Tag Archives: Microcontroller

Phytec Develops Three PhyCore Modules – i.MX8, i.MX8M, and iMX8X, Driven By Linux

Phytec has updated their product pages for three new PhyCore modules, all of which support Linux. The three modules, which employ three different flavors of i.MX8 SOC is phyCORE-i.MX 8Xi.MX 8M, and i.MX 8 SBCs. The PhyCore COMs are based on NXP’s Cortex-A53 based i.MX8M, its -A53 and -A72 equipped i.MX8 Quad, and its -A35 based i.MX8X.

phyCore-i.MX 8X

phyCORE-i.MX 8X module
phyCORE-i.MX 8X module

The i.MX8X SoC found on the phyCORE-i.MX 8X module. This board focuses on industrial IoT applications. i.MX8X includes up to 4x cores that comply with Arm’s Cortex-A35.

The i.MX8X SoC is further equipped with a single Cortex-M4 microcontroller, a Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP, and a multi-format VPU that supports up to 4K playback and HD encoding.

There’s no onboard wireless support, but support for dual GbE controllers (1x onboard, 1x RGMII) are available. There are MIPI-CSI and parallel camera interfaces, as well as ESAI based audio.

phyCore-i.MX 8M

phyCORE-i.MX 8M module
phyCORE-i.MX 8M module

The phyCORE-i.MX 8M supports the NXP i.MX8M Quad and QuadLite, both with 4x Cortex-A53 cores, as well as the dual-core Dual. All are clocked to 1.5GHz. They all have 266MHz Cortex-M4F cores and Vivante GC7000Lite GPUs, but only the Quad and Dual models support 4Kp60, H.265, and VP9 video capabilities.

In addition to the i.MX8M SoC, which offers “128 KB + 32 KB” RAM, the module ships with the same memory features as the phyCore-i.MX 8X except that it lacks the SPI flash. Once again, you get 512MB to 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and either 128MB to 1GB NAND flash or 4GB to 128GB eMMC. This 3.3V module supports an RTC, watchdog, and tamper protection.

phyCore-i.MX 8

phyCORE-i.MX 8 module
phyCORE-i.MX 8 module

The phyCORE-i.MX 8, is ideal for image and speech recognition. It is the third module to support NXP’s top-of-the-line, 64-bit i.MX8 series. The module supports all three flavors of i.MX8 while the other two COMs we’ve seen have been limited to the high-end QuadMax: Toradex’s Apalis iMX8 and iWave’s iW-RainboW-G27M.

i.MX8 QuadMax features dual high-end Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.6GHz plus four Cortex-A53 cores. The i.MX8 QuadPlus design is the same, but with only one Cortex-A72 core, and the quad has no -A72 cores.

The 73 x 45mm phyCORE-i.MX 8 supports up to 8GB LPDDR4 RAM. Like the phyCORE-i.MX 8X, the module provides 64MB to 256MB of Micron Octal SPI/DualSPI flash. There’s no NAND option, but you get 4GB to 128GB eMMC.

More information may be found in Phytec’s phyCORE-i.MX 8XphyCORE-i.MX 8M, and phyCORE-i.MX 8 product pages as well as the phyBoard-Polaris SBC product page.

STM32CubeProgrammer all- in-one software tool

STM32CubeProgrammer (STM32CUBEPROG) is an all-in-one multi-OS software tool for programming STM32 microcontrollers. It provides an easy-to-use and efficient environment for reading, writing and verifying device memory through both the debug interface (JTAG and SWD) and the bootloader interface (UART and USB). STM32CubeProgrammer offers a wide range of features to program STM32 microcontroller internal memories (such as Flash, RAM, and OTP) as well as external memories. STM32CubeProgrammer also allows option programming and upload, programming content verification, and microcontroller programming automation through scripting. STM32CubeProgrammer is delivered in GUI (graphical user interface) and CLI (command-line interface) versions.

