It’s no secret that the Arduino development board has changed the way we look at working with electronics. All over the world, the little board has enabled millions of engineers, students, artists, and makers to get electronics projects up and going. We recently traveled to DotDotDot in Milan, Italy, to chat with Arduino codeveloper Massimo Banzi, who talked about the history of Arduino, the importance of makerspaces, and more.
Microchip Technology recently announced the industry’s first ZigBee alliance-certified ZigBee platform with ZigBee PRO and Green Power features (formerly ZigBee 3.0). The software stack and corresponding BitCloud 4.0 software development kit is well-suited for the design of home automation and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Enableing cross-functional device support, the solution is backward-compatible with existing ZigBee-certified products for seamless interoperability.
Features, specs, and benefits:
- Low latency suitable for RF remote applications
- Mesh networking for large networks such as lighting applications
- The ZigBee PRO Green Power feature enables battery-less devices to securely join a network
- ZigBee Light Link and ZigBee Home Automation devices are fully supported.
The BitCloud 4.0 Software Development Kit (SDK) enables application development on the SAM R21 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit, a Cortex M0+-based 32-bit microcontroller with an integrated 2.4-GHz 802.15.4-compliant radio. When used with the newly certified software stack, the SDK provides a complete ZigBee-certified development platform.
Microchip currently offers two platforms to begin ZigBee development. The SAM R21 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit (ATSAMR21-XPRO) is available for $58. The SAM R21 ZigBee Light Link Evaluation Kit (ATSAMR21ZLL-EK) costs $92.
Source: Microchip Technology
Mouser Electronics currently offers the STMicroelectronics STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board. The new Discovery Kit and I-NUCLEO-LRWAN1 STM32 LoRa Arduino-compatible extension board (available to order from Mouser) offer you a development platform for learning and evaluating solutions based on LoRa and FSK/OOK radio frequency (RF) communication.
The ST STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Kit is based on an all-in-one Murata Type ABZ open module solution to address low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) and support the LoRaWAN long-range wireless protocol. An STM32L072 ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontroller—featuring 192 KB of flash memory, 20 KB of RAM, and 6 KB of EEPROM—powers the Type ABZ mdoule. The STM32L0 ultra-low-power microcontroller offers low-power design features, targeting battery-powered and energy-harvesting applications.
ST’s I-NUCLEO-LRWAN1 STM32 LoRa extension board includes a LoRaWAN module powered by an STM32L052 microcontroller, an SMA connector, a 50-Ω antenna, and headers compatible with Arduino Uno R3 boards. The board features three ST environmental sensors: an LSM303AGR accelerometer and magnetometer, an HTS221 relative humidity and temperature sensor, and an LPS22HB pressure sensor.
Both the Discovery board and NUCLEO board come with LoRaWAN class A-certified I-CUBE-LRWAN embedded software that enables designers to set up a complete LoRaWAN node.
Source: Mouser Electronics
Cirrus Logic recently introduced the CS43130 MasterHIFI, which is a low-power, digital-to-analog converter (DAC) featuring a headphone amplifier. Operating at 4× lower power consumption, the CS43130 DAC supports Direct Stream Digital (DSD) formats and includes a NOS Filter and 512 single-bit elements to eliminate unwanted noise from the signal and for best filter response. The IC minimizes board space requirements while enabling performance and features to drive design differentiation.
The CS43130’s features, specs, and benefits:
- Supports DSD, DSD DoP (DSD over PCM), up to DSD128 and all PCM high-resolution audio formats up to 32-bit 384 kHz
- Proprietary DSD processor handles switching between DSD and PCM audio streams, while matching the analog audio output level
- Advanced hi-fi filters, allowing OEMs to tune their own signature sound
- Analog bypass switch provides easy switching between hi-fi and voice call modes and includes a low-power state for voice only
- Unique Non-Oversampling (NOS) emulation mode
- High impedance of 600 Ω and inter-channel isolation of greater than 110 dB.
- Proprietary digital-interpolation filters support five selectable digital filter responses.
