March Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The March issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. And we’ve got a healthy serving of embedded electronics articles for you. Here’s a sneak peak.

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

TECHNOLOGY FOR THE INTERNET-OF-THINGS

IoT: From Device to Gateway
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most dynamic areas of embedded systems design today. This feature focuses on the technologies and products from edge IoT devices up to IoT gateways. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines the wireless technologies, sensors, edge devices and IoT gateway technologies at the center of this phenomenon.

Texting and IoT Embedded Devices
Texting has become a huge part of our daily lives. But can texting be leveraged for use in IoT Wi-Fi devices? Jeff Bachiochi lays the groundwork for describing a project that will involve texting. In this part, he gets into out the details for getting started with a look at Espressif System’s ESP8266EX SoC.

Exploring the ESP32’s Peripheral Blocks
What makes an embedded processor suitable as an IoT or home control device? Wi-Fi support is just part of the picture. Brian Millier has done some Wi-Fi projects using the ESP32, so here he shares his insights about the peripherals on the ESP32 and why they’re so powerful.

MICROCONTROLLERS HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE

Designing a Home Cleaning Robot (Part 4)
In this final part of his four-part article series about building a home cleaning robot, Nishant Mittal discusses the firmware part of the system and gets into the system’s actual operation. The robot is based on Cypress Semiconductor’s PSoC microcontroller.

Apartment Entry System Uses PIC32
Learn how a Cornell undergraduate built a system that enables an apartment resident to enter when keys are lost or to grant access to a guest when there’s no one home. The system consists of a microphone connected to a Microchip PIC32 MCU that controls a push solenoid to actuate the unlock button.

Posture Corrector Leverages Bluetooth
Learn how these Cornell students built a posture corrector that helps remind you to sit up straight. Using vibration and visual cues, this wearable device is paired with a phone app and makes use of Bluetooth and Microchip PIC32 technology.

INTERACTING WITH THE ANALOG WORLD

Product Focus: ADCs and DACs
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.

Stepper Motor Waveforms
Using inexpensive microcontrollers, motor drivers, stepper motors and other hardware, columnist Ed Nisley built himself a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines. In this article Ed examines how the CNC’s stepper motors perform, then pushes one well beyond its normal limits.

Measuring Acceleration
Sensors are a fundamental part of what make smart machines smart. And accelerometers are one of the most important of these. In this article, George Novacek examines the principles behind accelerometers and how the technology works.

SOFTWARE TOOLS AND PROTOTYPING

Trace and Code Coverage Tools
Today it’s not uncommon for embedded devices to have millions of lines of software code. Trace and code coverage tools have kept pace with these demands making it easier for embedded developers to analyze, debug and verify complex embedded software. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in trace and code coverage tools.

Manual Pick-n-Place Assembly Helper
Prototyping embedded systems is an important part of the development cycle. In this article, Colin O’Flynn presents an open-source tool that helps you assemble prototype devices by making the placement process even easier.

Dotdot Spec to Run on Thread’s IP Network

The Zigbee Alliance and Thread Group have announced the availability of the Dotdot specification over Thread’s IP network. This enables developers to confidently use an established, open and interoperable IoT language over a low-power wireless IP network. This is expected to help unify the fragmented connected device industry and unlock new markets.

Dotdot is the Zigbee Alliance’s universal language for the IoT, making it possible for smart objects to work together on any network. Thread is the Thread Group’s open, IPv6-based, low-power, secure and future-proof mesh networking technology for IoT products. These two organizations have come together to deliver a mature, scalable solution for IoT interoperability that isn’t confined to single-vendor ecosystems or technologies.

Dotdot-over-Thread-no-sub-01The early Internet faced the same challenges as today’s IoT. Currently, connected devices can struggle to deliver a seamless experience because they speak different languages (or in technical terms, use different “application layers”). For the internet, the industry solved this problem with open, universal protocols over IP. Dotdot’s common device language over Thread’s IP network extends this same proven approach to the Internet of Things. With Dotdot over Thread, product and platform vendors can ensure the high-quality, interoperable user experiences needed to drive growth, while IP allows vendors to maintain a direct connection to their device.

It’s important to note that Dotdot over Thread is not another new standard. Dotdot enables the open, mature, and already widely adopted application layer at the heart of Zigbee to work across Thread’s IP network. It uses the same network technology fundamental to the internet. For product managers, new standards represent risk. Dotdot and Thread are backed by global, industry-leading companies and represent two of the most robust, widely deployed, and well-supported connectivity and interoperability technologies, driving billions of products and networks already in homes and offices.

