Wireless MCUs are Bluetooth Mesh Certified

Cypress Semiconductor has announced its single-chip solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) are Bluetooth mesh connectivity certified by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) to a consumer product. LEDVANCE announced the market’s first Bluetooth mesh qualified LED lighting products, which leverage Cypress’ Bluetooth mesh technology. Three Cypress wireless combo chips and the latest version of its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) software development kit (SDK) support Bluetooth connectivity with mesh networking capability. Cypress’ solutions enable a low-cost, low-power mesh network of devices that can communicate with each other–and with smartphones, tablets and voice-controlled home assistants–via simple, secure and ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity.

Previously, users needed to be in the immediate vicinity of a Bluetooth device to control it without an added hub. With Bluetooth mesh networking technology, the devices within the network can communicate with each other to easily provide coverage throughout even the largest homes, allowing users to conveniently control all of the devices via apps on their smartphones and tablets.

Market research firm ABI Research forecasts there will be more than 57 million Bluetooth smart lightbulbs by 2021. Cypress’ CYW20719, CYW20706, and CYW20735 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) combo solutions and CYW43569 and CYW43570 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo solutions offer fully compliant Bluetooth mesh. Cypress also offers Bluetooth mesh certified modules and an evaluation kit. The solutions share a common, widely-deployed Bluetooth stack and are supported in version 6.1 of Cypress’ all-inclusive WICED SDK, which streamlines the integration of wireless technologies for developers of smart home lighting and appliances, as well as healthcare applications.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

BLE ICs Boast -105 dBm Sensitivity

Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage has added two new devices to its lineup of ICs that are compliant with the Bluetooth low energy standard. The new TC35680FSG (featuring built-in flash memory) and TC35681FSG are well-suited to applications requiring long-range communication, including beacon tags, IoT devices and industrial equipment. Sample shipments will begin later this month.

The new communication ICs support the full spectrum of data rates required for the high-speed features—2M PHY and Coded PHY (500 kbps and 125 kbps)—found in the Bluetooth 5.0 standard. The new devices also deliver an industry-leading receiver sensitivity level of -105 dBm (at125k bps ) and a built-in high efficiency power amplifier in the transmission block that provides up to +8 dBm transmission power.

Bluetooth technology continues to evolve to meet wireless connectivity needs, and recent enhancements to the standard have been designed to increase Bluetooth’s functionality with the IoT. By adding Bluetooth 5.0-compliant ICs to its extensive lineup, Toshiba helps companies integrate Bluetooth low energy products into IoT devices and addresses the growing demand for high-throughput, long-range communications.

Based on an ARM Cortex-M0 processor, the new ICs incorporate a 256 KB Mask ROM to support the Bluetooth baseband process, and 144 KB of RAM for processing Bluetooth baseband, stack and data. Toshiba’s TC35680FSG and TC35681FSG also feature 18-port GPIOs as interfaces, which can be set to 2 channels each for SPIs, I2C, and UART. This allows for the structuring of systems that connect to various peripheral devices. These GPIOs can be set for a wakeup function, 4-channel PWM, 5-channel AD converter interfaces, an external amplifier control interface for long-range communication and more.

The TC35680FSG includes 128 KB of flash memory for storing user programs and various data in stand-alone operations, making it well-suited to a wide range of applications and removing the need for external non-volatile memory. This also lowers the part count, which reduces both the cost and mounting area.

The TC35681FSG, which does not include a built-in flash memory, operates in conjunction with an external non-volatile memory or host processor. A wide operating range of -40° to +125°C makes it suitable for applications exposed to high temperatures.

Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage | www.toshiba.semicon-storage.com

Op Amp Features Ultra-High Precision

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced an op amp that combines ultra-high precision with low supply current. The LPV821 zero-drift, nanopower op amp enables engineers to attain the highest DC precision, while consuming 60% less power than competitive zero-drift devices, according to TI. The LPV821 is designed for use in precision applications such as wireless sensing nodes, home and factory automation equipment, and portable electronics.


The LPV821 is a single-channel, nanopower, zero-drift operational amplifier for “Always ON” sensing applications in wireless and wired equipment where low input offset is required. With the combination of low initial offset, low offset drift, and 8 kHz of bandwidth from 650 nA of quiescent current, the LPV821 is the industry’s lowest power zero-drift amplifier that can be used for end equipment that monitor current consumption, temperature, gas, or strain gauges.

