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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

Cypress Expands Portfolio with New Traveo Automotive Microcontroller Series

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. recently expanded of its automotive portfolio with the first series of its Traveo microcontroller family. The series features up to 4 MB of high-density embedded flash, stepper motor control, TFT display control, advanced sound output capabilities, and support for all in-vehicle networking standards.Cypress Traveo

Otimized for high-end body and gateway systems, the new series provides the ability to embed more on-chip flash memory for advanced applications. In addition, the 40-nm Traveo microcontrollers make it easy to implement Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) updates.

The new 40-nm Traveo S6J331X/S6J332X/S6J333X/S6J334X series offers a high-performance platform for classic instrument clusters. Based on the ARM Cortex-R5 processor with 240-MHz performance, it supports the CAN-FD automotive communication protocol for increased data bandwidth for faster networking.

Additionally, Cypress introduced a transceiver for the Clock Extension Peripheral Interface (CXPI) designed to replace the Local Interconnect Network (LIN) automotive communication protocol.

The Traveo S6J331X/S6J332X/S6J333X/S6J334X and S6J335X series is currently sampling and will be in production in the second half of 2016. It is available in 144-pin, 176-pin and 208-pin TEQFP packages.
The S6BT11X CXPI transceiver series is sampling now. It is available in an 8-pin SOP package.

Source: Cypress Semiconductor

Two New Flexible Antennas for Positioning Applications

Antenova Ltd recently added two new positioning antennas—Bentoni and Asper—to its suite of flexible FPC antennas. Intended for use in portable devices, trackers, and wearables, the Bentoni positioning antenna is designed for all the global public satellite constellations: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, and GALILEO. A dual antenna with two separate antenna systems in a single form factor, the Asper combines a 1559-to-1609-MHz antenna with a 2.4-to-2.5-GHz antenna in the same part for positioning applications with wireless connectivity as well. It’s intended for sports cameras, trackers, wearable electronics, and more.Antennova Asper 2

The Bentoni and Asper antennas are the latest flexible FPC antennas in Antenova’s flexiiANT product suite. Supplied with a I-PEX MHF connector and a 1.13-mm RF cable (available in three lengths), you can fold them to save space within a device.

Source: Antenova

New DACs with 140-dB Dynamic Range

ESS Technology announced its new flagship ES9038PRO SABRE DAC at CES 2016, generating immediate attention from audio manufacturers looking to raise the standard on new generation high-resolution audio products. The new ESS PRO SABRE 32-bit, 8-channel DAC chip goes the extra mile by offering the industry’s highest dynamic range (DNR) of 140dB with an impressive THD+N at -122dB.ESS ES90

During CES 2016, ESS Technology announced its new professional series of Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC) targeted at premium high-end consumer and professional recording studio equipment. The flagship offering for this professional series is the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC. This first member of the ESS PRO SABRE series sets a new benchmark in high-end audio by offering the industry’s highest dynamic range (DNR) of 140dB and offers impressively low total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) at -122dB in a 32-bit, 8-channel DAC.

As high resolution content proliferates through new, high-end music download services, users are looking for equipment that delivers the highest quality sound possible, regardless of file format or device. The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC sets a new standard for immersive and high-resolution audio (HRA) experiences.

The ES9038PRO SABRE DAC features ESS’s patented 32-bit HyperStream DAC technology. The HyperStream architecture is responsible for both the outstanding sound quality of ESS PRO SABRE DACs and the extremely low THD+N. Other 32-Bit 8-Channel DACs, using typical delta-sigma architecture, feature –107 dB THD+N (0.0004%), which when subjected to individual listening tests do not equal the clarity and sound stage of the ES9038PRO. This new flagship SABRE DAC was created to integrate seamlessly with both the existing and future portfolio of ESS headphone amplifiers as well as other audio building block technology.

New hardware features include full-scale manual/auto-gain calibration to reduce device-to-device gain error (allowing to configure multiple DACs for high channel count systems), option for programmable volume control ramp-rate with +18 dB, DSD over PCM (DoP) decoder and a total of eight preset filters for maximum design flexibility. Its programmable functions allow customizing outputs to mono, stereo, and 8-channel output in current-mode or voltage-mode based on performance criteria, together with user-programmable filters and programmable THD compensation to minimize THD caused by external components.

