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

Arm-Based Industrial Panel PC is Designed for IoT Applications

Advantech has announced the TPC-71W, the new generation of its industrial panel PCs aimed at machine automation and web-terminal applications. TPC-71W is a cost-efficient, Arm-based industrial panel PC that features a 7” true-flat display with P-CAP multi-touch control and an NXP Arm Cortex-A9 i.MX 6 dual/quad-core processor to deliver high-performance computing. The system also features a serial port with a termination resistor that supports the CAN 2.0B protocol and offers a programmable bit rate of up to 1 Mb/s.

Equipped with the Google Chromium embedded web browser and support for various operating systems, including Android, Linux Yocto and Linux Ubuntu with QT GUI toolkits, TPC-71W allows system integrators to easily develop and deploy a wide range of industrial applications. The provision of wireless communication technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC, via a mini PCIe interface simplifies networking and ensures connectivity for data transfers.

TPC-71W also features Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality for powering devices via Ethernet, thereby eliminating the need to build a power infrastructure. Furthermore, the TPC-71W panel PC supports VESA and panel mounting for flexible and convenient installation. Compared to other similar products, TPC-71W is one of the most competitively priced rugged industrial panel PCs currently available on the market. Overall, this powerful, reliable, and cost-effective computing platform provides the ideal solution for IoT implementation and expansion.

Aimed at the industrial market, TPC-71W is a rugged yet compact, fanless panel PC equipped with an NXP® Arm® Cortex-A9 i.MX 6 dual/quad-core processor, 2 GB DDR3L RAM, and 8 GB eMMC storage to provide high-performance computing and improved efficiency for high-tier industrial applications. The 7” true-flat display with 16:9 aspect ratio features P-CAP multi-touch control for easy and intuitive operation. Moreover, to ensure reliable operation in harsh industrial environments, TPC-71W supports a wide operating temperature range (-20 ~ 60 °C/-4 ~ 140 °F) and is IP66 rated for protection from dust, oil, and water ingress.

TPC-71W supports various OS, including Android 6, Linux Yocto 2.1, and Linux Ubuntu 16.04 with QT GUI toolkits. Linux is an open-source OS specifically designed to assist system integrators with developing unique applications. The ability to support both Android and Linux eliminates software porting efforts and ensures easy deployment. Moreover, TPC-71W features the Google Chromium embedded web browser that simplifies programming and further facilitates application development.

To ensure connectivity for web-based management, TPC-71W offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC wireless communication capabilities via a mini PCIe interface. The inclusion of a serial port that supports industrial communication interfaces, such as RS-232/485 and the CAN 2.0B protocol, and a LAN port that supports speeds of up to 1000 Mbps (10/100/1000 Mbps) accelerates data transfer rates, while also enabling Wake-on-LAN functions. Furthermore, the TPC-71W panel PC can be equipped with optional PoE functionality for powering devices via Ethernet; this greatly streamlines installations and reduces overall equipment costs.

Key Features:

  • 7” WSVGA LCD with 16:9 aspect ratio and P-CAP multi-touch control
  • NXP Arm Cortex®[C1] -A9 i.MX 6 dual/quad-core processor
  • Up to 2 GB DDR3L RAM and 8 GB of eMMC storage onboard
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN Optional PoE functionality for powering devices via Ethernet
  • Supports Linux Yocto, Linux Ubuntu, and Android OS

Advantech’s TPC-71W 7” industrial panel PC is available for order now.

Advantech | www.advantech.com

 

Mini-PCIe Modules Offer Cat-M1 and Iridium Modems for IoT

By Eric Brown

Gateworks announced a pair of mini-PCIe modems that have been tested — and offer tech support — only on the company’s Linux-based SBCs. Most recently, these include the Cavium Octeon-based Newport GW6100 and GW6200. The GW16126 with Cat-M1 and BLE 5.0 and the GW16130 satellite modem will likely work with other mini-PCIe equipped computers. The GW16126 requires a Linux host computer, while it appears the GW16130 may also work with other operating systems.

 
GW16126 Cat-M4 modem (left) and GW16130 satellite modem
(click images to enlarge)

GW16126

The GW16126 supports Bluetooth 5.0 LE (BLE), as well as Verizon’s new low-power wide-area (LPWA) Cat-M1 service, which we saw recently on Advantech’s ICR-3211Brouter. Cat-M1 offers 375 Kbps, half duplex up/down speeds for IoT or machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It’s touted for its low power consumption and exceptional in-building range.

The Cat-M1 modem is based on a U-blox SARA-R410M module. A nano-SIM socket integrates a Hologram IoT starter SIM. The mini-PCIe interface uses USB 2.0 signals to communicate with the host.