The LPV821 zero-drift op amp uses a proprietary auto-calibration technique to simultaneously provide low offset voltage (10 μV, maximum) and minimal drift over time and temperature. In addition to having low offset and ultra-low quiescent current, the LPV821 amplifier has pico-amp bias currents which reduce errors commonly introduced in applications monitoring sensors with high output impedance and amplifier configurations with megaohm feedback resistors.

Engineers can pair the LPV821 op amp with the TLV3691 nanopower comparator or ADS7142 nanopower analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to program a threshold that will automatically wake up a microcontroller (MCU) such as the CC1310 SimpleLink Sub-1 GHz MCU, further reducing system power consumption.

Designers can download the TINA-TI SPICE model to simulate their designs and predict circuit behavior when using the LPV821 op amp. Engineers can also jump-start gas-sensing system designs using the LPV821 op amp with the Always-On Low-Power Gas Sensing with 10+ Year Coin Cell Battery Life Reference Design and Micropower Electrochemical Gas Sensor Amplifier Reference Design.

Pre-production samples of the LPV821 op amp are now available through the TI store and authorized distributors in a 5-pin small-outline transistor (SOT-23) package. Pricing starts at $0.80 in 1,000-unit quantities.

Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

Flexible Printed Batteries Target IoT Devices

Semtech and Imprint Energy have announced a collaboration to accelerate the widespread deployment of IoT devices. Imprint Energy will design and produce ultrathin, flexible printed batteries that are especially designed to power IoT devices integrated with Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless RF technology (LoRa Technology). LoRa Technology, with its long-range, low-power capabilities, is regarded by many as the defacto platform for building low-power wide area networks (LPWAN).

ImprintTo help accelerate a next generation of battery technology, Semtech has invested in Imprint Energy. The companies are working closely to target applications that have the potential to create entirely new markets. The Imprint Energy battery enables new applications which have a thin and small form factor and due to the integrated manufacturing process, the batteries are low cost to produce, making high volume deployments feasible.

A key benefit of the Imprint Energy battery technology is the ability to be printed using multiple types of conventional high-volume printing equipment; this enables quick integration by traditional electronic manufacturers in their existing production lines. Test production runs are currently being processed and the resulting batteries are being used in applications prototypes to validate assumptions and engage early adopters.

Imprint Energy | www.imprintenergy.com

Semtech | www.semtech.com

Antenna Measurement Made Easy

For web Lacoste Lead Image

Covering the Basics

If you’re doing any kind of wireless communications application, that probably means including an antenna in your design. The science of antennas is complex. But here Robert shows how the task of measuring an antenna’s performance is less costly and exotic than you’d think.

By Robert Lacoste

Now that wireless communications is ubiquitous, chances are you’ll be using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular, LoRa, MiWi or other flavor of wireless interface in your next design. And that means including an antenna. Unfortunately, antenna design is not an easy topic. Even very experienced designers sometimes have had to wrestle with unexpected bad performances by their antennas. Case in point: Google “iPhone 4 antenna problem” and you will get more than 3 million web pages! In a nutshell, Apple tried to integrate a clever antenna in that model that was threaded around the phone. They didn’t anticipate that some users would put their fingers exactly where the antenna was the most sensitive to detuning. Was it a design flaw? Or a mistake by the users? It was hotly debated, but this so-called “Antennagate” probably had significant impact on Apple’s sales for a while.

I already devoted an article to antenna design and impedance matching (“The Darker Side: Antenna Basics”, Circuit Cellar 211, February 2008). Whether you include a standard antenna or design your own, you will never be sure it is working properly until you measure its actual performance. Of course, you could simply evaluate how far the system is working. But how do you go farther if the range is not enough? How do you figure out if the problem is coming from the receiver, the transmitter, propagation conditions or the antenna itself? My personal experience has been that the antenna is very often the culprit. With that in mind, it really is mandatory to measure whether or not an antenna is behaving correctly. Take a seat. This month, I will explain how to easily measure the actual performance of an antenna. You will see that the process is quite easy and that it won’t even need costly or exotic equipment.


