Bluetooth LE Solar Dev Kit for IoT Taps Nordic Semi’s BLE SoC

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that PowerFilm, a company specializing in custom solar solutions, employs Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) SoC in its “Indoor Solar Development Kit with Nordic BLE” for IoT developers, engineers and hobbyists looking to power electronics by harvesting indoor light energy. Once harvested, the energy is stored in a rechargeable battery or capacitor bank.

The development kit simplifies the design process for OEMs incorporating indoor solar energy in Bluetooth LE devices, with applications including smart home, building automation, inventory and retail management, asset tracking, and industrial monitoring. In addition to the Nordic SoC, the plug and play kit incorporates an onboard energy harvester/power management IC and indoor solar panels. In operation, the nRF52832 SoC automatically connects to the power when energy is available—enabling Bluetooth LE operation of the solar-powered device—before disconnecting when the stored energy is depleted.

The high performance indoor solar panels are able to sustain Bluetooth LE operation even in dimly lit indoor environments such as those typically seen in warehouses and industrial plants, thanks in part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the Nordic SoC. The nRF52832 has been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4 GHz radio’s 5.5 mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80% compared with Nordic’s nRF51 Series SoCs.

The development kit’s onboard capacitor charger provides two key benefits: First, it enables applications that don’t need the extra storage capacity to operate without a battery; and second, it charges the capacitors directly from the solar panel, without any conversions, which boosts performance over a standard energy harvesting power management integrated circuit.

Nordic’s nRF52832 multiprotocol SoC combines a 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4F processor with a 2.4 GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT, and proprietary 2.4 GHz RF protocol software) featuring -96-dB RX sensitivity, with 512 KB Flash memory and 64 KB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certifed RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

Nordic Semi’s BLE SoC Enables Light Dimming Via Mesh Network

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that McWong International, a Sacramento, CA-based developer of lighting control equipment, has selected Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its “Dimming PIR Occupancy Sensor.”

The Dimming PIR Occupancy Sensor uses passive infrared technology to detect motion and then trigger instructions to control the lighting based on occupancy.

The product is targeted at industrial applications, including warehouses, distribution centers, and cold storage facilities. The device provides an energy saving solution by either turning the lighting off completely, or by reducing light levels based on parameters selected by the facility management. Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC provides the Bluetooth LE connectivity from the device to a user’s Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone for setup, configuration, and sensor adjustments including time delay, ambient light sensitivity, and motion detection range and sensitivity.

The Dimming PIR Occupancy Sensors employ Silvair’s Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) qualified Bluetooth mesh protocol ‘Silvair Mesh’—running on the Nordic SoC—to support Bluetooth mesh networking between a large number of sensors and other control devices in an industrial lighting setting. Mesh networking allows devices to communicate with any other device with information relayed via other nodes if necessary and without recourse to a central hub device. Such a system enables extended range, flexibility, scalability and redundancy.
The mesh networking employed by the McWong sensors relays specific dimming commands with low latency across the network, avoiding the complexity that comes with sending information to each individual sensor in turn. Nordic’s software architecture includes a clear separation between the Bluetooth LE RF protocol software and McWong’s application code—which incorporates the Silvair mesh software—easing development, testing and verification.

Rather than requiring costly and time-consuming hardwiring to a central location, the mesh network offers fast and flexible operations that can be continuously adjusted. The ability to broadcast operating parameters from a smartphone and easily update functionality also makes scalability easier for facility owners and operators.

The Dimming PIR Occupancy Sensor provides 360° of coverage at mounting heights up to 40 feet. The sensor also provides bi-level dimming via 0-10 V control, which complies with many energy code requirements and offers greater energy-efficient performance than simple on/off control. The IP65 rating makes the sensor ideal for wet locations, such as parking structures, nurseries or loading docks.

Nordic’s nRF52832 multiprotocol SoC combines a 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4F processor with a 2.4 GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT, and proprietary 2.4 GHz RF protocol software) featuring -96-dB RX sensitivity, with 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certifed RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

 

Nordic Semi’s Modules Selected for IoT Positioning Platform

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that its nRF9160 System-in-Package (SiP) LTE-M/NB-IoT cellular IoT modules and nRF52840 Bluetooth 5/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) SoCs are being used in the turnkey “GEPS” indoor and outdoor IoT positioning platform developed by Swedish industrial IoT startup, H&D Wireless.