The Bluetooth radio is a U-blox NINA-B301 module with a Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 chipset running Zephyr and a Bluetooth HCI UART host interface. Dual u.Fl antenna connectors are also available.

 
GW16126 and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)
The GW16126 has a networking stack based on a Linux 4.17+ kernel and supports Ubuntu and OpenWrt. The 30 x 60.8 x 6mm card supports -40 to 85°C temperatures. The 3.3V card typically runs on 0.3A.

GW16130

For more remotely deployed IoT sites, Gateworks has also launched a GW16130 mini-PCIe satellite modem with an Iridium 9603N satellite transceiver for two-way communications over Iridium’s global, 66-satellite network. The device supports “cost-effective, short burst satellite connectivity for asset tracking, fleet management, telemetry, oceanographic data, grid monitoring, and IoT applications,” says Gateworks.


GW16130 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)
As with the GW16126, the device uses USB 2.0 signaling to the host. Serial communications are enabled via an FTDI USB-to-UART bridge. The modem operates at 1616 MHz to 1626.5 MHz with 1.6W average transmit power and -117 dBm receiver sensitivity. There’s a single u.Fl antenna connector.

The 30 mm x 50.95 mm x 11.6 mm, 3.3V card typically runs at [email protected] C, with a [email protected] peak transmit rate. It supports -40 to 85°C temperatures. The product requires an Iridium data plan, which typically cost $20 per month with 12 KB of data.

Further information

The GW16126 Cat-M4 modem and GW16130 satellite modem are available now at an undisclosed price, although they should eventually appear on Gateworks’ mini-PCIe shopping page. More information may be found on the GW16126 product page and GW16126 wiki, as well as the GW16130 product page and GW16130 wiki.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on May 10.

Gateworks | www.gateworks.com

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 3)

Secure Provisioning

In this next part of his article series on Bluetooth mesh, Bob looks at how to create secure provisioning for a Bluetooth Mesh network without requiring user intervention. He also takes a special look at an attack called Man-in-the-Middle which Bluetooth’s asymmetric key encryption is vulnerable to.

By Bob Japenga

Both of our cars are more than 15 years old. My only new car envy is with the lack of a modern audio system. With a rental car, I’m always envious of the Bluetooth support and the seamless way I can connect and reconnect my phone to the car’s system. Most of the new audio systems are well thought out and easy to use. For my birthday, I got a Bluetooth device that would connect my phone to my dumb audio system in both cars. I have been very happy with the devices although they have two quirks. One is that they don’t work when the car has been left outside and it’s below zero. After the car warms up, it will happily function. But it doesn’t like subzero temperatures.

The other quirk—pointed out by my grandchildren—is that when it powers up, it announces: “Waiting for Pairing.” And then when it is paired, it reports “Paired.” The quirk is that instead of saying “Waiting for Pairing” it sounds like it is saying “Waiting for Perry.” The first time my grandkids were in the car, they asked: “Who is Perry and why are we waiting for him?” Now I can only hear “Waiting for Perry” when I turn on the car.
Pairing is the way two standard Bluetooth devices establish the initial link for one-to-one networking (Figure 1). Bluetooth mesh needs a much more sophisticated and secure method of linking the many-to-many network. That method is called provisioning. I introduced Bluetooth mesh provisioning in my last article (Circuit Cellar 345, April 2019) [1]. So, if you haven’t read that article, as a minimum, it will be important to go back to understand the terms that were defined in that article and which I will be using in this article.

Figure 1
Pairing is the way two standard Bluetooth devices establish the initial link for one-to-one networking.

As I mentioned last time, the Bluetooth specification [2] states that only if an Out-of-Band (OOB) public key is used or if an OOB action is taken to pass the public key (using user supplied information), “provisioning is Insecure Provisioning.” This statement will basically jettison any project that does not use one of these two OOB methods when presented to a savvy IT group. It did for us. Imagine presenting to your CEO a new product line using Bluetooth mesh that doesn’t use one of these two methods. Most likely the savvy CEO will ask: “What is the projected return on our investment?” AND “Is it secure?” Would you want to say: “Well, we are using Insecure Provisioning but other than that it is secure?”

I’m not convinced that the specification is entirely accurate in this statement and would appeal to the Bluetooth SIG to reconsider their wording. I want to elaborate on this idea in this article and provide some means for making provisioning secure without using either of the two OOB methods to pass the public keys.

Man-in-the-Middle

As I mentioned last time, Bluetooth uses asymmetric key encryption during the first part of provisioning. Asymmetric key encryption has one basic security flaw. It is subject to what is called a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack. Let me illustrate this attack.

