Firms Team Up on Advanced IIoT and Edge Analytics Solutions

Eurotech and Horsa have announced a partnership to enable final users to reduce production costs by taking advantage of the integration of high computational capabilities and analytics at the edge. Eurotech’s expertise in embedded hardware and Operational Technology and Horsa’s advanced IT and analytics skills enable innovative business models by creating Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) that combine high computational performance and machine learning at the edge with advanced IT solutions and software to build an open, integrated, managed and flexible IoT infrastructure
Eurotech’s Multi-service IoT Edge Gateways provide IoT connectivity to industrial machinery in the field, providing native support for the most common field communication protocols, as well as edge computing and machine learning capabilities for data collection and management. The valuable data collected by this intelligent edge infrastructure are integrated with Horsa’s leading enterprise IT solutions in order to perform advanced analytics for IoT applications, from simple anomaly detection and alert management to predictive maintenance and full quality control systems.

Eurotech | www.eurotech.com

Horsa | www.horsa.com

 

March Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The March issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week!. We’ve rounded up an outstanding selection of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you, and rustled them all into our 84-page magazine.

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Here’s a sneak preview of March 2019 Circuit Cellar:

POWER MAKES IT POSSIBLE

Power Issues for Wearables
Wearable devices put extreme demands on the embedded electronics that make them work—and power is front and center among those demands. Devices spanning across the consumer, fitness and medical markets all need an advanced power source and power management technologies to perform as expected. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines how today’s microcontroller and power electronics are enabling today’s wearable products.

Power Supplies for Medical Systems
Over the past year, there’s been an increasing trend toward new products that have some sort of application or industry focus. That means supplies that include either certifications, special performance specs or tailored packaging intended for a specific application area such as medical. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative medical-focused power supplies.

DESIGN RESOURCES, ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Flex PCB Design Services
While not exactly a brand-new technology, flexible printed circuit boards are a critical part of many of today’s challenging embedded system applications from wearable devices to mobile healthcare electronics. Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, explores the Flex PCB design capabilities available today and whose providing them.

Design Flow Ensures Automotive Safety
Fault analysis has been around for years, and many methods have been created to optimize evaluation of hundreds of concurrent faults in specialized simulators. However, there are many challenges in running a fault campaign. Mentor’s Doug Smith presents an improved formal verification flow that reduces the number of faults while simultaneously providing much higher quality of results.

Cooling Electronic Systems
Any good embedded system engineer knows that heat is the enemy of reliability. As new systems cram more functionality at higher speeds into ever smaller packages, it’s no wonder an increasing amount of engineering mindshare is focusing on cooling electronic systems. In this article, George Novacek reviews some of the essential math and science around cooling and looks are several cooling technologies—from cold pates to heat pipes.

MICROCONTROLLER PROJECTS WITH ALL THE DETAILS

MCU-Based Solution Links USB to Legacy PC I/O
In PCs, serial interfaces have now been just about completely replaced by USB. But many of those interfaces are still used in control and monitoring embedded systems. In this project article, Hossam Abdelbaki describes his ATSTAMP design. ATSTAMP is an MCS-51 (8051) compatible microcontroller chip that can be connected to the USB port of any PC via any USB-to-serial bridge currently available in the market.

Pet Collar Uses GPS and Wi-Fi
The PIC32 has proven effective for a myriad of applications, so why not a dog collar? Learn how Cornell graduates Vidya Ramesh and Vaidehi Garg built a GPS-enabled pet collar prototype. The article discusses the hardware peripherals used in the project, the setup, and the software. It also describes the motivation behind the project, and possibilities to expand the project in the future.

Guitar Video Game Uses PIC32
While music-playing video games are fun, their user interfaces tend leave a lot to be desired. Learn how Cornell students Jake Podell and Jonah Wexler designed and built a musical video game that’s interfaced with using a custom-built wireless guitar controller. The game is run on a Microchip PIC32 MCU and uses a TFT LCD display to show notes that move across the screen towards a strum region.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Non-Evasive Current Sensor
Gone are the days when you could do most of your own maintenance on your car’s engine. Today they’re sophisticated electronic systems. But there are some things you can do with the right tools. In his article, By Jeff Bachiochi talks about how using the timing light on his car engine introduced him to non-contact sensor technology. He talks about the types of probes available and how to use them to read the magnitude of alternating current (AC

Impedance Spectroscopy using the AD5933
Impedance spectroscopy is the measurement of a device’s impedance (or resistance) over a range of frequencies. Brian Millier has designed many voltammographs and conductivity meters over the years. But he recently came across the Analog Devices AD5933 chip made by which performs most all the functions needed to do impedance spectroscopy. In this article, explores the technology, circuit design and software that serve these efforts.

Side-Channel Power Analysis
Side-channel power analysis is a method of breaking security on embedded systems, and something Colin O’Flynn has covered extensively in his column. This time Colin shows how you can prove some of the fundamental assumptions that underpin side-channel power analysis. He uses the open-source ChipWhisperer project with Jupyter notebooks for easy interactive evaluation.

Low-Power Pico-ITX SBC Serves Industrial IoT Needs

Axiomtek has introduced its PICO318 board, a palm-sized fanless pico-ITX motherboard powered by the Intel Pentium processor N4200 or Celeron processor N3350 (code named Apollo Lake). The PICO318 is a low power consumption, 2.5” embedded board that is expandable, rugged, feature-rich and versatile to help facilitate quick deployment.
The PICO318 is equipped with one 204-pin DDR3L-1867 SO-DIMM for up to 8 GB system memory. A dual-display capability is available through 18/24-bit single/dual channel LVDS and DisplayPort. For storage, there are one M.2 key B slot for SATA or PCIe x2 SSD card and one half-size PCI Express Mini Card slot with support for mSATA. Moreover, the Pico-ITX form factor SBC features 12 V DC power supply input with AT Auto Power On function.

