Posts Tagged ‘development kit’

Silicon Labs Introduces $29 Thunderboard React Bluetooth 4.2 LE IoT Board and $69 Derby Car Kit

October 3rd, 2016 No comments

Earlier this summer, Silicon labs launched ThunderBoard React, a Bluetooth 4.2 LE compliant board with sensors and expansion headers for IoT applications based on the company’s BGM111 Bluetooth Smart Module, and to make it much more fun to work with the company has released a Derby Car kit controlled by the board.

thunderboard-reactThunderBoard React specifications:

  • Bluetooth Module – BGM111 Bluetooth 4.2 compliant module with integrated Tx and Rx antenna, and Cortex M4 MCU @ 38.4 MHz with 32 kB RAM and 256 kB Flash
  • Extra Storage – Footprint for 8Mb external flash storage
  • Sensors – Si7021 relative humidity and temperature, Si1133 UV index and ambient light sensor, Invensense MPU-6500 6-axis gyro/accelerometer, Si7201 hall effect position sensor
  • Expansion – 12 breakout pina to connect to BGM111 GPIOs
  • Debugging – 10-pin mini Simplicity debug connector
  • Misc – 2x momentary buttons, 2x LEDs, power selection switch
  • Power Supply – CR2032 coin cell battery slot or external power (Vext)
  • Dimensions – 44 x 25 mm
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Thunderboard React Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The firmware for the board can be found in Silicon Labs Bluetooth Smart SDK as a sample application, and developed using Simplicity Studio v3 and IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM v7.30. The company also provides Thunderboard Android and iOS apps with source code in order to control the board and monitor the sensors’ data. Data can optionally be synchronized to Thundercloud platform based on Firebase by Google, again with source code available on Github.

thunderboard-appBeside just getting the board to play with BLE, sensors, apps, and the cloud platform,  you could also buy the Derby Car kit. The wheels are not driven by any motors, so the car can mostly be seen as a case for the board, and used for motion sensing while the car is moving.

You’ll find more details on Thunderboard React product page, as well as the Quick Start Guide where you’ll find link to buy the board for $29, and the complete car kit (including the board) for $59.

NXP i.MX 6ULL Cortex A7 Processor is the Latest Member of i.MX6 32-bit ARM Processor Family

September 29th, 2016 2 comments

Freescale first unveiled i.MX6 processor family at CES 2011. Since then NXP has acquired Freescale, and kept working on the processors and even recently unveiled NXP i.MX 6ULL Cortex A7 processor promising 30 percent more power efficiency than its nearest competitors, and designed for “cost-effective solutions for the growing IoT consumer and industrial, mass markets”.

nxp-i-mx-6ull-block-diagramNXP i.MX 6ULL key features and specifications:

  • CPU – ARM Cortex A7 core @ up to 528 MHz with 128KB L2 cache
  • Memory I/F – 16-bit DDR3/DDR3L, LPDDR2 memory support
  • Storage I/F – 8/16-bit parallel NOR flash / PSRAM, dual-channel Quad-SPI NOR flash, 8-bit raw NAND flash with 40-bit ECC, 2x MMC 4.5/SD 3.0/SDIO Port
  • Display & Camera I/F
    • Parallel LCD Display up to WXGA (1366×768)
    • Electrophoretic display controller support direct-driver for E-Ink EPD panel, with up to 2048×1536 resolution at 106 Hz
    • 8/10/16/24-bit Parallel Camera Sensor Interface
  • Peripherals
    • 2x USB 2.0 OTG, HS/FS, Device or Host with PHY
    • Audio Interfaces – 3x I2S/SAI, S/PDIF Tx/Rx
    • 2x 10/100 Ethernet with IEEE 1588
    • 2x 12-bit ADC, up to 10 input channel total, with resistive touch controller (4-wire/5-wire)
  • Security – TRNG, Crypto Engine (AES with DPA, TDES/SHA/RSA), Secure Boot
  • Power Management – Partial PMU integration
  • Package – MAPBGA 0.8mm pitch 14 x 14mm, MAPBGA 0.5mm pitch 9 x 9mm