The Dotdot specification is available today to Zigbee Alliance members. Additional resources, including the Dotdot Commissioning Application, will be available in Summer 2018, along with the opening of the Dotdot Certification program from the Zigbee Alliance. Thread launched its 1.1 specification and opened its certification program in February 2017. The Zigbee Alliance and Thread Group now share a number of common authorized test service providers, and are working with them to ensure an efficient, seamless certification process for Dotdot over Thread adopters. More information on this program will be announced soon.

The Zigbee Alliance | www.zigbee.org

Thread Group | www.threadgroup.org

Automotive-Grade IoT Gateways

Eurotech has expanded its range of Multi-service IoT Gateways with the launch of the DynaGATE 10-12 and the announcement of the DynaGATE 10-06. Both systems are carrier pre-certified, with an integrated LTE Cat 1 cellular, GPS, Wi-Fi, BLE, E-Mark and SAE/J1455 certifications and a -40 ºC to +85 ºC operating temperature.

The DynaGATE 10-12 is a low-power gateway based on the TI AM335X Cortex-A8 (Sitara) processor family, with 1 GB RAM and 4 GB eMMC. It features a 6 to 36VDC power supply with transient protection and vehicle ignition sense, 2x protected RS-232/RS-485 serial ports, 2x CAN bus interfaces, 3x noise and surge protected USB ports and 4x isolated digital I/Os. The DynaGATE 10-12 is suitable for on-board applications, with a metal enclosure, high retention connectors and screw-flange terminal blocks.

The connectivity capabilities of the DynaGATE 10-12 include an internal LTE Cat 1 modem with dual Micro-SIM support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, 2x Fast Ethernet ports, and an internal GPS (optionally with Dead Reckoning) for precise geolocation.

DynaGATE 10-06.jpgThe DynaGATE 10-06 (shown) is an IP67, heavy-duty IoT gateway for Automotive applications. It features an internal battery that provides minutes of uninterrupted operation in case of power failure. Based on the NXP i.MX 6UltraLite Cortex-A7 processor, with 512MB RAM and 4GB eMMC, the DynaGATE 10-06 features a 6 to 36V power supply with protections and vehicle ignition sense, 3x protected RS-232/RS-485 serial ports, 2x CAN bus interfaces, 1x noise and surge protected USB port and 2x protected digital I/O. All these interfaces are available through a rugged AMPSEAL connector.

The DynaGATE 10-06 connectivity capabilities range from an internal LTE Cat 1 modem with dual Micro-SIM support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, to a dedicated GPS with optional Dead Reckoning and 2x Fast Ethernet ports on rugged M12 connectors.

In addition, the DynaGATE 10-12 and DynaGATE 10-06 connectivity capabilities can be expanded through the ReliaCELL 10-20 family, that includes several 2G/3G/LTE global, rugged cellular modules certified by leading carriers. The DynaGATE 10-12 is also expandable with Eurotech ReliaLORA 10-12, a LoRa LPWAN Gateway unit, and the ReliaIO 10-12, a DAQ unit that provides analog inputs, more digital I/O interfaces and other functionalities.

The DynaGATE 10-12 and the DynaGATE 10-06 come with a genuine Oracle Java SE Embedded 8 Virtual Machine and Everyware Software Framework (ESF), a commercial, enterprise version of Eclipse Kura, the Java/OSGi edge computing platform for IoT gateways. Distributed and supported by Eurotech, ESF adds advanced security, diagnostics, provisioning, remote access and full integration with Everyware Cloud (EC), the Eurotech IoT integration platform (separately available).

Eurotech | www.eurotech.com

NXP and Alibaba Cloud Team up for IoT Deal

NXP Semiconductors has announced a strategic partnership with Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing and business unit of Alibaba Group. The two companies are working together to enable development of secure smart devices for edge computing applications and have plans to further develop solutions for the IoT.

NXP_logo_RGB_webAs part of the partnership, AliOS Things, the Alibaba IoT operating system has been integrated onto NXP applications processors, microcontroller chips, and Layerscape multicore processors. Both NXP’s i.MX and Layerscape processors are currently the only embedded systems on the market using the Alibaba Cloud TEE OS platform. The new solution benefits various markets including automotive, smart retail and smart home. And it is currently being applied in applications such as automotive entertainment and infotainment systems, QR code payment scanning applications and smart home speakers.

With the partnership between NXP and Alibaba Cloud Link in the field of IoT security, NXP has become a council member of the ICA IoT Connectivity Alliance. In the future, the two companies plan to jointly develop solutions to support application development in different fields including smart manufacturing and smart city.

