September Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The September issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week! This 84-page publication stitches together a fine tapestry of fascinating embedded electronics articles crafted for your reading pleasure.

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

TECHNOLOGY FOR SECURITY, SENSORS & THE IoT

Security Solutions for IoT
By Jeff Child
In this IoT era of connected devices, microcontrollers have begun taking on new roles and gaining new capabilities revolving around embedded security. MCUs are embedding ever-more sophisticated security features into their devices-both on their own and via partnerships with security specialists. Here, Circuit Cellar’s Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Child, looks at the latest technology and trends in MCU security.

Electromagnetic Fault Injection: A Closer Look
By Colin O’Flynn
Electromagnetic Fault Injection (EMFI) is a powerful method of inserting faults into embedded devices, but what does this give us? In this article, Colin dives into a little more detail of what sort of effects EMFI has on real devices, and expands upon a few previous articles to demonstrate some attacks on new devices.
 
Product Focus: IoT Gateways
By Jeff Child
IoT gateways are a smart choice to facilitate bidirectional communication between IoT field devices and the cloud. Gateways also provide local processing and storage capabilities for offline services as well as near real-time management and control of edge devices. This Product Focus section updates readers on these technology trends and provides a product gallery of representative IoT gateways.
 
Comparing Color Sensor ICs
By Kevin Jensen
Driven by demands from mobile phone, display and specialty lighting equipment manufacturers, the need for sophisticated and accurate chip-scale color and spectral sensors has become stronger than ever. In this article, ams’ Kevin Jensen describes the types of optical sensors and detectors. He also provides ideas on evaluating the suitability of each type for specific applications.

PC-BASED SOLUTIONS FOR EMBEDDED SYSTEMS
 
Mini-ITX, Pico-ITX and Nano-ITX Boards
By Jeff Child
Products based on the various small-sized versions of the ITX form factor—Mini-ITX, Pico-ITX and Nano—ITX-provide system developers with complete PC-functionality and advanced graphics. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child explores the latest technology trends and product developments in these three ITX architectures.
 
Using Small PCs in New Ways
By Wolfgang Matthes
Even simple MCU-based projects often require some sort of front panel interface. Traditionally such systems had to rely on LEDs and switches for such simple interfaces. These days however, you can buy small, inexpensive computing devices such as mini-PCs and notebook computers and adapt them to fill those interfacing roles. In this article, Wolfgang steps you through the options and issues involved in connecting such PC-based devices to an MCU-based environment.



FOCUS ON MICROCONTROLLERS
 
Guitar Game Uses PIC32 MCU
By Brian Dempsey, Katarina Martucci and Liam Patterson
Guitar Hero has been an extremely popular game for decades. Many college kids today who played it when they were kids still enjoy playing it today. These three Cornell students are just such fans. Learn how they used Microchip’s microcontroller and 12-bit DAC to craft their own version that lets them play any song they wish by using MIDI files.
 
Offloading Intelligence
By Jeff Bachiochi
While some embedded systems do just fine with a single microcontroller, there are situations when offloading some processing into a second processing unit, such as a second MCU, offers a lot of advantages. In this article, Jeff explores this question in the context of a robotic system project that uses Arduino and an external motor driver.
 
Building a Portable Game Console
By Juan Joel Albrecht and Leandro Dorta Duque
32-bit MCUs can do so much these days—even providing all the needed control functionality for a gaming console. Along just those lines, learn how these three Cornell students built a portable game console that combines a Microchip PIC32 MCU embedded in a custom-designed 3D-printed case, printed circuit board and in-house gameplay graphics. The device includes a 320 x 240 TFT color display.
 


… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS
 
Variable Frequency Drive Part 2
By Brian Millier
In Part 1 Brian started to describe the process he used to convert a 3-phase motor and OEM Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) controller—salvaged from his defunct clothes washer—into a variable speed drive for his bandsaw. In this article, he completes the discussion this tim,e covering the Cypress Semi PSoC5LP SoC he used, the software design and more.
 