The company explain the new processor offer a “natural upgrade” for customer’s designs based on ARM7 & ARM9 processor, for example for  smart grid applications. The new i.MX 6ULL (Ultra Lighter than Light? 🙂 ) processor appears to be a cost down version of i.MX 6UL (Ultralight) with fewer security features (e.g. no SIMV2/EVMSIM), and lower maximum CPU frequency, but adding ePD support (according to specs, but not shown on block diagram)

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i.MX 6ULL Development Kit – Click to Enlarge

NXP i.MX 6ULL processor is sampling now, with mass production expected in October 2016, and pricing to start at $3.50 in 10,000 unit quantities. The Linux BSP and i.MX 6ULL evaluation kit with 512MB RAM, 256MB SPI flash, and various ports will also be available in October. More details can be found on NXP i.MX6 ULL  product page.

Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk is a Ubuntu & ROS Computer with 3D Depth Cameras for Drones & Robots

September 26th, 2016 No comments

Parrot and Canonical have partnered to develop the Parrot S.L.A.M.dunk development kit for the design of applications for autonomous navigation, obstacle avoidance, indoor navigation and 3D mapping for drones and robots, and running both Ubuntu 14.04 and ROS operating systems. The name of the kit is derived from its “Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm” (S.L.A.M) allowing for location without GPS signal.


Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor
  • Camera – Fish-eye stereo camera with a 1500×1500 resolution at 60fps
  • Sensors – Inertial-measurement unit (IMU), ultrasound sensor up to 15 meters range, magnetometer, barometer
  • Video Output – micro HDMI
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0/2.0 port
  • Weight – 140 grams

Parrot S.L.A.M dunk can be fitted various drones and robotic platforms such as quadcopters and fixed-wings, rolling robots and articulated arms using mounting kits. The computer module is then connected to the host platform via a 3.5mm jack cable and a USB cable in order to send and receive commands and data.

parrot-slam-dunk-drone-3d-depthThis morning I wrote about SoftKinetic 3D sensing camera based on time-of-flight technology, but Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk is based on more commonly used stereo vision cameras. The micro HDMI allows developers to connect the computer to a monitor in order to develop their application for Ubuntu and ROS.

Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk will be available in Q4 2016 at an undisclosed price. More information should eventually be found in Parrot Developer website.

Dragino LoRa/GPS HAT Board for Raspberry Pi Sells for $32

July 27th, 2016 8 comments

There are several ways to play with LoRaWAN protocol on the Raspberry Pi including RisingHF Discovery kit or Cooking Hacks LoRa Shield for Raspberry Pi, but the latter requires you to spend close to $100 just for the shield, the complete Lora discovery kit costs close to $400. Dragino Tech LoRa/GPS HAT board should be a more cost effective way to get started with LoRa on Raspberry Pi, as it sells for $32 + shipping on Tindie.


Dragino LoRa/GPS HAT specifications:

  • Connectivity
    • LoRa
      • Semtech SX1276/SX1278 transceiver @ 433/868, or 915 MHz (Country dependent, pre-configured in the factory)
      • 168 dB maximum link budget.
      • +20 dBm – 100 mW constant RF output vs. +14 dBm high efficiency PA.
      • Programmable bit rate up to 300 kbps.
    • GPS
      • L80 GPS module based on Mediatek MT3339 SoC
      • Horizontal Position Accuracy: autonomous <2.5 m CEP.
      • TTFF@-130dBm with EASY (AGPS): Cold Start <15s,Warm Start <5s,Hot start <1s;
      • TTFF@-130dBm without EASY (AGPS):Cold Start <35s,Warm Start <30s,Hot Start <1s.
      • Timing Accuracy:1PPS out 10ns,Reacquisition Time <1s.
      • GPS automatic switching between internal patch antenna and external active antenna
  • Built-in temperature sensor and low battery indicator
  • Low power consumption (no specific data)
  • Dimensions – 60 x 53 x 25 mm; HAT compliant with Raspberry Pi 2 Model B/Raspberry Pi 3.
  • Weight – 30g

The package includes the HAT board, 4x brass spacers, 4x screws, 4x nuts, and an external antenna suitable for 433, 868, or 915 MHz as needed.

