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Posts Tagged ‘devkit’

Raspberry Pi Compute Module is a $30 Raspberry Pi Compatible System-on-Module

April 9th, 2014 No comments

Albeit the initial goal of the Raspberry Pi board was to address computer science education, it has become extremely popular with hobbyists, has made its way in many different kinds of hardware, and is now clearly the number 1 low cost ARM Linux development board. The Raspberry Pi foundation has then decided to design and sell a system-on-module called Raspberry Pi Compute that people can use in actual products.

Raspberry Pi Compute (Left) and Raspberry Pi Board (Right)

Raspberry Pi Compute (Left) and Raspberry Pi Board (Right)

Since the module will be mostly software compatible with the original Raspberry Pi board, the specs are similar:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2835 ARM 11 processor @ 700 MHz with Videocore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC Flash
  • SoM Connector – DDR2 200-pins SODIMM
  • Dimensions – 67.6x30mm board which fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector

The main difference is they’ve replaced the SD card slot found in the board, by an eMMC module which is more appropriate, and should provide better performance, for products. The foundation has also made a baseboard called “IO Board” for the Compute Module, in order to kickstart development while your custom PCB is being designed. It includes an HDMI output, a full sized USB port, 2 micro USB ports, some flat headers for camera and LCD displays, and two 2×30 pin headers to easily access the signals available via the SODIMM connectors.

Raspberry Pi IO Board and Compute Module

Raspberry Pi IO Board and Compute Module

The module will most probably support all distributions available for the RPi (Raspbian, Fedora, Arch Linux ARM,  etc..) as source code and tools should be identical too. The IO board will be open source. For now the foundation has only released the schematics of the IO Board and Compute module in PDF format, but more documents will be released soon.

A “Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit” comprised of the Compute Module and IO Board should be available from RS and Element14 in June. The price of the devkit has not been disclosed, but the Compute Module will start selling in the summer for $30 per unit in batches of 100. Individual orders will also be possible at an higher price.

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USB2Go ARM Cortex M3 Development Board for Android Smartphones (Crowdfunding)

March 21st, 2014 No comments

Many MCU based development boards such as Arduino or mbed platform connect to a computer via USB for power and programming, at least during the development stage. USB2Go, however, is designed with a micro USB port to connect directly to your Android smartphone, although it can also be used for standalone project, and an Arduino compatible baseboard is also available. This board powered by an STM32 ARM Cortex M3 MCU is however mainly destined to interface hardware such as LED, servos, sensors to your smartphone via micro USB providing both power and a communication channel with your Android device.

USB2Go

USB2Go hardware specifications:

  • MCU – STMicro STM32 ARM Cortex M3 MCU @ 72 MHz with 128 KB Flash, 64 KB SRAM
  • USB – Micro USB for power and programming
  • Headers – 2x 12 pin headers giving access to GPIO, ADC, PWM, UART, I2C, SPI…
  • Debugging I/F – JTAG 20-pin to SWD
  • Misc – Programmable LED, Reset button
  • Power – 5V/500mA (micro USB)
  • Dimensions – About the size of Arduino Mini

USB2Go_Coin

Graphical App Builder

Graphical App Builder

You can program the board just like any Android app via Android Studio or Eclipse and using USB2Go API to control the different I/Os. You can also program the ARM MCU using Keil uVision which can be used for free for up to 32kB program size, but IAR, CooCox and other development tools can also be used. If you are not into programming, but would like to play around with this board anyway, the developers have designed a graphical application building tool where you can just drag and drop controls to generate you own app.

Different boards are available as part of USB2Go:

  • USB2Go Mini – Connects directly to your phone (Pictured above), or can be used as a standard device.
  • USB2Go Female – Connects to the phone with adapter or can be used as a standalone device.
  • USB2Go Adapter – Adapter for USB2Go female.
  • Arduino 2Go – Arduino extension board.
  • Relay 2Go – Relay extension for USB2Go.
  • RGB LED 2Go – Adds RGB flashlight to smartphone.
  • JTAG 2Go – Extension for ARM MCU debugging via JTAG/SWD connector

I understand the full project (software and hardware) will be open sourced.

8Innovations, the company behind the project, has now completed development of the boards, and is looking for funds for mass production via Kickstarter. A $29 pledge (early bird) will get you a USB2Go Mini board, and $99 will get you all the boards mentioned above. Shipping is included to the US, and you’ll need to add $10 for anywhere else. Although development is said to be complete, the boards are expected to ship in October 2014, as they planned a massive 6 months for components procurement, mass production, and shipping.

Beside the Kickstarter campaign, you may also find more details on usb2go.org.

