FREE Sample Issue – Oct. 2017

 

We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a 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.

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

Inside This Issue:
Emulating Legacy Interfaces
Do it with Microcontrollers
By Wolfgang Matthes

OctP18
Building a Retro TV Remote
PIC MCU-Based Design
By Dev Gualtieri
Building a Robot Hand
With Servos and Electromyography
By Michael Haidar, Jason Hwang and Srikrishnaa VadivelLogger Device Tracks Amp Hours (Part 1)
Measuring Home Electricity
By William Wachsmann

OctP38
Commercial Drone Design Solutions Take Flight

Chips, Boards and Platforms
By Jeff Child

Design for Manufacturing: Does It Have to be so Difficult?
An interview with Scott N. Miller and Thos Niles
By Wisse Hettinga

Signal Chain Tech Pushes Bandwidth Barriers
ADCs, FPGAs and DACs
By Jeff Child

Embedded in Thin Slices
Build an Embedded Systems Consulting Company (Part 6)
Trade-Offs of Fixed-Price Contracts
By Bob JapengaThe Consummate Engineer
In the Loop on Positive Feedback
New Value in an Old Concept
By George Novacek

OctP56

The Darker Side
Antenna Performance Measurement Made Easy
Covering the Basics
By Robert Lacoste
From the Bench
Gas Monitoring and Sensing (Part 1)
Fun with Fragrant Analysis
By Jeff BachiochiTECH THE FUTURE
The Future of PCB Design

Racing to Keep Pace With PCB Complexities
By Duane Benson

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Commercial Drone Design Solutions Take Flight

Chips, Boards and Platforms

The control, camera and communications electronics inside today’s commercial drones have to pack in an ambitious amount of functionality while keeping size, weight and power as low as possible.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

There aren’t many areas of embedded systems these days that are as dynamic and fast-growing as commercial drones. Drones represent a vivid example of a technology that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the ever-increasing levels of chip integration driven by Moore’s law. Drones are riding that wave, enabling an amazing rate of change so that 4k HD video capture, image stabilization, new levels of autonomy and even highly integrated supercomputing is now possible on drones.

 

The Intel Aero Ready to Fly Drone is a pre-assembled quadcopter built for professional drone application developers. The platform features a board running an Intel 2.56 GHz quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8750 processor.

The Intel Aero Ready to Fly Drone is a pre-assembled quadcopter built for professional drone application developers. The platform features a board running an Intel 2.56 GHz quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8750 processor.

To get a sense of the rapid growth of drone use, just consider drones from the point of view of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Integrating commercial drones into the FAA’s mission has been a huge effort over the past couple years. To paraphrase Michael P. Huerta, Administrator of the FAA, there are over 320,000 registered manned aircraft today and it took 100 years to reach that number. In contrast, only nine months after the FAA put its drone registration process in place, there were more than 550,000 registered users—comprised of both hobbyists and commercial drone users.

Electronics for Drones

Today’s commercial/civilian drone technologies are advancing faster than most people could have imagined only a couple years ago. And drone designs will continue to reap the benefits of advances in processor / chip technologies, sensor innovations and tools that make them easier to create. Feeding those needs, chip and board vendors of all sizes have been rolling out solutions to help drone system developers create new drone products and get to market quickly. Among these vendors are large players like Intel and Qualcomm–along with a whole host of specialized technology suppliers offering video ICs, single-chip cameras and a variety of sensor solutions all aimed at drone platforms. ….

We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a 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.
Don’t miss out on upcoming issues of Circuit Cellar. Subscribe today!

 

U-blox Modules Demo on T-Mobile’s NB-IoT Network

U‑blox featured a live Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1) demo at MWC Americas in San Francisco, featuring SARA‑R410M‑02B, a configurable LTE Cat M1/NB1 multi‑mode module with worldwide coverage. NB‑IoT is a highly efficient type of spectrum and the globally preferred standard due to benefits like cost savings, extended battery life SARA-R410Mand the ability to support a large number of connected devices.

U‑blox has partnered with Bluvision, a provider of highly scalable end‑to‑end IoT platforms, to display Cold Chain Temperature Monitoring and Condition Monitoring using Bluvision’s BluCell. BluCell, a narrowband gateway that uses Bluetooth to wirelessly monitor hundreds of beacons, each measuring temperature, vibration analysis, door openings, location and movement. BluCell is connected via the U‑blox SARA‑R410M‑02B to T‑Mobile’s network, expected to be the first NB‑IoT network in North America. The module is expected to be certified and available in early 2018 for T‑Mobile’s NB‑IoT network, which is expected to launch nationwide in mid‑2018.

For the demo, Bluvision’s BEEKs beacons with sensors for temperature, vibration, magnetic fields and ambient light were attached to a cooler. The beacons transmited telemetry data, which includes real‑time and historical temperature log for the cooler and the vibration data from the compressor motor in the cooler, to the Bluzone cloud solution.