STMicroelectronics Introduces STM32WB – A SoC With 32bit Microcontroller And Bluetooth Low Energy 5

The new STM32WB from STMicroelectronics is a new wireless supporting System on a chip (SoC) that comes with a fully-featured ARM Cortex-M4 (@ 64 MHz) based microcontroller to run the main computing processes. It also has an ARM Cortex-M0+ core (@ 32 MHz) to offload the main processor and offer real-time operation on the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5 and IEEE 802.15.4 radio. The SoC can also run other wireless protocols as OpenThread, ZigBee® or other proprietary protocols. It opens many more options for connecting devices to the Internet of Things (IoT).

STM32WB High-performance SoC specifications
STM32WB High-performance SoC specifications

The Cortex-M4 combined with a Cortex-M0+ for network processing makes sure the STM32WB to be the latest ultra-low-power microcontroller to combine superior RF performance with longer battery life. The SoC also combines essential circuitry for connecting to the antenna. It also packs right amount user and system memory, hardware encryption, and customer-key storage for brand and IP protection.

These days, only a few manufacturers offer similar dual-processor wireless chips capable of managing the user application and the radio separately for maximum performance. Alternative chips typically utilize entry-level ARM Cortex-M industry-standard cores, which introduce technical limitations and very low amount of onboard flash memory.

The robust and low-power 2.4GHz radio consumes only 5.5mA in transmit mode of this new STM32WB and as little as 3.8mA when receiving. This device also include STM32 digital and analog peripherals that are engineered for low power consumption and complex functionalities, including timers, ultra-low-power comparators, 12/16-bit SAR ADC, a capacitive touch controller, LCD controller, and industry-standard connectivity including crystal-less USB 2.0 FS, I2C, SPI, SAI audio interface, and a Quad-SPI supporting execution in place.

STM32WB devices will be available in an array of 48-pin UQFN, 68-pin VQFN, or 100-pin WLCSP with up to 72 general-purpose I/Os (GPIO). Each can be specified with any of three memory configurations, giving a choice of 256KB Flash and 128KB RAM, 512KB-Flash/256KB-RAM, or 1MB-Flash/256KB-RAM.

More information is available at the official website.

Tiny FPGA BX – A Tiny, Open Source FPGA development board for Makers

The TinyFPGA boards from Luke Valenty (TinyFPGA) are a series of low-cost, open-source FPGA development boards. These boards offer an inexpensive way to get an introduction to the world of FPGAs.

If you have ever considered working with an FPGA before, you will know how difficult they could be especially for those new to the game. TinyFPGA boards are an excellent way to kickstart development with them. They are breadboard friendly, and one can put up a simple circuit around them before adding things like sensors or actuators.

The TinyFPGA boards are currently made up of about three series – The TinyFPGA A1 that offers an X02-256 containing 256 logic cells; the A2 sports with an X02-1200 of about 1200 logic cells, and lastly the B2 boats an ICE40LP8K with 7680 logic cells. They are low cost in nature, costing about $12,00, $18,00 and $38.00 respectively. The latest upcoming release to the TinyFPGA board family is the TinyFPGA BX.

Like the other Tiny FPGA Boards, the Tiny FPGA BX boards is quite flexible and powerful. The BX boards are intended for the maker’s community. The BX module allows one to design and implement a digital logic circuit in a tiny form-factor, and it’s perfect for building with breadboards or custom PCBs.

The TinyFPGA BX shares close similarities with the TinyFPGA B2 and are both based on the Lattice ICE40LP8K FPGA Chip with about 7680 logic cells. The BX board will offer an incredible power to project development and allows to achieve things not usually expected on traditional microcontroller boards at a fraction of the cost.

According to Luke, the TinyFPGA BX prototype boards are currently being manufactured. The PCBs have been fabricated and are now waiting for assembly.

The BX measure at 0.7 by 1.4 inches and comes with a built-in USB interface, and preloaded with a USB Bootloader. It is expected to have 8Mbit of SPI Flash with only 5Mbit available for user applications.

The following are some of the available board specifications:

  • ICE40LP8K FPGA
    • 7,680 4-input look-up-tables
    • 128 KBit block RAM
    • Phase Locked Loop
    • 41 IO pins
  • Small, breadboard friendly form-factor
    • 0.7 by 1.4 inches
  • Built-in USB interface with open source USB bootloader
  • 8MBit of SPI Flash with 5MBit available for user applications
  • Integrated 3.3v and 1.2v regulators
    • 3.3v LDO regulator can supply up to 300ma of current to support external peripherals
  • Ultra-Low-Power 16MHz MEMs Oscillator
    • 1.3ma active power
    • 50ppm stability

These TinyFPGA boards offer an inexpensive way for hackers and makers to get an introduction to the world of FPGAs. And, with their small size, these boards can provide an easy way to add some programmable logic to a small project.