Dragino HAT with Antenna connected to Raspberry Pi 3 Board

Dragino HAT with Antenna connected to Raspberry Pi 3 Board

The board also comes with some apparently decent documentation explaining how to use both LoRa and GPS with the Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, as well as links to schematics (PDF), and other technical documentation. Some typical applications of such board include automated meter reading, home and building automation, wireless alarm and security systems, industrial monitoring and control, and long range irrigation systems.

Beside Tindie, the board can also be purchased on Eleduino for $39 shipped, and by the end of this article, I’ve also come across an even cheaper Dragino Lora Shield for Arduino (433 MHz) selling for $19 on Seeed Studio. More details can also be found in Dragino Tech LoRa/GPS HAT page.

Gateworks Ventana GW5530 SBC is Designed for Drones, Robots, and Digital Signage

July 21st, 2016 No comments

Gateworks Ventana is a family of boards based on NXP i.MX6 processor designed for embedded applications, and often include one or more mini PCIe ports for expansion. Their latest single board computer – Ventana GW5530 –  is powered by an NXP i.MX 6Dual processor coupled with 512MB RAM, 256MB storage, a mini PCIe port, a micro SD / SIM card slot, micro HDMI output, and some I/Os.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Ventana GW5530 specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX6 Dual Core ARM Cortex-A9 processor @ 800MHz with Vivante 2D and 3D GPUs
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3 (Up to 2GB as option)
  • Storage – 256MB flash (Up to 2GB as option), micro SD/SIM card slot, serial configuration EEPROM
  • Video & Audio Output – micro HDMI 1.4 port
  • Connectivity – Optional u-blox EVA-M8M GPS Receiver with MMCX or u.FL Antenna Connector
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG Port
  • Sensors – 9-axis inertial module (accelerometer/gyro/magnetometer)
  • Expansion
    • High-Power Gen 2.0 mini-PCIe Socket with USB 2.0 Support
    • SIM socket (shared with micro SD card)
    • Video input header for CVBS, Y/C, YPrPb
    • Digital and serial I/O header
  • Debugging – JTAG connector
  • Misc – RTC with battery backup, voltage and temperature monitor, programmable watchdog timer, reset header, LED header
  • Power Supply – 8 to 60V DC input via 2-pin header; Reverse voltage protection
  • Power Consumption – [email protected] (typical); 7W Available for mini-PCIe socket
  • Dimensions – 100x35x13 mm
  • Weight – 28 grams
  • Temperature Range – -40°C to +85°C

    Click to Enlarge

    Click to Enlarge

The company can provide OpenWrt, Android, Yocto Linux, and OpenEmbedded board support packages (BSP) for the board. Some documentation can be found on Ventana wiki. The boards targets “small embedded applications such as Man Portable Units (MPUs), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) equipment, digital signage, and robotics”.

Block Diagram

Block Diagram

The board is available now, with pricing not disclosed, and 1 year warranty. Gateworks GW11038 development kit with GW5530 SBC, OpenWrt BSP, USB and video cables, power supply, and a JTAG programmer can also be purchased for evaluation. More details can be found on Gateworks Ventana GW5530 product page.

sModule SBC-x6818 Development Kit based on Samsung S5P6818 Processor Includes a 7″ Touchscreen

July 13th, 2016 4 comments

For some reasons, Samsung S5P4418 and S5P6818 quad and eight Cortex A53 core processors – likely made by Nexell – have been quite popular with embedded systems companies based in China. So after Graperain, Boardcon, and FriendlyARM, there’s at least one another company offering solutions with either processor, as sModule, a subsidiary of CoreWind, has now launched systems-on-module, single board computers, and development kits with the 64-bit ARM SoCs. In this post, I’ll cover one of their development kit including their CORE6818 CPU module, a baseboard, and an optional 7″ capacitive touch display..

