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.
 

 

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Microcontroller Watch

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Microcontroller Watch newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your Microcontroller Watch newsletter issue tomorrow.

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Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

IoT Technology Focus. (8/20) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(8/27) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (9/3) This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AC-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

Firms Partner on Integrated Sensor-to-Cloud Monitoring Solutions

Atmosphere and Radio Bridge have announced a partnership that integrates Radio Bridge sensors with Atmosphere’s cloud-based IoT platform for rapid deployment and management of several sensor technologies across multiple low-power wide area networks. An integrated solution was recently deployed for a customer that manages disaster response in the energy industry. The solution was built on the Atmosphere Platform to connect and manage hundreds of Radio Bridge wireless sensors using a combination of Sigfox and LoRaWAN technologies.

Radio Bridge Inc. designs and manufactures long-range wireless sensors for the Internet of Things (IoT) industry using emerging wireless standards such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox. The entire portfolio of sensors products are designed for very long range, low cost, and extended battery life. The sensors are targeted toward the home security, smart city, medical device and industrial automation industries. Radio Bridge offers an optional web-based console for provisioning, monitoring, and configuration of the sensors in the field. Custom design is also available with the goal of achieving seamless sensor-to-cloud solutions for a variety of applications.

Atmosphere | atmosphereiot.com

Radio Bridge | radiobridge.com

Switching Regular’s Low Quiescent Current Extends Battery Life

Texas Instruments has introduced an ultra-low-power switching regulator with what TI claims is the industry’s lowest operating quiescent current (IQ) at 60 nA, a third that of the nearest competitive device. The TPS62840 synchronous step-down converter delivers very high light-load efficiency of 80% at 1-µA load, which can enable designers to extend the battery life of their systems, or use fewer or smaller batteries to shrink their overall power supply solution size and reduce cost. Additionally, the new DC/DC converter’s wide input voltage (VIN) range of 1.8 V to 6.5 V supports a variety of battery chemistries and configurations.

TI’s 60-nA IQ buck converter increases efficiency and shrinks solution size in a variety of battery-powered industrial and personal electronics applications

These features plus its selectable functions enable the TPS62840 to help engineers solve critical design challenges in many battery-powered, always-on industrial and personal electronics application –including narrow-band Internet of Things (IoT), grid infrastructure equipment and wearables–that require more flexibility, an extended wireless range, improved accuracy and reduced electromagnetic interference (EMI).

A lower IQ draw delivers longer battery life for systems with very light loads (less than 100µA), and those operating primarily in standby/ship mode (not switching). The low IQ of the TPS62840 enables its 80% efficiency at a 1-µA load, which is up to 30% better than competitive devices.

The TPS62840’s selectable mode and stop functions improve noise performance and reduce signal distortion. These benefits can help lower the solution cost because designers can achieve system requirements without using more expensive precision signal-chain components, sensors or radio solutions to perform the same functions. The mode pin allows for continuous conduction mode, also called forced pulse-width modulation mode, to improve ripple or noise performance and lessen the impact on transmissions in sensitive radio-frequency applications. The stop pin turns off all switching to reduce EMI or ripple, and minimizes distortions passed to precision signal-chain, measurement, sensors or wireless connectivity components.

Engineers can use the new switching regulator to cut their battery count in half or use smaller batteries in their design. For example, designers can save up to 16,980 mm3 using four AAAs instead of four AAs.

Flexible VIN broadens applications: The TPS62840’s wide range of 1.8 VIN-6.5 VIN accommodates multiple battery chemistries and configurations, such as two lithium manganese dioxide (2s-LiMnO2) cells in series, single-cell lithium thionyl chloride (1xLiSOCL2), four-cell and two-cell alkaline, and lithium polymer (Li-Po).

Pre-production samples of the TPS62840 are now available through the TI store in the following packages: 8-pin small outline no-lead (SON), measuring 1.5 mm by 2.0 mm; 6-pin wafer chip scale package (WCSP), measuring 0.97 mm by 1.47 mm. An 8-pin thermally enhanced package (HVSSOP), measuring 3 mm by 5 mm, will become available later this year. Pricing starts at $0.85 in 1,000-unit quantities. The TPS62840-1DLCEVM55 and TPS62840-1YBGEVM56 evaluation modules are available for $49 each.