SARA‑R410M is a configurable LTE Cat M1/NB1 multi‑mode module with worldwide coverage. Measuring just 16 x 26 mm, it offers both LTE Cat M1 and Cat NB1 in a single hardware package, as well as software‑based configurability for all deployed global bands. It provides enormous efficiencies in logistics and SKU management. Customers can easily respond to changes in business or market conditions, since supported frequencies and operator configuration decisions can now be made at “zero hour” or even later in the field.

U-blox | www.u-blox.com

Category 11 LTE Supported on Full Mini PCIe Card

Telit has announced the LM940, a global Full PCI Express Mini Card (mPCIe) module for supporting LTE Advanced Category 11 (Cat 11) with speeds of up to 600 Mbps, available with various mobile network operator approvals in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to Telit it is the only enabling technology in an mPCIe form factor to support Cat 11 with the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. The card gives system designers additional bandwidth and near instant network response times to serve applications like high definition video streaming for digital signage. The Snapdragon X12 LTE modem with LTE Advanced Telit urltechnologies provides peak download speeds of 600 Mbps.

The LM940 iallows OEMs to immediately leverage the 3x carrier aggregation and the higher order modulation of the 256 QAM capabilities currently available amongst most mobile operator networks. Combined with an exceptional power efficiency platform, the card is well suited to enable commercial and enterprise applications in the router industry, such as branch office connectivity, LTE failover, digital signage, kiosks, pop-up stores, vehicle routers, construction sites and more.

Telit | www.telit.com

Keysight and Sequans Team for IoT Deployment Test Offering

Keysight Technologies has announced an agreement with Sequans Communications whereby Keysight will use Sequans’ Monarch LTE for IoT chip platform to provide support for NB-IoT and LTE-M customers using Keysight’s E7515A UXM wireless test set (shown). The integration assures customers that they have their test needs covered for IoT deployments and are in compliance with 3GPP standards. Keysight and Sequans are developing products and solutions that are tailored for the IoT ecosystem and the companies are now working closely together to accelerate the deployment of IoT technologies in the industry.

4c1602a54580fcd6baf3a1c31521e39a

The combined solution addresses users’ deployment test needs and ensures compliance with 3GPP standards. Keysight’s UXM Wireless Test Set integrated with Sequans’ Monarch LTE for IoT platform supports testing needs of NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) and enhanced Machine-Type Communication (eMTC) Cat-M1 customers. Keysight is testing for 3GPP RF/RRM compliance for NB-IoT and Cat-M1 using the Sequans Monarch chip.

Keysight Technologies | www.keysight.com

Sequans Communications | www.sequans.com

Tiny Module Combines LTE Cat M1 and Cat NB1 for IoT Applications

u-blox has announced the SARA-R410M-02B, a configurable LTE Cat M1/NB1 multi-mode module with worldwide coverage. According to u-blox, it is the industry’s smallest module available in the market today to offer both LTE Cat M1 and Cat NB1 in a single hardware package. Measuring just 16 mm x 26 mm, the until provides software-based configurability for all deployed bands. The SARA-R410M-02B multi-mode global module supports ultra-low power consumption and cost-optimized solutions making it ideal for the development of LPWA IoT applications.

uBlox SARA-R410M

SARA-R410M-02B lets IoT system developers use a single hardware version globally. This provides enormous efficiencies in logistics and SKU management. Developers can easily respond to changes in business or market conditions, since supported frequencies and operator configuration decisions can now be made at “zero hour” or even later in the field. The flexibility extends further with the ability to select modes dynamically between Cat M1and Cat NB1 as either single or preferred connection.

Critical firmware updates can be delivered with u‑blox proprietary uFOTA (firmware over the air) client/server solution that uses LWM2M, a light and compact protocol that is ideal for IoT applications. This enables customers to continue using the same hardware for future enhancements to features, functionalities or operator certifications, making it well‑suited for crucial applications running on devices that may be deployed in the field over long periods of time.

Another benefit of SARA‑R410M‑02B is the hardware readiness for future support of voice functionality via VoLTE over Cat M1, which can be used for applications requiring a level of human interaction, as is the case for security applications such as alarm panels.  Thanks to u‑blox nested design, migration to SARA‑R4 Series from other u‑blox 2G, 3G and 4G modules is made easy.

Low Power Consumption and Extended range

SARA‑R410M‑02B provides an extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C, and supports Power Save Mode (PSM) and Extended Discontinuous Reception (e‑DRX), which can extend battery lifetime up to 10 years. 3GPP Coverage Enhancement permits the module’s connectivity to reach deeper into buildings and basements, and even underground when compared to other air interface technologies such as GSM or Cat 1.

