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.

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.

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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
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.

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.

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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.

Industrial Micro ATX Motherboard Features Rich I/O

Axiomtek has announcedthe MMB501, its newest Micro ATX motherboard powered by the LGA1151 socket 7th/6th generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3, Pentium and Celeron processors (formally codename: Kaby Lake/Skylake) with Intel Q170 chipset. The MMB501 supports four high bandwidth 288-pin DDR4-2133/1866 with a memory capacity up to 64 GB. The industrial-grade micro ATX motherboard is expandable with one PCIe x16 slot, two PCIe x4 slots, one PCI slot and one full-size PCI Express Mini Card slot. Moreover, the embedded board supports triple-display via DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D and VGA interfaces. The MMB501 is well-suited for advanced communication, gaming, entertainment, POS/kiosk, surveillance, many more applications related to industrial automation.

To meet the distinct needs from users, there are six SATA-600 with RAID 0/1/5/10, six USB 3.0, five USB 2.0, four RS-232 ports, two RS-232/422/485 ports, one DisplayPort, one DVI-D, one HDMI and one VGA, as well as has two Gigabit Ethernet ports with Intel i219LM and Intel i211AT controllers. To ensure stable and reliable operation, the high performance Intel Core-based industrial micro ATX motherboard supports a watchdog timer and hardware monitoring features. Furthermore, this new embedded board runs well with Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems.

Features:

  • LGA1151 socket 7th/6th gen Intel Core i7/i5/i3, Pentium & Celeron processor (Kaby Lake/Skylake)
  • Four 288-pin DDR4-2133/1866 DIMM up to 64GB
  • DisplayPort, VGA, DVI-D and HDMI with triple-view supported
  • 6 SATA-600 with RAID 0/1/5/10
  • 6 USB 3.0 and 5 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4 RS-232 and 2 RS-232/422/485 ports

Axiomtek | www.axiomtek.com

DC-DC Converters Gear Up for Industrial and Rail Applications

Murata has launched its latest encapsulated DC-DC converters, designed specifically for use in industrial and railway applications. The 150 W IRH series from Murata Power Solutions provides market-leading power conversion efficiency, in an industry-standard half-brick pinout, using the latest component and packaging technologies in a fixed-frequency switching power supply architecture.

Murata’s 150 W IRH series converter modules have been designed and tested to meet the requirements of EN50155. To improve thermal management, the IRH series is available with standard and flanged baseplate options, and with DOSA or alternate industry standard pinout options. The modules’ encapsulated circuit design makes them shock- and vibration-tolerant, with lower EMI and improved thermal performance. With these features, the IRH series from Murata Power Solutions offers the user flexibility and reliability in design implementation.

The IRH series provide a wide 3:1 VIN range of 57.6V to 160 VDC that meet the requirements of the EN50155 standard for railway applications for a nominal Vin of 96 VDC and 110 VDC, including brownout and transient conditions. Standard features include on/off logic control and protection against short circuits, overvoltage and over-temperature. The IRH topology supports a pre-biased output at start-up, eliminating the reverse currents during system start and shutdown that can damage critical circuitry.

The IRH DC-DC converters are designed for demanding applications in the industrial, railway, power – grid and transportation industries. Within these industries, specific applications include, networking equipment for mobile platforms, intermediate bus applications, smart grid communications equipment, lighting, fan trays, industrial and test equipment, and other applications requiring a regulated 5 VDC, 12 VDC or 24 VDC source.

The galvanically isolated DC-DC converter modules provide reinforced input to output isolation with a withstand voltage of 3 kVRMS. Modules with outputs of 5 VDC at 30 A, 12 VDC at 12.5 A and 24 VDC at 6.25 A are available, each able to deliver up to 150 Watts of power. The modules efficiency ratings of 91% at 5 VOUT, 89.5% at 12 VOUT and 89% at 24 VOUT put them at the top of the industry for efficiency ratings. To accompany the modules an Evaluation Board is also available to allow users to test the parameters and specifications of the module either internally or externally to the application.

Murata Power Solutions | www.murata-ps.com

Edge Platform Provides Machine Condition Monitoring Solution

ADLINK Technology has announced the release of its new MCM-100 machine condition monitoring edge platform, highlighting continuous 24/7 data collection and vibration measurement with maximized precision and sampling rates for rotating machinery and equipment. Integrating data collection, vibration analysis algorithms, computation and network connection tasking in a single system, the MCM-100 enables rotating machinery, tooling, and plant and automation equipment operators to easily overcome challenges inherent in conventional equipment maintenance.

According to the company, this intelligent machine monitoring solution replaces conventional manual inspection methods, providing 24/7 online monitoring and failure prediction, accurate control of machine status and responsive maintenance in real time.

The ultra-compact MCM-100 features high 24-bit resolution (compared with conventional 12-bit to 16-bit solutions) and captures high-frequency signals at a very high 128 kS/s, dramatically improving on conventional solutions’ 20 kS/s or less, delivering significantly more vibration data for analysis. Benefiting from high performance Intel Atom x7-E3950 processors, the MCM-100 provides edge-based data acquisition, domain algorithm, data analytics, machine status conversion, usage trends, alarms, and more. In addition, a LAN port and optional wireless Wi-Fi module support enable seamless data connectivity.

ADLINK’s MCM-100 all-in-one design simplifies setup, with a minimal footprint enabling quick and easy installation in proximity to equipment, reducing wiring costs and effort, while integrated function and rugged construction guarantee the MCM-100 full operability in harsh industrial environments. Features include built-in IEPE 2 mA excitation current source on each channel requiring no additional signal conditioning, and the included accelerometer attaches magnetically, allowing easy relocation to any test point, avoiding the cost and effort of non-adjustable tapping meters.

ADLINK Technology | www.adlinktech.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.