GEPS is a turnkey, application-as-a-service solution that is designed to bridge the information gap between physical assets and business systems. It requires no upfront investment in hardware or software, and instead employs small 59 mm x 52 mm x 23 mm battery-powered, industrial-grade IoT tags embedded with either a Nordic nRF9160 SiP or nRF52840 SoC to track key assets and equipment via cellular, GPS or Bluetooth wireless technology in real-time.

Each tag (depending on application) can be configured with a rechargeable or AA-size battery, and achieve a minimum one year and maximum 10-year battery life. Operating either standalone or in conjunction with leading business and AI systems, the ultimate aim is to boost key operational metrics such as efficiency, safety, security, throughput, responsiveness, and ultimately profits. All this data is displayed via cloud-based visual dashboards accessible from desktop PCs, tablets or smartphones.

In asset management applications, for example, H&D Wireless is finding that its customers are saving between 20-40% in operational costs due to a combination of better utilization of their assets and the ability to get rid of 30% of the assets previously required to perform the same job. Key target industries for the GEPS platform include logistics (e.g. asset and fleet management), construction (for example tools, people and equipment), and manufacturing industries (such as sub-assemblies).

At just 10 mm x 16 mm x 1 mm in size, the nRF9160 includes everything a cellular connection and IoT application needs beyond requiring just an external battery, SIM and antenna. To achieve this ultra-high integration Nordic partnered with Qorvo to make a “System-in-Package” (SiP) that more closely resembles an integrated chip than a module.

The SiP includes a powerful application processor (Arm Cortex M-33), GPS support, standard microcontroller peripherals, and enough chip-integrated memory to execute IoT applications with edge computing. Yet this is not achieved by sacrificing on-air performance: the nRF91 is capable of delivering class-leading output power (+23 dBm) and sensitivity – vital for its GPS functionality

Nordic’s nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC is Nordic’s most advanced ultra low power wireless solution. The SoC supports complex Bluetooth LE and other low-power wireless applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution. The nRF52840 is Bluetooth 5-, Thread 1.1-, and Zigbee PRO (R21) and Green Power proxy specification-certified and its Dynamic Multiprotocol feature uniquely supports concurrent wireless connectivity of the protocols. The SoC combines the Arm processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio. The chip supports all the features of Bluetooth 5 (including 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2Mbps) compared with Bluetooth 4.2). Designed to address the inherent security challenges brought by the IoT, the nRF52840 SoC incorporates the Arm CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

Ultra96-V2 SBC adds Certified Wi-Fi and Industrial Temp Support

By Eric Brown

Avnet has unveiled a minor upgrade to its open-spec, 96Boards CE form-factor Ultra96 SBC. The Ultra96-V2 retains the $249 price and core features of the Ultra96, including the Arm/FPGA hybrid Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC, but it also makes a few key additions.

The biggest touted improvement is a new Microchip wireless module with the same 802.11n Wi-Fi capability, but with Bluetooth improving to 5.0 BLE. The major advantage here is that the module is said to be pre-certified in 75 countries.


 
Ultra96-V2 (left) and Ultra96-V1
(click images to enlarge)
Avnet has also “updated all components on the Ultra96-V2 to allow industrial temperature grade options so that the board can operate in harsh industrial applications.” We saw no details, however, on the specifics of the standard and industrial options. The term “industrial temperature” usually refers to -40 to 85°C.

Other new features include an Infineon power management IC (PMIC) and dedicated headers for UART and JTAG. The product page suggests that the previous I2C header has been removed, with I2C now being available only on the 40-pin low-speed header, but the block diagram indicates otherwise. There also appear to be four new LEDs.

Like the original, the Ultra96-V2 runs PetaLinux on the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC with a 1.5GHz quad-core, Cortex-A53 CPU block, a Mali-400 MP2 GPU, and a ZU3EG A484 FPGA — one of the lower-end UltraScale+ FPGA options. The SoC also features 2x 600MHz Cortex-R5 MCUs with vector FPUs and memory protection units for improved real-time processing. Avnet recently released a MSC SM2S-ZUSP module billed as the world’s first Zynq UltraScale+ based SMARC module.


Ultra96-V2 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)
As before, the SBC provides 2GB of Micron LPDDR4, and boots from a 16GB Delkin microSD card pre-loaded with Xilinx’s PetaLinux. Major ports include mini-DP, 2x USB 3.0, and single USB 2.0 host and micro-USB 3.0 ports.