The ‘Annual Report of China IoT Development 2015-2016’ predicts that the amount of equipment connected to IoT globally will reach 20-50 billion by 2020, with 80 percent of that equipment in China. NXP’s robust product portfolio covers offering from the edge node to gateway and comprehensive cloud IoT solutions. NXP’s products are widely used in smart homes, smart cities, smart transportation and secure connectivity.

NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

Microsoft IoT Central Gets Public Preview

Microsoft has launched the public preview of Microsoft IoT Central. The company clains Microsoft IoT Central is the first true highly scalable IoT software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that offers built-in support for IoT best practices and world-class security. Microsoft IoT Central enables companies to build production-grade IoT applications in hours—without having to manage all the necessary back-end infrastructure or learn new skills.

14According to the company, Microsoft IoT Central takes the hassle out of creating an IoT solution by eliminating the complexities of initial setup as well as the management burden and operational overhead of a typical IoT project. That means users can bring their connected product vision to life faster while staying focused on their customers and products. The complete IoT solution lets users seamlessly scale from a few to millions of connected devices as IoT needs grow. Moreover, it removes guesswork thanks to simple and comprehensive pricing that makes it easier to plan IoT investments.

On the security front, Microsoft IoT Central leverages privacy standards and technologies to help ensure data is only accessible to the right people in an organization. With IoT privacy features such as role-based access and integration with Azure Active Directory permissions, users stay in control of their information. In the coming months, Microsoft IoT Central will also be able to integrate with customers’ existing business systems—such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP and Salesforce.

Microsoft is also announcing the availability of Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service. Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service enables zero-touch device provisioning and configuration of millions of devices to Azure IoT Hub in a secure and scalable manner. Device Provisioning Service adds important capabilities that, together with Azure IoT Hub device management, help customers easily manage all stages of the IoT device lifecycle.

For a deeper look into the features of Microsoft IoT Central, go to its new website.

Mircosoft | www.microsoft.com

IoTSF Updates IoT Security Compliance Framework

The Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) announced today that it has updated its industry leading IoT Security Compliance Framework to Release 1.1. The Framework was created by security practitioners and aimed at product developers, manufacturers and supply chain managers. This release details 204 controls across 14 themes that businesses can use to ensure their consumer category products are IoT ready. A companion questionnaire is also supplied and provides a simple mechanism for documenting requirement responses.

Compliance-Framework-and-Questionnaire-1-1-1-400x400IoTSF also extended its best practice guidance for connected consumer products to include logging and software update policy as part of its review. The framework, questionnaire and best practice guidelines are available to download for free from the IoTSF website. Users are also invited to use the Best Practice User Mark to inform their public that they observe security best practices in their organizations.

Richard Marshall, IoTSF Executive Steering Board member, said “since we published the first version of the Framework it has been downloaded, used and referenced by a wide number of stakeholders. These updates build on the first release and further strengthen the security mechanisms that organizations need to provide. We’ve also added a companion questionnaire to assist businesses in their security risk assessments. As IoT covers a vast number of use cases, the Framework is written in a manner that makes it extensible, and we will add categories beyond its consumer based origins in future releases.”

John Moor, IoTSF Managing Director also commented that “the era of IoT is characterized by hyper-connectivity and software defined products. Ensuring fit for purpose security is recognized as a wicked challenge which requires many stakeholders, and more than technical solutions alone. We are encouraging all organizations that provide or use IoT-class technology to be proactive, and think about their duty of care to their customers and wider society. We’re here to help in that endeavor, and we’re delighted to announce these updates to our publications today. Further, we encourage industry to provide feedback so that we can ensure they are easy to use and stay relevant in the fast-paced world of connected and digital technology.”

The publications can be downloaded direct from the IoTSF website: www.iotsecurityfoundation.org/best-practice-guidelines

Internet of Things Security Foundation | www.iotsecurityfoundation.org

IoT Tool Suite Supports Bluetooth 5

Rigado has announced its Edge Connectivity Suite with full support for Bluetooth 5. Designed for large-scale commercial IoT deployments, Rigado’s Edge Connectivity solution is comprised of Bluetooth 5 end-device modules and the Vesta IoT Gateway, which includes cloud-based tools for secure deployment and updating.

The Edge Connectivity Suite actively addresses a growing need for low-power wireless within commercial IoT applications like asset tracking, smart lighting and connected retail and hospitality. The company’s Bluetooth 5-enabled solutions support the flexibility, interoperability and security demands of large-scale commercial IoT deployments. Moreover, the suite addresses the market need for Edge Computing at scale, paving a secure and cost-effective road for data from device-to-cloud.

