U-Blox Modules Selected for IoT Development Board Pair

U‑blox has announced that its modules will be at the core of two new developer boards. The boards, which are designed and produced by Seeed, one of China’s largest distributors of microelectronic components for the international developer and maker communities, deliver cellular communication and positioning capabilities for a wide range of applications in the IoT

The first of the two development boards is a Raspberry Pi HAT designed to augment Raspberry Pi computers with cellular communication as well as cellular‑based positioning services. The board will be released in multiple variants (USA AT&T, USA Verizon, Europe) based on the u‑blox LARA‑R2 LTE Cat 1 module series.
The second board, the WIO LTE Cat M1 / NB1 tracker, provides the essential hardware to make low‑power location tracking devices for people, pets, and assets. It can be programmed using the Arduino IDE and is also Espruino (JavaScript) compatible. The board uses the u‑blox MAX‑M8Q GNSS module to determine position, integrating signals from multiple GNSS satellite constellations, and connects to the cellular network using the u‑blox SARA‑R4 LTE Cat M1 / NB1 module. Developers and businesses can customize the standalone board and have it manufactured through Seeed’s services to create solutions tailored to their specific needs.

U-blox | www.u-blox.com

Tuesday’s Newsletter: IoT Tech Focus

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Embedded Boards.(6/26) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (7/3) 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.

Microcontroller Watch (7/10) 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.

Passive Infrared Sensors

Homing in on Heat

One way to make sure that the lights get turned off when you leave a room is to use Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors. Jeff examines the science and technology behind PIR sensors. He then details how to craft effective program code and control electronics to use PIR sensors is a useful way.

By Jeff Bachiochi

“The last one to leave, please turn off the lights.” How many times did you hear this while growing up? It’s an iconic phrase sometimes used to suggest the end of life, but as I remember it, just an effort to save electricity. I would always use the logic that bulbs burn out during the initial surge current and not necessarily from remaining on, but that logic never worked on Mom. To this day I am obsessive about turning lights off (thanks Mom!). To that end I tried installing Passive Infra Red (PIR) sensors to handle this automatically. After being inundated with complaints (from my wife Beverly) about lights turning off “while I’m still in the room,” I gave up.

While PIR devices are sensitive to heat (infrared)—the human body’s radiation is strongest at a wavelength of 9.4 µm—they are based on the heat source moving past the sensor. Let’s look at a typical PIR sensor element to see how this works. The RE200B PIR sensor comes in a TO-5 package. Manufactured by Glolab, this device actually contains two sensors as seen in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1
The metal tab on the TO-5 can indicates the X-axis plane across both sensor elements. The window filter material is optimized for approximately 10 μm wavelength.

Each pyroelectric sensor is made of a crystalline material that generates a surface electric charge when exposed to heat. When the amount of radiation striking the crystal changes, so does amount of charge on the input to a sensitive FET device built into the sensor. The two elements are in series with the FET input connected to their junction. With this configuration and a wide (138-degree) field of view, whatever ambient light falls on both the sensors is canceled out. The sensor elements are sensitive to radiation over a wider range so a filter window is added to the TO-5 package to limit detectable radiation. As a standalone this device is not very useful. We need a way to interrupt the heat source from hitting both sensor elements at the same time.

Anyone familiar with opto encoders already understands how this works. Opto transmitter/receiver pairs are placed on opposite sides of a spoked wheel. Light passes between the spokes as it rotates between the pair. A second pair is placed such that when one light path is blocked by a spoke, the other light path is between spokes. As the spoked wheel rotates, the opto device’s output alternates between one coupled pair and the other. With some logic on the opto outputs, you can tell both direction and speed of the rotation. Creating the same kind of “picket fence” in front of the infrared (IR) sensor elements can cause the radiation to be alternately blocked and passed to each sensor. The trick will be to design the slat width and placement to give the desired effect.