Specifications listed for the Ultra96-V2 include:

  • Processor — Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC ZU3EG A484 (4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz); FPGA with 154K logic cells, 141K flip-flops, and 70K LUTs; Mali-400 MP2 GPU; 2x Cortex-R5 MCUs
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB LPDDR4 RAM (“512M x 32” Micron).
    • MicroSD slot with 16GB Delkin card pre-loaded with PetaLinux
  • Wireless — Microchip 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 5 BLE (certified in 75 countries)
  • Other I/O:
    • Mini-DisplayPort
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB 3.0 “upstream” port
    • I2C, UART, and JTAG headers
    • 40-pin low-speed connector
    • 60-pin high-speed connector
  • Other features — 4x LEDs; optional USB-to-JTAG/UART pod
  • Operating temperature — industrial temp version available
  • Power — 12V input; Infineon PMIC
  • Dimensions — 85 x 54mm; 96Boards CE
  • Operating system — PetaLinux; voucher for Xilinx SDSoC license

Further information

The Ultra96-V2 is available for pre-order at $249, with shipments due by May, according to the announcement and June 4 per the shopping page. More information may be found on Avnet’s Ultra96-V2 product page.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on March 27.

Avent | www.avnet.com

Solar Powered BLE Sensor Platform Offers Battery-Less IoT Solution

ON Semiconductor has introduced its RSL10 Multi-Sensor Platform powered only with a solar cell. This complete solution supports the development of IoT sensors using continuous solar energy harvesting to gather and communicate data through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), without the need for batteries or other forms of non-renewable energy.

The combination of ultra-low-power wireless communications, small form-factor solar cell and low duty cycle sensing applications makes it possible to develop and deploy totally maintenance-free IoT sensor nodes. The RSL10 Solar Cell Multi-Sensor Platform is enabled by the RSL10 SIP, a complete System-in-Package (SiP) solution featuring the RSL10 radio, integrated antenna and all passive components.

The platform combines the RSL10 SIP with a solar cell and a host of low power sensors from Bosch Sensortec, including the BME280 all-in-one environmental sensor (pressure, temperature, humidity) and the BMA400 ultra-low-power 3-axis accelerometer. Together, they will allow developers and manufacturers to create complete IoT nodes that are entirely powered through renewable energy or energy harvested from the sensor’s surroundings.

There are a growing number of IoT sensor applications where the duty cycle is low enough to support intermittent communications, allowing the energy needed to support operation to be harvested using renewable sources. The energy efficiency of the RSL10 is augmented by the highly efficient power management system and the ultra-low-power sensors implemented in the platform. Applications are expected to include smart home and building automation such as HVAC control, window/door sensors and air quality monitoring. Asset tracking including package open/close detection, shock monitoring, and temperature and humidity data logging are also possible applications.

For easy development, the platform is supplied with all design files (Gerber, schematic and BoM) and customizable source code as part of a CMSIS software package. The RSL10 Solar Cell Multi-Sensor Platform is available now from ON Semiconductor.

ON Semiconductor | www.onsemi.com

 

ST and Virscient Team Up for Connected-Car Effort

STMicroelectronics has teamed up with Virscient to help system designers build automotive solutions using ST’s Telemaco3P secure telematics and connectivity processors. Virscient offers support to ST customers in the development and delivery of advanced automotive applications based on the ST Modular Telematics Platform (MTP). MTP is a comprehensive development and demonstration platform incorporating ST’s Telemaco3P telematics and connectivity microprocessor.

MTP enables the rapid prototyping and development of smart-driving applications, including vehicle connectivity to back-end servers, road infrastructure, and other vehicles. Virscient brings a deep understanding of wireless connectivity technologies and protocols ideal for architecting connected-car systems that rely on technologies such as GNSS (Precise Positioning), LTE/cellular modems, V2X technologies, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

The Telemaco3P incorporates dual Arm Cortex-A7 processors with an embedded Hardware Security Module (HSM), an independent Arm Cortex-M3 subsystem, and a rich set of connectivity interfaces. With security at its core, and considerable flexibility in both hardware and software configurations, the Telemaco3P provides an excellent platform for connectivity within the vehicular environment.