FPGA gives us the power to add real deal hardware functionality to our project, unlike with Microcontroller, where those features can only be added to a bit of software banging. The TinyFPGA Bx boards are still not fully launched yet, so now price point is currently available but is expected to share similar costing with the TinyFPGA B2 at $38.00.

More information about the project launch can be found on the crowdsupply page and also on the hackaday board page announcement. If you are interested in getting introduced to the world of FPGA, this guide from Luke is an excellent way to kickstart your adventure.

Adafruit Feather 328P – Arduino Uno on the Feather Family

Adafruit Feather 328P is the latest addition to the ever-expanding feather family boards manufactured by Adafruit. The Adafruit Feather development boards are a set of development boards made by Adafruit that can either be standalone, stackable or both. The feather boards all includes a LiPo battery connector, which will allow projects to easily be powered by LiPo batteries for on the go use.

Adafruit Feather 328P
Adafruit Feather 328P

The Adafruit Feather 328P is based on the popular Atmega 328P, the same processor that powers most Arduino maker boards especially the legendary Arduino Uno. With the Feather 328P, you can bring classic Arduino Uno code and even libraries to the Feather form factor. Measured at about 51mm x 23mm x 8mm (without the headers soldered in) and it weighs just 4.8g.

The Feather 328P is lightweight and a small form factor development board. At the heart of the Feather 328P is an Atmel ATmega 328P running a 3.3V and 8MHz. At 8MHz, the feather 328P can’t fully compete with the Arduino Uno which runs at 16MHz but is fair enough. The Feather 328P includes a 32KB of flash memory (storage memory), 2KB of RAM, and it uses the SiLabs CP2104 to give it a USB-to-Serial program which also provides users with some integrated debugging capabilities.

feather on a breadboard

The Feather 328P boards come without any headers soldered, so you have to solder yourself to start using it for prototyping. Unlike the Arduino Uno and some other Arduino board which are not fully breadboarding compatible, the Feather 328P fits perfectly into a breadboard and will be great for quick prototyping without the need for jumper cables.

Like other Feather development boards, the Feather 328P also includes a LiPo battery connector for any 3.7V Lithium Polymer batteries with a built-in battery charging. It will charge straight from the micro USB port, and you don’t necessarily need a battery to make it work, it will run just fine straight from the micro USB connector. The Feather will automatically switch over to USB power when it’s available making sure your project never goes offline as far you still got some juice in the battery though. You can also measure the battery voltage through one of the analog pins, the analog pin must not be connected to anything for this to work.

The following are some of the specifications of the Feather 328P:

  • Size  – 2.0″ x 0.9″ x 0.28″ (51mm x 23mm x 8mm)
  • Weight – 4.8 grams
  • Processor – ATmega328p @ 8MHz with 3.3V logic/power
  • Power –
    • 3.3V regulator with 500mA peak current output
    • Built-in 100mA lipoly charger with charging status indicator LED
  • USB serial converter (CP2104) for USB bootloading and serial port debugging
  • GPIO –
    • 19 GPIO pins + 2 analog-in-only pins
    • 6x PWM pins
  • Connectivity –
    • Hardware I2C, SPI.
    • For UART devices, should use SoftwareSerial
  • Others –
    • 8 x analog inputs (two are shared with I2C)
    • Pin #13 red LED for general purpose blinking
    • Two LEDs for serial data RX & TX
    • Power/enable pin
    • 4 mounting holes
    • Reset button

The Feather 328P comes with an extra prototyping area to add some couple of components without using a breadboard. The Feather 328P is available for purchase and priced at $12.50, you can buy now online at Adafruit Store. To find out about the other feather boards, check them out here.