Let’s start with some basics on antennas. First, all passive antennas have the same performance whether transmitting or receiving. For this article, I’ll consider the antenna as transmitting because that’s easier to measure. Let’s consider an antenna that we inject with a given radio frequency power Pconducted into its connector. Where will this power go? First off, impedance matching should be checked. If the impedance of the antenna is not well matched to the impedance of the power generator, then a part of the power will be reflected back to the generator. This will happen in particular when the transmit frequency is not equal to the resonant frequency of the antenna. In such a case, a part of Pconducted will be lost.  That is known as mismatch losses: Pavailable= Pconducted – MismatchLosses. While that itself is a very interesting subject, I have already discussed impedance matching in detail in my February 2008 article. I also devoted another article to a closely linked topic: standing waves. Standing waves appear when there is a mismatch. The article is “The Darker Side: Let’s play with standing waves” (Circuit Cellar 271, February 2013).

For the purpose of discussion here, I will for now assume that there isn’t any mismatching—and therefore no mismatch loss. …

Read the full article in the October 327 issue of Circuit Cellar

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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.


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

Kickstarter Enables Building LoRa IoT Gear in 3 Steps

Electronic Cats has launched a Kickstarter campaign called LoRaCatKitty to enable the building of Internet of Things (IoT) applications with LoRa in just three steps. LoRaCatKitty is designed to simplify the development of IoT applications using LoRa technology. It has based its development on the ESP8266 WiFi module and the LoRa RN2903 or RN2483 Microchip module.


The mobile application for LoRaCatKitty, allows you to generate and compile the firmware in the cloud and use your smartphone to transfer and the firmware to the board. All the necessary hardware libraries are accessible through the app so you can select, download and transfer them to your LoRa device directly. The solution uses Grove connectors that allow easy and quick use of sensors, actuators or external elements without the need for soldering. Users can just connect the blocks and build their project. LoRaCatKitty supports a long list of sensor modules with Grove connectors.

The LoRaCatKitty app for Android is used to wirelessly program the device and will allow beginners to develop an infinite number of applications in an easy and intuitive way. LoRaCatKitty is completely compatible with LoRaWAN platforms like The Things Network, Beelan and others, allowing you to access RESTful API resources which can be used to develop IoT apps easily with the sensors and actuators visualized.

Technical specs of the hardware:

  •     Class A LoRaWAN Soon support of Class C LoRaWAN
  •     Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n Encryption
  •     Wi-Fi: WEP/TKIP/AES
  •     Module ESP8266-12E Certified FCC
  •     Module RN2903 Certified FCC
  •     Power supply:battery port: 3.4 V to 4.2 V
  •     Micro USB: 5 V
  •     Output current: 1000 mA MAX
  •     Operating voltaje : 3.3 V
  •     Charging current: 500 mA MAX
  •     Flash memory: 4 MB
  •     Size: 50 mm x 50 mm
  •     Weight: 26 g

NXP and Widex Team for Wireless Audio Streaming Hearing Aids

NXP Semiconductors and Widex announced that they have collaborated to develop, test and integrate NXP’s NxH2003 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) audio streaming SoC into Widex BEYOND hearing aids. The two companies worked closely together throughout the product development cycle, merging the best of hearing aid engineering and wireless audio streaming semiconductor technology, to deliver hearing aid devices that can stream wireless audio from an iOS device, consuming only 2.8 mA current at 1.2 Volts, which is best in industry. This allows end users to enjoy music directly from their personal devices for prolonged periods of time.


NXP’s state-of-the-art BLE 4.1 certified solution measures only 7.25mm2 and has industry-lowest receive and transmit power levels of 4mW and 7mW respectively. The NxH2003 forms a total solution for ultra-low power wireless audio streaming as it embeds both an M0 microcontroller (running the protocol stack and application), as well as an embedded CoolFlux DSP (running all of the required audio processing including sample rate conversion and audio [de]compression). Furthermore, this advanced IC is highly integrated and can run directly from a Zinc-Air battery as typically used in hearing aids, which minimizes the number of external components and consequently reduces the volume of the end product.

Technologies and solutions for hearing aids and consumer hearables are converging as both markets share closely related use cases while at the same time facing similar end-user requirements and technology barriers. Both markets strive to design smaller and more comfortable end devices exhibiting longer battery life. Additionally, both hearing aid and consumer hearables companies recognize that users desire more functionality from their devices, ranging from the ability to sync with their phones, for calls, music, and games to biometric measurements for health monitoring.

NXP offers solutions for both markets. NXP has been providing proprietary NFMI (Near Field Magnetic Induction) technology to the hearing instrument industry for nearly a decade. And at CES earlier this year, the company debuted its NFMI-based MiGLO solutions with several OEMs in smart consumer hearables. The NXP MiGLO platform is designed to enable long battery life, exceptional audio quality and reliable wireless experiences while enabling the development of smarter, smaller and comfortable truly wireless earbuds or hearables.

NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

13.6 GHz, Next-Generation Wideband Synthesizer

Analog Devices has launched the ADF5356, which is a 13.6 GHz next-generation wideband synthesizer with an integrated voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The ADF5356 is well-suited for a variety of applications, including wireless infrastructure, microwave point-to-point links, electronic test and measurement, and satellite terminals. The ADF4356 is a complementary synthesizer product that operates to 6.8 GHz and is comparable in performance.


The ADF5356’s and ADF4356’s features, specs, and benefits:

  • Generate RF outputs from 53.125 MHz to 13.6 GHz without gaps in frequency coverage
  • Offer superior PLL figures of merit (FOM), ultra-low VCO phase noise, very low integer-boundary and phase-detector spurs, and high phase-comparison frequency.
  • Feature VCO phase noise (–113 dBc/Hz at 100 kHz offset at 5 GHz) with integrated RMS jitter of just 97 fs (1 kHz to 20 MHz) and integer-channel noise floor of –227 dBc/Hz
  • Phase detector spurious levels are below –85 dBc (typical), and the phase detector comparison frequency can be as high as 125 MHz.
  • Fully supported by the ADIsimPLL, which is Analog Devices’s easy-to-use PLL synthesizer design and simulation tool. The synthesizers are pin-compatible with Analog Devices’s existing ADF5355 and ADF4355 devices.
  • Specified over the –40°C to 85°C range
  • Operate from nominal 3.3-V analog and digital power supplies as well as 5-V charge-pump and VCO supplies
  • Features 1.8-V logic-level compatibility

The ADF5356 costs $39.98 in 1,000-unit quantities. The ADF4356 costs $20.36 in 1,000-piece quantities. The EV-ADF5356SD1Z pre-release boards cost $450 each.

Analog Devices | www.analog.com

High-Performing, Intelligent Wireless Transceiver Module

The RF Solutions high-performance ZETA module was recently updated to include a simple SPI and UART interface. The ZETAPLUS module doesn’t require external components, which means a fast and effective plug-and-play setup.


Available on 433-, 868-, and 915-MHz frequencies, the module is easy to set up and you’ll be sending and receiving data quickly. Furthermore, you’ll find it easy to create networks of ZETAPLUS modules or point-to-point links without the need for time-consuming register configuration.

With an impressive 2-km range, the ZETAPLUS is well-suited for sensor networks, sleepy nodes, and numerous other telemetry, control, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

RF Solutions | www.rfsolutions.co.uk

13.6-GHz, Next-Generation Wideband Synthesizer

Analog Devices recently launched the ADF5356, which is a 13.6-GHz next-generation wideband synthesizer with integrated voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The ADF5356 is well suited for a variety of applications, including wireless infrastructure, microwave point-to-point links, electronic test and measurement, and satellite terminals. The ADF4356 is a complimentary synthesizer product that operates to 6.8 GHz and is comparable in performance.Analog-ADF5356

The ADF5356/4356’s features, specs, and benefits:

  • Generate RF outputs from 53.125 MHz to 13.6 GHz without gaps in frequency coverage
  • Offer superior PLL figures of merit (FOM), ultra-low VCO phase noise, very low integer-boundary and phase-detector spurs, and high phase-comparison frequency.
  • Feature VCO phase noise (–113 dBc/Hz at 100 kHz offset at 5 GHz) with integrated RMS jitter of just 97 fs (1 kHz to 20 MHz) and integer-channel noise floor of –227 dBc/Hz.
  • Phase detector spurious levels are below –85 dBc (typical), and the phase detector comparison frequency can be as high as 125 MHz.
  • Fully supported by the ADIsimPLL, which is Analog Devices’s easy-to-use PLL synthesizer design and simulation tool. The synthesizers are pin-compatible with Analog Devices’s existing ADF5355 and ADF4355 devices.
  • Specified over the –40°C to 85°C range.
  • Operate from nominal 3.3-V analog and digital power supplies as well as 5-V charge-pump and VCO supplies
  • Features 1.8-V logic-level compatibility.

The ADF5356 costs $39.98 in 1,000-unit quantities. The ADF4356 costs $20.36 in 1,000-piece quantities. The EV-ADF5356SD1Z pre-release boards cost $450 each.