Samsung_S5P6818_Board_with_LCD_DIsplaysModule SBC-x6818 development kit specifications:

  • CORE6818 CPU module
    • SoC – Samsung S5P6818 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.4 to 1.6 GHz with Mali-400MP 3D GPU
    • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 (2GB optional)
    • Storage – 8GB eMMC Flash (4 & 16GB optional)
    • Ethernet – Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet transceiver
    • 180-pin “interface” to baseboard
    • Power Supply – 3.7 to 5.5V DC input; 3.3V / 4.2V DC output; AXP228 PMIC
    • Dimensions – 68 x 48 x 3 mm (8-layer PCB)
    • Temperature range – -10 to 70 deg. C
  • SBC-x6818 Baseboard
    • Storage – 2x micro SD card slots
    • Video Output / Display I/F – 1x HDMI up to 1080p30, LCD, 20-pin LVDS, and 20-pin MIPI DSI interfaces; optional 7″ capacitive touch screen (1024×768 resolution)
    • Audio – HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack, speaker header, built-in microphone
    • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
    • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x mini (micro?) USB OTG port
    • Camera – 1x 20-pin camera interface
    •  Expansion
      • “GPIO” header with ADC, UART, SPI, SPDIF, and GPIOs
      • ADC terminal block
      • Serial – 2x DB9 UART interfaces, 2x UART headers
    • Misc – IR receiver; power, menu, volume, and return buttons;  RTC with battery (not populated?); PWM buzzer; boot selector: eMMC, SD card, or USB (with fastboot?)
    • Power
      • 5V/2A DC via power barrel;
      • Power out header with 12V, 3.3V, and GND
      • 2-pin battery header for 4.2V lithium battery
    • Dimensions – 185 x 110 mm

The company provides Android 4.4, Ubuntu 12.04, and Linux 3.5 + qt 5.0 for the board. As with other boards based on Samsung/Nexell S5P processors, don’t expect software updates for the firmware, so if you need security patchsets or the latest kernel features this won’t work for you. You can find a few details about the hardware on the Wiki.


While other companies kept their price secret, sModule published prices for all their modules and boards, and even allow you to purchase them by PayPal or bank transfer. Their CORE4418 module starts at $49, while the development kit above goes for $119 with the touch screen, and $109 without. The more compact iBOX6818 single board computer – they call it card computer – with 2GB RAM goes for $75. More details can be found on sModule products page.

SiFive Introduces Freedom U500 and E500 Open Source RISC-V SoCs

July 12th, 2016 5 comments

Open source used to be a software thing, with the hardware design being kept secret for fear of being copied, but companies such as Texas Instruments realized that from a silicon vendor perspective it would make perfect sense to release open source hardware designs with full schematics, Gerber files and SoM, to allow smaller companies and hobbyists, as well as the education market, normally not having the options to go through standard sales channels and the FAE (Field Application Engineer) support, to experiment with the platform and potentially come up with commercial products. That’s exactly what they did with the Beagleboard community, but there’s still an element that’s closed source, albeit documented: the processor itself.

Freedom U500 Block Diagram

Freedom U500 Block Diagram

But this could change soon, as SiFive, a startup founded by the creators of the free and open RISC-V architecture, has announced two open source SoCs with Freedom U500 processor and Freedom E300 micro-controller.

Freedom U500 (Unleashed family) platform key specifications:

  • U5 Coreplex with 1 to 8 U54 cores @ 1.6GHz+
  • RV64GC Architecture (64- bit RISC-V)
  • Multicore, Cache Coherency Support
  • High Speed Peripherals: PCIe 3.0, USB3.0, GbE, DDR3/4
  • TSMC 28nm

The SoC supports Linux, and targets applications such as machine learning, storage, and networking.

