About Circuit Cellar Staff

Circuit Cellar's editorial team comprises professional engineers, technical editors, and digital media specialists. You can reach the Editorial Department at editorial@circuitcellar.com, @circuitcellar, and facebook.com/circuitcellar

August Circuit Cellar: A Sneak Preview

The August (325) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is jammed packed with useful technical information and inspiring, intriguing embedded electronics design stories.

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Here’s a sneak preview of August Circuit Cellar:

FUN WITH GUITAR AMPLIFIERS!

Digital Guitar Amplifier/ Effects Processor—Part 2
Brian Millier details the digital guitar amplifier/effects unit he built using two Teensy Arduino modules.

A Range of Power Supplies for Hollow-State Guitar Amplifiers
Richard Honeycutt compares several different power supplies used for hollow-state guitar amplifiers.

MICROCONTROLLERS & PROCESSORS!

Firmware Upgrade with the PIC32
Nick Sicalides delves into performing firmware upgrades using a bootloader on the Microchip PIC32

Getting Started with PSoC Microcontrollers (Part 2): Putting PSoC to Work
Nishant Mittal goes even deeper on the Cypress PSoC providing some useful design examples.

Moore’s Law and the Chip Industry’s Perfect Storm
In this Interview Q&A Krste Asanovic explains RISC-V and the open sourcing of processor architecture.

SECURITY & RELIABILITY & ENCRYPTION!

Power Analysis of a Software DES Encryption Routine
Columnist Colin O’Flynn examines how to break a software implementation of the DES security routine.

Reliability and Failure Prediction: A New Take
Craig Armenti and Dave Wiens discuss a better way to simulate PCB vibration and acceleration.

Preventing Unwanted Entry
Columnist Jeff Bachiochi takes us inside his exploration of electronic lock systems, getting down to the fine details.

Future of Embedded Security: Wi-Fi to the Danger Zone
This guest essay by Adam Cecchetti, CEO of Deja vu Security, explains how memory leaks in your embedded system could have life or death consequences.

AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS:

Automatic Control (Part 4) The Implementation
George Novacek describes the PID temperature controller he built for a meat smoker.

Fully Differential Amplifiers
Robert Lacoste sings the praises of fully differential amplifiers and presents a few designs using them.

Build an Embedded Systems Consulting Company (Part 5) Axiom Wrap-Up
Bob Japenga shares more insights on running a successful embedded design firm built to last.

Qseven Module Sports Apollo Lake Processor

Axiomtek has released the Q7M311, a new Qseven module with Intel Apollo Lake processor, dual display interfaces, 32 Gbytes of eMMC memory, and wide operating temperature supported. The Q7M311 has adopted the 14nm Intel Pentium N4200 and Celeron N3350 quad-core/dual-core processors (codename: Apollo Lake). The extremely small embedded module supports 4 Gbytes (or optionally up to 8 Gbytes) of DDR3L memory onboard. With a seismic design and for industrial-grade temperatures, both the CPU and the DDR3L RAM are soldered to deliver reliable and excellent computing performance. With rich features embedded in all the components built in a small form factor, the industrial-grade computer-on-module is aimed for industrial IoT applications, including industrial control, medical imaging, digital signage, gaming machines, military, and networking.

Axiomtek q7m311

Advanced connectivity includes four PCIe x1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet (built-in Intel Ethernet controller i211AT), two SATA-600 interfaces, and eight inputs/outputs of general purpose for peripheral devices and data transfer. Also, the LPC bus is available for easy connection of legacy I/O interfaces. This powerful Qseven embedded board runs well with Windows 10 and Linux operating system and supports Axiomtek AXView 2.0 intelligent remote management software.

Axiomtek | www.axiomtek.com

Software for Real-Time C2000 MCUs Reduces Design Complexities

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced DesignDRIVE Fast Current Loop software that makes C2000 microcontrollers the first devices to push current-loop performance to less than 1 microsecond, according to TI. Together, TI’s C2000 MCU portfolio and DesignDRIVE software delivers system-on-chip (SOC) functionality which simplifies drive control system development.  New DesignDRIVE Fast Current Loop software out performs traditional microcontroller (MCU)-based current-loop solutions and can simplify designs by eliminating the field-programmable gate array (FPGA) typically used for external current-loop control. Fast Current Loop software is a free update available for C2000 controlSUITE software.