ST’s Telemaco3P system-on-chip is designed as a solution for ensuring a secure connection between the vehicle and the Cloud. Its asymmetric multi-core architecture provides powerful application processors as well as an independent CAN control subsystem with optimized power management. Its ISO 26262 silicon design, its embedded Hardware Security Module, and automotive-grade qualification up to 105°C ambient temperature make it well suited for implementing a wide range of secure telematics applications supporting high-throughput wireless connectivity and over-the-air firmware upgrades.

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com
Virscient | www.virscient.com

 

May Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The May issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week!. We’ve been hard at work laying the foundation and nailing the beams together with a sturdy selection of  embedded electronics articles just for you. We’ll soon be inviting you inside this 84-page magazine.

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Here’s a sneak preview of May 2019 Circuit Cellar:

EMBEDDED COMPUTING AT WORK

Technologies for Digital Signage
Digital signage ranks among the most dynamic areas of today’s embedded computing space. Makers of digital signage players, board-level products and other technologies continue to roll out new solutions for implementing powerful digital signage systems. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child looks at the latest technology trends and product developments in digital signage.

PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards
PC/104 has come a long way since its inception over 25 ago. With its roots in ISA-bus PC technology, PC/104 evolved through the era of PCI and PCI Express by spinning off its wider family of follow on versions including PC/104-Plus, PCI-104, PCIe/104 and PCI/104-Express. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative PC/104 and PC/104-family boards.

TOOLS & TECHNIQUES FOR EMBEDDED ENGINEERING

Code Analysis Tools
Today it’s not uncommon for embedded devices to have millions of lines of software code. Code analysis 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 code analysis tools.

Transistor Basics
In this day and age of highly integrated ICs, what is the relevance of the lone, discrete transistor? It’s true that most embedded systems can be solved by chip level solutions. But electronic component vendors do still make and sell individual transistors because there’s still a market for them. In this article, Stuart Ball reviews some important basics about transistors and how you can use them in your embedded system design.

Pressure Sensors
Over the years, George Novacek has done articles examining numerous types of sensors that measure various physical aspects of our world. But one measurement type he’s not yet discussed in the past is pressure. Here, George looks at pressure sensors in the context of using them in an electronic monitoring or control system. The story looks at the math, physics and technology associated with pressure sensors.

MICROCONTROLLERS DO IT ALL

Robotic Arm Plays Beer Pong
Simulating human body motion is a key concept in robotics development. With that in mind, learn how these Cornell graduates Daniel Fayad, Justin Choi and Harrison Hyundong Chang accurately simulate the movement of a human arm on a small-sized robotic arm. The Microchip PIC32 MCU-based system enables the motion-controlled, 3-DoF robotic arm to take a user’s throwing motion as a reference to its own throw. In this way, they created a robotic arm that can throw a ping pong ball and thus play beer pong.

Fancy Filtering with the Teensy 3.6
Signal filtering entails some tricky tradeoffs. A fast MCU that provides hardware-based floating-point capability eases some of those tradeoffs. In the past, Brian Millier has used the Arm-based Teensy MCU modules to serve meet those needs. In this article, Brian taps the Teensy 3.6 Arm MCU module to perform real-time audio FFT-convolution filtering.

Real-Time Stock Monitoring Using an MCU
With today’s technology, even very simple microcontroller-based devices can fetch and display data from the Internet. Learn how Cornell graduates David Valley and Saelig Khatta built a system using that can track stock prices in real-time and display them conveniently on an LCD screen. For the design, they used an Espressif Systems ESP8266 Wi-Fi module controlled by a Microchip PIC32 MCU. Our fun little device fetches chosen stock prices in real-time and displays them on a screen.

… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Attacking USB Gear with EMFI
Many products use USB, but have you ever considered there may be a critical security vulnerability lurking in your USB stack? In this article, Colin O’Flynn walks you through on example product that could be broken using electromagnetic fault injection (EMFI) to perform this attack without even removing the device enclosure.

An Itty Bitty Education
There’s no doubt that we’re living in a golden age when it comes to easily available and affordable development kits for fun and education. With that in mind, Jeff Bachiochi shares his experiences programming and playing with the Itty Bitty Buggy from Microduino. Using the product, you can build combine LEGO-compatible building blocks into mobile robots controlled via Bluetooth using your cellphone.