The SARA‑R4 Series covers applications in many areas, such as gas / water / electricity metering, city street lighting, building automation, HVAC, industrial monitoring and control, telematics, insurance, asset & vehicle tracking, security systems, alarm panels, outpatient monitoring and many consumer wearables. Product samples are available on request.

u-blox | www.u-blox.com

4G LTE Maker Modem for M2M Apps

The TOBY-L2 a u-blox LTE module has been embedded in the first 4G LTE Maker Modem by M2M Circuits. Designed for the MakerSpace, the 4G Maker Modem enables direct cellular connection to microcontrollers and SBCs for M2M applications. In addition to offering high-speed TCP/IP over the LTE network for higher data-rate M2M applications and broader coverage, the Maker Modem is also set up for SMS and communication via text messages. Due to its open-source API, you can use your favorite SBCs and microcontrollers. The modem also includes a built-in antenna system and two data-port connections (USB connection and two-wire serial interface for low-power microcontrollers).UB035 MakerModem

The Maker Modem is looking to be certified in the US. For more information, check out the Kickstarter video.

Source: u-blox

Eight-Core 64-bit Processor for Mobile Devices

MediaTek has announced the MT6795, which the company is targeting at the high-end Android 4G smartphones and tablet segment. According to the press release, the eight-core processor also supports 2560 × 1600 resolution displays, FDD/TDD LTE technology, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Radio, and 2G and 3G wireless networks.mediatek

The chip also supports video recording and playback at Ultra HD (4K2K) resolution using the H.265, H.264 and VP9 formats, supporting high-speed 1080p video recording at up to 480 frames per second allowing slow-motion playback on screens with 120 Hz refresh. An integrated 16-MP camera image signal processor handles video input and MediaTek’s ClearMotion technology eliminates motion jitter to ensure smooth video playback at 60fps.

The MT6795 uses eight ARM Cortex-A53 processors, based on a 28-nm process that clocks at 2.0 GHz and a Mali-T760 GPU to handle display control. MediaTek also supplies its CorePilot technology, which provides multicore processor performance and thermal control of the chip. The MT6795 also supports dual-channel LPDDR3 memory at 933 MHz.

According to MediaTek, we can expect to see 4G smartphones using MT7695 chips before the end of  2014.

[Via Elektor]

 

Small Plug-In Embedded Cellular Modem

Skywire plug-in modem

Skywire plug-in modem

The Skywire is a small plug-in embedded cellular modem. It uses a standard XBee form factor and 1xRTT CDMA operating mode to help developers minimize hardware and network costs. Its U.FL port ensures antenna flexibility.

The Skywire modem features a Telit CE910-DUAL wireless module and is available with bundled CDMA 1xRTT data plans from leading carriers, enabling developers to add fully compliant cellular connectivity without applying for certification. Future versions of the Skywire will support GSM and LTE. Skywire is smaller than many other embedded solutions and simple to deploy due to its bundled carrier service plans.

Skywire is available with a complete development kit that includes the cellular modem, a baseboard, an antenna, a power supply, debug cables, and a cellular service plan. The Skywire baseboard is an Arduino shield, which enables direct connection to an Arduino microcontroller.

Skywire modems cost $129 individually and $99 for 1,000-unit quantities. A complete development kit including the modem costs $262.

NimbeLink, LLC
www.nimbelink.com

Multiband 4G LTE-Only Modules

The TOBY-L1 series is u-blox’s latest line of ultra-compact long-term evolution (LTE) modules. The TOBY-L100 and its European version, the TOBY-L110, are suitable for tablets, mobile routers, set-top boxes, and high-speed machine-to-machine (M2M) applications (e.g., digital signage, mobile health, and security systems).

Compared with multi-mode modules, LTE-only modules offer cost advantages. Therefore, the TOBY-L1 works well in networks with advanced LTE deployment applications.

The LTE modules are available in two versions: the TOBY-L100 for the US (bands 4 and 13 for Verizon) and the TOBY-L110 for Europe (bands 3, 7, and 20 for EU operators). Contained in a compact 152-pin LGA module, the TOBY-L1 series is layout-compatible with u-blox’s SARA Global System for Mobile (GSM) and LISA Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/Code Division Multiple Access (UMTS/CDMA) module series to facilitate easy product migration and low-cost regional end-device adaptation.

The TOBY-L1 modules are based on u-blox’s LTE protocol stack. The modules support smooth migration between 2G, 3G, and 4G technologies and feature small packaging and comprehensive support tools. The TOBY-L1 LGA modules measure 2.8 mm × 24.8 mm × 35.6 mm, which enables them to easily mount on any application board.

The modules support USB 2.0 and firmware update over the air (FOTA) technology. The TOBY-L1 series delivers ultra-fast data rates and operates from –40°C to 85°C. USB drivers for Windows XP and 7 plus Radio Interface Layer (RIL) software for Android 4.0 and 4.2 are available free of charge.

Contact u-blox for pricing.

u-blox
www.u-blox.com