New TI MCU software eliminates an FPGA in industrial systems (PRNewsfoto/Texas Instruments Incorporated)

Renesas Expands HMI Support with RZ/G MPUs

Renesas has expanded its RZ microprocessor (MPU) Family to support the growing range of human-machine interface (HMI)- and vision-based systems, with performance scalability from entry-level to highly complex embedded applications. The new RZ/G1C MPUs from the Renesas RZ/G Series enable rapid development of high-performance HMI applications and support 3D graphics with full high-definition (FHD) video. The RZ/G1C is especially optimized for Linux-based application development.

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The Renesas RZ/G MPU Series lets system manufacturers right-size their processor selection to support current and next-generation connected devices, ranging from home appliances with touch-based displays to industrial equipment with integrated embedded vision-equipped HMI that enables image recognition and artificial intelligence.

About the RZ/G1C MPUs

Based on the power-efficient ARM® Cortex-A7 CPU, the RZ/G1C offers a balance of performance and power for connected HMI-based systems. Support for multiple interfaces, including USB and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), and full pin compatibility between parts provides customers the flexibility to scale up or down the RZ Family to address current and future embedded development needs. The new MPU features a PowerVR SGX531 3D graphics engine and an FHD H.264 video codec to support video encoding and decoding. Additionally, the RZ/G1C offers one analog and two digital camera inputs to facilitate embedded vision and other video applications.

The RZ/G1C MPU is offered in single and dual-core varieties, and brings a number of advantages over competing technology. For instance, RZ/G1C can be designed into a four-layer board to minimize cost and PCB design complexity. Competing parts  typically require a minimum of six to eight layers. Moreover, no special power sequencing or power management IC (PMIC) is needed on board, which reduces the bill of material (BOM) costs, streamlines manufacturing, and simplifies board bring-up.

Samples of the RZ/G1C MPUs are available now. The RZ/G1C is available in dual core or single core depending on customer requirements. Mass production will begin in December 2017.

Renesas Electronics America | www.renesas.com

Microchip Sequential Linear LED Driver Targets Offline Lighting

A next-generation sequential linear LED driver for offline lighting applications is now available from Microchip Technology. The CL88020, an extension of Microchip’s CL88XX family, is designed to drive a long string of low-cost LEDs directly from the 120 VAC line input. The product allows customers to create reliable, cost-effective and compact LED lighting applications by having High Power Factor (PF) without the need for switch-mode power conversion which is typically required for LED lighting design.

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The CL88020 was designed to minimize driver circuit component count to allow for a very small and efficient design. The simple design allows for a single-layered Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design. Unlike the conventional AC-DC switch mode power supply, the basic driver circuit consists of the CL88020 IC, two small ceramic capacitors and a bridge rectifier only. High-voltage capacitors, transformer or inductors, electromagnetic interference (EMI) filters or Power Factor Correction (PFC) circuitry are not required. This allows for a smaller solution size and a lower overall bill of material (BOM) cost as compared to traditional LED solutions.

Microchip | www.microchip.com

BLE Chip from STMicroelectronics Targets Connected Smart Things

A new-generation Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) System-on-Chip from STMicroelectronics is aimed at accelerating the spread of connected smart objects throughout homes, shopping areas, industry, toys and gaming, personal healthcare and infrastructure. ST sees important opportunities for BLE-connected applications that are simple, functionally focused, and can operate on a button cell for months or years. The new BlueNRG-2 chip meets all these needs with its extremely power-efficient programmable processor and low-power features including an ultra-frugal standby mode.

en.BlueNRG_2_P3960D_big

The high RF signal strength saves system power by ensuring reliable wireless communication, and generous on-chip memory for BLE software and application code simplifies system design by saving external memory components. BlueNRG-2 is Bluetooth 5.0-certified, which ensures interoperability with the latest generation of smartphones, and supports enhanced features such as state-of-the-art security, privacy, and extended packet length for faster data transfer.

Cypress and Arrow Team up for IoT Development Platform

Cypress Semiconductor and Arrow Electronics have announced a new development platform that enables engineers to quickly bring a broad range of connected IoT products to market.

The new Quicksilver kit features Cypress’ Wireless Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) platform and incorporates the robust connectivity of the Cypress CYW43907 802.11n Wi-Fi microcontroller (MCU). The kit is slated for release in this  month (July 2017), and a second Quicksilver kit will deliver high-performance 802.11ac Wi-Fi enabling high-data-rate and media-rich experiences in the IoT in the fourth quarter of 2017.

According to Cypress, development customers are seeking to connect their products to the cloud for the first time to enable compelling IoT features, and they are also looking for fast time to market. The WICED-based Quicksilver kit provides them with the flexibility to build quickly now and streamline design enhancements later. Customers can quickly get to market with a certified module that provides turnkey cloud connectivity software and then migrate to cost or performance-driven production solutions while maintaining hardware and software compatibility.