- On-board, low-noise, ground-centered headphone amplifier provides proprietary AC impedance detection to support headphone fingerprinting
- Uses 512 individual DACs per channel in an analog/digital filter array
- THD+N of –108 dB and dynamic range of 130 dB
- Consumes 23 mW of power
- Supports up to 32-bit, 384-kHz sample rate audio playback
The CS43130 and CS4399 are available in a 42-ball WLCS or a 40-pin QFN package. A development kit is also available.
Source: Cirrus Logic
The answers to Circuit Cellar 320‘s crossword are now available.
- BRIDGE—Connects two LANs or two sections of the same LAN
- ZETTABYTE—1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 bytes
- HELIX—Spring-shaped curve
- HAMMING—Code that detects single- and double-bit errors
- DEGAUSS—Decrease magnetism
- NULL—Character with bits set to zero
- MECHATRONICS—Mechanics + electronics + computing
- INFINITE—Unending series
- PICOSECOND—One trillionth of a second
- QUARTZ—Timing crystal
- RHEOSTAT—A variable resistor
- DUTY—Time of one on/off cycle
- CASCADING—Circuits feeding one another
- PHOTONICS—Science of light
- FIRMWARE—Program in read-only memory
- ENIAC—30-ton computer; UPENN; 1946
- FERRIC—Magnetic tape coating that uses iron oxide
- SONAR—A method for detecting objects, especially those under water, with sound waves
- BITMAP—2-D pixel array
Problem 1: A certain CPU has three blocks of combinatorial logic that are used in each instrucion cycle, and these have delays of 7 ns, 3 ns, and 10 ns, respectively. A register in this technology has a total of 2 ns of setup time and propagation delay. What is the throughput of this CPU if no pipelining is used?
Answer 1: The minimum clock period in a non-pipelined implementation is defined by the propagation delay of the logic, plus the overhead (setup time plus propagation delay) of one register. For this example, these times add up to 7 + 3 + 10 + 2 = 22 ns, which corresponds to a clock frequency of 45.45 MHz. One instruction is completed per clock cycle, so the throughput is 45.45 MIPS.
Problem 2: Instruction latency is the time required for one instruction to complete. What is the latency for this CPU?
Answer 2: The instruction latency for the non-piplined CPU is the same as the clock period, 22 ns.
Problem 3: Pipelining is the process of inserting additional registers into a sequence of combinatorial blocks so that different blocks can be processing different instructions at the same time. What is the maximum clock frequency if we introduce pipelining to this CPU, and how many pipeline registers are required?
Answer 3: The longest single stage of combinatorial logic requires 10 ns, so this puts the lower limit on the clock period of 10 ns + 2 ns (register overhead) = 12 ns, which is a clock frequency of 83.33 MHz. Since the total of the other two combinatorial blocks also happens to add up to 10 ns, only one pipeline register is required.
Problem 4: What is the throughput and instruction latency for the pipelined CPU?
Answer 4: An instruction is still completed on every clock cycle, so now the throughput is 83.33 MIPS, for a speedup of 1.833×. However, each instruction now requires two clock cycles to complete, so the instruction latency is 2 × 12 ns = 24 ns, slightly (9.1%) longer than the non-pipelined CPU.
Contributor: David Tweed
Readily available, first-rate wireless links are essential for building and running safe UAV systems. David Weight, principal electronics engineer at Waittcircuit, recently shared his thoughts on the importance developing and maintaining high-quality wireless links as the UAV industry expands.
One of the major challenges that is emerging in the UAV industry is maintaining wireless links with high availability. As UAVs start to share airspace with other vehicles, we need to demonstrate that a control link can be maintained in a wide variety of environments, including interference and non-line of sight. We are starting to see software defined radio used to build radios which are frequency agile and capable of using multiple modulation techniques. For example, being able to use direct links in open spaces where these are most effective, but being able to change to 4G type signals when entering more built-up areas as these areas can pose issues for direct links, but have good coverage for existing commercial telecoms. Being able to change the frequency and modulation also means that, where interference or poor signal paths are found, frequencies can be changed to avoid interference, or in extreme cases, be reduced to lower bands which allow control links to be maintained. This may mean that not all the data can be transmitted back, but it will keep the link alive and continue to transmit sufficient information to allow the pilot to control the UAV safely. — David Weight (Principal Electronics Engineer, Wattcircuit, UK)
CML Microcircuits recently released a new range of RF power amplifiers. The CMX901 is a three-stage wideband, high-gain, high-efficiency RF power amplifier IC operating over 130 to 950 MHz. The device is ideally suited for use in VHF/UHF radio applications such as data modules, marine VHF communications, and RFID readers/writers used in Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) systems. High power added efficiency supports battery-powered applications.