The Intel Apollo Lake-based pico-ITX board provides rich I/O connectivity including two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one RS-232/422/485 port, one RS-232 port, two Gigabit LAN ports with Intel i211AT Ethernet controller, one HD Codec audio, and 4-channel digital I/O. The PICO318 offers watchdog timer and hardware monitoring for reliable operation. It also supports AXView 2.0, intelligent remote management software for industrial IoT applications. Additionally, its I2C interface offers smart battery support. The PICO318 will be available in March, 2019.

Features:

  • Intel Pentium processor N4200 and Celeron processor N3350 (code name: Apollo Lake)
  • One 204-pin DDR3L-1867 SO-DIMM, up to 8GB
  • Two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and two COM ports
  • PCI Express Mini Card slot with mSATA support
  • Supports M.2 Key B (SATA, USB 2.0, PCIe x2 for option) in 22 mm x 42 mm or 30 mm x 42 mm

Axiomtek | www.axiomtek.com

 

February Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The February issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. We’ve raised up a bumper crop of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you, and packed ’em into our 84-page magazine.

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Here’s a sneak preview of February 2019 Circuit Cellar:

MCUs ARE EVERYWHERE, DOING EVERYTHING

Electronics for Automotive Infotainment
As automotive dashboard displays get more sophisticated, information and entertainment are merging into so-called infotainment systems. That’s driving a need for powerful MCU- and MPU-based solutions that support the connectivity, computing and interfacing needs particular to these system designs. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at the technology and trends feuling automotive infotainment.

Inductive Sensing with PSoC MCUs
Inductive sensing is shaping up to be the next big thing for touch technology. It’s suited for applications involving metal-over-touch situations in automotive, industrial and other similar systems. In his article, Nishant Mittal explores the science and technology of inductive sensing. He then describes a complete system design, along with firmware, for an inductive sensing solution based on Cypress Semiconductor’s PSoC microcontroller.

Build a Self-Correcting LED Clock
In North America, most radio-controlled clocks use WWVB’s transmissions to set the correct time. WWVB is a Colorado-based time signal radio station near. Learn how Cornell graduates Eldar Slobodyan and Jason Ben Nathan designed and built a prototype of a Digital WWVB Clock. The project’s main components include a Microchip PIC32 MCU, an external oscillator and a display.

WE’VE GOT THE POWER

Product Focus: ADCs and DACs
Analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog converters (DACs) are two of the key IC components that enable digital systems to interact with the real world. Makers of analog ICs are constantly evolving their DAC and ADC chips pushing the barriers of resolution and speeds. This new Product Focus section updates readers on this technology and provides a product album of representative ADC and DAC products.

Building a Generator Control System
Three phase electrical power is a critical technology for heavy machinery. Learn how US Coast Guard Academy students Kent Altobelli and Caleb Stewart built a physical generator set model capable of producing three phase electricity. The article steps through the power sensors, master controller and DC-DC conversion design choices they faced with this project.

EMBEDDED COMPUTING FOR YOUR SYSTEM DESIGN

Non-Standard Single Board Computers
Although standard-form factor embedded computers provide a lot of value, many applications demand that form take priority over function. That’s where non-standard boards shine. The majority of non-standard boards tend to be extremely compact, and well suited for size-constrained system designs. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in non-standard SBCs.

Thermal Management in machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to move toward center stage. But the powerful processing they require is tied to high power dissipation that results in a lot of heat to manage. In his article, Tom Gregory from 6SigmaET explores the alternatives available today with a special look at cooling Google’s Tensor Processor Unit 3.0 (TPUv3) which was designed with machine learning in mind.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 1)
Wireless mesh networks are being widely deployed in a wide variety of settings. In this article, Bob Japenga begins his series on Bluetooth mesh. He starts with defining what a mesh network is, then looks at two alternatives available to you as embedded systems designers.

Implementing Time Technology
Many embedded systems need to make use of synchronized time information. In this article, Jeff Bachiochi explores the history of time measurement and how it’s led to NTP and other modern technologies for coordinating universal date and time. Using Arduino and the Espressif System’s ESP32, Jeff then goes through the steps needed to enable your embedded system to request, retrieve and display the synchronized date and time to a display.

Infrared Sensors
Infrared sensing technology has broad application ranging from motion detection in security systems to proximity switches in consumer devices. In this article, George Novacek looks at the science, technology and circuitry of infrared sensors. He also discusses the various types of infrared sensing technologies and how to use them.

The Art of Voltage Probing
Using the right tool for the right job is a basic tenant of electronics engineering. In this article, Robert Lacoste explores one of the most common tools on an engineer’s bench: oscilloscope probes, and in particular the voltage measurement probe. He looks and the different types of voltage probes as well as the techniques to use them effectively and safely.