Specifically designed for companies who need to develop, deploy and manage a large number of connected devices and gateways, the Rigado Edge Connectivity Suite provides seamless integration between IoT devices and the Cloud. It includes:

  • BMD-340 angleCertified end device modules – Rigado modules (see photo) save connected product teams six months and $200K+ in design, test and certification. Fully Bluetooth 5 enabled, Rigado modules also feature mesh networking capabilities, ideal for applications like smart lighting, asset tracking, and connected retail.
  • Edge computing gateways – Rigado Vesta gateways manage connectivity to end devices and ensure data reaches public and private cloud services. They also support custom edge applications to process data and offer local device control. Flexible wireless options and customizability mean that companies can optimize their gateway for cost-effective enterprise deployment.
  • Cloud-based tools for secure deployment and updating– Companies require a scalable solution to securely manage updates to devices in the field. With that in mind, every Rigado gateway ships with Rigado’s provisioning and release management system that integrates with existing development tools for secure updating at scale.

Rigado | www.rigado.com

A Year in the Drone Age

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

When you’re trying to keep tabs on any young, fast-growing technology, it’s tempting to say “this is the big year” for that technology. Problem is that odds are the following year could be just as significant. Such is the case with commercial drones. Drone technology fascinates me partly because it represents one of the clearest examples of an application that wouldn’t exist without today’s level of chip integration driven by Moore’s law. That integration has enabled 4k HD video capture, image stabilization, new levels of autonomy and even highly compact supercomputing to fly aboard today’s commercial and consumer drones.

Beyond the technology side, drones make for a rich topic of discussion because of the many safety, privacy and regulatory issues surrounding them. And then there are the wide-open questions on what new applications will drones be used for?

For its part, the Federal Aviation Administration has had its hands full this year regarding drones. In the spring, for example, the FAA completed its fifth and final field evaluation of potential drone detection systems at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The evaluation was the latest in a series of detection system evaluations that began in February 2016 at several airports. For the DFW test, the FAA teamed with Gryphon Sensors as its industry partner. The company’s drone detection technologies include radar, radio frequency and electro-optical systems. The FAA intends to use the information gathered during these kinds of evaluations to craft performance standards for any drone detection technology that may be deployed in or around U.S. airports.

In early summer, the FAA set up a new Aviation Rulemaking Committee tasked to help the agency create standards for remotely identifying and tracking unmanned aircraft during operations. The rulemaking committee will examine what technology is available or needs to be created to identify and track unmanned aircraft in flight.

This year as also saw vivid examples of the transformative role drones are playing. A perfect example was the role drones played in August during the flooding in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. In his keynote speech at this year’s InterDrone show, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta described how drones made an incredible impact. “After the floodwaters had inundated homes, businesses, roadways and industries, a wide variety of agencies sought FAA authorization to fly drones in airspace covered by Temporary Flight Restrictions,” said Huerta. “We recognized that we needed to move fast—faster than we have ever moved before. In most cases, we were able to approve individual operations within minutes of receiving a request.”

Huerta went on to described some of the ways drones were used. A railroad company used drones to survey damage to a rail line that cuts through Houston. Oil and energy companies flew drones to spot damage to their flooded infrastructure. Drones helped a fire department and county emergency management officials check for damage to roads, bridges, underpasses and water treatment plants that could require immediate repair. Meanwhile, cell tower companies flew them to assess damage to their towers and associated ground equipment and insurance companies began assessing damage to neighborhoods. In many of those situations, drones were able to conduct low-level operations more efficiently—and more safely—than could have been done with manned aircraft.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country,” said Huerta. “And I believe the drone industry itself deserves a lot of credit for enabling this to happen. That’s because the pace of innovation in the drone industry is like nothing we have seen before. If people can dream up a new use for drones, they’re transforming it into reality.”

Clearly, it’s been significant year for drone technology. And I’m excited for Circuit Cellar to go deeper with our drone embedded technology coverage in 2018. But I don’t think I’ll dare say that “this was the big year” for drones. I have a feeling it’s just one of many to come.