The amplifier’s first and second stages operate in a class-A and class-AB mode, respectively. The third stage operates in class-C mode for maximum efficiency. Input and output matched circuits are implemented via external components. They can be adjusted to obtain maximum power and efficiency at the desired operating frequency.
The CMX901 is available in a small footprint 5 mm × 5 mm low thermal resistance 28-pin WQFN package, which makes it ideal for small form factor applications.
Source: CML Microcircuits
Intel recently launched the Intel Cyclone 10 family of FPGAs. Well suited for IoT applications, the new FPGAs are designed to deliver fast and power-efficient processing. They can collect and send data, and make real-time decisions based on the input from IoT devices. You can program the FPGAs to deliver the specific level of computing and functions required by different IoT applications.
Cyclone 10 GX supports 10G transceivers and hard floating point digital signal processing (DSP). Furthermore, it offers 2× the performance of the previous Cyclone generation. The architectural innovation in the implementation of IEEE 754 single-precision hardened floating-point DSP blocks can enable processing rates up to 134 giga floating-point operations per second (GFLOPs) for applications such as motion or motor control systems.
The Intel Cyclone 10 LP is the perfect solution for applications where cost and power are key factors in the design decision. These systems typically use FPGA densities that are sub 75K LE and chip-to-chip bridging functions between electronic components or I/O expansion for micro-processors. Cyclone 10 LP can also be used for automotive video processing used in rear-view cameras and in sensor fusion, where data gathered while the car is on the road is combined from multiple sensors in the car to provide a more complete view of what is happening.
The Cyclone 10 FPGA family will be available in the second half of 2017, along with evaluation kits, boards, and the latest version of Intel’s Quartus FPGA programming software.
Trace Software International recently released elec calc 2017, which is a software solution that enables the real-time sizing of electrical installations. elec calc complies with various international standards.
Features, specs, and benefits:
- Calculations: power balance calculation; cable cross-section calculation; operating modes; load balancing; electrical selectivity; and electrical back-up
- Contextual menus, a ribbon interface, and an UNDO/REDO button available for all features
- Intellisense feature facilitates and accelerates production of the one-line diagram by suggesting components to be connected to the selected one
- A personal library containing saved plans and components
- Several types of sources simulating different scenarios
- Short-circuit currents calculated according to IEC 60909 using the method of symmetrical components or according to the method of installation IEC 60354
- Electrical calculation report
- Single-line diagram
- Excel import/export module
- Export module to elecworks or Solidworks Electrical
- Equipment/component/manufacturer database
Source: Trace Software International
Wireless IoT devices are becoming increasingly common in both private and public spaces. Phil Vreugdenhil, an instructor at Camosun College in Canada, recently shared his thoughts on the future of ‘Net-connected wireless technology and the ways users will interact with it.