For audio designers, the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC includes significant advancements over previous generations, simplifying the implementation of specific software and reducing debugging time. The volume level of all internal DACs can be updated with a single software instruction. Clock gearing reduces MCLK frequency and saves power – the chip has 500 mW power consumption at 192 kHz sampling and 100 MHz MCLK – while advanced power management features enable a low-power idle mode when the audio signal is absent.

According to ESS, the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC was designed for premium home theater equipment including Blu-ray players, preamplifiers, all-in-one A/V receivers, and more. Studio environments can also leverage the ES9038PRO SABRE DAC’s industry-leading performance for professional audio workstations and other equipment. The PRO series enables studio professionals to recreate popular signature sound styles, using external DSP and specialized software packages, while remaining true to the artists’ musical vision.

In addition to the SABRE ES9038PRO, ESS is also announcing other members of the PRO series – the ES9028PRO and ES9026PRO SABRE DACs. These 32-bit, 8-channel PRO series DACs are designed for the audiophile/enthusiast who demands the high quality and performance of a SABRE DAC at a more economical price point. The ES9028PRO and ES9026PRO are pin-compatible upgrades for previous generation ESS products — the ES9018S and ES9016S — and feature 129 dB and 124 dB dynamic range (DNR), and -120 dB and -110 dB total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N).

Source: audioXpress

Mitch Altman—Maker, Hacker, Traveler

Mitch Altman is an inventor (TV-B-Gone), hacker and traveler whose ideas will inspire many of us to join a hackerspace and get creative with the design community. Circuit Cellar recently met up with Altman at FabLab Berlin, Germany. Altman talks about hacking and presents a new synthesizer, which is a board with an Arduino, sound amplifier, and keyboard-shaped pads to play music.

SEGGER Announces Embedded Studio PRO Development Platform

SEGGER recently released Embedded Studio PRO, which is an advanced platform that combines the company’s user-friendly Embedded Studio development environment, along with a selection of its key embedded software components, an industry-leading J-Link PLUS debug probe, plus an emPower evaluation board. Segger ses-pro-500x

SEGGER Embedded Studio (which was launched last year) is a streamlined but powerful IDE for ARM-based microcontrollers. It is designed to provide all tools needed for professional embedded development. Supporting all major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X and Linux), it presents a comprehensive solution for the implementation of embedded applications (with source code editing, compiling, and debug functionality all encompassed).

Further components from SEGGER’s portfolio of middleware that are incorporated in the Embedded Studio PRO package help to expand the scope of development possibilities and reduce time to market. These include the embOS high-performance RTOS with zero latency, the emFile robust file management system, the emWin GUI for any application that operates with a graphical LCD, the embOS/IP TCP/IP stack for Internet connectivity and the emUSB USB stack with host and target side support.

The package also contains a J-Link PLUS debug probe, with J-Flash software and sophisticated features such as unlimited flash breakpoints, SystemView analysis tool andMonitor Mode function. This is complemented by emPower, SEGGER’s new demonstrator board, which is designed to enhance software evaluation, prototyping and proof of concept. Embedded Studio PRO is supplied with sample projects to ensure a quick and easy start (including one for the emPower board which contains all the necessary middleware components).

SEGGER Embedded Studio package is available for  $12,400 as a Single Developer License for unlimited products on all Cortex-M cores.

Source: SEGGER

Next-Gen Optical Sensors Enhance UV Protection & Gesture Recognition

Silicon Labs’s new optical sensors are intended to protect consumers from ultraviolet (UV) radiation and enable you to develop touchless user interfaces. The Si1133 optical sensor provides a cost-effective solution for adding highly accurate UV index measurement capabilities to a variety of products (e.g., sports equipment).SiliconLabs Si1153

The Si1133 sensor enables you to accurately measure UV index levels and monitor UV exposure. You can implement it in a variety of outdoor recreation products (e.g.,  fitness wearables).

The Si1133’s specs and features:

  • ±1.5 on the UV scale
  • Ambient light sensing supporting less than 100 mlx resolution and operation under dark glass
  • Highly integrated solution reducing cost and complexity with on-chip dual 23-bit
  • ADCs, DSP, and high-sensitivity visible light, UV, and IR photodiodes
  • I2C serial communications with up to 3.4 Mbps data rate
  • 500-nA standby current
  • Small 2 mm × 2 mm QFN package

The Si1153 ambient light sensor is optimized for operation in bright daylight. You can use it for gesture control and proximity detection applications. The new sensor can be used outdoors over an extended range of up to 2 m, which makes ideal for the gesture-based operation of automotive infotainment systems, bicycle computers, and more.