Talking Pi is a Voice Control Module for The Raspberry Pi

Voice is the most simple and powerful medium. Everyone has it and it is the most personal way to convey our thoughts, messages, instruction, ideas, and questions. We have seen the rise of Voice Assistants like Alexa and Google Home; where someone can control things with only voice commands.

Talking Pi Module from JOY-iT

Mid 2017, Google released the Voice Kit – a voice recognition kit for the raspberry that makes it possible to add voice to any Raspberry Pi based projects. JOY-iT has released the Talking Pi, an intelligent, universal open source voice control assistant for the Raspberry Pi.

Talking Pi made by JOY-iT is a voice control module designed for the Raspberry Pi that will allow one to use voice commands to control home lighting devices, talk to machines, activate power outlets and so much more. Talking Pi gives you the possibility to add voice assistant to your raspberry pi.

Apart from taking Voice Commands, Talking Pi is equipped with some extra add-ons that could enhance the functionality of a Raspberry Pi at no extra cost. It is equipped with a bracket holding 433-MHz radio modules and an integrated motor control. With the radio module addition, you could possibly use your voice to remotely control objects – like switch on/off the bedroom lights, pilot your drone with only voice, pilot your RC car with voice commands and many more. The Talking Pi provides support for both the 433MHz radio sending and receiving unit, so not only can one send out you can also receive.

Talking Pi Pin Mappings

Talking Pi provides support for servo PWM control with a total of six addressable channels. The six-channel servo PWM can be used to control several robot’s motors and even make a complete six degree of freedom robotic arm. Furthermore, it is possible to address devices and circuits via the GPIO interface of the Raspberry Pi. The Talking Pi expansion module is also compatible with Google Home and the AIY project.

Measured at 64 x 10 x 54mm, the module will be ideal for size-sensitive applications. The module includes a stereo microphone added through an extra additional board and its integrated I2S sound output driver allows connection for a 3-watt loudspeaker.

Talking Pi plugged to the Raspberry Pi

This module is available and currently being marketed by Conrad Business supplies. The module is available for purchase on Elektor at a price of $42 and reduced price of $38 for its members. For more information about using the Talking Pi in your Raspberry Pi project, you can download the documentation pdf here.

ATtiny85 runs at 0.000011574Hz clock

What is the lowest possible clock frequency at which a microcontroller can still do useful work? Here’s a little project that attempts to explore this weird question. by @ idogendel.com:

ATtiny85 runs at 0.000011574Hz clock – [Link]

RELATED POSTS

The ezPixel is an Upcoming FPGA based WS2812B Controller Board

FPGAs are field programmable gate arrays which basically means they are reconfigurable hardware chips. FPGAs have found applications in different industries and engineering fields from the defence, telecommunications to automotive and several others but little application in the maker’s world. Mostly, as a result of being largely difficult and high cost as compared to the likes of Arduino, but the introduction of the ezPixel and other similar FPGA boards is making this a possibility.

Prototype modules.

The ezPixel board, by Thomas Burke of MakerLogic, is a small size FPGA based circuit board that can be used to drive up to 32 strings of WS2812Bs, for up to 9,216 LEDs in total, a very first of its kind. These WS2812B programmable color LEDs have been a phenomenon in the maker’s world, being used in various Led Lights and creating of various Light Artworks. These popular LEDs comes in strings that can be cut to any length, and only require a single wire serial data connection to control all the lights in the string individually, and multiple strings can be stacked together to create large two-dimensional displays.

ezPixel description.

Most WS2812B controller boards can be used to control up to hundreds of these LEDs, but not thousands of them. The ezPixel board is a perfect fit for applications that use thousands of these LEDs. The ezPixel board is powered by the Intel MAX FPGA, a single chip small form factor programmable logic device with full-featured FPGA capabilities, and it’s designed to interface with other Micro-controllers or any SPI/UART host device. The ezPixel board serves as bridge between microcontrollers and long WS2812B strings. A user sets the length of each string using simple commands that are sent via the SPI or USB/UART communication link.

The following below are the features of the ezPixel:

  • WS2812B Smart Pixel Controller.
  • Up to 32 Strings can be controlled independently.
  • Up to 9216 LEDs can be controlled.
  • Communication:
    • USB/UART Interface.
    • SPI Interface.
  • Read/Write Pixel Memory.
  • FPGA – Intel MAX10M08 FPGA.
  • Dimension:
    • 1” x 3” (25mm x 76mm).
  • SPI Flash.