This appears in the December (329) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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Hop on the Moving Train

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

We work pretty far in advance to get Circuit Cellar produced and in your hands on-time and at the level of quality you expect and deserve. Given that timing, as we go to press on this issue we’re getting into the early days of fall. In my 27 years in the technology magazine business, this part of the year has always included time set aside to finalize next year’s editorial calendar. The process for me over years has run the gamut from elaborate multi-day summer meetings to small one-on-one conversations with a handful of staff. But in every case, the purpose has never been only about choosing the monthly section topics. It’s also a deeper and broader discussion about “directions.” By that I mean the direction embedded systems technologies are going in—and how it’s impacting you our readers. Because these technologies change so rapidly, getting a handle on it is a bit like jumping onto a moving train.

A well thought out editorial calendar helps us plan out and select which article topics are most important—for both staff-written and contributed articles. And because we want to include all of the most insightful, in-depth stories we can, we will continue to include a mix of feature articles beyond the monthly calendar topics. Beyond its role for article planning, a magazine’s editorial calendar also makes a statement on what the magazine’s priorities are in terms of technology, application segments and product areas. In our case, it speaks to the kind of magazine that Circuit Cellar is—and what it isn’t.

An awareness of what types of product areas are critical to today’s developers is important. But because Circuit Cellar is not just a generic product magazine, we’re always looking at how various chips, boards and software solutions fit together in a systems context. This applies to our technology trend features as well as our detailed project-based articles that explore a microcontroller-based design in all its interesting detail. On the other hand, Circuit Cellar isn’t an academic style technical journal that’s divorced from any discussion of commercial products. In contrast, we embrace the commercial world enthusiastically. The deluge of new chip, board and software products often help inspire engineers to take a new direction in their system designs. New products serve as key milestones illustrating where technology is trending and at what rate of change.

Part of the discussion—for 2018 especially—is looking at how the definition of a “system” is changing. Driven by Moore’s Law, chip integration has shifted the level of system functionally at the IC, board and box level. We see an FPGA, SoC or microcontroller of today doing what used to require a whole embedded board. In turn, embedded boards can do what once required a box full of slot-card boards. Meanwhile, the high-speed interconnects between those new “system” blocks constantly have to keep those processing elements fed. The new levels of compute density, functionality and networking available today are opening up new options for embedded applications. Highly integrated FPGAs, comprehensive software development tools, high-speed fabric interconnects and turnkey box-level systems are just a few of the players in this story of embedded system evolution.

Finally, one of the most important new realities in embedded design is the emergence of intelligent systems. Using this term in a fairly broad sense, it’s basically now easier than ever to apply high-levels of embedded intelligence into any device or system. In some cases, this means adding a 32-bit MCU to an application that never used such technology. At the other extreme are full supercomputing-level AI technologies installed in a small drone or a vehicle. Such systems can meet immense throughput and processing requirements in space-constrained applications handling huge amounts of real-time incoming data. And at both those extremes, there’s connectivity to cloud-based computing analytics that exemplifies the cutting edge of the IoT. In fact, the IoT phenomenon is so important and opportunity rich that we plan to hit it from a variety of angles in 2018.

Those are the kinds of technology discussions that informed our creation of Circuit Cellar’s 2018 Ed Cal. Available now on www.circuitcellar.com, the structure of the calendar has been expanded for 2018 to ensure we cover all the critical embedded technology topics important to today’s engineering professional. Technology changes rapidly, so we invite you to hop on this moving train and ride along with us.

This appears in the November (328) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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November Circuit Cellar: A Sneak Preview

The November issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is coming soon. Want a sneak peak? We’ve got a great section of excellent embedded electronics articles for you.

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

Here’s a sneak preview of November Circuit Cellar:

TECHNOLOGY IN A CONNECTED WORLD

IoT Gateway Advances Take Diverse Paths: Flexible Networked Solutions
The Internet-of-Things (IoT) phenomenon offers huge opportunities. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores how IoT gateways play a vital role in those systems by providing Nov 328 coverbidirectional communication between the devices in the field and the cloud.

Power Analysis Attack on RSA: Asymmetric Adventures
Colin O’Flynn has done a number of great columns about cryptography—in particular symmetric cryptography. This time he’s tackling an asymmetric algorithm: a RSA implementation. Colin describes what’s unique about an RSA cryptosystem and takes us through a power analysis attack.

FOCUS ON ANALOG

Analog Solutions Fuel Industrial System Needs: Connectivity, Control and IIoT
Whether it’s connecting with analog sensors or driving actuators, analog ICs play many critical roles in industrial applications. Here, Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines the latest analog technologies and products serving the needs of today’s industrial systems.

Using Power Audio Amplifiers in Untypical Ways (Part 2): More Alternative Uses
In Part 1 Petre Petrov described many interesting ways to use power audio amplifiers (PAAs) as universal building blocks similar to the op amps and comparators. Here, he discusses several more things that can be built from PAAs including wave generators and transformer drivers.

