New Scalable Biometric Sensor Platform for Wearables and the IoT

Valencell and STMicroelectronics recently launched a new development kit for biometric wearables. Featuring STMicro’s compact SensorTile turnkey multi-sensor module and Valencell’s Benchmark biometric sensor system, the platform offers designers a scalable solution for designers building biometric hearables and wearables.

The SensorTile IoT module’s specs and features:

  • 13.5 mm × 13.5 mm
  • STM32L4 microcontroller
  • Bluetooth Low Energy chipset
  • a wide spectrum of MEMS sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure, and temperature sensor)
  • Digital MEMS microphone

Valencell’s Benchmark sensor system’s specs and features:

  • PerformTek processor communicates with host processor using a simple UART or I2C interface protocol
  • Acquires heart rate, VO2, and calorie data
  • Standard flex connector interface

Source: Valencell

Mini Multi-Sensor Module for Wearables & IoT Designs

STMicroelectronics’s miniature SensorTile sensor board of its type comprises an MEMS accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure sensor, and a MEMS microphone. With the on-board low-power STM32L4 microcontroller, the SensorTile can be used as a sensing and connectivity hub for developing products ranging from wearables to Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The 13.5 mm × 13.5 mm SensorTile features a Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) transceiver including an onboard miniature single-chip balun, as well as a broad set of system interfaces that support use as a sensor-fusion hub or as a platform for firmware development. You can plug it into a host board. At power-up, it immediately starts streaming inertial, audio, and environmental data to STMicro’s BlueMS free smartphone app.

Software development is simple with an API based on the STM32Cube Hardware Abstraction Layer and middleware components, including the STM32 Open Development Environment. It’s fully compatible with the Open Software eXpansion Libraries (Open.MEMS, Open.RF, and Open.AUDIO), as well as numerous third-party embedded sensing and voice-processing projects. Example programs are available (e.g., software for position sensing, activity recognition, and low-power voice communication).

The complete kit includes a cradle board, which carries the 13.5 mm × 13.5 mm SensorTile core system in standalone or hub mode and can be used as a reference design. This compact yet fully loaded board contains a humidity and temperature sensor, a micro-SD card socket, as well as a lithium-polymer battery (LiPo) charger. The pack also contains a LiPo rechargeable battery and a plastic case that provides a convenient housing for the cradle, SensorTile, and battery combination.

SensorTile kit’s main features, specs, and benefits:

  • Cradle/expansion board with an analog audio output, a micro-USB connector, and an Arduino-like interface that can be plugged into any STM32 Nucleo board to expand developers’ options for system and software development.
  • Programming cable
  • LSM6DSM 3-D accelerometer and 3-D gyroscope
  • LSM303AGR 3-D magnetometer and 3-D accelerometer
  • LPS22HB pressure sensor/barometer
  • MP34DT04 digital MEMS microphone
  • STM32L476 microcontroller
  • BlueNRG-MS network processor with integrated 2.4-GHz radio

Source: STMicroelectronics

STMicroelectronics Certifies Cryptographic Library for STM32 MCUs

STMicroelectronics has successfully certified its cryptographic library for STM32 microcontrollers as per the US Cryptographic Algorithm Validation Program (CAVP). An extension to the STM32Cube software package, the X-CUBE-CRYPTOLIB library is well suited for secure STM32-based applications, such as IoT devices, point-of-sale terminals, and smart meters.

The STM32 cryptographic library includes all the major security algorithms for encryption, hashing, message authentication, and digital signing. This enables you to meet application requirements for any combination of data integrity, confidentiality, identification/authentication, and non-repudiation. The library includes firmware and hardware-acceleration functions for some STM32 families.

There are examples for each algorithm and template projects for popular development tools such as Keil MDK-ARM, IAR Embedded Workbench EWARM, and GCC-based IDEs (e.g., Ac6 SW4STM32 and Atollic TrueSTUDIO).

The approved algorithms are AES (validation number 3971), RSA (2036), ECDSA (874), SHS (3275), DRBG (1165) and HMAC (2589). Full details are available online at the NIST CSRC Algorithm Validation Lists webpage. X-CUBE-CRYPTOLIB contains many further algorithms, including DES, TripleDES, MD5, ECC with key generation, ChaCha20, Poly1305, Curve25519 and others.

The X-CUBE-CRYPTOLIB for STM32 is available free of charge under the terms of STMicro’s Software License Agreement (SLA0048).