Tiny PLC Reference Design Serves Digital Factory Needs

Digital factories require a surprising amount of analog and power technology. Exemplifying that trend, Maxim Integrated Products offers its new programmable logic controller (PLC) reference design called Go-IO. Go-IO embeds 17 configurable I/Os in a space one-half the size of a credit card and enables productivity-enhancing self-diagnostic capabilities in automated factory subsystems. System designers are striving to bring greater intelligence into Industry 4.0 digital factory equipment while meeting the stringent size and power demands of PLCs.
Digital factories can dynamically adjust the manufacturing line on the fly based on new or changing requirements. To fully realize industrial convergence, automated equipment must also possess self-diagnostic and optimization capabilities. Go-IO pushes intelligence closer to the edge, enabling active monitoring and communication of equipment health and status information as well as higher throughput and productivity. The reference design also meets increasingly stringent size and power requirements of PLCs, providing a 10x smaller solution with 50% less power consumption compared to its predecessor, the Pocket IO.

The flexible, rugged, open-source Go-IO reference design is ideal for industrial automation, building automation and industrial robotics applications. It has 12 highly integrated ICs, 17 IOs supporting multiple digital IO configurations, a 4-channel IO-Link master to provide a universal IO interface to both analog and digital sensors, and a robust 25 Mbps isolated RS-485 communications channel that provides a reliable, multi-drop data network for uploading time-sensitive health and status information into a local data lake or the cloud.

Go-IO contains the following technologies:

  • MAX14819 low-power, dual-channel, IO-Link master transceiver with sensor/actuator power-supply controllers.
  • MAX22192 8-channel octal digital input with isolated Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI), wire break detection and accurate input current limiters in a 6 mm x 10 mm package. The MAX22192 was announced today as part of Maxim’s expanded Digital IO portfolio. (Read today’s digital input press release)
  • MAX14912 8-channel digital output driver featuring 640mA high-side switches or push-pull configurable outputs, capable of achieving 200 kHz switching rates while providing proprietary fast, safe demagnetization inductive kickback protection.
  • MAXM22511 integrated 2.5 kVRMS isolated power and digital isolated RS-485 transceiver module supporting 25 Mbps data rates with ±35 kV ESD protection in a compact 9.5 mm x 11.5 mm package. (Read the October 31, 2018 press release)
  • MAX14483/MAX14130 6-channel, 3.75 kVRMS galvanic low-power digital isolator in a compact 20-pin SSOP package/4-channel 1 kVRMS galvanic digital isolator in a small 16-pin QSOP.
  • MAXM15462 Himalaya uSLIC voltage regulator ICs and power modules for cooler, smaller and simpler industrial power supplies.

The Go-IO is available as MAXREFDES212# at Maxim’s website for $495. The reference design consists of an application processor, baseboard and the Go-IO module.

Maxim Integrated | www.maximintegrated.com

January Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

Happy New Years! The January issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. Don’t miss this 1st issue of Circuit Cellar 2019. Enjoy pages and pages of great, in-depth embedded electronics articles.

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today:

 

Here’s a sneak preview of January 2019 Circuit Cellar:

TRENDS & CHOICES IN EMBEDDED COMPUTING

Comms and Control for Drones
Consumer and commercial drones represent one of the most dynamic areas of embedded design today. Chip, board and system suppliers are offering improved ways for drones to do more processing on board the drone, while also providing solutions for implementing the control and communication subsystems in drones. This article by Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief Jeff Child looks at the technology and products available today that are advancing the capabilities of today’s drones.

Choosing an MPU/MCU for Industrial Design
By Microchip Technology’s Jacko Wilbrink
As MCU performance and functionality improve, the traditional boundaries between MCUs and microprocessor units (MPUs) have become less clear. In this article, Jacko examines the changing landscape in MPU vs. MCU capabilities, OS implications and the specifics of new SiP and SOM approaches for simplifying higher-performance computing requirements in industrial applications.

Product Focus: COM Express Boards
The COM Express architecture has found a solid and growing foothold in embedded systems. COM Express boards provide a complete computing core that can be upgraded when needed, leaving the application-specific I/O on the baseboard. This Product Focus section updates readers on this technology and provides a product album of representative COM Express products.

MICROCONTROLLERS ARE DOING EVERYTHING

Connecting USB to Simple MCUs
By Stuart Ball
Sometimes you want to connect a USB device such as a flash drive to a simple microcontroller. Problem is most MCUs cannot function as a USB host. In this article, Stuart steps through the technology and device choices that solve this challenge. He also puts the idea into action via a project that provides this functionality.

Vision System Enables Overlaid Images
By Daniel Edens and Elise Weir
In this project article, learn how these two Cornell students designed a system to overlay images from a visible light camera and an infrared camera. They use software running on a PIC32 MCU to interface the two types of cameras. The MCU does the computation to create the overlaid images, and displays them on an LCD screen.

DATA ACQUISITION AND MEASUREMENT

Data Acquisition Alternatives
By Jeff Child
While the fundamentals of data acquisition remain the same, its interfacing technology keeps evolving and changing. USB and PCI Express brought data acquisition off the rack, and onto the lab bench top. Today solutions are emerging that leverage Mini PCIe, Thunderbolt and remote web interfacing. Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, dives into the latest technology trends and product developments in data acquisition.

High-Side Current Sensing
By Jeff Bachiochi
Jeff says he likes being able to measure things—for example, being able to measure load current so he can predict how long a battery will last. With that in mind, he recently found a high-side current sensing device, Microchip’s EMC1701. In his article, Jeff takes you through the details of the device and how to make use of it in a battery-based system.

Power Analysis Capture with an MCU
By Colin O’Flynn
Low-cost microcontrollers integrate many powerful peripherals in them. You can even perform data capture directly to internal memory. In his article, Colin uses the ChipWhisperer-Nano as a case study in how you might use such features which would otherwise require external programmable logic.

TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES FOR EMBEDDED SYSTEM DESIGN

Easing into the IoT Cloud (Part 2)
By Brian Millier
In Part 1 of this article series Brian examined some of the technologies and services available today enabling you to ease into the IoT cloud. Now, in Part 2, he discusses the hardware features of the Particle IoT modules, as well as the circuitry and program code for the project. He also explores the integration of a Raspberry Pi solution with the Particle cloud infrastructure.

Hierarchical Menus for Touchscreens
By Aubrey Kagan
In his December article, Aubrey discussed his efforts to build a display subsystem and GUI for embedded use based on a Noritake touchscreen display. This time he shares how he created a menu system within the constraints of the Noritake graphical display system. He explains how he made good use of Microsoft Excel worksheets as a tool for developing the menu system.

Real Schematics (Part 2)
By George Novacek
The first part of this article series on the world of real schematics ended last month with wiring. At high frequencies PCBs suffer from the same parasitic effects as any other type of wiring. You can describe a transmission line as consisting of an infinite number of infinitesimal resistors, inductors and capacitors spread along its entire length. In this article George looks at real schematics from a transmission line perspective.

Nordic’s BLE SoC Selected for IIoT Energy Monitor Device

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that OneMeter, a Lublin, Poland-based Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) startup, has selected Nordic’s nRF51822 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its “OneMeter Beacon”, a device that provides companies with the ability to monitor and manage their energy usage data in real time.

Designed for use in a broad range of industrial and commercial environments—for example production facilities, manufacturing plants, and food service companies—the OneMeter Beacon is simply plugged in to an existing electronic electricity meter via an optical port interface, enabling the beacon to receive energy usage data from the meter using the IEC 62056-21 / IEC 1107 protocol. Once installed, the beacon is paired to a Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) Android smartphone or tablet, where from the OneMeter app the user can initialize and synchronize the beacon.

Once synchronized, the beacon reads data from the meter every 15 minutes, and stores it in the Nordic SoC’s Flash memory, from where the beacon automatically transmits the data to the user’s smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity provided by the nRF51822 SoC. From the app the user can review data from the most recent readout (including active and reactive energy consumption parameters), as well as view daily, weekly and monthly energy usage charts and more.

OneMeter Cloud provides a comprehensive platform from which a company can not only monitor its metering data, but also perform accurate energy usage cost estimation, conduct effective energy audits, avoid penalties for exceeding contracted power by defining power parameter alerts, as well as manage its photovoltaic (PV) infrastructure. Certified measurement data can be shared with energy vendors enabling invoices to be settled based on actual usage instead of forecasts. The OneMeter beacon is powered by a 3V CR2032 coin cell battery, providing up to 12 months battery life before replacement, thanks in part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the nRF51822 SoC which has been engineered to minimize power consumption.

Nordic’s nRF51822 is a multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth LE and 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless applications. The nRF51822 is built around a 32-bit Arm Cortex M0 CPU, 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, and 256kB/128kB Flash and 32kB/16kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S130 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 4.2 qualified concurrent multi-link protocol stack solution supporting simultaneous Central/Peripheral/Broadcaster/Observer role connections.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

 

Three Firms Team Up for Industrial IoT Security Effort

IAR Systems, Secure Thingz and Renesas Electronics have announced their collaboration to secure Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications. As part of this collaboration, the companies will develop new solutions that combine IAR Systems’ software development technology, Secure Thingz’ expertise in advanced IoT security, and Renesas Electronics’ secure semiconductor technologies.

Security is an inherent risk when it comes to connected devices. In the Industrial IoT, incoming threats and system vulnerabilities can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations. Therefore, embedded applications in this area require very strong features for security and reliability. To meet these requirements, Secure Thingz’ Embedded Trust, which is a security development environment that leverages the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE from IAR Systems, will support Renesas microcontrollers (MCUs) when Embedded Trust is launched to the broader market in 2019. This new hardware and software solution will enable organizations to secure their systems, intellectual property (IP) and data.

“Despite legislation and new security standards mandating greater protection, the news stories of hacking, theft and counterfeiting still persist. It is now a question of when, and not if, you will be compromised,” says Haydn Povey, CEO, Secure Thingz. “At Secure Thingz, we are collaborating with trusted industry friends to secure the connected world and inhibit these compromises. The collaboration between Secure Thingz, IAR Systems and Renesas will help organizations conquer the security challenges of today and tomorrow.”

“To really deliver on the promise of the IoT, embedded applications will need to include security from start, both in hardware and software,” says Stefan Skarin, CEO, IAR Systems. “IAR Systems’ long-standing collaboration with Renesas has resulted in a number of successful activities and solutions. Now with connected IoT devices all around us and ongoing security threats, we as suppliers need to help our customers in the best way we can. IAR Systems and Secure Thingz are working together to make superior security available for all, and we are pleased to have Renesas with us on this journey.”

“With increased connectivity come greater security risks, and the growing number of connected industrial devices requires a stronger focus on security from the early stages of chip design to protect both the silicon solution and the application from potential security issues,” says Yoshikazu Yokota, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Solution Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation. “For the past 30 years, our collaboration with IAR Systems has introduced reliable and high-performance solutions that have enabled the creation of innovative embedded designs, and with the addition of Secure Thingz moving forward, we are poised to support the next generation of Industrial IoT design with the security it needs.”