Texas Instruments | www.ti.com

 

Tuesday’s Newsletter: Analog & Power

Coming to your inbox on Tuesday: Circuit Cellar’s Analog & Power newsletter. This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including ADCs, DACs, DC-DC converters, AC-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your Analog & Power newsletter issue tomorrow.

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Don’t be left out! Sign up now:

Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

Microcontroller Watch. (8/13) This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

IoT Technology Focus. (8/20) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(8/27) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

NXP and Microsoft Team Up for Energy-Efficient Edge Processor

NXP Semiconductors has announced a collaboration with Microsoft to deliver a new Microsoft Azure Sphere certified crossover applications processor, as an extension to NXP’s i.MX 8 high-performance applications processor series. The collaboration’s goal is to create a secure, ultra-efficient, intelligent embedded processor for edge nodes that seamlessly runs Azure Sphere’s security platform while also providing multi-core heterogeneous computing, rich graphics experience and low-power audio processing capabilities. Limited sampling of the product is planned to begin in Q4 2020.

Azure Sphere security platform is designed to create secure connected devices. As Azure Sphere-certified, this new processor will include the Microsoft Pluton security sub-system, run the Azure Sphere OS, and connect to the Azure Sphere Security Service that guards every Azure Sphere device by renewing security, identifying emerging threats, and brokering trust between device and cloud.

According to NXP, Dedicated engineering teams from each company will work together to build this new solution, which includes single and dual core versions of power-efficient Arm Cortex-A35, independent real-time domain with Cortex-M33 core, and an independent audio/video processing domain powered by high-performance HiFi4 DSP core. The goal is to address the needs of fast-growing Industrial IoT edge applications. The product will be built using Fully-Depleted Silicon-On-Insulator (FD-SOI) technology and will leverage heterogeneous processor architecture with independent power domains that has been perfected by successive designs of i.MX 8 applications processors covering automotive infotainment, streaming media and general-purpose consumer and industrial markets.

NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

Eurotech to Provide IoT Tech for New Paris Metro Lines

 

Eurotech France, the French subsidiary of the Eurotech Group, has announced that it has been selected by Thales as a supplier of embedded hardware and IoT software for the CAVE project “Automatic Counting of Passengers” of the new Grand Paris Express metro lines 15, 16 and 17. The entire project represents for Eurotech the supply of a minimum of 1400 passenger counters, with potential additional traches for a total up to 4250. No other financial details have been disclosed.

DynaPCN 10-20

 

This project aims to know in real time the number of wagon users at each station to feed mobility applications and then to improve transport services through a detailed analysis of all the data collected about passengers flows. In addition to using the PoE version of Eurotech’s DynaPCN passenger counter, the solution is based on ESF (Everyware Software Framework) for the on-board software for data collection and remote configuration, and EC (Everyware Cloud) for the ground software to enable Société du Grand Paris to securely access passenger counting information and to use this data internally or by sharing it externally.

The DynaPCN 10-20 is a compact, low power, autonomous device based on non-contact stereoscopic vision technology. It has been specifically designed for passenger counting above the doorways in buses and trains; it can also be used to count people as they enter or leave buildings or any area with restricted access.

Stereoscopic cameras capture images of the area below the device. Thanks to the integrated high luminosity infrared LED indicators it can operate in any type of lighting condition. The extended temperature range capabilities allow integrators to use the device in a wide range of climatic conditions.

The DynaPCN 10-20 analyses the height, shape and direction of any object passing the field of view; if the object is recognized as a person entering or leaving, the incoming and outgoing counters are incremented accordingly, along with time and date information.

Data transfer is made via an Ethernet interface. The onboard insulated digital I/O interfaces can be used to directly communicate with intelligent doors or flow control systems, guaranteeing optimal functionality at all times: for example, stop counting when the doors are closed.

The DynaPCN 10-20 can be easily mounted in the ceiling space above a doorway becoming almost invisible. The angle of the optical panel can be adjusted from 0° to 45°; therefore, it can be placed in an ideal position even if the mounting surface is not horizontal.

Eurotech | www.eurotech.com

IoT Modules Enable Large-Scale LTE-M and NB-IoT Deployments

Telit has announced the ME310G1 (shown) and ME910G1 modules, designed for mass-scale LTE-M and NB-IoT deployments that feature hundreds of thousands or millions of devices. Based on the new Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem and featuring optional 2G fallback, the modules also provide a future-proof foundation for IoT deployments that span legacy networks, 4G and 5G.
The ME310G1 and ME910G1 are the first 3GPP Release 14 additions to the Telit portfolio and the first members of Telit’s new series based on the Qualcomm 9205 LTE IoT Modem, which was announced in late 2018. The highly compact chipset enables Telit to meet booming global demand for ultra-small modules for applications such as wearable medical devices, fitness trackers and industrial sensors.

