January Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

Happy New Years! The January issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. Don’t miss this first issue of Circuit Cellar’s 2019 year. Enjoy pages and pages of great, in-depth embedded electronics articles produced and collected for you to enjoy.

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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
As MCU performance and functionality improve, the traditional boundaries between MCUs and microprocessor units (MPUs) have become less clear. In this article, Microchip Technology’s Jacko Wilbrink 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
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 Ball 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
In this project article, learn how these Cornell students Daniel Edens and Elise Weir 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
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
Jeff Bachiochi 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
Low-cost microcontrollers integrate many powerful peripherals in them. You can even perform data capture directly to internal memory. In his article, Colin O’Flynn 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)
In Part 1 of this article series Brian Millier 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
In his December article, Aubrey Kagan 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)
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 Novacek 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

 

 

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

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

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IoT Platform Gets Thread Certification

Express Logic has announced that its Industrial Grade X-Ware IoT Platform is an official Thread Certified Product, and the only such solution from an independent RTOS provider. Created by the Thread Group, Thread is a reliable, low-power, secure, and scalable mesh networking solution that provides a foundation on which any application layer can run.

The X-Ware IoT Platform, powered by Express Logic’s high-performance ThreadX RTOS and NetX Duo dual IPv4/IPv6 TCP/IP stack, provides industrial-grade implementations of IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN), Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS).

According to Express Logic, Thread certification provides more than just protocol compliance. Rather than measuring against single reference implementations, Thread testing validates each device’s specification conformance against a blended network comprised of four reference stacks to ensure device interoperability and reduce risk and time to market. Compliance to the Thread certification protocols and standards is administered and regulated by UL a global, independent, safety and certification company with more than a century of expertise in implementing certification solutions and standards.

The X-Ware IoT Platform contains no open source, is high performance, and boasts an extremely small footprint. The X-Ware IoT Platform automatically scales to use only what is needed by the application, making it well suited for the smallest low-power IoT devices. In addition to the performance and size advantages of the X-Ware IoT Platform, ThreadX and NetX Duo have attained the highest level of safety certifications. They include IEC 61508 SIL 4, IEC 62304 Class C, ISO 26262 ASIL D, EN 50128 SW-SIL 4, UL 60730-1 Annex H, CSA E60730-1 Annex H, IEC 60730-1 Annex H, 60335-1 Annex R and IEC 60335-1 Annex R, 1998.

Thread certification will also allow developers to confidently leverage the entire X-Ware IoT Platform solution, including the safety-certified FileX, GUIX, and USBX solutions and technologies, knowing it will seamlessly connect to other Thread-certified devices.

Express Logic | www.rtos.com

Thread Group | www.threadgroup.org

Fanless SBC Targets Industrial IoT

Technologic Systems is now shipping its newest single board computer, the TS-7553-V2. The board is developed around the NXP i.MX6 UltraLite, a high performance  processor family featuring an advanced implementation of a single ARM Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to 696 MHz. While able to support a wide range of embedded applications, the TS-7553-V2 was specifically designed to target the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sector.

ts-7553-v2The TS-7553-V2 was designed with connectivity in mind. An on-board Xbee interface, capable of supporting Xbee or NimbleLink, provides a simple path to adding a variety of Wireless interfaces. An Xbee radio can be used to link in with a local 2.4GHz or sub 1 GHz mesh networks, allowing for gateway or node deployments. Either Digi or NimbleLink offer cellular radios for this socket, providing cellular connectivity for applications such as remote equipment monitoring and control. There is also the option for a cellular modem via daughter card. This allows transmission of serial data via TCP, UDP or SMS over the cellular network. The TS-7553-V2 also includes an on board WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 option, providing even more connectivity.

Further radio expansion can be accomplished with the two internal USB interfaces (one on a standard USB Type A connector, and the second on simple pin headers). The USB interfaces enable support for multiple proprietary networks via a dongle or USB connected device. This provides the opportunity to run mesh, LoRa, ZigBee, automotive WiFi or other protocols with the TS-7553-v2 . All of these radio options combined with the on board 10/100Base-T Ethernet create the opportunity to communicate seamlessly with up to 5 different networks simultaneously from a single point.

The TS-75553-V2 supports standard interfaces including:

  •     10/100 Ethernet
  •     TTL UART
  •     4 USB ports (3 host interfaces and, 1 device)
  •     3 RS-232 Serial/COM ports
  •     RS-485 port
  •     CAN bus
  •     Up to 5 GPIO

A Nine-Axis Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) motion tracking device containing a gyroscope, accelerometer and compass are optional on-board in for asset management, fleet management and other applications which would require sensing motion or vibration in the environment.

A low cost monochrome 128x64px LCD with 4 button keypad is available for Human Machine Interface (HMI) applications.  The keypad offers intuitive operation using 4 tactile function keys and the LCD is ideal for simple visualization tasks, even in harsh environments.  If HMI is not a consideration compact, lightweight, rugged enclosures are available to contain your gateway in a secure fanless enclosure. Both enclosures are DIN mountable.