IAR Systems | www.iar.com

Secure Thingz | www.securethingz.com

Renesas Electronics | www.renesas.com

 

 

Smart Vehicles Leverage Semtech’s LoRa Technology

Semtech has announced that EasyReach Solutions, an Indian startup specializing in smart IoT solutions for industrial applications, has incorporated Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) into its industrial and smart vehicle monitoring products. EasyReach’s LoRa-enabled sensors have been developed to include electrical current testing, temperature reading and GPS capabilities. All sensors are compatible with the LoRaWAN protocol and have been verified for GPS tracking ability over eight kilometers line of sight.
According to EasyReach, the LoRa Technology allows the company to remotely monitor its equipment and vehicles in new ways and to more intelligently manage its industrial resources. Meanwhile, the flexible capabilities of the sensors allow the solution to scale to its needs. EasyReach’s LoRa-based applications for smart industry include sensors for steam traps, concrete mixers, forklifts, diesel tankers, back hoes, water meters, and trucks.

Semtech | www.semtech.com

 

December Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The December issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. Don’t miss this last issue of Circuit Cellar in 2018. Pages and pages of great, in-depth embedded electronics articles prepared for you to enjoy.

Not a Circuit Cellar subscriber?  Don’t be left out! Sign up today:

 

Here’s a sneak preview of December 2018 Circuit Cellar:

AI, FPGAs and EMBEDDED SUPERCOMPUTING

Embedded Supercomputing
Gone are the days when supercomputing levels of processing required a huge, rack-based systems in an air-conditioned room. Today, embedded processors, FPGAs and GPUs are able to do AI and machine learning kinds of operation, enable new types of local decision making in embedded systems. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at these technology and trends driving embedded supercomputing.

Convolutional Neural Networks in FPGAs
Deep learning using convolutional neural networks (CNNs) can offer a robust solution across a wide range of applications and market segments. In this article written for Microsemi, Ted Marena illustrates that, while GPUs can be used to implement CNNs, a better approach, especially in edge applications, is to use FPGAs that are aligned with the application’s specific accuracy and performance requirements as well as the available size, cost and power budget.

NOT-TO-BE-OVERLOOKED ENGINEERING ISSUES AND CHOICES

DC-DC Converters
DC-DC conversion products must juggle a lot of masters to push the limits in power density, voltage range and advanced filtering. Issues like the need to accommodate multi-voltage electronics, operate at wide temperature ranges and serve distributed system requirements all add up to some daunting design challenges. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative DC-DC converters.

Real Schematics (Part 1)
Our magazine readers know that each issue of Circuit Cellar has several circuit schematics replete with lots of resistors, capacitors, inductors and wiring. But those passive components don’t behave as expected under all circumstances. In this article, George Novacek takes a deep look at the way these components behave with respect to their operating frequency.

Do you speak JTAG?
While most engineers have heard of JTAG or have even used JTAG, there’s some interesting background and capabilities that are so well know. Robert Lacoste examines the history of JTAG and looks at clever ways to use it, for example, using a cheap JTAG probe to toggle pins on your design, or to read the status of a given I/O without writing a single line of code.

PUTTING THE INTERNET-OF-THINGS TO WORK

Industrial IoT Systems
The Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) is a segment of IoT technology where more severe conditions change the game. Rugged gateways and IIoT edge modules comprise these systems where the extreme temperatures and high vibrations of the factory floor make for a demanding environment. Here, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at key technology and product drives in the IIoT space.

Internet of Things Security (Part 6)
Continuing on with his article series on IoT security, this time Bob Japenga returns to his efforts to craft a checklist to help us create more secure IoT devices. This time he looks at developing a checklist to evaluate the threats to an IoT device.

Applying WebRTC to the IoT
Web Real-time Communications (WebRTC) is an open-source project created by Google that facilitates peer-to-peer communication directly in the web browser and through mobile applications using application programming interfaces. In her article, Callstats.io’s Allie Mellen shows how IoT device communication can be made easy by using WebRTC. With WebRTC, developers can easily enable devices to communicate securely and reliably through video, audio or data transfer.

WI-FI AND BLUETOOTH IN ACTION

IoT Door Security System Uses Wi-Fi
Learn how three Cornell students, Norman Chen, Ram Vellanki and Giacomo Di Liberto, built an Internet connected door security system that grants the user wireless monitoring and control over the system through a web and mobile application. The article discusses the interfacing of a Microchip PIC32 MCU with the Internet and the application of IoT to a door security system.

Self-Navigating Robots Use BLE
Navigating indoors is a difficult but interesting problem. Learn how these two Cornell students, Jane Du and Jacob Glueck, used Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4.0 chips to enable wheeled, mobile robots to navigate towards a stationary base station. The robot detects its proximity to the station based on the strength of the signal and moves towards what it believes to be the signal source.

IN-DEPTH PROJECT ARTICLES WITH ALL THE DETAILS

Sun Tracking Project
Most solar panel arrays are either fixed-position, or have a limited field of movement. In this project article, Jeff Bachiochi set out to tackle the challenge of a sun tracking system that can move your solar array to wherever the sun is coming from. Jeff’s project is a closed-loop system using severs, opto encoders and the Microchip PIC18 microcontroller.

Designing a Display System for Embedded Use
In this project article, Aubrey Kagan takes us through the process of developing an embedded system user interface subsystem—including everything from display selection to GUI development to MCU control. For the project he chose a 7” Noritake GT800 LCD color display and a Cypress Semiconductor PSoC5LP MCU.

