”

Source: imec