SPOTLIGHT ON MONITORING AND TESTING

Gas Monitoring and Sensing (Part 2): Putting the Sensor to Work
Columnist Jeff Bachiochi continues his exploration of gas monitoring and sensing. This time he discusses some of the inexpensive sensors available that can be applied to this application. Jeff then tackles the factors to consider when calibrating these sensors and how to use them effectively.

Logger Device Tracks Amp Hours (Part 2): Alternative Energy Sources
n this follow on to Part 1 of his story, William Wachsmann describes putting to use the amp-hour logger he built using a microcontroller and a clamp-on ammeter. This time he discusses modifying the amp-hour software so it can be used as an analog input logger to measure solar and wind power.

Negative Feedback in Electronics: A Look at the Opposite Side
Complementing his discussion last month on positive feedback, columnist George Novacek now takes a look at negative feedback. Just like positive feedback, negative feedback can significantly change or modify a circuit’s performance.

LF Quartz Resonator Tester: A Stimulating Discussion
Ed Nisley returns to the rich topic of low-frequency quartz resonators. This time he describes a tester built with an ordinary Arduino Nano and an assortment of inexpensive RF modules.

INTERESTING EMBEDDED PROJECTS

Simulating a Hammond Tonewheel Organ (Part 1) Mimicking a Mechanical Marvel
Hammond tonewheel organs were based upon additive sine-wave synthesis. Because of that, it’s possible to simulate the organ using a microcontroller program that feeds its output waveform to a DAC. Brian Millier takes on this project, making use of an ARM-based Teensy module to do the heavy lifting.

Machine Auto-Sorts Resistors: MCUs, Measurement and Motor Control
Typical electronics lab benches become littered with resistors from past projects. These three Cornell University graduates tackled this problem by building a resistor sorting system. It enables users to input multiple resistors, measure their resistance and sort them. The project integrates motor controllers, resistance measurement and a graphical user interface.

Embedded Analytics Firm Makes ‘Self-Aware Chip’ Push

UltraSoC has announced a significant global expansion to address the increasing demand for more sophisticated, ‘self-aware’ silicon chips in a range of electronic products, from lightweight sensors to the server farms that power the Internet. The company’s growth plans are centering on shifts in applications such as server optimization, the IoT, and UltraSoC_EmbeddedAnalyticsautomotive safety and security, all of which demand significant improvements in the intelligence embedded inside chips.

UltraSoC’s semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) simplifies development and provides valuable embedded analytic features for designers of SoCs (systems on chip). UltraSoC has developed its technology—originally designed as a chip development tool to help developers make better products—to now fulfill much wider, pressing needs in an array of applications: safety and security in the automotive industry, where the move towards autonomous vehicles is creating unprecedented change and risk; optimization in big data applications, from Internet search to data centers; and security for the Internet of Things.

These developments will be accelerated by the addition of a new facility in Bristol, UK, which will be home to an engineering and innovation team headed by Marcin Hlond, newly appointed as Director of System Engineering. Hlond will oversee UltraSoC’s embedded analytics and visualization products, and lead product development and innovation. He has over two decades of experience as system architect and developer, most recently at Blu Wireless, NVidia and Icera. He will focus on fulfilling customers’ needs for more capable analytics and rich information to enable more efficient development of SoCs, and to enhance the reliability and security of a broad range of electronic products. At the same time, the company will continue to expand engineering headcount at its headquarters in Cambridge, UK.

UltraSoC | www.ultrasoc.com

Fresenius Taps Eurotech Gear for Medical IoT Project

Eurotech announced that Fresenius Medical Care has chosen Eurotech’s IoT Gateways, IoT device middleware ESF and integration platform Everyware Cloud as the hardware and software building blocks for their IoT project to connect globally deployed medical everyware_server_M2M_clouddevices. Given the confidentiality agreements in force, no further financial details were disclosed. Fresenius Medical Care and Eurotech have been collaborating closely to integrate Eurotech’s IoT technologies with both Fresenius Medical Cares’ products on the field and Fresenius Medical Cares’ software applications on the IT side, with the goal of zero changes on both the products and the applications.

According to  Eurotech, the successful result is a solution that enables, in a very secure and effective way, to carry out technical services of Fresenius Medical Care medical devices installed in dialysis clinics worldwide. The challenges associated with the global deployment and servicing of intelligent medical devices are manifold and require the highest levels of flexibility when it comes to the software at the edge. A IoT architecture for distributed medical devices has to offer solid end-to-end security and has to provide local processing capabilities to enable functionality like access to technical data of medical devices and their configuration management. This is achieved by leveraging both ESF andEveryware Cloud in combination with Eurotech’s ReliaGATE Multi-service IoT Gateway.