Source: STMicroelectronics

Upcoming Webinar: Design Tips to Optimize Stepper Motor Designs

STMicroelectronics will run 1-hour webinar on May 19 for designers interested  in optimizing stepper motor control designs. You’ll receive an overview of STMicro’s Integrated Driver ICs for stepper motors with specific focus on the digital motion engine approach, an innovative architecture to ease the design and control of motors with high-level SPI commands.

You will learn how the digital motion engine core enables users to select motion profiles with acceleration, deceleration, speed, or target position via an SPI and a dedicated register set. You’ll also learn how to distinguish between various stepper motor driver product features along with their advantages/disadvantages. Experts will also provide tips for testing and improving various system-level characteristics.


  • 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM CDT
    • Introduction, review agenda
    • Digital motion engine advantages and benefits
    • Tips for selecting the right digital motion engine driver
    • Tools from STMicroelectronics for getting started on your next design
  • 12:45 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
    • Q&A session

Click here for more information and to register.

Source: STMicroelectronics

Ultra-Energy-Efficient ARM Cortex-M0+ STM32L0 Microcontrollers

STMicroelectronics recently announced volume production of its ultra-energy-efficient ARM Cortex-M0+ STM32L0 microcontrollers, which are well suited for applications including wearables, medical monitors, industrial sensors, and smart-living devices. Three new product lines are:

  • STM32L0x1 Access Line
  • STM32L0x2 USB Line with crystal-less USB2.0 Full Speed
  • HMI-ready STM32L0x3 USB/LCD Line

The memory densities range from  8- to 192-KB flash memory, up to 20-KB SRAM, and up to 6-KB true EEPROM. The devices’ energy-saving features include:

  • Low-power ADC that draws only 41 µA at 12-bit resolution and 10 kilosamples per second
  • Energy-saving modes including 340-nA Stop with full RAM retention and auto wake-up
  • Low-power pulse counter (16-bit timer) that remains available in ultra-low power mode
  • 3.5-µs wake-up from Stop
  • An interconnect matrix allows data handling to continue while the CPU is idle

Software development is supported by STM32CubeMX and the STM32CubeL0 middleware and firmware suite. The former’s initialization code generator and MCU configurator has easy-to-use wizards, including a power-consumption calculator. STM32CubeL0 includes a Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) that simplifies porting to other devices within the pin- and code-compatible STM32 family. STM32Snippets provides optimized code samples. STM32Cube provides over 200 free code examples. All STM32Cube tools are available free of charge, as are the ST-Link debugger and the DfuSe and Flash Loader tools that simplify using and testing the ROM bootloader.

Pricing for the STM32L0 series starts at $0.37 for the STM32L011 with 8-KB flash memory, 2-KB SRAM, and 512 bytes of true EEPROM for high-volume orders.

Source: STMicroelectronics

STMicroclectronics Offers Free Dev Tools to Linux Users

STMicroelectronics now offers free high-productivity tools to Linux users interested in working with STM32 microcontrollers. The STM32CubeMX configurator and initialization tool and the System Workbench for STM32—which is an IDE created by Ac6 Tools and supported by the community—are now both available to run on Linux OS. Thus, Linux users can work on embedded projects with STM32 devices without leaving their favorite desktop environment.

System Workbench for STM32 supports the ST-LINK/V2 debugging tool under Linux through an adapted version of the OpenOCD community project. You can use the tools STMicro hardware such as STM32 Nucleo boards, Discovery kits, and Evaluation boards, as well as microcontroller firmware within the STM32Cube embedded-software packages or Standard Peripheral Library.

Source: STMicroelectronics

New Digital Power Amplifiers for Car Audio

STMicroelectronics recently announced its second-generation digital audio amplifiers with internal 24-bit DAC conversion. The FDA801 and FDA801B four-channel class-D components are intended to simplify system design and lower cost for car-radio suppliers. Offering 40% power savings compared to standard class-D amplifiers, the new FDA801 and FDA801B four-channel class-D amplifiers with digital input convert the digital audio source directly into high-quality, cabin-filling sound. The digital input gives immunity to GSM noise, improves sound quality, saves component costs, and simplifies system design.STMicro - DFDA801

STMicro’s new power amplifiers combine superior audio quality and increased energy efficiency, as well as the unique real-time measurement of speaker impedance via the Digital Impedance Meter (FDA801B). The amplifiers are rated with 115-dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and 110-dB dynamic range. The simplified digital input eliminates external DAC and external decoupling capacitor. The built-in Digital Impedance Meter (DIM, in FDA801B) automatically recognizes the connected speaker’s magnitude and phase and communicates it by digital bus (I2C). The FDA801 and FDA801B are now available in the LQFP64 Exposed Pad Up package.