Compact, Arm-based Mini-PC is Toughened up for IIoT

By Eric Brown

DFI’s Pico-ITX-based, DIN-rail mountable “EC900-FS6” mini-PC runs Linux or Android on an i.MX6 DualLite, and offers 2x GbE, 2x USB, 2x serial, mini-PCIe, and extensive ruggedization features.

A reader recently noted our excessive use of the term “rugged,” which is fair enough. In our defense, embedded gear is increasingly tolerant of wide temperature ranges, and to a lesser extent, excessive shock, vibration, and dust and water ingress. From now on, we will no longer use “rugged” to describe a system that has a wide temperature range without also offering other protections. We will, however, continue to apply it to systems like DFI’s i.MX6-based EC900-FS6 mini-PC, which is not only rugged, but quite compact at 143 mm x 96.4 mmx 34 mm.


 
EC900-FS6
(click images to enlarge)

Designed for industrial IoT (IIoT) gateways and other embedded applications, the EC900-FS6 features -20 to 60°C or -40 to 70°C support, as well as 3G, 11ms shock resistance and IEC68-2-64 (3G) compliant vibration resistance (random 5~500Hz). It also has a 10 to 90% RH (non-condensing) humidity range and provides a wide-range 9-36V DC input via a terminal block. The fanless, DIN-rail mountable system has a 15-year lifecycle guarantee.

The EC900-FS6 is built around DFI’s Pico-ITX form-factor FS053 SBC, which is equipped with a dual Cortex-A9 i.MX6 DualLite SoC clocked to 1GHz. Both the SBC and the system ship with Android 5.1 beta, as well as a stack built with Yocto Project 1.8 beta, both with Linux Kernel 3.14.52.

 
DFI FS053 (left) and detail views
(click images to enlarge)
The EC900-FS6 provides 1GB or 2GB of DDR3L, 8GB or 16GB of eMMC, 4MB NOR flash, and a microSD slot. You get dual GbE ports (Atheros AR8033-AL1B and Microchip LAN7500-ABZJ controllers), as well as dual USB 2.0 ports and internal USB 2.0 and USB OTG interfaces.


EC900-FS6 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The EC900-FS6 is further equipped with an HD-resolution HDMI port, 4-bit DIO, a UART console, and RS-485 and RS-232 interfaces deployed via 2-pole terminal blocks. A mini-PCIe slot is accompanied by dual mounting holes for WiFi antennas. Other features include a watchdog timer, a reset button, and a status LED.

Further information

The EC900-FS6 appears to be available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found in this EC900-FS6 announcement and datasheet (PDF).

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on August 29.

DFI | www.dfi.com

PICMG to Demo IIoT Development Concept at Sensors Expo

The PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG), a not-for-profit consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open specifications will have a booth at Sensors Expo (#1642) to promote its concepts for a new IIoT specification.  Live demonstrations will be performed to illustrate PICMG’s approach to connect sensor and the controller endpoints using new Internet of Things (IoT) methodologies.

Doug Sandy, CTO of PICMG, will hold a tutorial on Thursday June 28th in the Live Embedded Theater on the subject “Making Sense of Industrial IoT”.  Part of the PICMG tutorial and booth live demonstrations will be to illustrate RESTful API “put, get, delete” commands for the connected sensor/computer interaction. PICMG has a working agreement with the DMTF to utilize the well-known Redfish APIs. The new PICMG specification will intend to develop a meta-data model that encompasses a breadth of individual data models for IoT. The booth will include information on a concept for a developer’s kit geared to help legacy sensors and PLCs become “IoT enabled”. PICMG will also have details on its existing embedded market open specifications for high-performance industrial computing.

PICMG | www.picmg.org

Tiny, Rugged IoT Gateways Offer 10-Year Linux Support

By Eric Brown

Moxa has announced the UC-2100 Series of industrial IoT gateways along with its new UC 3100 and UC 5100 Series, but it offered details only on the UC-2100. All three series will offer ruggedization features, compact footprints, and on some models, 4G LTE support. They all run Moxa Industrial Linux and optional ThingsPro Gateway data acquisition software on Arm-based SoCs.

 

Moxa UC-2111 or UC-2112 (left) and UC-2101 (click image to enlarge)

Based on Debian 9 and a Linux 4.4 kernel, the new Moxa Industrial Linux (MIL) is a “high-performance, industrial-grade Linux distribution” that features a container-based virtual-machine-like middleware abstraction layer between the OS and applications,” says Moxa. Multiple isolated systems can run on a single control host “so that system integrators and engineers can easily change the behavior of an application without worrying about software compatibility,” says the company.

MIL provides 10-year long-term Linux support, and is aimed principally at industries that require long-term software, such as power, water, oil & gas, transportation and building automation industries. In December, Moxa joined the Linux Foundation’s Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) project, which is developing a 10-year SLTS Linux kernel for infrastructure industries. MIL appears to be in alignment with CIP standards.

Diagrams of ThingsPro Gateway (top) and the larger ThingsPro eco-system (bottom) (click images to enlarge)

Moxa’s ThingsPro Gateway software enables “fast integration of edge data into cloud services for large-scale IIoT deployments,” says Moxa. The software supports Modbus data acquisition, LTE connectivity, MQTT communication, and cloud client interfaces such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. C and Python APIs are also available.