The new modules are ideal for battery-powered applications via improved features such as Power Saving Mode (PSM) and extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX), which periodically wakes up the device to transmit only the smallest amounts of data necessary before returning to sleep mode. Both modules also ensure reliable indoor connections, with a maximum coupling loss of up to +15dB/+20dB for superior in-building penetration compared to earlier LTE standards.

The multi-band ME310G1 and ME910G1 are available in versions with 2G fallback for use in areas where LTE-M/NB-IoT service is yet to be deployed. These versions also support GSM voice and will support VoLTE for applications that require the ability to make phone calls.

The ME910G1 is the latest member of Telit’s best-selling xE910 and family. The ME910G1 is also a drop-in replacement in existing devices based on the family’s modules for 2G, 3G and the various categories of LTE. With Telit’s design-once-use-anywhere philosophy, developers can cut costs and development time by simply designing for the xE910 LGA common form factor, giving them the freedom to deploy technologies best suited for the application’s environment.

The ME310G1 LTE-only variant is less than 200 mm-squared and variant with 2G fallback is less than 300 mm2-squared and they enable enterprises to deploy new small footprint designs across many application areas including asset tracking, health-care monitoring, smart metering, portable devices, industrial sensors, home automation, and others that benefit from low-power and low-data rate capabilities. The xE310 family’s flexible perimeter footprint includes pin-to-pin compatible 2G and 4G modules, enabling integrators to design a single PCB layout and deploy a combination of technologies.

ME310G1 and ME910G1 samples are now available. Mass production begins in late 2019 and Q1 2020, depending on the product version.

Telit | www.telit.com

Bonus Newsletter: PCB Design Tools

We have a BONUS newsletter for you this week: PCB Design Tools! The process of PCB design is always facing new complexities. Rules-based autorouting, chips with higher lead counts and higher speed interconnections are just a few of the challenges forcing PCB design software to keep pace. This newsletter updates you on the latest happenings in this area.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your
Embedded Boards newsletter issue tomorrow.

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

Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

Analog & Power. (8/6) This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AC-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

Microcontroller Watch (8/13) This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

IoT Technology Focus. (8/20) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Boards.(8/27) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes

Next Newsletter: Embedded Boards

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s Embedded Boards newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter content focuses on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate.

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your
Embedded Boards newsletter issue tomorrow.

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

Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

July has a 5th Tuesday . That’s means we’re giving you an extra Newsletter: PCB Design! (7/30) The process of PCB design is always facing new complexities. Rules-based autorouting, chips with higher lead counts and higher speed interconnections are just a few of the challenges forcing PCB design software to keep pace. This newsletter updates you on the latest happenings in this area.

Analog & Power. (8/6) This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AC-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

Microcontroller Watch (8/13) This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

IoT Technology Focus. (8/20) Covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Embedded Solutions Enable Smarter Railway Systems

Computing, Connectivity and Control

Railway systems keep getting more advanced. On both the control side and passenger entertainment side, embedded computers play critical roles. Railway systems need sophisticated networking, data collection and real-time control—all while meeting safety standards.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

There’s no doubt that railway systems represent one of the most dynamic segments of embedded computing design. There’s a lot for embedded systems to do aboard trains—ensuring both safety and precise control for the train, but also for the increasingly sophisticated entertainment systems installed on today’s modern trains.

Meanwhile, trains are evolving into moving Internet-of-Things (IoT) platforms, as system developers strive to leverage the many benefits of data collection and passenger monitoring. Even embedded artificial intelligence (AI) is finding its way into the mindshare of railway system developers.

Figure 1
An overview EN 50155, ISO 7637-2 and IRIS certified electronics that are embedded into trains (and buses) for control, supervision, communication, passenger information, security and testing.

Exemplifying these trends, MEN Micro is a leading example of an embedded computer vendor deeply immersed in railway system technology development. Among its offerings are its line of EN 50155, ISO 7637-2 and IRIS certified electronics that are embedded into trains (and buses) for control, supervision, communication, passenger information, security and testing. Figure 1 shows an overview of the MEN’s solutions along those lines. EN 50155 is one of a handful of standards targeted specifically for railway systems. Table 1 shows of summary of these standards.