The first Quicksilver kit will provide users with complete design capabilities to implement the WICED Studio SDK and features Arduino-compatible headers for expansion capability. The kit includes temperature, humidity and three-axis motion sensors to design a complete IoT edge device for a broad range of end markets, including factory automation, lighting, smart irrigation, home appliances and home automation.

Kickstarter to Build Solar Powered Robot for Weeding Gardens

Franklin Robotics has launched a Kickstarter to build Tertill: a solar-powered and weatherproof robot that weeds your garden every day. With Tertill, gardeners can now enjoy weed-free vegetable and flower gardens, without the monotony and frustration of weeding.  Organic gardeners can breathe easy and enjoy a weed-free, chemical-free garden all season long. Created by roboticist Joe Jones – inventor of the Roomba – Franklin Robotics’ Tertill is designed to live in your garden and take care of the weeding, come rain or shine.

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Tertill lives in your garden and prevents weeds from becoming established.  Using unique design elements and a variety of sensors, Tertill patrols the garden daily, avoiding plants and obstacles while looking for weeds to eliminate. Tertill has a very simple method of distinguishing weeds from plants: weeds are short, plants are tall. A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill’s shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under Tertill’s shell, though, activates a different sensor that turns on the weed cutter.

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Tertill gets its power from the sun. When there is sunlight—even on cloudy days—Tertill’s solar cell converts the light into electricity. The robot stores the energy in a battery. You don’t need to charge or replace Tertill’s battery. Tertill uses its stored power smartly—during cloudy stretches, when less power is available, it patrols for weeds less often. Tertill is more aggressive during periods with more sun. Fortunately, weeds grow more slowly when they have less light.

Frankin Robotics

www.franklinrobotics.com

Circuit Cellar Newsletters to Focus on Microcontrollers, IoT and More

Circuit Cellar’s ongoing mission is to provide important information to help you make smart choices with your engineering projects—from prototype to production. As part of that effort, we’re now offering themed newsletter content each week that focuses on critical areas of system development.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get the first “Microcontroller Watch” themed newsletter issue tomorrow.

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Don’t be left out! Sign up now:

Our new enhanced weekly CC Newsletter will switch its theme each week, covering these four areas every month:

Microcontroller Watch. This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

IoT Technology Focus. The Internet-of-Things (IoT) phenomenon is rich with opportunity. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards. This content looks at embedded board-level computers. The focus here is on modules (e.g., Arduino, Raspberry Pi, COM Express, and other small-form-factor modules) that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up production volumes.

Analog & Power. This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AD-DC converters, power supplies, op-amps, batteries, and more.

Client Profile: SCIDYNE Corp.

About SCIDYNE
SCIDYNE has been designing and manufacturing electronic products for more than two decades. Headquartered in the United States, SCIDYNE serves both domestic and international OEM customers by being a trusted and reliable source of high-quality embedded system products. SCIDYNE’s line of PC/104 peripherals can be found in many diverse and demanding applications (e.g., industrial automation, medical equipment, and aerospace). Recent trends in the embedded market including the growing maker culture, powerful low-cost development platforms, and collaborative development has provided additional opportunities to offer new products designed especially for these segments.

Scidyne-xmem

Why Should Circuit Cellar Readers Be Interested?
The XMEM+ plugs onto an ordinary Arduino MEGA2560 and boosts available SRAM to over 512K. By increasing SRAM, the MEGA becomes much more capable in sophisticated applications. The SRAM is organized as 16 banks of 32K each. On-board high-speed logic simplifies bank-switching management. The active 32K bank seamlessly follows the internal 8K SRAM making 40K available at any time. Also included is a fixed 23K expansion bus for prototyping off-board parallel circuitry. Buffered control, data, and address signals are fully accessible. The operating logic level for all buffered signals is configurable as 3.3 or 5 V for proper translation when working with modern mixed voltage circuitry. The XMEM+ operates at the full 16-MHz system clock speed. Additional details are available at: www.scidyne.com/hpb7699.html.