 

Moxa’s UC-3100 (source: Hanser Konstruktion), and at right, the similarly Linux-driven, ThingsPro ready UC-8112 (click images to enlarge)

Although we saw no product pages on the UC-3100 and UC-5100, Hanser Konstruktion posted a short news item on the UC-3100 with a photo (above) and a few details. This larger, rugged system supports WiFi and LTE with two antenna pairs, and offers a USB port in addition to dual LAN and dual serial ports.

The new systems follow several other UC-branded IoT gateways that run Linux on Arm. The only other one to support ThingsPro is the UC-8112, a member of the UC-8100 family. This UC-8100 is similarly ruggedized, and runs Linux on a Cortex-A8 SoC.

UC-2100

The UC-2100 Series gateways runs MIL on an unnamed Cortex-A8 SoC clocked at 600MHz except for the UC-2112, which jumps to 1GHz. There are five different models, all with 9-48 VDC 3-pin terminal blocks and a maximum consumption of 4 Watts when not running cellular modules.

The five UC-2100 models have the following dimensions, weights, and maximum input currents:

  • UC-2101 — 50 x 80 x 28mm; 190 g; 200 mA
  • UC-2102 — 50 x 80 x 28mm; 190 g; 330 mA
  • UC-2104 — 57 x 80 x 30.8mm; 220 g; 800 mA
  • UC-2111 — 77 x 111 x 25.5mm; 290 g; 350 mA
  • UC-2112 — 77 x 111 x 25.5mm; 290 g; 450 mA

All five UC-2100 variants default to a -10 to 60°C operating range except for the UC-2104, which moves up to -10 to 70°C. In addition, they are all available in optional -40 to 75°C versions.

Other ruggedization features are the same, including anti-vibration protection per IEC 60068-2-64 and anti-shock per IEC 60068-2-2. A variety of safety, EMC, EMI, EMS, and hazardous environment standards are also listed.

The first three models ship with 256MB DDR3, while the UC-2111 and UC-2112 offer 512MB. These two are also the only ones to offer micro-SD slots. All five systems ship with 8GB eMMC loaded with the MIL distribution.

The UC-2100 systems vary in the number and type of their auto-sensing, 1.5 kV isolated Ethernet ports. The UC-2101 and UC-2104 each have a single 10/100Mbps port, while the UC-2102 and UC-2111 have two. The UC-2112 has one 10/100 and one 10/100/1000 port. The UC-2104 is the only model with a mini-PCIe socket for 4G or WiFi.

The UC-2111 and UC-2112 offer 2x RS-232/422/48 ports while the UC-2101 has one. It would appear that the UC-2102 and UC-2104 lack serial ports altogether except for the RS-232 console port available on all five systems.

The UC-2100 provides push buttons and dip switches, an RTC, a watchdog, and LEDs, the number of which depend on the model. A wall kit is standard, and DIN-rail mounting is optional. TPM 2.0 is also optional. A 5-year hardware warranty is standard.

Further information

The UC-2100 Series gateways appear to be available for order, with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found on Moxa’s UC-2100 product page. More information about the UC-2100, as well as the related, upcoming UC-3100 and UC-5100 Series, will be on tap at Hannover Messe 2018, April 23-27, at the Arm Booth at Hall 6, Booth A46.

Moxa | www.moxa.com

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on April 16.

Texting and IoT Embedded Devices (Part 1)

Fun with the ESP8266 SoC

Can texting be leveraged for use in IoT Wi-Fi devices? Jeff has been using Wi-Fi widgets for a lot of IoT projects lately. This month Jeff lays the groundwork for describing a project that will involve texting. He starts off with a look at Espressif System’s ESP8266EX SoC.

By Jeff Bachiochi

Believe it or not, texting while driving as of this writing is still legal in a few states. About 10% of all motor vehicles deaths in the US can be traced back to distracted drivers. Granted that includes any distraction—however cell phone distraction has quickly become a serious issue. While hazards exist for any technology, common sense should tell you this is a dangerous act.

When the technology is used correctly, texting can deliver essential information quickly—without requiring both (or many) parties to be active at the same time. This allows you to make better use of your time. I still use email for much of my correspondence, however it’s great to be able to send your spouse a text to add milk to the grocery list—after they’ve already left for the store! And even though I chuckle when I see two people sitting next to each other texting, it is a sad commentary on emerging lifestyles.

I’ve been using Wi-Fi widgets for a lot of IoT projects lately. The cost to enter the fray is low, and with free tools it’s easy to get started. This month’s article is a about a project that will involve text, even though that may not be apparent at first. Let’s start off slowly, laying the groundwork for those who have been thinking about building this kind of project. We’ll then quickly build from this foundation into crafting a useful gadget.

A Look at the ESP8266EX

The innovative team of chip-design specialists, software/firmware developers and marketers at Espressif System developed and manufactures the ESP8266EX system-on-chip (SoC). This 32-bit processor runs at 80 MHz and embeds 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi functionality—802.11 b/g/n, supporting WPA/WPA2—as well as the normal gamut of general-purpose I/O and peripherals. It has a 64 KB boot ROM, 64 KB instruction RAM and 96 KB data RAM. Their WROOM module integrates the ESP8266 with a serial EEPROM and an RF front end with a PCB antenna for a complete IoT interface.

Anyone who has ever used a dial-up modem is most likely familiar with the term AT command set. The Hayes command set is a specific command language originally developed in 1981 by Dennis Hayes for the Hayes 300 baud Smartmodem. Each command in the set begins with the letters AT+ followed by a command word used for high-level control of internal functions. For the modem these enabled tasks like dialing the phone or sending data. As an application for the WROOM, an AT command set seemed like a perfect match. This allows an embedded designer to use the device to achieve a goal without ever having to “get their hands dirty.”