Semiconductor Fundamentals Part 1
By George Novacek
Embedded systems—or even modern electronics in general—couldn’t exist without semiconductor technology. In this new article series, George delves into the fundamentals of semiconductors. In Part 1 George examines the math, chemistry and materials science that are fundamental to semiconductors with a look at the basic structures that make them work.
 

 

Modular DIN Rail Box PC Targets Transportation Systems

MEN Micro has announced the MC50M, a modular DIN rail box PC for embedded applications in transportation. The computer platform is based on Intel’s Atom E3900 CPU series. This makes the MC50M the ideal basis for functions such as security gateway, predictive maintenance, CCTV, ticketing systems or as a diagnostic server.

The MC50M can be used as a stand-alone product or in combination with a range of pre-fabricated extension modules, providing additional features and short delivery times. Extension modules can provide application-specific functions such as wireless communication (LTE advanced, WLAN, GNSS), MVB, CAN bus or other I/Os. A removable storage shuttle supports the integration of one to two 2.5″ SATA hard disks/SSDs. The wide range PSU allows isolated power supply from 24 V DC to 110 V DC nominal and extends the entire system to EN 50155 compliance.

The board management controller provides increased reliability and reduces downtime. The Trusted Platform Module supports security and encryption features. With the ignition switch for remote startup and shutdown control, the platform provides additional energy saving features. The aluminum housing with cooling fins ensures conductive cooling and fanless operation. The MC50M has no moving parts, so it can be operated maintenance-free.

The long-term availability of 15 years from product launch minimizes life cycle management by making the MC50M available for at least this period. MEN’s DIN rail concept is designed for flexible configuration of module combinations and is suitable for embedded IoT applications in various markets. The CPU modules can be flexibly combined with various expansion modules and power supplies.

In the modular system, the data transfer between the individual modules as well as the power supply of the components is implemented via the expansion connectors standardized by MEN.The concept specifications include housing dimensions, mounting, cooling and IP protection. In addition, the expansion connectors and their pin assignment are defined. DIN rail mounting (35 mm) is standard. Wall and 19” rack mounting is possible using adaption brackets.

MEN Micro | www.menmicro.com

Compact Apollo-Lake Box PC Targets Mobile Comms

MEN Micro has announced its BC51M box PC based on the Intel Atom E3900 series, optionally with two or four cores, up to 1.6 GHz. The fanless and maintenance-free device is used in graphics and memory intensive applications in trains, buses or commercial vehicles and, thanks to its numerous communication interfaces, is highly variable.

With 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM memory, a rear accessible SD card, an integrated eMMC memory and an optional SATA HDD/SSD, the box PC has the necessary storage capacity for entertainment servers or video surveillance systems.  The BC51M was designed for mobile use in trains, buses or commercial vehicles and takes over wireless on-board functions such as Internet on board, positioning via GNSS, entertainment or predictive maintenance.

The box PC supports up to two DisplayPort interfaces with a maximum resolution of 4K, as well as two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, one USB 2.0, one HD audio and two variable connections for serial I/O, CAN bus, MVB or IBIS. Two PCI Express Mini Card slots and two micro-SIM slots provide flexibility in implementing mobile service standards up to 4G LTE or WLAN. The system is designed for fanless operation at temperatures from -40°C to +85°C. Thanks to the integrated 30 W/24 VDC wide-range power supply, the box PC complies with the railway standard EN 50155 and ISO 7637-2 for road vehicles.

  • Intel Atom E3900 Series
  • Up to 8 GB DDR3 DRAM, ECC
  • 32 GB eMMC
  • 2 DisplayPorts, each up to 4096 x 2160 pixels
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet, 1 USB 2.0
  • 2 slots for IBIS, GPS, RS232, RS485, RS422
  • WLAN, 4G LTE, GNSS via PCI Express Mini Cards
  • -40°C to +85°C operating temperature, fanless
  • Complies with EN 50155 and ISO 7637-2

MEN Micro | www.menmicro.com