Technologic Systems has taken the lead in combating read/write errors to memory that can prove fatal to Operating Systems. TS-SILO is an optional feature which will provide up to 30 seconds of reserve power in the event of a power failure. This precious extra time gives the board time to gracefully power down and ensures file system integrity. Additionally, for heavy data logging applications The TS-7553-V2 is the first SBC from Technologic Systems to include Ferroelectric RAM (FeRAM or FRAM). FeRAM advantages over flash include: lower power usage, faster write performance and a much greater maximum read/write endurance, allowing a user to keep running data logs without prematurely wearing out their flash memory. Combined these two features provide you with insurance from abrupt power loss, read/write errors and startup difficulties.

Applications with strict low power requirements will appreciate the work that’s been done to reduce power consumption to less than 2 W in typical conditions and a 9 mW sleep mode. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is supported via a daughter card, if desired.

Development can begin out-of-the-box with pre-installed Linux and utilities for controlling DIO, UARTS, CAN bus, and more. A complete board support package is provided, as well as access to our software repository and online support. Third party application support can be provided via the Technologic Systems’ Partner Network.

Technologic Systems | www.embeddedARM.com

Analog ICs Meet Industrial System Needs

Jeff Lead Image Analog Inustrial

Connectivity, Control and IIoT

Whether it’s connecting with analog sensors or driving actuators, analog ICs play many critical roles in industrial applications. Networked systems add new wrinkles to the industrial analog landscape.

By Jeff Child

While analog ICs are important in a variety of application areas, their place in the industrial market stands out. Industrial applications depend heavily on all kinds of interfacing between real-world analog signals and the digital realm of processing and control. Today’s factory environments are filled with motors to control, sensors to link with and measurements to automate. And as net-connected systems become the norm, analog chip vendors are making advances to serve the new requirements of the Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) and Smart Factories.

It’s noteworthy, for example, that Analog Devices‘ third quarter fiscal year 2017 report this summer cited the “highly diverse and profitable industrial market” as the lead engine of its broad-based year-over-year growth. Taken together, these factors all make industrial applications a significant market for analog IC vendors, and those vendors are keeping pace by rolling out diverse solutions to meet those needs.

Figure 1

Figure 1 This diagram from Texas Instruments illustrates the diverse kinds of analog sub-systems that are common in industrial systems—an industrial drive/control system in this case.

While it’s impossible to generalize about industrial systems, Figure 1 illustrates the diverse kinds of analog sub-systems that are common in industrial systems—industrial drive/control in that case. All throughout 2017, manufacturers of analog ICs have released a rich variety of chips and development solutions to meet a wide range of industrial application needs.

SOLUTIONS FOR PLCs

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) remain a staple in many industrial systems. As communications demands increase and power management gets more difficult, transceiver technologies have evolved to keep up. PLC and IO-Link gateway systems must dissipate large amounts of power depending. That amount of power is often tied to I/O configuration—IO-Link, digital I/O and/or analog I/O. As these PLCs evolve into new Industrial 4.0 smart factories, special attention must be considered to achieve smarter, faster, and lower power solutions. Exemplifying those trends, this summer Maxim Integrated announced the MAX14819, a dual-channel, IO-Link master transceiver.

The architecture of the MAX14819 dissipates 50% less heat compared to other IO-Link Master solutions and is fully compatible in all modes for IO-Link and SIO compliance. It provides robust L+ supply controllers with settable current limiting and reverse voltage/current protection to help ensure robust communications with the lowest power consumption. With just one microcontroller, the integrated framer/UART enables a scalable and cost-effective architecture while enabling very fast cycle times (up to
400 µs) and reducing latency. The MAX14819 is available in a 48-pin (7 mm x 7 mm) TQFN package and operates over a -40°C to +125°C temperature range.  …

Read the full article in the November 328 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.

Telit and Wind River Team up for IIoT Effort

Telit has announced it is collaborating with Wind River, an Intel company, to accelerate Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. Through this relationship, Telit and Wind River are reducing the complexities of IoT device management, helping companies quickly and securely realize the full solution benefits of IIoT.

Wind River is using Telit’s IoT platform technology for its device management platform. The latest release of Wind River Helix Device Cloud is making it easier for companies to Wind-River-Helix-Device-Cloud-Image-1_small1capture data on-premise or in the cloud, providing enhanced system analytics and remote device management. By allowing users to aggregate and perform computing tasks, Device Cloud helps perform informed business intelligence to protect investments, utilize infrastructure, improve processes and generate new revenue streams.

Telit’s deviceWISE platform offers a set of connectivity management, device management, data management, edge, cloud and enterprise ready-to-use connectors and services that reduce the risk and time-to-market of connecting ‘things to apps,’ by collecting, managing,and analyzing critical device data.

Telit | www.telit.com