TABLE 1
Shown here is a summary of the key certifications for embedded computers for railway systems. (Source: Assured Systems).

DIN-Rail Mounting

In January, MEN Micro introduced the MC50M, its latest modular computer for DIN rail mounting. To clarify, “rail” in this context is referring not to railroad rails but rather to the metal DIN rail, a standard type of mounting used in industrial control equipment inside equipment racks. MEN’s DIN rail concept is designed for flexible configuration of module combinations and is suitable for embedded IoT applications in various markets. DIN rail mounting (35 mm) is standard. Wall and 19’’ rack mounting are possible using adaption brackets.

The EN 50155-compliant box is based on Intel’s Atom E3900 series with low power dissipation and scalability in performance and memory. The modular expansion concept makes the DIN rail family a cost-effective and flexible solution. For memory, the system provides up to 8 GB of DDR3 SDRAM and an M.2 NVMe slot for mass storage. The box embeds a Trusted Platform Module for security and for I/O the MC50M provides Gbit Ethernet, USB 3.0, RS-232, R-S485/422 and DisplayPort. Input voltage is 24 VDC nominal with ignition and it supports a full-range of PSUs from 9 VDC to 60 VDC. Operating temperature is -55°C to +70°C.

According to MEN Micro, the MC50M is well suited for transportation functions such as security gateways, 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 or two 2.5” SATA hard disks/SSDs. The wide range PSU allows isolated power supply from 24 VDC to 110 VDC 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 an 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 that period.

Security and Safety

Security and safety go hand-in-hand when it comes to railway computing systems. With that in mind, in April Kontron and SYSGO jointly started the development of an integrated platform for safety-critical railway solutions based on Kontron’s SAFe-VX hardware. Their aim was to provide system integrators with a solid and flexible basis for certifiable applications in trains and signaling.

Kontron’s hardware is already used in many railway systems and has been certified up to SIL-4, the highest level of the IEC 61508 standard for functional safety of electronic systems. …

Read the full article in the July 348 issue of Circuit Cellar
(Full article word count: 3856 words; Figure count: 8 Figures.)

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Note: We’ve made the October 2017 issue of Circuit Cellar available as a free sample issue. In it, you’ll find a rich variety of the kinds of articles and information that exemplify a typical issue of the current magazine.

LoRaWAN Gateway Offers a Choice of Orange Pi, Raspberry Pi or i.MX6 ULL

Moscow-based M2M IOT has launched a GW-01 LoRaWAN gateway built around an Orange Pi Zero H2+ SBC that supports outdoors installations. The GW-01 combines the Zero H2+ with an 8-channel LoRaWAN board based on the Semtech SX1301 LoRa concentrator.

The GW-01 is a modified version of the same board found on the company’s $95 GW-01 RPI add-on for the Raspberry Pi, as well as a $245, all-in-one GW-01 PoE gateway with Power-over-Ethernet support that runs on an i.MX6 ULL (see farther below). All three products ship with an open source Linux stack with LoRa gateway and packet-forwarder software pre-flashed on the board and posted on GitHub.


 
GW-01 with (left) and without the underlying Orange Pi Zero H2+
(click images to enlarge)

The new GW-01 gateway operates in the 868MHz or 915MHz LoRa frequencies and has -139 dBm sensitivity. The range is 2.5 kilometers when surrounded by buildings or up to 10 Km in open space. The 5V-powered GW-01 measures 80 х 50 х 20mm without the supplied antenna and can operate in 0 to 70°C temperatures.



GW-01 without the Orange Pi
(click image to enlarge)

The GW-01 runs OpenWrt or Armbian on the Orange Pi Zero H2+, a variant of the similarly open-spec, 48 x 46mm Orange Pi Zero with a slightly improved Allwinner H2+ instead of an H2. The H2+ SoC similarly provides 4x Cortex-A7 cores @ 1.2GHz and a Mali-400 MP2 GPU.


 
GW-01 gateway setup screen and Orange Pi Zero H2+
(click images to enlarge)

The Zero H2+ has only 256MB DDR3 RAM, and the only display interface is an AV-out header. There are also single USB 2.0 host, micro-USB OTG with 5V power input, and 10/100 Ethernet ports, as well as a microSD slot, WiFi, and a 26-pin header that supports early Raspberry Pi boards.