Imagine that Bob and Barbara are happily married. I know, normally everyone uses Alice in these illustrations, but my wife’s name is Barbara. They want to communicate some secret birthday plans about their grandson Sean. So, they both send over clear text their public keys (B1 and B2) (Figure 2). Bob encrypts all of his messages with Barbara’s public key B2, and sends them to Barbara. Barbara decrypts all of Bob’s messages using her private key B2P. Barbara sends all of her messages to Bob using Bob’s public key B1 to encrypt the data. Bob decrypts Barbara’s messages with Bob’s private key B1P.

Figure 2
Shown here is an example exchange that would be insecure because it would be subject to a Man-in-the-Middle attack. However, during normal asymmetric key encryption, the attack can be prevented through authentication.

Imagine that grandson Sean is a curious computer whiz and wants to know what’s he is going to get for his birthday. He intercepts the public key exchange B1 and B2 between his grandparents. Instead of passing on their public keys, he sends them his public key S1. So, when Bob and Barbara send their messages encrypted with S1 to each other he intercepts them and decrypts them using his private key S1P since they are encrypting their messages with his public key S1. He finds out what he is getting for his birthday and then encrypts the messages using Bob and Barbara’s public keys and sends them back to them. Bob and Barbara are clueless to the fact that Sean now knows what he is getting for his birthday.

That example illustrates that, if during the provisioning process, the public keys are not exchanged OOB, the process would be insecure because they would be subject to a MitM attack. However, during normal asymmetric key encryption, the way this can be prevented is through authentication. If Bob can know that a key is authentically from Barbara, he would immediate recognize that the key that Sean sent was not from Barbara. During normal Internet asymmetric key encryption this authentication is done through Certificates of Authority created by a trusted signing authority.

The Bluetooth provisioning process includes authentication of the device as part of the process. Authentication can either be using an OOB technique or without OOB. So, I would contend that if you use some means of authenticating that does not transfer the credentials over the Bluetooth network, your provisioning process would be secure in spite of what the Bluetooth specification says (I am definitely treading on thin ice here!).

Read the full article in the June 347 issue of Circuit Cellar

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June Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The June issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week!. We’ve been tending our technology crops to bring you a rich harvest of in-depth embedded electronics articles. We’ll have this 84-page magazine brought to your table very soon..

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

TOOLS AND CONCEPTS FOR ENGINEERS

Integrated PCB Design Tools
After decades of evolving their PCB design tool software packages, the leading tool vendors have the basics of PCB design nailed down. In recent years, these companies have continued to come up with new enhancements to their tool suites, addressing a myriad of issues related to not just the PCB design itself, but the whole process surrounding it. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child looks at the latest integrated PCB design tool solutions.

dB for Dummies: Decibels Demystified
Understanding decibels—or dB for short—may seem intimidating. Frequent readers of this column know that Robert uses dB terms quite often—particularly when talking about wireless systems or filters. In this article, Robert Lacoste discusses the math underlying decibels using basic concepts. The article also covers how they are used to express values in electronics and even includes a quiz to help you hone your decibel expertise.

Understanding PID
As a means for implementing feedback control systems, PID is an important concept in electronics engineering. In this article, Stuart Ball explains how PID can be applied and explains the concept by focusing on a simple circuit design.

DESIGNING CONNECTED SYSTEMS

Sensor Connectivity Trends
While sensors have always played a key role in embedded systems, the exploding Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon has pushed sensor technology to the forefront. Any IoT implementation depends on an array of sensors that relay input back to the cloud. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child dives into the latest technology trends and product developments in sensors with an emphasis on their connectivity aspects.

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 3)
In this next part of his article series on Bluetooth mesh, Bob Japenga looks at how to create secure provisioning for a Bluetooth Mesh network without requiring user intervention. He takes a special look at an attack which Bluetooth’s asymmetric key encryption is vulnerable to called Man-in-the-Middle.

PONDERING POWER AND ENERGY

Product Focus: AC-DC Converters
To their peril, embedded system developers often treat their choice of power supply as an afterthought. But choosing the right AC-DC converter is critical to the ensuring your system delivers power efficiently to all parts of your system. This Product Focus section updates readers on these trends and provides a product album of representative AC-DC converter products.

Energy Monitoring (Part 1)
The efficient use of energy is a topic moving ever more front and center these days as climate change and energy costs begin to affect our daily lives. Curious to discover how efficient his own energy consumption was, George Novacek built an MCU-based system to monitor his household energy. And, in order to make sure this new device wasn’t adding more energy use, he chose to make the energy monitoring system solar-powered.

Building a PoE Power Subsystem
Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) allows a single cable to provide both data interconnection and power to devices. In this article, Maxim Integrated’s  and Maxim Integrated’s Thong Huynh and Suhei Dhanani explore the key issues involved in implementing rugged PoE systems. Topics covered include standards compliance, interface controller selection, DC-DC converter choices and more.