IoT Smart Water Care System Leverages Nordic’s BLE SoC

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that ConnectedYard has selected Nordic’s nRF51822 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) SoC to provide the wireless connectivity for pHin, a smart water care solution designed to simplify the care and maintenance of backyard swimming pools and hot tubs. pHin combines an nRF51822 SoC- and Wi-Fi-enabled smart monitor and smartphone app that monitors water chemistry and temperature around the clock and notifies customers when they need to take action.
The pHin Smart Monitor floats in the pool or hot tub and continuously monitors water temperature and water chemistry—including pH and oxidation reduction potential (ORP)—and then wirelessly sends the water chemistry data over the Nordic SoC-enabled Bluetooth LE connection to the pool owner’s Bluetooth 4.0 (or later) smartphone and the ‘pHin WiFi bridge’. The data is also available via the pHin Partner Portal, which allows retailers, service technicians, and pool builders to remotely monitor water conditions and provides features that help drive consumers back to their local retailer for chemicals and other products. pHin uses a coin cell battery to achieve over two years of battery life between replacement, thanks in part to the ultra low power consumption of the nRF51822 SoC.

Nordic’s nRF51822 is ideally suited for Bluetooth LE and 2.4GHz ultra low power wireless applications. The nRF51822 is built around a 32-bit Arm® Cortex M0 CPU, 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, and 256kB/128kB Flash and 32kB/16kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S130 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 4.2 qualified concurrent multi-link protocol stack. Nordic’s software architecture includes a clear separation between the RF protocol software and the application code, simplifying development for ConnectedYard’s engineers and ensuring the SoftDevice doesn’t become corrupted when developing, compiling, testing and verifying application code.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

Low-Power Bluetooth MCUs Deliver Mesh Networking

Cypress Semiconductor has announced it is sampling two low-power, dual-mode Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) MCUs that include support for Bluetooth mesh networking for the Internet of Things (IoT). The new CYW20819 and CYW20820 MCUs each provide simultaneous Bluetooth 5.0 audio and BLE connections.

The CYW20819 Bluetooth/BLE MCU has the ability to maintain Serial Port Profile (SPP) protocol connections and Bluetooth mesh connections simultaneously. The CYW20820 offers the same features and integrates a power amplifier (PA) with up to 10 dBm output power for long-range applications up to 400 m and whole-home coverage. This provides classic Bluetooth tablet and smartphone connections while enabling a low-power, standards-compliant mesh network for sensor-based smart home or enterprise applications.

Both MCUs embed the Arm Cortex-M4 core. It enables operation at 60% lower active power for connected 200-ms beacons compared to current solutions—delivering up to 123 days of battery life from a CR2032 coin cell battery. Previously, users needed to be in the immediate vicinity of a Bluetooth device to control it without an added hub. Using Bluetooth mesh networking technology, combined with the high-performance integrated PA in the CYW20820, the devices within a network can communicate with each other.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

BLE Multicore MCUs Embed Arm Cortex M33 CPU

Dialog Semiconductor has announced its SmartBond DA1469x family of Bluetooth low energy SoCs, a range of multi-core MCUs for wireless connectivity. The devices’ three integrated cores have each been carefully chosen for their capabilities to sense, process and communicate between connected devices, says Dialog. To provide the devices’ processing power, the DA1469x product family is the first wireless MCU in production with a dedicated application processor based on the Arm Cortex-M33 CPU, according to Dialog.

The M33 is aimed at compute intensive applications, such as high-end fitness trackers, advanced smart home devices and virtual reality game controllers. The DA1469x devices have a new integrated radio that offers double the range compared to its predecessor together with an Arm Cortex-M0+ based software-programmable packet engine that implements protocols and provides full flexibility for wireless communication.

On the connectivity front, an emerging application is for manufacturers to deploy accurate positioning through the Angle of Arrival and Angle of Departure features of the newly introduced Bluetooth 5.1 standard. With its world-class radio front end performance and configurable protocol engine, the DA1469x complies with this new version of the standard and opens new opportunities for devices that require accurate indoor positioning such as building access and remote keyless entry systems.

To enhance the sensing functionality of the DA1469x, the M33 application processor and M0+ protocol engine is complemented with a Sensor Node Controller (SNC), which is based on a programmable micro-DSP that runs autonomously and independently processes data from the sensors connected to its digital and analog interfaces, waking the application processor only when needed. In addition to this power-saving feature, a state-of-the-art Power Management Unit (PMU) provides best-in-class power management by controlling the different processing cores and only activating them as needed.