Fresnel Lens

Figure 2
Lenses of large aperture and short
focal length are massive. The bulk
of the material can be eliminated as
long as the lens’ curve stays the same.
This can be accomplished by a series
of annular lens rings or the special grinding pattern on a single blank.

A lens could be used to artificially reduce the field of view, by collecting and focusing it into a smaller spot. Move an object in front of the lens left to right and the spot moves right to left, behind the lens. If the spot passes over the two sensor elements sequentially, voilà—each sensor will produce a push or pull at the center tapped output. And that is something we can detect. A single lens would create one sensitive area out in front of the device. This might be just what you are looking for. However, to be sensitive to a wider range we must have multiple lenses. Since glass is opaque to IR we can’t use a typical glass lens. It turns out that polyethylene type materials do pass IR light and can be formed in various Fresnel lens patterns.

The idea for the Fresnel lens goes back to the French mathematicians of the late 18th century. This was an attempt to make lenses thinner while retaining the optical quality of the original. Figure 2 shows how unnecessary thickness is removed from an original lens without changing the lens’ curvature. In the early 19th century this idea was adapted for use in lighthouses by Augustin-Jean Fresnel. The thin cross section of the Fresnel lens makes it ideal for PIR lenses. …

Read the full article in the June 335 issue of Circuit Cellar

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IoT Technology Focus. (6/19) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(6/26) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (7/3) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Analog & Power

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Microcontroller Watch. (6/12) 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. (6/19) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(6/26) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Next Newsletter: Sensors and Measurement

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Sensors and Measurement newsletter.
May has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you this bonus newsletter beyond our normal four rotating weekly subject areas. While sensors have always played a key role in embedded systems, the exploding IoT phenomenon has pushed sensor technology to the forefront. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in sensors and measurement.

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Sensors & Measurement newsletter issue tomorrow.

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Embedded Boards.(5/22) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (6/5) 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.

Microcontroller Watch (6/12) 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.

Next Newsletter: Embedded Boards

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May has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Sensors and Measurement
. (5/29) While sensors have always played a key role in embedded systems, the exploding IoT phenomenon has pushed sensor technology to the forefront. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in sensors and measurement.

Analog & Power. (6/5) 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.

Microcontroller Watch (6/12) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: IoT Tech Focus

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s IoT Technology Focus newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

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Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

Embedded Boards.(5/22) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

May has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Sensors and Measurement
. (5/29) While sensors have always played a key role in embedded systems, the exploding IoT phenomenon has pushed sensor technology to the forefront. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in sensors and measurement.

Analog & Power. (6/5) 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.

Microcontroller Watch (6/12) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Microcontroller Watch

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IoT Technology Focus. (5/15) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(5/22) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

May has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Sensors and Measurement
. (5/29) While sensors have always played a key role in embedded systems, the exploding IoT phenomenon has pushed sensor technology to the forefront. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in sensors and measurement.

Analog & Power. (6/5) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Analog & Power

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Analog & Power newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including ADCs, DACs, DC-DC converters, AD-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

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Microcontroller Watch. (5/8) 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. (5/15) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(5/22) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

May has a 5th Tuesday, so we’re bringing you a bonus newsletter:
Sensors and Measurement
. (5/29) While sensors have always played a key role in embedded systems, the exploding IoT phenomenon has pushed sensor technology to the forefront. This newsletter looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in sensors and measurement.

 

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Microcontroller Watch. (5/8) 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. (5/15) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Device Silences TV Commercials

Arduino-Controlled Solution

Ever wish you could block out those annoying TV ads? Tommy describes in detail how he built a device for easily muting the audio of commercials. His project relies on three modules: a UHF radio receiver, an IR module and an Arduino Trinket board.