I see brain-controlled software and hardware seamlessly interacting with wireless IoT devices. I also foresee people interacting with their enhanced realities through fully integrated NEMS (nano-electromechancical systems) which also communicate directly with the brain, bypassing the usual pathways (eyes, ears, nose, touch, taste) much like cochlear implants and bionic eyes. I see wireless health-monitoring systems and AI doctors drastically improving efficiency in the medical system. But, I also see the safety and security pitfalls within these future systems. The potential for hacking somebody’s personal systems and altering or deleting the data they depend upon for survival makes the future of wireless technology seem scarier than it will probably be. — Phil Vreugdenhil (Instructor, Camosun College, Canada)
The ME Labs Standard D-Stick provides all the functionality of Microchip Technology’s 40-pin PIC16F1937 in a hardware module that includes a USB on-board programmer and virtual COM port. It’s a compact, easy-to-use alternative to connecting a serial port, programmer, and power supply to a solderless breadboard for project development. After development, you can simply replace the D-Stick with the pinout-compatible, production-ready PIC16F1937 microcontroller. You can combine the Standard D-Stick with the free PICBASIC PRO Compiler Student Edition for comprehensive development system that includes a code editor, BASIC compiler, in-circuit debugger, and device programmer for under $30
Features, benefits, and specs:
- Identical pinout to Microchip Technology’s standard 40-pin DIP
- Round, machined pins are easy on spring contacts allowing for multiple insertion cycles
- Built-in micro-USB port supplies power, a programming connection, and a virtual COM port
- Suitable for serial in-circuit debugging
- Compatible with all ME Labs Trainer programs
The standard version—which is based on the PIC16F1937 compatible with the free PBP Student Edition—costs $29.99. (It will be available for purchase by February 15, 2017.) The Advanced Version—which is based on PIC18F compatible with PBP Gold Edition (sold separately)—will be coming soon!
Source: ME Labs
COMSOL recently updated LiveLink for SOLIDWORKS. An add-on to the COMSOL Multiphysics software, LiveLink for SOLIDWORKS enables a CAD model to be synchronized between the two software packages. Furthermore, it provides easy access for running simulation apps that can be used in synchronicity with SOLIDWORKS software. You can build apps with the Application Builder to let users analyze and modify a geometry from SOLIDWORKS software right from the app’s interface. Users can browse and run apps from within the SOLIDWORKS interface, including those that use a geometry that is synchronized with SOLIDWORKS software.
The update includes a new Bike Frame Analyzer app in the Application Libraries. It leverages LiveLink for SOLIDWORKS to interactively update the geometry while computing the stress distribution in the frame that is subject to various loads and constraints. You can use the app to easily test different configurations of a bike frame for different parameters such as, dimensions, materials, and loads. The app computes the stress distribution and the deformation of the frame, based on the structural dimensions, materials, and loads/constraints of the bike frame.
TT Electronics recently introduced the Photologic V OPB9000, which is a reflective CMOS logic output sensor with programmable sensitivity, output polarity, and drain select. It provides dependable edge and presence detection of reflective media under a wide range of ambient light conditions. The OPB9000 is well suitable for a variety of applications, including industrial printing, dispensing, manufacturing automation, security devices, and portable medical equipment.
The OPB9000’s features, benefits, and specs:
- Programmable sensitivity, output polarity, and drain select
- 25+ kilolux ambient light immunity along with a wide operating temperature range
- The self-calibration feature avoids the need for constant recalibration as the LED ages, saving valuable time and effort.
- Temperature compensation and automatic gain control features
- 6-µs response time ensures high-speed detection for time-critical applications.
- Fully integrated analog front end and digital interface
- Combines an infrared emitter and integrated logic sensor in a 4.0 mm × 2.2 mm × 1.5 mm surface-mount package
Source: TT Electronics
Advances in wireless communications are consistently improving the usability of consumer and industrial electronics alike. Matthew Oppenheim, a researcher at InfoLab21 (Lancaster University, UK) recently shared his thoughts with us on the future of wireless technology.
Fast. Cheap. Reliable. Choose any two. The classic quote of engineering project management. I spent some time over the last year implementing a couple of wireless technologies to make prototypes of assistive technology devices. Initially, I used a Bluetooth module. Cheap. Fast enough for my purposes. Reliable? Getting the module to connect to and stay connected with my development platform was frustrating. The handshaking protocol meant that for every iteration of firmware, I had to reconnect the module. Which worked. Most of the time. Sometimes the half a dozen other Bluetooth devices in the lab would confuse the base station. Re-connecting for the dozens of incremental changes to the firmware each day was frustrating. So I tried an XBee module with the ZigBee protocol. Fast enough. Reliable. No handshaking so no delay in connection. I can power cycle the base station or the transmitter and the data comes streaming through again. But not cheap. Probably about five times the cost per node compared with the Bluetooth module. So what are my predictions for the future of wireless modules? From a hardware designer’s point of view, I predict future wireless modules will be faster, cheaper, and more reliable. Choose any two.