The SoCs feature up to 144 DMIPS, 512 KB of RAM, memory protection, a floating-point unit, a dedicated crypto engine to enable end-to-end security and expandable memories, ensuring a wide range of advanced smart device applications can be implemented using the chipset family and supporting a range of key value-add interfaces to extend functionality even further.

The PMU also provides three regulated power rails and one LDO output to supply external system components, removing the requirement of a separate power management IC (PMIC). Additionally, the DA169x product family come equipped with a range of key value-add interfaces including a display driver, an audio interface, USB, a high-accuracy ADC, a haptic driver capable of driving both ERM and LRA motors as well as a programmable stepping motor controller.

Developers working with the DA1469x product family can make use of Dialog’s software development suite – SmartSnippets – which gives them the tools they need to develop best-in-class applications on the new MCUs. The DA1469x variants will start volume production in the first half of 2019. Samples and development kits are available now.

Dialog Semiconductor | www.dialog-semiconductor.com

 

April Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The April issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week (March 20th)!. We’ve worked hard to cook up a tasty selection of in-depth embedded electronics articles just for you. We’ll be serving them up to in our 84-page magazine.

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

 

Here’s a sneak preview of April 2019 Circuit Cellar:

VIDEO AND DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES IN ACTION

Video Technology in Drones
Because video is the main mission of the majority of commercial drones, video technology has become a center of gravity in today’s drone design decisions. The topic covers everything including single-chip video processing, 4k HD video capture, image stabilization, complex board-level video processing, drone-mounted cameras, hybrid IR/video camera and mesh-networks. In this article, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at the technology and trends in video technology for drones.

Building an All-in-One Serial Terminal
Many embedded systems require as least some sort of human interface. While Jeff Bachiochi was researching alternatives to mechanical keypads, he came across the touchscreen display products from 4D Systems. He chose their inexpensive, low-power 2.4-inch, resistive touch screen as the basis for his display subsystem project. He makes use of the display’s Espressif Systems ESP8266 processor and Arduino IDE support to turn the display module into a serial terminal with a serial TTL connection to other equipment.

MICROCONTROLLERS ARE EVERYWHERE

Product Focus: 32-Bit Microcontrollers
As the workhorse of today’s embedded systems, 32-bit microcontrollers serve a wide variety of embedded applications-including the IoT. MCU vendors continue to add more connectivity, security and I/O functionality to their 32-bit product families. This Product Focus section updates readers on these trends and provides a product album of representative 32-bit MCU products.

Build a PIC32-Based Recording Studio
In this project article, learn how Cornell students Radhika Chinni, Brandon Quinlan, Raymond Xu built a miniature recording studio using the Microchip PIC32. It can be used as an electric keyboard with the additional functionality of recording and playing back multiple layers of sounds. There is also a microphone that the user can use to make custom recordings.

WONDERFUL WORLD OF WIRELESS

Low-Power Wireless Comms
The growth in demand for IoT solutions has fueled the need for products and technology to do wireless communication from low-power edge devices. Using technologies including Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE), wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa) and others, embedded system developers are searching for ways to get efficient IoT connectivity while drawing as little power as possible. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in low-power wireless communications.

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 2)
Continuing his article series on Bluetooth mesh, this month Bob Japenga looks at the provisioning process required to get a device onto a Bluetooth mesh network. Then he examines two application examples and evaluates the various options for each example.

Build a Prescription Reminder
Pharmaceuticals prescribed by physicians are important to patients both old and young. But these medications will only do their job if taken according to a proper schedule. In this article, Devlin Gualtieri describes his Raspberry-Rx Prescription Reminder project, a network-accessible, the Wi-Fi connected, Raspberry Pi-based device that alerts a person when a particular medication should be administered. It also keeps a log of the actual times when medications were administered.

ENGINEERING TIPS, TRICKS AND TECHNIQUES

The Art of Current Probing
In his February column, Robert Lacoste talked about oscilloscope probes—or more specifically, voltage measurement probes. He explained how selecting the correct probe for a given measurement, and using it as it properly, is as important as having a good scope. In this article, Robert continues the discussion with another common measurement task: Accurately measuring current using an oscilloscope.

Software Engineering
There’s no doubt that achieving high software quality is human-driven endeavor. No amount of automated code development can substitute for best practices. A great tool for such efforts is the IEEE Computer Society’s Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge. In this article, George Novacek discusses some highlights of this resource, and why he has frequently consulted this document when preparing development plans.