Source: STMicroelectronics

STMicro’s New Advanced 32-Bit Secure Microcontroller

STMicroelectronics has introduced the first member of the third generation of its ST33 series of secure microcontrollers based on the 32-bit ARM SecurCore SC300 processor. The ST33J2M0, which provides 2-MB flash program memory, is intended for secure applications including embedded Secure Element (eSE), Single Wire Protocol (SWP) SIMs for NFC applications, and embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC). The secure microcontroller includes the highest performance and integrated crypto-accelerators that together with the industry’s fastest clock speed in a secure microcontroller enable the highest performance for fast application execution. It also features a new hardware architecture with strong and multiple fault-protection mechanisms covering the CPU, memories, and buses to facilitate the development of highly secure software.s.

The ST33J2M0 features multiple hardware accelerators for advanced cryptographic functions. The EDES peripheral provides a secure Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm implementation, while the NESCRYPT crypto-processor efficiently supports the public key algorithm. The AES peripheral ensures secure and fast AES algorithm implementation.

ST33J2M0 samples are available as wafers or housed in VQFN and WLCSP packages.

STM32 Family Enabled for the ARM mbed IoT Device Platform

STMicroelectronics has announced that the STM32 family of ARM Cortex-M based microcontrollers is now enabled for the ARM mbed IoT Device Platform with the latest public version of the ARM mbed OS. The mbed platform adds a standard OS, cloud services, and development tools for creating new IoT applications.

By adding mbed to its handy design ecosystem, STMicro is encouraging more productivity and collaboration in IoT development. Using the mbed OS with STM32 development hardware enables you to innovate while reducing your product’s time to market. You can easily incorporate STM32 microcontrollers with STMicro’s sensor and power-management products to deploy “smart,” secure IoT designs.

Source: STMicroelectronics

New Power Supply Chip Attacks “Vampire Power”

STMicroelectronics recently announced a new power supply chip intended to minimize “vampire power.” Meeting the international specification for zero standby power, the new chip offers an intelligent way of of managing the wake-up function in appliances, industrial, and lighting equipment.

STmicro’s new VIPer0P IC helps reduce wasted power and CO2 emissions by enabling effective zero-power standby in appliances. With its patented smart-management capability, the VIPer0P enables an appliance to be woken up from standby via a touchscreen or remote control. In addition, the IC consumes less than 5 mW in idle mode (at 230-VAC supply).

An off-line power-converter IC, VIPer0P—which can be configured as a flyback, buck, or buck-boost switched-mode power supply (SMPS)—is the latest member of STMicro’s VIPerPlus series. Additional features include integrated high-voltage startup circuitry, error amplifier with 1.2-V reference and separate ground for direct feedback connection, and a sense-FET for energy-efficient current sensing. These simplify design and minimize external components thereby saving bill-of-materials costs and board space. In addition, VIPer0P’s self-supply design simplifies transformer selection by eliminating any need for an auxiliary winding.

Source: STMicroelectronics

STMicro Introduces STM32F7 MCUs with Advanced ARM Cortex-M7 Core

STMicroelectronics has begun producing microcontrollers with the new ARM Cortex-M7 processor, which is the newest Cortex-M core for advanced consumer, industrial, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. The new STM32F7 microcontrollers combine the Cortex-M7 core with advanced peripherals. STMicro_STM32_Volume_Disc_Kit

The STM32F7 Discovery Kit includes the STM32Cube firmware library along with support from software-development tool partners and the ARM mbed online community. The $49 Discovery Kit includes a WQVGA touchscreen color display, stereo audio, multi-sensor support, security, and high-speed connectivity. In addition to an integrated ST-Link debugger/programmer (you don’t need a separate probe), you get unlimited expansion capability via the Arduino Uno connectivity support and immediate access to a wide variety of specialized add-on boards.

STM32F7 devices are available in a range of package options from a 14 mm × 14 mm LQFP100 to 28 mm × 28 mm LQFP208, plus 10 mm × 10 mm 0.65-mm-pitch UFBGA176, 13 mm × 13 mm 0.8 mm-pitch TFBGA216, and 5.9 mm × 4.6 mm WLCSP143. Prices start at $6.73 for the STM32F745VE in 100-pin LQFP with 512-KB on-chip flash memory (in 1,000-unit orders).