New STM32L4 MCUs with On-Chip Digital Filter

STMicroelectronics’s ultra-low-power STM32L45x microcontrollers (the STM32L451, the STM32L452, and the STM32L462 lines) are supported by a development ecosystem based on the STM32Cube platform. The new microcontroller lines offer a variety of features and benefits:

  • Integrated Digital Filter for Sigma-Delta Modulators (DFSDM) enables advanced audio capabilities (e.g., noise cancellation or sound localization).
  • Up to 512 Kbyte on-chip Flash and 160 Kbyte SRAM provide generous code and data storage.
  • A True Random-Number Generator (TRNG) streamlines development of security-conscious applications
  • Smart analog peripherals include a 12-bit 5-Msps ADC, internal voltage reference, and ultra-low-power comparators.
  • Multiple timers, a motor-control channel, a temperature sensor, and a capacitive-sensing interface
  • Deliver high core performance and exceptional ultra-low-power efficiency
  • A 36-µA/MHz Active mode current enables a longer runtime on small batteries

The development ecosystem includes the STM32CubeMX initialization-code generator and STM32CubeL4 package comprising:

  • Middleware components
  • Nucleo-64 Board-Support Package (BSP)
  • Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL)
  • Low-Layer APIs (LLAPIs)

STMicro-STM32L4

The STM32CubeMX has a power-estimation wizard, as well as other wizards for managing clock signals and pin assignments. The affordable Nucleo-64 board, NUCLEO-L452RE, enables you to test ideas and build prototypes. It integrates the ST-LINK/V2 probe-free debugger/programmer and you can expand it via Arduino-compatible headers.
The devices are currently available in small form-factor packages from QFN-48 to LQFP-100, including a 3.36 mm × 3.66 mm WLCSP. Prices start from $2.77 in 1,000-piece quantities for the STM32L451CCU6 with 256-KB flash memory and 160-KB SRAM in QFN-48. The development boards start at $14 for the legacy-compatible Nucleo-64 board (NUCLEO-L452RE). The NUCLEO-L452RE-P board with external DC/DC converter will be available to distributors in June 2017.

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

Coding Standards and Security

Coding standards are proven to improve code quality, but without automation they are difficult to enforce and may be ignored by developers. Download this white paper to learn how to create a coding standard from existing resources and use a static analyzer to ensure it is followed by your developers.
Automating Coding Standards

Security vulnerabilities can put users at risk and damage companies’ reputations, and these risks increase as more devices are connected to the internet. Download this white paper to learn how to choose and enforce the best coding standard for your application to reduce these risks.
How to Choose the Right Coding Standard for Embedded Software Security 


Free white papers: How to Choose the Right Coding Standard for Embedded Software Security and Automating Coding Standards sponsored by PRQA

To get your white papers fill in the form below.

Automating_coding_standards_thumb             How_to_choose_codingstandard_thumb




The Future of IoT Security

By Haydn Povey

Unlimited opportunity. That’s what comes to mind when I think about the future of the Internet of Things (IoT). And, that is both a blessing and a curse.

As the IoT proliferates, billions of cloud-connected devices are expected to be designed, manufactured, and deployed over the next decade. Our increasingly connected world will become hyper-connected, transforming our lives in ways we likely never thought possible. We will see smarter cities where the commuter is automatically guided, smarter farming where livestock health is individually monitored with on-call veterinary services, smarter healthcare to reduce the spiraling costs, integration between smart white goods and utilities to manage grid loading, and the integration of smart retail and personal assistant AI to provide a “curated” shopping experience. That future is limitless and exciting. But it is also frightening. We have already seen the headlines of how attacks have impacted businesses and people with valuable data being stolen or ransomed. It is widely believed the attacks are just starting.

Devices—not often seen as likely hacking targets—now have the potential to be weaponized. No one wants a device or application that is prone to hacking or theft. Hacks, malware, and IP theft have a significant dollar cost and can destroy corporate brands and reputations. And these devices may have extended lifecycles of decades. And a “secure” connected device does not guarantee a secure system. All too often, security has been an after-thought in the development of systems.

Hardware, software, communications, and communications protocol, device commissioning, applications layers, and other systems considerations all could impact security of a device and its data. The future of IoT must see security become an integral part of the design and deployment process, not merely an after-thought or add-on.

Delivering security-orientated embedded systems is a major challenge today. It will take a strong ecosystem and the development of a “supply chain of trust” to deliver truly secure product creation, deployment, and lifecycle management for the rapidly evolving IoT marketplace.

Security needs to be architected into devices from the moment of inception. In addition, it needs to be extended across the supply chain, from security-orientated chips through to manufacturing and management for the lifecycle of the product.

To deliver secure manufacturing and ensure no malware can be injected, cold and hard cryptography principles must be relied upon to ensure solutions are secured. Security principles should be embedded in every aspect of the system from the delivery of secure foundations in the silicon device, through to the secure mastering and encryption of the OEM codebase to ensure it is protected. The programming and manufacturing stages may then freely handle the encrypted code base, but the utilization of secure appliances, which integrate high-integrity and high-availability hardware security modules, enables secure enclaves to be integrated into the process to manage and orchestrate all key material. Furthermore, the ability to encrypt applications within the development process and subsequently decrypt the images in place within the device is a critical to securing the intellectual property.