The IoT device application framework ESF (Everyware Software Framework), speeds up the development and deployment of the specific application or business logic on the IoT edge device. ESF is a commercial, enterprise-ready edition of Eclipse Kura, the popular open source Java/ OSGi middleware for IoT multi-service gateways and smart devices.

Everyware Cloud, the IoT/M2M integration platform interfaces easily with existing enterprise IT infrastructures, offering simple access through standard APIs to real-time and historical data from devices. In addition, this IoT Integration Platform also enables effective remote device management as well as the device life cycle features that ensure a smooth deployment and management of these devices in the field. This IoT/M2M integration platform is also available for on-premises and private cloud deployment.

Eurotech | www.eurotech.com

Declaration of Embedded Independence

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

There’s no doubt that we’re living in an exciting era for embedded systems developers. Readers like you that design and develop embedded systems no longer have to compromise. Most of you probably remember when the processor or microcontroller you chose dictated both the development tools and embedded operating system (OS) you had to use. Today more than ever, there are all kinds of resources available to help you develop prototypes—everything from tools to chips to information resources on-line. There’s inexpensive computing modules available aimed at makers and DIY experts that are also useful for professional engineers working on high-volume end products.

The embedded operating systems market is one particular area where customers no longer have to compromise. That wasn’t always the case. Most people identify the late 90s with the dot.com bubble … and that bubble bursting. But closer to our industry was the embedded Linux start-up bubble. The embedded operating systems market began to see numerous start-ups appearing as “embedded Linux” companies. Since Linux is a free, open-source OS, these companies didn’t sell Linux, but rather provided services to help customers create and support implementations of open-source Linux. But, as often happens with disruptive technology, the establishment then pushed back. The establishment in that case were the commercial “non-open” embedded OS vendors. I recall a lot of great spirited debates at the time—both in print and live during panel discussions at industry trade shows—arguing for and against the very idea of embedded Linux. For my part, I can’t help remembering, having both written some of those articles and having sat on those panels myself.

Coinciding with the dot-com bubble bursting, the embedded Linux bubble burst as well. That’s not to say that embedded Linux lost any luster. It continued its upward rise, and remains an incredibly important technology today. Case in point: The Android OS is based on the Linux kernel. What burst was the bubble of embedded Linux start-up companies, from which only a handful of firms survived. What’s interesting is that all the major embedded OS companies shifted to a “let’s not beat them, let’s join them” approach to Linux. In other words, they now provide support for users to develop systems that use Linux alongside their commercial embedded operating systems.

The freedom not to have to compromise in your choices of tools, OSes and systems architectures—all that is a positive evolution for embedded system developers like you. But in my opinion, I think it’s possible to misinterpret the user-centric model and perhaps declare victory too soon. When you’re developing an embedded system aimed at a professional, commercial application, not everything can be done in DIY mode. There’s value in having the support of sophisticated technology vendors to help you develop and integrate your system. Today’s embedded systems routinely use millions of lines of code, and in most systems these days software running on a processor is what provides most of the functionality. If you develop that software in-house, you need high quality tools to makes sure it’s running error free. And if you out-source some of that embedded software, you have to be sure the vendor of that embedded software is providing a product you can rely on.

The situation is similar on the embedded board-level computing side. Yes, there’s a huge crop of low-cost embedded computer modules available to purchase these days. But not all embedded computing modules are created equal. If you’re developing a system with a long shelf life, what happens when the DRAMs, processors or I/O chips go end-of-life? Is it your problem? Or does the board vendor take on that burden? Have the boards been tested for vibration or temperature so that they can be used in the environment your application requires? You have to weigh the costs versus the kinds of support a vendor provides.

All in all, the trend toward a ”no compromises” situation for embedded systems developers is a huge win. But when you get beyond the DIY project level of development, it’s important to keep in mind that the vendor-customer relationship is still a critical part of the system design process. With all that in mind, it’s cool that we can today make a declaration of independence for embedded systems technology. But I’d rather think of it as a declaration of interdependence.