The STM32F7 development ecosystem includes both the Discovery Kit and two evaluation boards (STM32746G-EVAL2 and STM32756G-EVAL2) that cost $560 each. The STM32F7 Discovery Kit (STM32F746G-DISCO) gives full flexibility to fine-tune hardware and software at any time. You also benefit from the associated STM32CubeF7 firmware, and the ability to re-use all STM32F4 software assets due to code compatibility.

Source: STMicroelectronics

New STM32 Micrcontrollers in Small Memory Sizes

STMicroelectronics’s new STM32F446 microcontrollers feature ARM Cortex-M4 based processing combined with 256- or 512-KB on-chip flash memory options. In addition to using STMicro’s ART Accelerator, the microcontrollers feature smart architecture, advanced flash technology, and an embedded ARM Cortex-M4 core to achieve a performance of 225 DMIPS and 608 CoreMark at 180 MHz executing from embedded flash.

Source: STMicroelectronics

Source: STMicroelectronics

Key features include:

  • At 180 MHz, the STM32F446 delivers 225 DMIPS/608 CoreMark performance executing from flash memory with 0-wait states. The DSP instructions and the floating-point unit expand the range of addressable applications.
  • Using a 90-nm process, the current consumption in Run mode and executing from flash memory is as low as 200 µA/MHz at 180 MHz. In Stop mode, the power consumption is 50 µA typical.
  • Two dedicated audio PLL, SPDIF input, three half-duplex I²S, and two serial audio interfaces (SAI) supporting full-duplex I²S as well as time division multiplex (TDM) mode.
  • Up to 20 communication interfaces (including 4x USARTs plus 2x UARTs running at up to 11.25 Mbps, 4x SPI running at up to 45 Mbps, 3x I²C with a new optional digital filter capability, 2x CAN, SDIO, HDMI CEC and camera interface)
  • Two 12-bit DACs, three 12-bit ADCs reaching 2.4 MSPS or 7.2 MSPS in interleaved mode up to 17 timers: 16- and 32-bit running at up to 180 MHz
  • Easily extendable memory range using the flexible 90-MHz memory controller with a 32-bit parallel interface, and supporting Compact Flash, SRAM, PSRAM, NOR, NAND and SDRAM memories
  • Cost-effective NOR flash extension with the 90-MHz Dual quadSPI interface supporting memory-mapped mode
  • STM32F446 samples are now available for lead customers. Volume production is scheduled for Q1 2015 in packages from a tiny WLCSP81 measuring 3.728 × 3.85 mm to a 20 × 20 mm LQFP144 with 256- or 512-KB flash memory, all with 128-KB SRAM. Pricing starts at $3.75 for the STM32F446RC in a 64-pin LQFP64 package with 256-KB flash memory and 128-KB SRAM for orders of 10,000 units.

Source: STMicroelectronics

STMicro Reduces Time to Development with Open.MEMS Licensing

STMicroelectronics recently announced the launch of the Open.MEMS licensing program. Its purpose is to encourage broad use of its MEMS and sensors among open-community developers. Open.MEMS licensees can access free drivers, middleware, and application software, beginning with “sensor fusion for 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, and 3-axis magnetometer, considered vital for many portable and wearable applications.”

STMicro’s STM32 Open Development platform supports Open.MEMS, which went live on November 11, 2014, and will continue to be expanded regularly with additional low-level drivers, middleware/libraries, and application-layer code.


DIY Network-Ready Polyphonic Music Controller

Hans Peter Portner’s Chimaera project is a touch-less, expressive, network-ready, polyphonic music controller released as open source hardware. It is a mixed analog/digital offspring of the Theremin. An array of analog, linear Hall effect sensors make up a continuous 2-D interaction space. The sensors are excited with Neodymium magnets worn on fingers.

Portner's Chimaera project

Portner’s Chimaera project

The device continuously tracks and interpolates position and vicinity of multiple present magnets along the sensor array to produce corresponding low-latency event signals. Those are encoded as Open Sound Control bundles and transmitted via UDP/TCP to a software synthesizer. The DSP unit is a mixed-signal board and handles sensor read out, event detection and host communication. It is based on an ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller in combination with WIZnet W5500 chip, which takes care of all low-level networking protocols via UDP/TCP.