The ezPixel can run as a standalone display controller as a result of its serial flash memory chip, and this board is slated for a crowdfunding campaign in early 2018.

MicroZed is a Powerful and Low-Cost ARM + FPGA Linux Development Board

MicroZed is a low-cost development board from Avnet, the makers of the $475 ZedBoard and the entry level MiniZed development boards. Its unique design allows it to be used as both a stand-alone evaluation board for basic SoC experimentation or combined with a carrier card as an embeddable system-on-module (SOM).

The MicroZed processing system is based on the Xilinx Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoC. The Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoC (AP SoC) family integrates the software programmability of an ARM®-based processor with the hardware programmability of an FPGA, enabling key analytics and hardware acceleration while integrating CPU, DSP, ASSP, and mixed-signal functionality on a single device. The processing system offers the ability to run standard operating systems like Linux, real-time operating systems, or a combination of the two. The programmable logic provides a unique capability to create custom interfaces or custom accelerators. Together, they provide a versatile, performance optimized solution.

ZedBoard™ is a low-cost development board for the Xilinx Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoC. This board contains everything necessary to create a Linux, Android, Windows® or other OS/RTOS-based design all at a cost of $495. The MicroZed sells for $199 with close performance and functionality with the ZedBoard. MicroZed contains two I/O headers that provide connection to two I/O banks on the programmable logic (PL) side of the Zynq – 7000 AP SoC device. In stand-alone mode, these 100 PL I/O are inactive. When plugged into a carrier card, the I/O are accessible in a manner defined by the carrier card design. The MicroZed board targets application in the areas of general FPGA evaluation and prototyping, embedded SOM applications, embedded vision, test & measurement, motor control, software-defined radio, industrial network and industrial IoT.

The Zedboard is based on Zynq-7020 with 85K logic cells while the MicroZed is based on the lower Zynq-7010 with a 28K logic cell. The MicroZed has 1GB RAM instead of 512 MB on the ZedBoard and has lesser interfaces as compared to the ZedBoard.

The following below are the features of the MicroZed SoM:

SoC

  • XC7Z010 – 1CLG400C

Memory

  • 1 GB of DDR3 SDRAM
  • 128 Mb of QSPI Flash
  • Micro SD card interface

Communications

  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • USB 2.0
  • USB-UART

User I/0 (via dual board-to-board connectors)

  • 7Z010 Version
    • 100 User I/0 (50 per connector)
    • Configurable as up to 48 LVDS pairs or 100 single-ended I/O

Misc

  • 2×6 Digilent Pmod compatible interface providing 8 PS MIO connections for user I/0
  • Xilinx PC4 JTAG configuration port
  • PS JTAG pins accessible via Pmod
  • 33Mhz oscillator
  • User LED and push switch

The MicroZed Evaluation can be purchased from the Avnet store here and comes with the following: MicroZed board, Micro USB cable, 4GB μSD card, Getting Started Card and a Xilinx Vivado WebPACK support and the Avnet’s MicroZed SOM comes bundled with the Wind River’s Pulsar™ Linux.

STMicro Introduces 20 Cents MCU in 8-Pin Package

STMicro has launched STM8S001J3, a new 8-bit micro-controller that sells for $0.20 per unit in 10k quantities. STM8S001J3 is also the first STM8 MCU offered in 8-pin package (SO8N), and should compete with some of the Microchip Attiny or PIC12F series micro-controllers.

STM8S001J3 has small package and little number of pins, but still it embeds rich set of peripherals. Below some of key features of this device:

  • Core and system
    • Flexible clock control capable to use three clock sources: 2 internal (HSI 16MHz, LSI 128kHz), 1 external clock input.
    • Wide operating voltage range: from 2.95V to 5.5V
    • 5 I/Os
    • 8- and 16-bit timers
  • Memories
    • 8k Flash
    • 1k RAM
    • 128 Bytes EEPROM
  • Conenctivity and debug
    • UART
    • SPI
    • I2C
    • Single Wire Interface Module
  • Analog
    • 10-bit ADC with 3 channels