HV Differential Probe
A high-voltage differential probe is a critical piece of test equipment for anyone who wants to safely examine high voltage signals on a standard oscilloscope. In his article, Andrew Levido describes his design of a high-voltage differential probe with features similar to commercial devices, but at a considerably lower cost. It uses just three op amps in a classic instrumentation amplifier configuration and provides a great exercise in precision analog design.

Nordic Semi’s BLE SoC Selected for Ultra Low Power IoT Module

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that Nanopower has selected Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its nP-BLE52 module, designed for developers of IoT applications with highly restricted power budgets.

The nP-BLE52 module employs a proprietary power management IC—integrated alongside Nordic’s nRF52832 Wafer-Level Chip Scale Package (WL-CSP) SoC in a System-in-Package (SiP)—which enables it to cut power to the SoC, putting it in sleep mode, before waking it up a pre-set time and in the same state as before it was put to sleep. In doing so the SoC’s power consumption in sleep mode is reduced to 10 nA, making it well suited for IoT applications where battery life is critical by potentially increasing cell lifespan 10x.

In active mode, the nRF52832 SoC runs normally. The SoC has been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4GHz radio’s 5.5mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management system. Once the Nordic SoC has completed its tasks, it instructs the nP-BLE52 to put it to sleep and wake it up again at the pre-set time. The nP-BLE52 then stores the Nordics SoC’s state variables and waits until the nRF52832 SoC needs to be powered up again. On wake-up, the device uploads the previous state variables, allowing the Nordic SoC to be restored to the same operational state as before the power was cut. The SoC’s start-up is much more rapid than if it was activated from a non-powered mode.

The nP-BLE52 module also features a low power MCU which can be set to handle external sensors and actuators when the Nordic chip is switched off. In this state, the module still monitors sensors and buffer readings and can trigger wake-ups if these readings are above predetermined thresholds, while consuming less than 1 uA. The nP-BLE52 also integrates an embedded inertial measurement unit (IMU).

The module’s power management is controlled through a simple API, whereby the user can predetermine the duration of the Nordic SoC’s sleep mode, set the wake-up time and date parameters, and select pins for other on/off triggers.

The module offers IoT developers several advantages, either extending battery life and/or reducing the size of the battery required to power the application thereby reducing the end-product footprint. Longer battery life also reduces or eliminates battery swaps and enables the developer to better adjust for remaining useful battery life as the battery discharges. The module is suitable for any battery-powered device which is not required to be constantly active, for example asset tracking, remote monitoring, beacons, and some smart-home applications.

The nRF52832 WL-CSP SoC measures just 3.0 mm by 3.2mm while offering all the features of the conventionally-packaged chip. The nRF52832 is a powerful multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth LE and 2.4 GHz ultra low-power wireless applications. It combines an 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4F processor with a 2.4 GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT, and proprietary 2.4 GHz RF software) featuring -96dB RX sensitivity, with 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM.

The WL-CSP SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certifed RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, supports up to twenty connections, and enables concurrent role operation. Nordic’s unique software architecture provides clear separation between the RF protocol software and the developer’s application code, easing product development.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

PSoC MCU Variant is Purpose-Built for IoT Edge Processing

Cypress Semiconductor is expanding its Internet of Things (IoT) solutions portfolio with a new member of its ultra-low-power PSoC 6 microcontroller (MCU) family. The new PSoC 6 MCU is purpose-built to address the growing needs for computing, connectivity and storage in IoT edge devices. The new MCUs include expanded embedded memory with 2 MB Flash and 1 MB SRAM to support compute-intensive algorithms, connectivity stacks and data logging.

At the same time, Cypress has announced two new development kits for the PSoC 6 family, enabling developers to immediately leverage the industry’s lowest power, most flexible dual-core MCU with hardware-based security—to prolong battery life, deliver efficient processing and sensing, and protect sensitive user data. PSoC 6 is empowering millions of IoT products today, providing the most secure and low-power processing available.
Developers can evaluate the new PSoC 6 MCUs with expanded embedded memory using Cypress’ new PSoC 6 Wi-Fi BT Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-062-4343W) (shown). This $30 kit features peripheral modules including Cypress’ industry-leading CapSense capacitive-sensing technology, PDM-PCM microphones, and memory expansion modules, enabling quick evaluation and easy development. The kit is supported by Cypress’ ModusToolbox software suite that provides easy-to-use tools for application development in a familiar MCU integrated development environment (IDE).