First Prize — Chimaera: The Poly-Magneto-Phonic Theremin, Hans Peter Portner (Switzerland)

The poly-magneto-phonic Theremin

In his project write-up, Portner explains:

With its touch-less control (no friction), high update rates (2-4 kHz), its quasi-continuous spatial resolution and its low-latency (<1 ms), the Chimaera can react to most subtle motions instantaneously and allows for a highly dynamic and expressive play. Its open source design additionally gives the user all possibilities to further tune hardware and firmware to his or her needs. The Chimaera is network-oriented and configured with and communicated by Open Sound Control, which makes it straight-forward to integrate into any setup.

The hardware of the Chimaera consists of two types of printed circuit boards and an enclosure. Multiple sensor units are daisy-chained to form the sensor array and connected to a single digital signal processing (DSP) unit.

Sensor unit

Sensor unit

A single sensor unit consists of 16 linear hall-effect sensors spaced 5mm apart and routed to a single output through a 16:1 multiplexer which is switched by the DSP unit. Downstream the multiplexer, the analog signal runs through an amplification circuitry.

A modular hardware design consisting of identical sensor units and a single DSP unit embedded in a wooden case allows building devices with array sizes of 16-160 sensors.
A modular hardware design consisting of identical sensor units and a single DSP unit embedded in a wooden case allows building devices with array sizes of 16-160 sensors.

The DSP unit is a mixed-signal board and handles sensor read out, event detection and host communication. It is based on an STM32F303Cx ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller in combination with WIZnet W5500, a hardwired 100Mbit IPv4/PHY chip taking care of all low-level networking protocols via UDP/TCP. The board’s analog part features 10 analog inputs providing connection points for the sensor units, leading to a maximally possible array of 160 sensors. Those analog inputs connect directly to three in parallel running 12bit analog-to-digital converters.

Schematic of the DSP unit (STM32F303Cx part)

Schematic of the DSP unit (STM32F303Cx part)

Networking technology in a zero configuration setup has advantages in respect to long-distance transmission, operating system independence and inherent ability for network performances. We thus use the Open Sound Control (OSC) specification via UDP/TCP as low-level communication layer.

Schematic of the DSP unit (WIZnet W5500 part)

Schematic of the DSP unit (WIZnet W5500 part)

Portner’s project won First Prize in the WIZnet Connect the Magic 2014 Design Challenge. The entire project and its associated files are now available.

Q&A: Electrical Engineer & FPGA Enthusiast

Chris Zeh is a San Jose, CA-based hardware design engineer who enjoys working with FPGA development boards, application-specific integrated circuits, and logic analyzers. He recently told us about the projects he is involved with at STMicroelectronics and explained what he’s working on in his free time.

CIRCUIT CELLAR: Tell us about Why and when did you decide to start a blog?

ZehCHRIS: I started blogging in the winter of 2009, a little more than a year after I graduated Colorado State University with a BSEE. I realized that after graduating it was important to continue working on various projects to keep my mind and skills sharp. I figured the best way to chronicle and show off my projects was to start a blog—my little corner of the Internet.

CIRCUIT CELLAR: What types of projects do you feature on your site?

CHRIS: I like working on a wide range of different types of projects, varying from software development to digital and analog design. I’ve found that most of my projects highlighted on have been ones focusing on FPGAs. I find these little reprogrammable, multipurpose ICs both immensely powerful and fascinating to work with.

My initial plan for the blog was to start a development project to create an FPGA equivalent to the Arduino. I wanted to build a main board with all the basic hardware to run an Altera Cyclone II FPGA and then create add-on PCBs with various sensors and interfaces. My main FPGA board was to be named the Saturn board, and the subsequent add-on “wings” were to be named after the various moons of Saturn.

a—Chris’s Saturn board prototype includes an Altera Cyclone II FPGA and JTAG FPGA programmer, two linear regulators, a 5-V breadboard power supply, and a 24-MHz clock. b—A side view of the board

a—Chris’s Saturn board prototype includes an Altera Cyclone II FPGA and JTAG FPGA programmer, two linear regulators, a 5-V breadboard power supply, and a 24-MHz clock. b—A side view of the board

The project proceeded nicely. I spent some time brushing up on my Photoshop skills to put together a logo and came up with a minimized BOM solution to provide power to the nine different voltage supplies, both linear regulators and switched-mode supplies. One aspect of FPGAs that can make them costly for hobbyist is that the programming JTAG cable was on the order of $300. Fortunately, there are a few more affordable off-brand versions, which I used at first. After many weeks of work, I finally had the total solution for the main FPGA board. The total cost of the prototype system was about $150. Eventually I came up with a way to bit bang the FPGA’s programming bitstream using a simple $15 USB-to-UART IC breakout board driven by a tiny Python application, eliminating the need for the pricey cable. This Future Technology Devices International FT232RL USB-to-UART IC also provided a clock output enabling me to further reduce the component count.