The Zero H2+ board on the GW-01 has 8MB serial flash instead of the usual 2MB in order to incorporate the 4.5MB OpenWrt image. The SBC has lower power consumption and a lower $8.50 price than any of the modern-era RPi boards.

For prototyping purposes, the gateway requires at least one LoRaWAN equipped end node and a web server. For the latter, M2M IOT recommends TheThingsNetwork or its own cloud.m2m-tele server.

GW-01 RPI and GW-01 PoE

The GW-01 RPI and GW-01 PoE have the same specs as the GW-01 except that the PoE model has a wider -35 to 70°C range. The GW-01 RPI requires any Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 board to operate.


 
GW-01 RPI board (left) and integrated with Raspberry Pi 3
(click images to enlarge)

The GW-01 PoE is a standalone product such as the GW-01, in this case, integrating an apparently homegrown SBC built around NXP’s power-sipping, single Cortex-A7 based i.MX6 ULL SoC. It has an Ethernet port with 48V PoE support for easier installation.

Like the GW-01, the RPI and PoE models have an 80 x 50mm footprint, and the SBC on the PoE model similarly adds 20mm on the vertical. They both ship with antennas. Like the GW-01, the PoE model runs on OpenWrt while the RPI shield uses Raspbian.


 
GW-01 PoE (left) and underyling i.MX6 ULL-based SBC
(click images to enlarge)

LoRa is a long-range, low-bandwidth wireless standard that can work in peer-to-peer fashion between low-cost, low-power LoRa nodes. LoRa nodes can also connect to the Internet via a LoRaWAN gateway.

Other LoRa gateway boards for the Raspberry Pi include Pi Supply’s IoT LoRa Gateway. We’ve also seen some LoRa ready gateways based on the i.MX6 UL, which is very similar to the i.MX6 ULL, such as Forlinx’s FCU1101.

 
Further information

The GW-01 is available now for $120 while the RPI and PoE models go for $95 and $245, respectively. More information may be found on the M2M IOT website and GitHub page, as well as the shopping pages for the GW-01GW-01 RPI, and GW-01 PoE.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on July 1.

M2M IOT | m2m-tele.com

Tuesday’s Newsletter: IoT Tech Focus

Coming to your inbox tomorrow: Circuit Cellar’s IoT Technology Focus newsletter. Tomorrow’s newsletter covers what’s happening with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology–-from devices to gateway networks to cloud architectures. This newsletter tackles news and trends about the products and technologies needed to build IoT implementations and devices.

Bonus: We’ve added Drawings for Free Stuff to our weekly newsletters. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the newsletter so you can participate

Already a Circuit Cellar Newsletter subscriber? Great!
You’ll get your IoT Technology Focus newsletter issue tomorrow.

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

Our weekly Circuit Cellar Newsletter will switch its theme each week, so look for these in upcoming weeks:

Embedded Boards.(7/23) The focus here is on both standard and non-standard embedded computer boards that ease prototyping efforts and let you smoothly scale up to production volumes.

Analog & Power. (8/6) This newsletter content zeros in on the latest developments in analog and power technologies including DC-DC converters, AC-DC converters, power supplies, op amps, batteries and more.

July has a 5th Tuesday . That’s means we’re giving you an extra Newsletter: PCB Design! (7/30) The process of PCB design is always facing new complexities. Rules-based autorouting, chips with higher lead counts and higher speed interconnections are just a few of the challenges forcing PCB design software to keep pace. This newsletter updates you on the latest happenings in this area.

Microcontroller Watch (8/13) This newsletter keeps you up-to-date on latest microcontroller news. In this section, we examine the microcontrollers along with their associated tools and support products.

August Circuit Cellar: Sneak Preview

The August issue of Circuit Cellar magazine is out next week! This 84-page publication rustles up a powerful herd of compelling embedded electronics articles prepared for your reading pleasure.

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

 

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

MCU AND EMBEDDED SYSTEM TECHNOLOGIES

MCUs for Driverless Cars
By Jeff Child
Driverless cars are steadily advancing toward becoming a mainstream phenomenon. Building toward that goal, chip vendors are evolving their driver assistance technologies into complete driver replacement solutions. These solutions make use of powerful microcontroller solutions to analyze a car’s surroundings, process the information and employ control functionality to steer cars safely. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child examines the MCU technology and product trends that are key to driverless vehicle evolution.