Freedom E300 Block Diagram

Freedom E300 Block Diagram

Freedom E300 (Everywhere family) platform key specifications:

  • E3 Coreplex
  • RV32IMC/RV32EMC Architecture
  • On chip Flash, OTP, SRAM
  • TSMC 180nm

Three real-time operating systems, including FreeRTOS, have already been ported to Freedom E300 for embedded micro-controllers, IoT, and wearable markets.

Open source SoCs are made to be customizable to match your applications exact needs, instead of picking on existing SoC matching your requirements but with some uneeded features. SiFive also explains that “storage customers talks about custom instructions for bit manipulation so they can use one not 10 instructions for 10x speed up”. But before you get to Silicon, you’d normally ruin and customize the core on FPGA boards and three boards are currently available for development and evaluation:

  • Freedom U500:
  • Freedom E300 – Digilent Arty FPGA development kit powered by Xilinx XC7A35T-L1CSG324I FPGA, with 256 MB RAM, 16 MB flash, and vairous expension ports. Price: $99
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Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA VC707 devkit – Click to Enlarge

You also have detailed documentation about the SoCs, U5 nd U3 coreplex, the development kits, software and tools, as well as developer forums, on SiFive developers website. You can also directly checkout the code and SDK on github.

RISC-V instructions set is royalty-free, so compared to the entry level $40,000 ARM license for startups using Cortex M0 MCU, it should provide some savings. It does not help with manufacturing costs which should remain the same. but SiFive expects that open source SoC could be manufactured through a “moderate” crowdfunding campaign.  I have not been able to figure out SiFive business model yet, unless they plan on selling their own chips too, and/or provide customization services to customers.

Lots more information can be found on Sifive website.

Via EETimes

WiThumb is an ESP8266 WiFi USB Adapter with Motion and Temperature Sensors (Crowdfunding)

July 1st, 2016 10 comments

There are now plenty of Espressif ESP8266 boards or module to play with, but most of them require some cables or wires, at least for power. WiThumb does not need any of that as it’s designed to be plugged into any USB ports, and includes a 6-axis motion sensor, and a temperature sensor.


WiThumb USB dongle specifications:

  • SoC – Espressif ESP8266 32-bit MCU with 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Storage – 4MB Flash memory
  • Sensors – Temperature sensor (+/- 0.25C typical accuracy, -40 to 125 C range), 6-axis gyroscope + accelerometer
  • Expansion – Breadboard friendly through holes with 1x 10-bit ADC, I2C and 4x GPIOs
  • USB – USB type A connector
  • Misc – Reset and flash buttons
  • Power – 5V via USB port
  • Dimensions – 4.8 x 2.2 cm

The USB stick can be programmed like most ESP8266 board, i.e. via USB using the Arduino IDE.

WiThumb_Car_Monitoring_TV_MonitoringIn case you wonder what kind of application it could be useful for, the developer has come up with a few ideas including an Internet connected thermometer, an IMU (Inertial measurement unit) for drones and robots, home/office security (using motion sensors), IoT gateway,WiFi sniffer,Monitor or TV usage logging, driving habits logger (with accelerometer), and many others with you augment the USB stick capabilities through I2C, GPIO or ADC.

As many other projects, WiThumb has gone to Kickstarter to get funds for mass production, and has almost reached its lowly $2,000 funding target. A $19 pledge should get you WiThumb, but you may want to add $3 more to get the plastic case too, and there are rewards with multiple WiThumb. Shipping adds $4 to the US, and $10 to the rest of the world for one unit, and only a little more if you purchase several units. Delivery is scheduled for November 2016, except the “developer’s deal” reward (September 2016). You may also want to checkout for info about previous projects by the developer, and access to support forums.