The Si1153’s specs and features:

  • Proximity detection adjustable from 1 to 200 cm
  • Up to three LED drivers for motion detection
  • Ambient light sensing supporting less than 100 mlx resolution and operation under dark glass
  • On-chip dual 23-bit ADCs, DSP, and high-sensitivity visible light and IR photodiodes
  • I2C serial communications with up to 3.4 Mbps data rate
  • 500-nA standby current
  • 2 mm × 2 mm QFN or 2.9 mm × 4.9 mm module with LED

Samples and production quantities of the Si1133-AA00-GM UV index sensor are available for $1.13 in 10,000-unit quantities. Samples and production quantities of the Si1153 proximity/gesture detection sensor are also available. The extended-range Si1153-AA00-GM costs $1.84in 10,000-unit quantities. The Si1153-AA09-GM with enhanced daylight performance costs $1.91 in 10,000-unit quantities. The Si1153-AA9X-GM module with integrated IR LED costs $2.32 in 10,000-unit quantities. The 115XOPT-EXP-EVB evaluation kit is available for $44.43.

Source: Silicon Labs

OPTIGA Trusted Platform Modules Enhance Security for Connected Devices

Microsoft currently uses Infineon Technologies OPTIGA Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) in its newest personal computing devices, including the Surface Pro 4 tablet and the Surface Book. The dedicated security chips store sensitive data, including keys, certificates, and passwords and keeps them separated from the main processor, which further secures the system from unauthorized access, manipulation, and data theft. For example, the Microsoft BitLocker Drive Encryption application’s key and password are stored in the TPM.Infineon-OPTIGA

Microsoft’s personal computing devices rely on the OPTIGA TPM SLB 9665, which is the first certified security controller based on TPM 2.0. This standard was defined by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG).

Source: Infineon Technologies

New Ecosystem to Accompany 8-bit FT51A MCUs

FTDI Chip recently announced an array of board level products to support its FT51A microcontroller. It executes an 8051 feature set that can operate at 48 MHz. In addition, it features a variety of interfaces, including USB client, UART, SPI, I2C, 245 FIFO, PWM, and GPIO. The USB hub feature enables multiple USB-enabled devices to be combined. The FT51A’s data conversion capabilities comprise of an 8-bit ADC. Its 16-KB shadow RAM accelerates read access of the core. The device draws 20 mA (typical) while active and 150 µA (typical) when in suspend mode.

The FT51A microcontroller is suitable for a variety of applications, including industrial test instrumentation and sensor control.

The FT51A-EVM evaluation module offers you several functions for learning about the FT51A MCU.  It includes a 2 × 20 LCD display and several sensor mechanisms for data acquisition. Also included are a heart-rate monitor (with filtered and amplified analo output), a force sensitive resistor, and a SPI-enabled temperature sensor.

Source: FTDI

Hexoskin Smart Shirt Integreates Cypress EZ-BLE PRoC Module

Hexoskin recently chose Cypress Semiconductor’s Bluetooth Smart-based EZ-BLE PRoC module for use in its Hexoskin Smart biometric-tracking shirts. Hexoskin Smart shirts feature sensors that track cardiac, respiratory, and activity data. The EZ-BLE PRoC module collects this data and pushes it to a mobile device for analysis via the free Hexoskin app or other fitness app. The module’s low power consumption more than doubles the Hexoskin’s battery life. The compact (10 mm × 10 mm × 1.8 mm) EZ-BLE PRoC module complies with wireless regulatory standards in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Korea.Cypress EZ-BLE PRoC Module

The BLE Pioneer Development Kit gives you easy access to the Cypress Bluetooth Low Energy devices. It includes a USB Bluetooth Low Energy dongle that pairs with the CySmart master emulation tool, converting a designer’s Windows PC into a Bluetooth Low Energy debug environment. The EZ-BLE PRoC module can be quickly and easily evaluated with the EZ-BLE PRoC Module Evaluation Board, which plugs into the BLE Pioneer Development Kit ( $49).