Taming Your Wind Turbine
While you can buy off-the-shelf wind power generators these days, they tend to get bad reviews from users. The problem is that harnessing wind energy takes some “taming” of the downstream electronics. In this article, Alexander Pozhitkov discusses his characterization project for a small wind turbine. This provides a guide for designing your own wind energy harvesting system.

MORE PROJECT ARTICLES WITH ALL THE DETAILS

Windless Wind Chimes (Part 1)
Wind chimes make a pleasant sound during the warm months when windows are open. But wouldn’t it be nice to simulate those sounds during the winter months when your windows are shut? In part 1 of this project article, Jeff Bachiochi builds a device that simulates a breeze randomly playing suspended wind chimes. Limited to the standard 5-note pentatonic chimes, this device is based on a Microchip PIC18 low power microcontroller.

GPS Guides Robotic Car
In this project article, Raul Alvarez-Torrico builds a robotic car that navigates to a series of GPS waypoints. Using the Arduino UNO for a controller, the design is aimed at robotics beginners that want to step things up a notch. In the article, Raul discusses the math, programing and electronics hardware choices that went into this project design.

Haptic Feedback Electronic Travel Aid
Time-of-flight sensors have become small and affordable in the last couple years. In this article, learn how Cornell graduates Aaheli Chattopadhyay, Naomi Hess and Jun Ko detail creating a travel aid for the visually impaired with a few time-of-flight sensors, coin vibration motors, an Arduino Pro Mini, a Microchip PIC32 MCU, a flashlight and a sock.

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.

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

 

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.

Low-Power Wireless MCUs Provide Real-Time Performance

STMicroelectronics (ST) has announced its latest Bluetooth offering, its STM32WBx5 dual-core wireless MCUs. The devices come with Bluetooth 5, OpenThread and ZigBee 3.0 connectivity combined with ultra-low-power performance. Fusing features of ST’s STM32L4 Arm Cortex-M4 MCUs and in-house radio managed by a dedicated Cortex-M0+, the STM32WBx5 is power-conscious yet capable of concurrent wireless-protocol and real-time application execution. It is well suited to remote sensors, wearable trackers, building automation controllers, computer peripherals, drones and other IoT devices.
Security features of the STM32WBx5 MCUs include Customer Key Storage (CKS), Public Key Authorization (PKA), and encryption engines for the radio MAC and upper layers. The MCUs have up to 1 MB of on-chip flash and a Quad-SPI port for efficient connection to external memory, if needed. Additional features include crystal-less Full-Speed USB, 32 MHz RF oscillator with trimming capacitors, a touch-sense controller, LCD controller, analog peripherals and multiple timers and watchdogs. The balun for antenna connection is also integrated.

Leveraging ultra-low-power technologies of the STM32L4 line, STM32WBx5 MCUs feature multiple power-saving modes including 13 nA shutdown mode, adaptive voltage scaling, and the adaptive real-time (ART) accelerator to maximize energy efficiency and ensure long-lasting performance in self-powered applications. The integrated radio transmitter is optimized for high RF performance and low power consumption to maximize battery runtime. The RF output power is programmable up to +6 dBm in 1 dB increments, and the MCU draws only 5.2 mA when transmitting at 0 dB. Receive sensitivity is -96 dBm for BLE communication at 1mbps. Designed for a link budget of 102 dB, the radio ensures robust communication over long connection distances and includes support for an external Power Amplifier (PA).

STMicroelectronics | www.st.com

 

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

 

Rugged Touch Panel Computer Targets Railway System Designs

ADLINK Technology has released its latest Driver Machine Interface (DMI) touch panel computer, the DMI-1210, designed specifically for train control and driver information display. Powered by the Intel Atom x5-E3930 processor (formerly Apollo Lake) and featuring a 12.1” (4:3) high resolution color display, 5-wire resistive touch screen and securable I/O interface, the DMI-1210 can be deployed as an HMI unit for driver’s desks, control panel for passenger information systems, surveillance system control/display unit or in railway diagnostics and communications applications.
The DMI-1210 is an EN 50155 certificated, cost-effective, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) driver interface that offers train radio display, electronic timetable, and diagnostic display functions and additional functionality such as train data recorder. The DMI-1210 supports full range DC power input from +16.8 V to +137.5 V DC. Optional MVB, GNSS, 3G/LTE, WLAN and Bluetooth through add-on modules give system integrators the necessary tools to expand use case possibilities.

With ADLINK’s built-in Smart Embedded Management Agent (SEMA) management and status LEDs on the front panel, the DMI-1210 provides easy and effective health monitoring and system maintenance. In addition, system robustness and reliability are provided by careful component selection for extended temperature operation, isolated I/Os, conformal coated circuit boards, securable I/O connectors and high ingress protection rating (IP65 front, IP42 rear).

ADLINK Technology | www.adlinktech.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.

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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.