By Tommy Tyler

Does your blood start to boil as soon as one of those people on TV tries to sell you precious metals, a reverse mortgage, a miraculous kitchen gadget or an incredible weight reduction plan? Do you want to climb the wall the next time someone says “But wait! Order now and get a second one free . . .“? Believe it or not, there was a time long ago when TV commercials were actually entertaining. That was before commercial breaks evolved from 30 second or one-minute interruptions into strings of a half-dozen or more advertisements linked end-to-end for three to five minutes—sometimes with the exact same commercial shown twice in the same group! What is perhaps most annoying is the relentless repetition.

Historically, all the feeble attempts at TV commercial elimination have been applied to recordings on VCRs or DVRs. Anyone who watches programming that’s best enjoyed when viewed in real-time—news, weather and sports—has probably wished at one time or another for a device that can enable them to avoid commercials. They long for a device that could be inserted between their TV and the program source—whether it be cable, satellite or an OTA antenna—to instantly recognize a commercial and blank the screen, change channels or somehow make it go away. The technology for doing that does exist, but you’ll probably never find it applied to consumer products. Since funding of the entire television broadcast industry is derived from paid advertisements, any company that interferes with that would face enormous opposition and legal problems.

After many years of searching the Internet I’ve concluded it is wishful thinking to expect anyone to market a product that automatically eliminates commercials in real-time. I decided to work instead on the next-best approach I could think of: A device that makes it quick and easy to minimize the nuisance of commercials with the least amount of manual effort possible. This article describes a “Kommercial Killer (KK)” that is controlled by a small radio transmitter you carry with you so it’s easily and instantly accessible. No scrambling to find that clumsy infrared remote control and aim it at the TV when a commercial starts. Just press the personal button that’s always with you, even while remaining warm and cozy curled up under a blanket.

Kommercial Killer

The KK operates from anywhere in the home, even from another room completely out of sight of the TV and can be triggered at the slightest sound of an advertisement, political message, solicitation or perhaps even a telephone call. It works with any brand and model TV without modifications or complicated wiring connections by using the TV’s infrared remote control system. If you get a new TV, its remote control can easily teach KK a different MUTE command. Don’t worry about leaving the room with the TV muted. KK automatically restores audio after a certain amount of time. The default time is three minutes, the length of a typical commercial break, but you can easily configure this to any amount of time you prefer. And when you want to restore audio immediately—for example if you have muted non-commercial program material by mistake or if a commercial runs shorter than expected—just press your transmitter button again.

Figure 1
Schematic of the Kommercial Killer

KK is built mainly from three commercially available modules that do all the heavy lifting (Figure 1). The first module is a miniature UHF radio receiver. The second is an infrared module that can learn and mimic the TV mute signal. The third module is an Arduino Trinket board that provides commercial break timing and overall control. This article explains how to load a small program into that module without needing any special equipment or training, and even if you have absolutely no previous experience with Arduino devices.

The three modules are small and inexpensive ($7 to $10 each) and with just eight additional components KK can be built on an open perf board, strip board or enclosed in a 6-inch3 box. It is powered from the same USB Micro cable you use to load or modify the Arduino program, or from any other available USB port or 5 V charger.

UHF Receiver Module

The best UHF radio transmitters and receivers are all manufactured in China, and there are no major distributors in the U.S. So, order this item early and be prepared to wait about 20 days for delivery. After sampling many different remote controls to evaluate performance, quality, cost and shipment, I selected a product manufactured by the Shenzhen YK Remote Control Electronics Company, whose products are sold and shipped through AliExpress. Shenzhen remote controls use two types of receivers. . …

Read the full article in the May 334 issue of Circuit Cellar

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: IoT Tech Focus

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s IoT Technology Focus newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

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Embedded Boards.(4/24) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (5/1) 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.

Microcontroller Watch (5/8) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Microcontroller Watch

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Microcontroller Watch newsletter. Tomorrow’s 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.

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IoT Technology Focus. (4/17) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(4/24) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (4/1) 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.

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Analog & Power

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Microcontroller Watch. (4/10) 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. (4/17) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(4/24) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.