Product Focus: Small and Tiny Embedded Boards
By Jeff Child
An amazing amount of computing functionality can be squeezed on to a small form factor board these days. These small—and even tiny—board-level products meet the needs of applications where extremely low SWaP (size, weight and power) beats all other demands. This Product Focus section updates readers on this technology trend and provides a product album of representative small and tiny embedded boards.

Portable Digital Synthesizer
By T.J. Hurd and Ben Roberge
Gone are the days when even a basic music synthesizer was a bulky system requiring highly specialized design knowledge. These two Cornell students developed a portable musical synthesizer using a Microchip PIC32 MCU. The portable system performs digital audio synthesis on the fly and produces sounds that range from simple sine waves to heavily modulated waveforms.

Displays for Embedded Systems
By Jeff Child
Thanks to advances in displays and innovations in graphics ICs, embedded systems can now routinely feature sophisticated graphical user interfaces. What used to require a dedicated board-level graphics/video board, now can be integrated into a chip or just a part of a chip. Circuit Cellar Chief Editor Jeff Child dives into the latest technology trends and product developments in displays for embedded systems.

Building a Twitter Emote Robot
By Ian Kranz, Nikhil Dhawan and Sofya Calvin
Social media is so pervasive these days that it’s hard to image life without it. But digital interactions can be isolating because the physical feedback component gets lost. Using PIC32 MCU technology, these three Cornell students built an emotionally expressive robot which physically reacts to tweets in a live setting. Users can tweet to the robot’s Twitter account and receive near instant feedback as the robot shares its feelings about the tweet via physical means such as sounds, facial expressions and more.

Understanding the Role of Inference Engines in AI
By Geoff Tate, Flex Logix
Artificial Intelligence offers huge benefits for embedded systems. But implementing AI well requires making smart technology choices, especially when it comes to selected a neural inferencing engine. In this article, Flex Logix CEO Geoff Tate explains what inferencing is, how it plays into AI and how embedded system designers can make sure they are using the right solution for their AI processing.


FUN WITH LIGHT AND HEAT

Watt’s Up with LEDs?
By Jeff Bachiochi
When Jeff puts his mind to a technology topic, he goes in deep. In this article, he explores all aspects of LED lighting—including the history, math, science and technology of LEDs. He discusses everything from temperature issues to powering LEDs. After purchasing some LEDs, Jeff embarks on a series of tests and shares his results and insights.

Automating the Art of Toast
By Michael Xiao and Katie Bradford
The emergence of culinary robotics and automation has already begun to revolutionize the way we prepare our meals. In this article, learn how these two Cornell undergraduates designed an advanced toaster that’s able to toast any pattern—image, text or even today’s weather—onto a piece of bread. The project makes use of Microchip’s MIC32 MCU and a Raspberry Pi Zero W board.

Build an RGB LED Controller
By Dirceu R. Rodrigues Jr.
There are a lot of fun and interesting things you can do with LEDs and different ways to control them. In this article, Dirceu describes an alternative approach to control RGB LEDs using the parallel FET dimming technique. He steps through his efforts to design and build an alternative lightning system based on power RGB LEDs. To control them he goes very old school and uses an 8-bit MCU and the BASIC programming language.


… AND MORE FROM OUR EXPERT COLUMNISTS

Energy Monitoring Part 3
By George Novacek
This is the final installment of George’s energy monitoring article series. He discussed the solar power supply in Part 1 and the utility power data acquisition in Part 2. In Part 3, he wraps up the series by looking at the remaining modules that comprise his home energy monitoring setup, including the sensors, the natural gas monitor and the real-time clock.

The Fundamentals of Fuseology
By Robert Lacoste
Just because an electronic device is simple you shouldn’t relegate it to an afterthought in your embedded system design. Such is the case with fuses. Robert explores the fundamentals of this seemingly simple device. In this article, he dives into the history, key specifications and technology of fuses. He also steps you through an experiment to analyze the performance of fuses and shares his results.

Bluetooth Mesh (Part 4)
By Bob Japenga
In this next part of his article series on Bluetooth mesh, Bob looks at how models are defined in the Bluetooth Mesh specification and how practical it is to use them. He looks at the models defined by the Bluetooth SIG and discusses creating your own models for Bluetooth Mesh.

 

 

 

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