Source: Analog Devices

Lightweight Systems and the Future of Wireless Technology

Last November, we published engineer Alex Bucknall’s essay “Taking the ‘Hard’ Out of Hardware.” We recently followed up with him to get his thoughts on the future of ‘Net-connected wireless devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).

BucknallAs we enter an age of connected devices, sensors, and objects (aka the Internet of Things), we’re beginning to see a drive for lightweight systems that allow for low power, low complexity, and long-distance communication protocols. More of the world is becoming connected and not all of these embedded devices can afford high-capacity batteries or to be connected to mains power. We’ll see a collection of protocols that can provide connectivity with just a few milliwatts of power that can be delivered through means of energy harvesting such as solar power. It’ll become essential for embedded sensors to communicate from remote locations where current standards like Wi-Fi and BLE fall behind due to range constraints. Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) will strive to fill this gap with protocols such as Sigfox, LoRa, NB-IoT, and others stepping up to the plate. The next hurdle will be the exciting big data challenge as we start to learn more about our world via the Internet of Things! — Alex Bucknall (Developer Evangelist, Sigfox, France)

The Importance of Widely Available Wireless Links for UAV Systems

Readily available, first-rate wireless links are essential for building and running safe UAV systems. David Weight, principal electronics engineer at Waittcircuit, recently shared his thoughts on the importance developing and maintaining high-quality wireless links as the UAV industry expands.

weightOne of the major challenges that is emerging in the UAV industry is maintaining wireless links with high availability. As UAVs start to share airspace with other vehicles, we need to demonstrate that a control link can be maintained in a wide variety of environments, including interference and non-line of sight. We are starting to see software defined radio used to build radios which are frequency agile and capable of using multiple modulation techniques. For example, being able to use direct links in open spaces where these are most effective, but being able to change to 4G type signals when entering more built-up areas as these areas can pose issues for direct links, but have good coverage for existing commercial telecoms. Being able to change the frequency and modulation also means that, where interference or poor signal paths are found, frequencies can be changed to avoid interference, or in extreme cases, be reduced to lower bands which allow control links to be maintained. This may mean that not all the data can be transmitted back, but it will keep the link alive and continue to transmit sufficient information to allow the pilot to control the UAV safely. — David Weight (Principal Electronics Engineer, Wattcircuit, UK)

Brain Controlled-Tech and the Future of Wireless

Wireless IoT devices are becoming increasingly common in both private and public spaces. Phil Vreugdenhil, an instructor at Camosun College in Canada, recently shared his thoughts on the future of ‘Net-connected wireless technology and the ways users will interact with it.

VreugdenhilI see brain-controlled software and hardware seamlessly interacting with wireless IoT devices.  I also foresee people interacting with their enhanced realities through fully integrated NEMS (nano-electromechancical systems) which also communicate directly with the brain, bypassing the usual pathways (eyes, ears, nose, touch, taste) much like cochlear implants and bionic eyes. I see wireless health-monitoring systems and AI doctors drastically improving efficiency in the medical system. But, I also see the safety and security pitfalls within these future systems. The potential for hacking somebody’s personal systems and altering or deleting the data they depend upon for survival makes the future of wireless technology seem scarier than it will probably be. — Phil Vreugdenhil (Instructor, Camosun College, Canada)

Multi-Protocol Sub-GHz Wireless Transceiver Platform

NXP Semiconductors recently added the OL2385 family sub-GHz wireless transceivers to its low-power microcontroller and 2.4 GHz portfolio for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Based on a PIN-to-PIN compatible, sub-GHz transceiver hardware platform, the OL2385 supports multiple wireless protocols  (e.g., Sigfox, W-MBus powered by Xemex, and ZigBee IEEE 802.15.4).

With a two-way RF channel and common modulation schemes for networking applicatios, the OL2385 transceivers cover a wide range of frequency bands from 160 to 960 MHz. In addition, extended range radio operation is enabled with high sensitivity up to –128 dBm. Operation in congested environments is enhanced with 60 dB at 1 MHz of blocking performance and 60 dB of image rejection.

Platform features include: 14-dBm Tx output power compliant with ETSI limits; typical 29-mA transmit power consumption at full output power; less than 11 mA receive power consumption; excellent phase noise of –127 dBc at 1 MHz in the 868- and 915-MHz band for flexibility with external power amplifiers; and Japanese ARIB T108 standard compliant.

The OL2385 platform samples and development boards with SIGFOX are currently available. Mass production of preprogrammed parts are scheduled for the end of Q4 2017.

Source: NXP Semiconductors