This appears in the October (327) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine

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CENTRI Demos Chip-to-Cloud IoT Security on ST MCUs

CENTRI has announced compatibility of its IoTAS platform with the STMicroelectronics STM32 microcontroller family based on ARM Cortex-M processor cores. CENTRI successfully completed and demonstrated two proofs of concept on the STM32 platform DJDTab0VoAAB_sKto protect all application data in motion from chipset to public Cloud using CENTRI IoTAS. CENTRI Internet of Things Advanced Security (IoTAS) for secure communications was used in an application on an STM32L476RC device with connected server applications running on both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Clouds. The proofs of concept used wireless connections to showcase the real-world applicability of IoT device communications in the field and to highlight the value of IoTAS compression and encryption.

IoTAS uses hardware-based ID to establish secure device authentication on the initial connection. The solution features patented single-pass data encryption and optimization to ensure maximum security while providing optimal efficiency and speed of data transmissions. The small footprint of IoTAS combined with the flexibility and compute power of the STM32 platform with seamless interoperability into the world’s most popular Cloud services provides device makers a complete, secure chip-to-Cloud IoT platform. CENTRI demonstrated IoTAS capabilities at the ST Developers Conference, September 6, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

Don’t Wait for IoT Standards

Input Voltage

–Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

JeffHeadShot

I’ll admit it. When the phrase “Internet-of-Things” started to gain momentum some years ago, I was pretty dismissive of it. In the world of embedded systems technology that I’ve been covering for decades, the idea of network-connected embedded devices was far from new. At that point, I’d seen numerous catch phrases come and go—few of them ever sticking around. Fast forward to today, and boy was my skepticism misplaced! Market analysts vary in how they slice up the IoT market, but the general thinking puts the gowth range at several trillion dollars by the year 2020. IoT cuts across several market areas with industrial, transportation, smart homes and energy segments growing fastest. Even when you exclude PCs, phones, servers and tablets—concentrating on embedded devices using processors, microcontrollers, connectivity and high-level operating systems—we’re still talking billions of units.

Now that I’m sold that the hype around IoT is justified, I’m intrigued with this question: What specific IoT standards and protocols are really necessary to get started building an IoT implementation? From my point of view, I think there’s perhaps been too much hesitation on that score. I think there’s a false perception among some that joining the IoT game is some future possibility—a possibility waiting for standards.

Over the past couple years, major players like Google, GE, Qualcomm and others have scrambled to come up with standards suited for broad and narrow types of IoT devices. And those efforts have all helped move IoT forward. But in reality, all the pieces—from sensors to connectivity standards to gateway technologies to cloud infrastructures—all exist today. Businesses and organizations can move forward today to build highly efficient and scalable IoT infrastructures. They can make use of the key connectivity technologies that are usable today, rather than get too caught up with “future” thinking based on nascent industry standards.

In terms of the basic connectivity technologies for IoT, the industry is rich with choices. It’s actually rather rare that an IoT system can be completely hardwired end-to-end. As a result, most IoT systems of any large scale depend on a variety of wireless technologies including everything from device-level technologies to Wi-Fi to cellular networking. At the device-level, the ISM 802.15.4 is a popular standard for low power kinds of gear. 802.15.4 is the basis for established industrial network schemes like ZigBee, and can be used with protocols like 6LoWPAN to add higher layer functions using IP technology. Where power is less of a constraint, the standard Wi-Fi 802.11 is also a good method of IoT activity—whether leveraging off of existing Wi-Fi infrastructures or just using Wi-Fi hubs and routers in a purpose-built network implementation.

Another attractive IoT edge connectivity technology is Bluetooth LE (low energy) or BLE. While it was created for applications in healthcare, fitness, security and home entertainment, Bluetooth LE offers connectivity for any low power device. It’s especially useful in devices that need to operate for more than a year without recharging. If cellular networks make sense as a part of your IoT architecture, virtual networking platforms are available via all the major carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

IoT is definitely having an impact in the microcontroller-based embedded design space that’s at the heart of Circuit Cellar’s coverage. Not to overstate the matter, IoT systems today make up less than a tenth of the microcontroller application market. MCUs are used in a myriad of non-IoT systems. But, according to market research done by IHS in 2015, IoT is growing at a rate of 11% in the MCU space, while the overall MCU market is expected to grow at just 4% through 2019.

IoT requires the integration of edge technologies where data is created, connectivity technologies that move and share data using Internet and related technologies and then finally aggregating data where it can be processed by applications using Cloud-based gateways and servers. While that sounds complex, all the building blocks to implement such IoT installations are not future technologies. They are simply an integration of hardware, software and service elements that are readily available today. In the spirit of Circuit Cellar’s tag line “Inspiring the Evolution of Embedded Design,” get inspired and start building your IoT system today.

This appears in the September (326) issue of Circuit Cellar magazine