To streamline development of products with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.0 connectivity, Cypress has introduced the PSoC 6 BLE Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-063-BLE). This $20 kit features a fully-certified CYBLE-416045-02 BLE module—a turnkey solution that includes a PSoC 63 MCU, onboard crystal oscillators, trace antenna and passive components.

Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCUs are production qualified today and are in-stock at authorized distributors. The new PSoC 6 MCUs with expanded embedded memory are currently sampling and are expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2019. The PSoC 6 Wi-Fi BT Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-062-4343W) is available for $30 and the PSoC 6 BLE Prototyping Kit (CY8CPROTO-063-BLE) is available for $20.

Cypress Semiconductor | www.cypress.com

Nordic’s BLE SoC Selected for IIoT Energy Monitor Device

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that OneMeter, a Lublin, Poland-based Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) startup, has selected Nordic’s nRF51822 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its “OneMeter Beacon”, a device that provides companies with the ability to monitor and manage their energy usage data in real time.

Designed for use in a broad range of industrial and commercial environments—for example production facilities, manufacturing plants, and food service companies—the OneMeter Beacon is simply plugged in to an existing electronic electricity meter via an optical port interface, enabling the beacon to receive energy usage data from the meter using the IEC 62056-21 / IEC 1107 protocol. Once installed, the beacon is paired to a Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) Android smartphone or tablet, where from the OneMeter app the user can initialize and synchronize the beacon.

Once synchronized, the beacon reads data from the meter every 15 minutes, and stores it in the Nordic SoC’s Flash memory, from where the beacon automatically transmits the data to the user’s smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity provided by the nRF51822 SoC. From the app the user can review data from the most recent readout (including active and reactive energy consumption parameters), as well as view daily, weekly and monthly energy usage charts and more.

OneMeter Cloud provides a comprehensive platform from which a company can not only monitor its metering data, but also perform accurate energy usage cost estimation, conduct effective energy audits, avoid penalties for exceeding contracted power by defining power parameter alerts, as well as manage its photovoltaic (PV) infrastructure. Certified measurement data can be shared with energy vendors enabling invoices to be settled based on actual usage instead of forecasts. The OneMeter beacon is powered by a 3V CR2032 coin cell battery, providing up to 12 months battery life before replacement, thanks in part to the ultra-low power characteristics of the nRF51822 SoC which has been engineered to minimize power consumption.

Nordic’s nRF51822 is a multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth LE and 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless applications. The nRF51822 is built around a 32-bit Arm Cortex M0 CPU, 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, and 256kB/128kB Flash and 32kB/16kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S130 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 4.2 qualified concurrent multi-link protocol stack solution supporting simultaneous Central/Peripheral/Broadcaster/Observer role connections.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

 

Module Meets Needs of Simple Bluetooth Low Energy Systems

Laird has announced its new Bluetooth 5 module series, designed to simplify the process of bringing wireless designs to market. The BL651 Series is the latest addition to Laird’s Nordic Semiconductor family of Bluetooth 5 offerings. Building on the success of the BL652 and BL654 series, the BL651 is a cost-effective solution for simple Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) applications that provides all the capabilities of the Nordic nRF52810 silicon in a small, fully certified module.

The BL651 leverages the benefits of Bluetooth 5 features, including higher data throughput and increased broadcasting capacity, in a tiny footprint. According to the company, the BL651 has been designed to allow a seamless hardware upgrade path to the more fully featured BL652 series if additional flash and RAM requirements are identified in the customer development process.

The BL651 series delivers the capabilities of the Nordic nRF52810 silicon in a small, fully certified module with simple soldering castellation for easy prototyping and mass production manufacturing. Designers can use the Nordic SDK and SoftDevice or Zephyr RTOS to build their BLE application. In addition, the BL651 series is 100% PCB footprint drop in compatible with the BL652 Series of modules, allowing flexibility to upscale designs if more flash/RAM or further feature sets are required during the design process.

In large factories Bluetooth sensor networks can easily span an entire campus and gather sensor data that can provide deep insights needed to maintain efficiency, productivity and security. The BL651 Series helps make these types of sensor networks easy to build, scale, and maintain.

Laird Connectivity | www.lairdtech.com