Source: Cypress Semiconductor

New High-Performance Stepper Motor Drivers

Texas Instruments launched three new devices for 24-V stepper motors. Two devices offer TI’s AutoTune technology to eliminate stepper motor tuning and two integrate current sensing to support differentiated 3-D printers, robotics, factory automation equipment, and other applications.

AutoTune technology on the DRV8880 and DRV8881 devices eliminates the time-consuming, iterative process of manual tuning. This monitors motor performance over its lifetime and adjusts decay settings. As a result, it’s possible to develop motors that run quietly and efficiently despite changes in motor properties, supply voltage, load, and torque.

For motor systems that do not require AutoTune technology, engineers can use the new DRV8885 bipolar stepper motor driver with integrated current sensing. Designers can speed evaluation and design with the new stepper-motor drivers using the following evaluation modules (EVM), each of which features an onboard MSP430 microcontroller : DRV8880EVM, DRV8881EEVM (for phase/enable interface), DRV8881PEVM (for PWM interface) and DRV8885EVM.

Pricing in 1,000-unit quantities starts at 1.92 for the DRV8880 and US$1.60 for the DRV8881. The DRV8885 (available in a 24-pin HTSSOP package) starts at $1.50 in 1,000-unit quantities. The DRV8884 will be available soon in a 24-pin HTSSOP package for $1 in 1,000-unit quantities.

USB 3.1 Gen 2 Protocol Trigger and Decode Software

Keysight Technologies’s new oscilloscope-based USB 3.1 Gen 2 10-Gbps protocol decode software features real-time triggering and protocol decode performance.Keysight 8821

Intended to help you verify and debug devices that implement the 128b/132b encoding technology, the Keysight N8821A USB 3.1 protocol trigger and decode software enables you to quickly see protocol decode, search with protocol-level triggers, and use time-correlated views to troubleshoot serial protocol problems back to timing or signal integrity.

Additional information about Keysight’s new N8821A USB 3.1 protocol trigger and decode software is available at www.keysight.com/find/n8821a.

Source: Keysight Technologies

Heart Rate Monitoring Sensor Solution

Silicon Labs recently announced an optical heart rate-sensing solution for wrist-based heart rate monitoring (HRM) applications. The new Si1144 HRM solution includes a low-power optical sensor module paired with an EFM32 Gecko microcontroller running Silicon Labs’s advanced HRM algorithm. The compact Si1144 sensor module integrates an optical sensor, green LED, an ADC, LED drivers, control logic, and an I2C digital interface, making it a good option for power-sensitive wearables.Silicon Labs Si1144



The Si1144-AAGX HRM module’s features:

  • Accurately senses weak blood flow signals on the wrist
  • Choice of two algorithms to support static HRM and optional dynamic motion-compensated HRM using data from an external accelerometer
  • HRM solution pairs optical module with a Pearl Gecko microcontroller
  • Fully integrated HRM IC with green LED lens, high-sensitivity photodiode, low-noise ADC, LED drivers, optical blocking, and host communications/interrupts
  • Two LED drivers
  • Ultra-low-power consumption for long battery life (less than 500 nA standby current with 1.71-to-3.6-V supply voltage)
  • I2C serial communications, up to 3.4-Mbps data rate
  • 10-lead 4.9 × 2.85 × 1.2 mm LGA module package

Samples and production quantities of the Si1144-AAGX HRM module currently available. The Si1144 module along with Silicon Labs’s HRM algorithm costs $2.82 in 10,000-unit quantities. The HRM44-GGG-PS development board costs $57.60.

Source: Silicon Labs

Digital Power Explorer Board

Würth Elektronik eiSos and Infineon Technologies recently launched the jointly developed XMC Digital Power Explorer evaluation kit. The synchronous step-down converter can be assembled with two different control cards: XMC1300 ARM Cortex-M0 MCU and XMC4200 ARM Cortex-M4F MCU. Intended for developers of analog power supplies and embedded software programmers, the XMC Digital Power Explorer Kit is a complete solution with hardware, softwaren and switchable resistance load bank.Wurth Dig Power Exp Board

The high-performance XMC4200 family offers a high-resolution PWM unit (with 150-ps resolution) and intelligent analog comparators with precise slope compensation that can considerably simplify power supply design. The XMC1300 family is cost-optimized for simpler power supply applications.