The project was a success in that I was compelled to completely digest the FPGA’s 470-page handbook, giving me a solid grasp of how to work with FPGAs such as the Cyclone II. The project was a failure in that the FPGA breakout board I wanted to use for the project was discontinued by the manufacturer. Creating and fabricating my own four-layer board and hand soldering the 208-pin package was both prohibitively expensive and also a little daunting.

Fortunately, at that time Terasic Technologies introduced its DE0-Nano, a $79 commercial, $59 academic, feature-packed FPGA evaluation board. The board comes with two 40-pin general I/O plus power headers, which has become a perfect alternative base platform for FPGA development. I now intend to develop add-on “wings” to work with this evaluation board.

CIRCUIT CELLAR: Tell us more about how you’ve been using Terasic Technologies’s DE0-Nano development and education board.

CHRIS: The main project I’ve been working on lately with the DE0-Nano is creating and adding support for a full-color 4.3” (480 × 272 pixel) thin- film transistor (TFT) touchscreen LCD. Because of the large pin count available and reconfigurable logic, the DE0-Nano can easily support the display. I used a Waveshare Electronics $20 display, which includes a 40-pin header that is almost but not quite compatible with the DE0-Nano’s 40-pin header. Using a 40-pin IDC gray cable, I was able to do some creative rewiring (cutting and swapping eight or so pins) to enable the two to mate with minimal effort. Eventually, once all the features are tested, I’ll fabricate a PCB in place of the cable.

There are many libraries available to drive the display, but for this project I want to develop the hardware accelerators and video pipeline from the ground up, purely though digital logic in the FPGA. I recently picked up an SD card breakout board and a small camera breakout board. Using these I would like to start playing around with image processing and object recognition algorithms.

CIRCUIT CELLAR: What do you do at STMicroelectronics and what types of projects are you working on?

CHRIS: My official title is Senior Hardware Design Engineer. This title mainly comes thanks to the first project I worked on for the company, which is ongoing—an FPGA-based serial port capture and decoding tool named the HyperSniffer. However, my main role is that of an application engineer.

I spend most of my time testing and debugging our prototype mixed-signal ASICs prior to mass production. These ASICs are built for the hard disk drive industry. They provide several switch-mode power supplies, linear regulators, brushless DC motor controllers, voice coil motor actuation, and a shock sensor digital processing chain, along with the various DACs, ADCs, and monitoring circuits all integrated into a single IC.

Our ASIC’s huge feature set requires me to stay sharp on a wide variety of topics, both analog and digital. A typical day has me down in the lab writing scripts in Python or Visual Studio, creating stimuli, and taking measurements using my 1-GHz, 10-GSPS LeCroy WavePro 7100A oscilloscope, several 6.5-digit multimeters, dynamic signal analyzers, and noise injection power supplies among other instruments. I work closely with our international design team and our customers to help discover and document bugs and streamline the system integration.

A few years back I was able to join my colleagues in writing “Power Electronics Control to Reduce Hard Disk Drive Acoustics Pure Tones,” an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) paper published for the Control and Modeling for Power Electronics (COMPEL) 2010 conference. I presented the paper, poster, and demonstration at the conference discussing a novel technique to reduce acoustic noise generated by a spindle motor.

Chris designed the HyperSniffer logic analyzer, which is shown with the HyperDrive main board. (The PCB was designed by Vincent Himpe and Albino Miglialo.)

Chris designed the HyperSniffer logic analyzer, which is shown with the HyperDrive main board. (The PCB was designed by Vincent
Himpe and Albino Miglialo.)

CIRCUIT CELLAR: Tell us more about the HyperSniffer project.

CHRIS: The HyperSniffer project is an FPGA- based digital design project I first created right out of college. (My colleagues Vincent Himpe and Albino Miglialo did the board design and layout.) The tool is basically an application-specific logic analyzer. It enables us to help our customers troubleshoot problems that arise from serial port transmissions between their system-on-a-chip (SoC) and our ASIC. Through various triggering options it can collect and decode the two or three wire data transmissions, store them on on- board memory, and wait for retrieval and further processing by the application running on the PC. One of this tool’s nice features is that it is capable of synchronizing and communicating with an oscilloscope, enabling us to track down problems that happen in the analog domain that arise due to commands sent digitally.

You can read the entire interview in Circuit Cellar 290 (September 2014).