This photo shows the ESP-01 and ESP-07 modules along with the FTDI 232 USB-to-serial converter used for programming either module.

I first learned of the ESP8266 years ago and purchased the ESP-01 on eBay. It was around $5 at the time (Photo 1). I used it along with the MEGA 2560—my favorite Arduino module because of its high number of I/Os and multiple hardware UARTs. With the ESP-01 connected to a serial port on an Arduino, an application could directly talk with the ESP-01 and get the Arduino connected to your LAN. From this point, the world is under your control thanks to the AT Wi-Fi and TCP commands.

The ESP8266 literature states the Wi-Fi stack only requires about 20% of the processing power. Meanwhile, 80% is still available for user application programming and development.
So why not eliminate the Arduino’s Atmel processor altogether and put your Arduino code right in the 8266? Espressif Systems has an SDK and while it provides a development and programming environment, the Arduino IDE is comfortable for many. And it offers the installation of third-party platform packages using the Boards Manager. That means you can add support for the ESP8266EX and use much of the code you’ve already written.

Using the ESP-01

Since the ESP-01 has only 8 pins, adding the necessary hardware is pretty simple. This low power device runs on 2.5 V to 3.6 V, so you must make appropriate level corrections if you wish to use it with 5 V devices like Arduino boards. …

Read the full article in the March 332 issue of Circuit Cellar

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IoT: From Device to Gateway

Modules for the Edge

Connecting to the IoT edge requires highly integrated technology, blending wireless connectivity and intelligence. Feeding those needs, a variety of IoT modules have emerged that offer pre-certified solutions that are ready to use.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

he Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most dynamic areas of embedded systems design today. Opportunities are huge as organizations large and small work to develop IoT implementations. IoT implementations are generally comprised of three main parts: the devices in the field, the cloud and the network (gateways) linking them together. This article focuses on the “things” side—in other words, the smart, connected edge devices of the IoT. For more on IoT gateways, see “IoT Gateway Advances Take Diverse Paths“ (Circuit Cellar 328, November 2017).

Because this sub-segment of technology is growing and changing so fast, it’s impossible to get a handle on everything that’s happening. The scope that comprises IoT edge devices includes a combination of embedded processors and microcontrollers that provide intelligence. It also includes various wireless, cellular and other connectivity solutions to connect to the network. And it includes sensors to collect data and battery technologies to keep the devices running.

Connecting the various nodes of an IoT implementation can involve a number of wired and wireless network technologies. But it’s rare that an IoT system can be completely hardwired end to end. Most IoT systems of any large scale depend on a variety of wireless technologies including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and even cellular networking.

What’s most interesting among all that, are not those individual pieces themselves, but rather an emerging crop of modular IoT products that combine intelligence and connectivity, while also taking on the vital certifications needed to get IoT implementations up and running. With all that in mind, the last 12 months have seen an interesting mix of module-based products aimed directly at IoT.

Certified IoT Modules

Exemplifying those trends, in September 2017, STMicroelectronics (ST)introduced the SPBTLE-1S, a ready-to-use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) module that integrates all the components needed to complete the radio subsystem (Photo 1). The BLE module integrates ST’s proven BlueNRG-1 application-processor SoC and balun, high-frequency oscillators and a chip antenna.

Photo 1
The SPBTLE-1S is a BLE module that integrates all the components needed to complete the radio subsystem. It’s BQE-approved, and FCC, IC and CE-RED certified to simplify end-product approval for North America and EU markets.

Developers can use this module to bypass hardware design and RF-circuit layout challenges. The SPBTLE-1S is BQE-approved, and FCC, IC and CE-RED (Radio Equipment Directive) certified to simplify end-product approval for North America and EU markets. ST’s Bluetooth 4.2 certified BLE protocol stack is included, and the supporting Software-Development Kit (SDK) contains a wide range of Bluetooth profiles and sample application code.

The device is packaged in a space-efficient 11.5 mm x 13.5 mm outline and has a wide supply-voltage range of 1.7 V to 3.6 V. The SPBTLE-1S module is well suited for small, battery-operated objects powered by various types of sources such as a primary button cell or rechargeable Li-ion battery. High RF output power of +5 dBm and good receiver sensitivity help to maximize communication range and reliability.

The BlueNRG-1 SoC at the heart of the SPBTLE-1S implements the complete BLE physical layer (PHY), link layer and network/application-processing engine comprising a low-power ARM Cortex-M0 core with 160 KB flash, 24 KB RAM with data retention and a security co-processor. The SoC also implements smart power management, with a DC/DC converter capable of powering the SPBTLE-1S module to ensure optimum energy efficiency. Users can leverage an extensive set of interfaces, including a UART, two I²C ports, SPI port, single-wire debug and 14 GPIOs, as well as peripherals including two multifunction timers, a 10-bit ADC, watchdog timer and real-time clock and a DMA controller. There is also a PDM stream processor interface, which is ideal for developing voice-controlled applications.

IoT Module for Development

Riding the IoT wave, all the major microcontroller vendors have beefed up their module-based IoT solutions in order to make it easier for developers to design in their MCUs. One example along those lines is the LPC54018 IoT module, developed by NXP in partnership with Embedded Artists. …

Read the full article in the March 332 issue of Circuit Cellar

Don’t miss out on upcoming issues of Circuit Cellar. Subscribe today!
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.