While simple in theory, there are multiple aspects of a system that must be secured, encompassing the device, the mastering of the application, the handling and sharing of the keys, and the loading of the application on to the device. The only real solution is to develop a “zero trust” approach across the supply chain to minimize vulnerabilities and continually authenticate and individualize deliverables as far as possible.

While this integrated approach cannot resolve all aspects of counterfeiting, it does mark a key rallying point for the industry, and finally enables the industry to start to draw a line under the mass counterfeiting and over-production of devices. And all stakeholders in the process—including device platform providers, OEMs, programming centers, contract manufacturers, end users, security experts, and standards bodies—must do their parts to make cyber-secure programming and manufacturing ubiquitous, easy to use, and easily adoptable.

As I said, the future of IoT holds limitless opportunity, and that will drive new solutions. There will be new business models and new ecosystems. The threats are real, and the cost of failure could be astronomical. So, for the future of IoT to be bright, it must start with security.

This article appears in Circuit Cellar 324.

Haydn Povey [Headshot - Colour]Haydn Povey is the Founder/CEO of Secure Thingz, a company focused on developing and delivering next-generation security technology into the Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected systems. He also currently sits on the Executive Steering Board of the IoT Security Foundation. Haydn has been in senior management at leading global technology companies for more than 20 years, including 10 years in senior marketing and business development roles at ARM.

13.6 GHz, Next-Generation Wideband Synthesizer

Analog Devices has launched the ADF5356, which is a 13.6 GHz next-generation wideband synthesizer with an integrated voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The ADF5356 is well-suited for a variety of applications, including wireless infrastructure, microwave point-to-point links, electronic test and measurement, and satellite terminals. The ADF4356 is a complementary synthesizer product that operates to 6.8 GHz and is comparable in performance.

Analog-ADF5356

The ADF5356’s and ADF4356’s features, specs, and benefits:

  • Generate RF outputs from 53.125 MHz to 13.6 GHz without gaps in frequency coverage
  • Offer superior PLL figures of merit (FOM), ultra-low VCO phase noise, very low integer-boundary and phase-detector spurs, and high phase-comparison frequency.
  • Feature VCO phase noise (–113 dBc/Hz at 100 kHz offset at 5 GHz) with integrated RMS jitter of just 97 fs (1 kHz to 20 MHz) and integer-channel noise floor of –227 dBc/Hz
  • Phase detector spurious levels are below –85 dBc (typical), and the phase detector comparison frequency can be as high as 125 MHz.
  • Fully supported by the ADIsimPLL, which is Analog Devices’s easy-to-use PLL synthesizer design and simulation tool. The synthesizers are pin-compatible with Analog Devices’s existing ADF5355 and ADF4355 devices.
  • Specified over the –40°C to 85°C range
  • Operate from nominal 3.3-V analog and digital power supplies as well as 5-V charge-pump and VCO supplies
  • Features 1.8-V logic-level compatibility

The ADF5356 costs $39.98 in 1,000-unit quantities. The ADF4356 costs $20.36 in 1,000-piece quantities. The EV-ADF5356SD1Z pre-release boards cost $450 each.

Analog Devices | www.analog.com

USB Microphone Array Serves Voice-Activated Applications

The new miniDSP UMA-8 is a high-performance yet low-cost multichannel USB microphone array built around XMOS multicore technology, designed for voice-recognition application development. Seven high-performance MEMS microphones are configured in a circular arrangement to provide high-quality voice capture for a wide range of applications. Leveraging the onboard DSP processing, the UMA-8 supports voice algorithms including beamforming, noise reduction, acoustic echo cancellation, and de-reverb.

miniDSPUMA 8BoardFlight

Developed with applications in voice-activated control, smart assistants, robotics, conferencing, and more in mind, the UMA-8 pocket-size platform targets both DIYers and the OEM market, and was engineered for flexibility in firmware, software and hardware. For advanced users, full control and configuration of the DSP array processing parameters are available with a real-time GUI. This can be used to fine tune the various algorithms: acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction, voice activation detect, and so on, dramatically improving voice pickup.

The UMA-8 costs $95. Step-by-step application notes are available for setup and configuration of the UMA-8 with the most common smart assistants currently available, including Amazon Alexa Voice + Raspberry Pi, Microsoft Cortana, and Apple Siri. miniDSP will be expanding those application notes in the future.

miniDSP | www.minidsp.com