The Digital Power Explorer Kit costs approximately $130 .

Source: Würth Elektronik

Managing an Open-Source Project

Open-source projects may be one of the greatest things that have happened during these last decades. We use or see them on a daily basis (e.g., Wikipedia, Android, and Linux), and sometimes we can’t imagine our lives without them. They are a great way to learn from experienced individuals, contribute to something bigger than oneself, and be part of a great community. But how do you manage such a project when contributors are not remunerated and scattered all over the globe? In this short article, I’ll describe my experience managing the Mooltipass Offline Password Keeper Project.mooltipass_left

Mootlipass is a compact offline encrypted password keeper that remembers your credentials. I launched the project in December 2013 on Hackaday.com, which was the perfect place to promote such an idea and call for contributors. While there was ample interest and an appreciable number of applicants, it rapidly became apparent that people tend to overestimate their spare time and their ability to contribute. Only 40% of all applicants stayed with us until the end of the first stage: agreeing on the tools and conventions to use. After a month, the project infrastructure was based on GitHub (code versioning and management), Dropbox (file exchange), Trello (project management and task assignment), and Google groups (general and developer discussions).

A sense of community was one of the key aspects that helped us succeed, as contributors were not remunerated. We agreed on a consensus-based decision making process so that one person would not have too much control. I assigned tasks based on the contributors’ preferences and availabilities, which kept everyone motivated.

Once the development started, the strict rules we had agreed on were enforced and pull requests were always reviewed. This ensured that contributors could easily come and go as they pleased while reminding them that their code was part of a bigger code base. Feature and aesthetic design decisions were made by the Hackaday readers through online polls, and the name “Mooltipass” came from an avid project follower. We wanted to keep readers constantly involved in our project to make sure the final design would please everyone.

Overall, there were many key elements to our success: visibility, pragmatism, openness, and determination. Launching via an established online community gave us a great start and enabled us to build a strong backing. Individuals of all ages and backgrounds participated in our discussions.

Taking the face-to-face aspect out of project management was tricky. Frank and honest conversations between developers were therefore highly encouraged. And we had to remind participants to not take negative or critical feedback personally. Fortunately, we quickly realized during the project development process that most contributors had exactly the same mindset.

In addition to the project contributors, it was also necessary to manage the general public. Patience was the key. We carefully addressed the many questions and concerns we received. Although several anonymous users had input that wasn’t helpful, on several occasions random people sent in tips that helped to improve our code and algorithms. We offered people the opportunity to implement the isolated features they wanted by contributing to our repository, which helped cut many Google group discussions short. After all, the entire development process was completely transparent.

Thinking about managing an open-source project of your own? It isn’t for the faint of heart. While running the project, I felt as though I was both a contributor and “benevolent dictator.” Fortunately, my engineering and managerial skills were strong enough to see the project through.

It was heartwarming to see that all 15 developers joined the adventure for the fun of it or to work on a device they wanted to use later on. Only one contributor was let go during the development process due to extremely slow progress. After 1,500 commits, a year of development, a $130,000 crowdfunding campaign, and delivering all units by August 2015, the Mooltipass project was a success. It is a fascinating testament to the efficacy of an open-source, crowdfunded project.

Mathieu Stephan is a Switzerland-based high-speed electronics engineer who develops and manufactures consumer products (www.limpkin.fr). Most of his projects are in the domotics domain, which is where he feels he can help people the most. Mathieu documents his open-source creations on his website in an effort to encourage others to get involved in the electronics world and share their work. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from ESIEE Paris and an MS in Informatics from EPFL in Switzerland.

This essay appears in Circuit Cellar 306, January 2016.

Microchip and SiS Offer PCAP and 3D-Gesture Interface Modules

Microchip Technology and Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS) recently partnered to offer complete projected-capacitive touch (PCAP) and 3D-gesture interface modules. The modules are intended to simplify the design of multi-touch and 3D gesture displays with Microchip’s GestIC technology.Microchip PCAP 3D

Microchip’s GestIC is intended to be combined with multi-touch PCAP controllers. The modules from SiS integrate 2D PCAP and 3D gesture technologies. SiS modules with Microchip’s GestIC technology will enable engineers to deliver innovative 3D control displays in the consumer, home-automation, and Internet of Things markets.

Source: Microchip Technology