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Texas Instruments Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected Launchpad Sells for $20

March 11th, 2014 7 comments

There are now many ultra low cost MCU development kit selling for $15 to $25 such as STMicro Discovery Board, but for this price, they’ll usually just feature the MCU, a micro USB, pin header, maybe and maybe some sensors, and they usually lack any form of connectivity, at least without extra hardware. With Tiva C Series TM4C129 Connect Launchpad, Texas Instruments brings a board that can be used for IoT application out of the box thanks to the addition of an Ethernet port. The board sells for just $19.99, which means you could easily make something like a connected 4-relay control system for about $25.

Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected Launchpad (Click to Enlarge)

Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected Launchpad (Click to Enlarge)

Connected LaunchPad evaluation kit specifications:

  • MCU – Texas Instruents TM4C1294NCPDT ARM Cortex-M4 @ 120MHz with floating point, 1MB Flash, 256KB SRAM, 6KB EEPROM, Integrated 10/100 Ethernet MAC+PHY, data protection hardware, 8x 32-bit timers, dual 12-bit 2MSPS ADCs, motion control PWMs, USB H/D/O, and many additional serial communication interfaces
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • Expansions
    • Dual stackable BoosterPack XL connection sites
    • Breadboard connection headers – Support for 20-pin and 40-pin BoosterPacker
  • USB – micro USB port for power and programming/debugging (via TM4C123GH6PMI IC)
  • On-board, in-circuit debug interface (ICDI)
  • Misc – 4 user LEDs, 2 user switches, reset switch, wake button, power select jumper
  • Dimensions – 12.45 cm x 5.59 cm x 10.8mm

The Connected LaunchPad Evaluation Kit contains the board itself (EK-TM4C1294XL), a retractable Ethernet cable, and a USB Micro-B plug to USB-A plug cable.

Tiva Connected LaunchPad High-Level Block Diagram

Tiva Connected LaunchPad High-Level Block Diagram

For development, the board is supported by Cloud-based, Exosite QuickStart Application, Code Composer Studio 6 (CCS 6) & TivaWare 2.1 and multiple development tool chain support such as CCS, Keil, IAR, Mentor & GCC.  The user’s guide also mentions it’s possible to use Energia Wiring framework.

Beside the user’s guide, documentation is currently limited, and there are no hardware files for now. Having said that there’s an online workshop for the board using CCS6 & TivaWare 2.1 to show you how to get started.

Texas Instruments Tiva C Series TM4C129 Connected Launchpad is currently available for pre-order for $19.99, and is expected to ship within 6 to 8 weeks. Contrary to most other companies that charge a ridiculous shipping fee for their low cost development kit, sometimes more expensive than the board itself, Texas Instruments does not charge for shipping, so $19.99 is the total price you pay. I know for sure, because I’ve just ordered one :).

For more information and/or to purchase the board, visit Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected LaunchPad page.

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Silicon Labs Unveils EFM32 Zero Gecko MCU Family Based on ARM Cortex M0+

November 4th, 2013 No comments

Silicon Labs, who bought Energy Micro earlier this year, has recently introduced a new family of 32-bit MCU based on ARM Cortex M0+ called EFM32 Zero Gecko, as well as the corresponding starter kit. These ultra low power MCUs (currently 16 products) are destined to be used in  IoT applications such as mobile health and fitness products, smart watches, activity trackers, smart meters, security systems and wireless sensor nodes, as well as battery-less systems powered by harvested energy.

EFM32 Zero Gecko

EFM32 Zero Gecko

The key features of this family include:

  • ARM Cortex-M0+ core @ 24 MHz
  • 4kb to 32 kB flash and 2kb to 4 kB RAM memory
  • 17 to 37 GPIO
  • Single 1.85–3.8 V power supply
  • 5 Power modes
  • Hardware AES (Some models only)
  • -40° to 85 °C operation range
  • Package options: QFN24, QFN32 and QFN48

EFM32ZG222F32, the Zero Gecko MCU with the most memory and features, has the following specifications:

  • ARM Cortex-M0+ CPU platform @ up to 24 MHz with Wake-up Interrupt Controller
  • Energy Management System:
    • 20 nA @ 3 V Shutoff Mode
    • 0.5 μA @ 3 V Stop Mode, including Power-on Reset, Brown-out Detector, RAM and CPU retention
    • 0.9 μA @ 3 V Deep Sleep Mode, including RTC with 32.768 kHz oscillator, Power-on Reset, Brown-out Detector, RAM and CPU retention
    • 46 μA/MHz @ 3 V Sleep Mode
    • 114 μA/MHz @ 3 V Run Mode, with code executed from flash
  • Memory – 32 KB Flash, 4 KB RAM
  • 37 General Purpose I/O pins:
    • Configurable push-pull, open-drain, pull-up/down, input filter, drive strength
    • Configurable peripheral I/O locations
    • 16 asynchronous external interrupts
    • Output state retention and wake-up from Shutoff Mode
  • 4 Channel DMA Controller
  • 4 Channel Peripheral Reflex System (PRS) for autonomous inter-peripheral signaling
  • Hardware AES with 128-bit keys in 54 cycles
  • Timers/Counters:
    • 2× 16-bit Timer/Counter
    • 2×3 Compare/Capture/PWM channels
    • 1× 24-bit Real-Time Counter
    • 1× 16-bit Pulse Counter
    • Watchdog Timer with dedicated RC oscillator @ 50 nA
  • Communication interfaces:
    • 1× Universal Synchronous/Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter – UART/SPI/SmartCard (ISO 7816) /IrDA/I2S with triple buffered full/half-duplex operation
    • Low Energy UART – Autonomous operation with DMA in Deep Sleep Mode
    • I2C Interface with SMBus support – Address recognition in Stop Mode
  • Ultra low power precision analog peripherals
    • 12-bit 1 Msamples/s Analog to Digital Converter – 4 single ended channels/ differential channels, On-chip temperature sensor
    • Current Digital to Analog Converter – Selectable current range between 0.05 and 64 uA
    • 1× Analog Comparator – Capacitive sensing with up to 5 inputs
    • Supply Voltage Comparator
  • Ultra efficient Power-on Reset and Brown-Out Detector
  • 2-pin Serial Wire Debug interface
  • Pre-Programmed UART Bootloader
  • Temperature range -40 to 85 ºC
  • Single power supply 1.85 to 3.8 V
  • TQFP48 package

The company also provides a starter kit (EFM32ZG-STK3200) featuring EFM32ZG222F32 MCU (See specs above) with the following key features:

  • EFM32ZG222F32 Zero Gecko MCU
  • Advanced Energy Monitoring v2
  • Real-time energy and power profiling
  • Backup Capacitor for RTC mode
  • USB interface for Host/Device/OTG
  • LESENSE demo ready
  • Light, LC and touch sensors
  • SEGGER J-Link debugger
  • Free evaluation compiler versions
  • Supported by Simplicity Studio in Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
EFM32_Zero_Gecko_Starter_Kit

EFM32ZG-STK3200 Starter Kit

Samples of Silicon Labs EFM32 Zero Gecko MCUs are available now in QFN and QFP packages, and production quantities are planned for Q4 2013. Product pricing for the Zero Gecko MCUs in 100,000-unit quantities begins at $0.49. The EFM32ZG-STK3200 starter kit is available now and priced at $69. It’s also possible to win one, if you have an interesting project, and are lucky.

You can find more information on EFM32 Zero Gecko and EFM32ZG-STK3200 Starter Kit pages. You may also want to read one user’s review of the Zero Gecko Starter Kit.

Thanks to Viswa for the tip.

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$25 Flutter is a Wireless Arduino compatible Board with Up to 1 km Range

August 29th, 2013 No comments

There are already several ways to add wireless connectivity to your hardware project. For short ranges, we can use protocols such as Bluetooth (e.g. RFDuino, BLEDuino projects, or Bluetooth USB dongle), for much longer ranges 3G/4G connectivity may be required, and achievable via a 3G/4G USB dongle, or SparqEE CELLv1.0 project for example. But what if you want something in the middle with a range closer to 1km? Flutter boards using the 915MHz band (US only) can provide such range, and are software compatible with the Arduino.

Flutter Pro (top) with R/C Shield

Flutter Pro (top) with RC Shield

There are two version of the board:

  • Flutter Basic – Board with an low-profile integrated antenna. It features micro USB for power, an LED, and a button, as well as several digital and analog I/O.
  • Flutter Pro – Board with external antenna (and probably longer range). It comes with all features found in Flutter Basic, and adds battery charging, an additional button, and more memory.

Here are the key features shared by the boards:

  • MCU – Atmel SAM3s ARM MPU @t 64MHz ()
  • Radio chip – Texas Instruments CC1101 (915 MHz operating frequency) currently. It might be replaced by TI CC1200.
  • 1,000m+ meter range
  • 1.2 Mbps max data rate
  • AES-256 Cryptographic key storage
  • Mesh networking
  • 3.3v system voltage
  • 10-40mA current draw (normal use)

That’s the same radio used in TI eZ430-Watch development kit, so even though they currently only support 915 MHz band, and ship to the US, in theory it can also support 868MHz (EU) and 433MHz (international) bands. This will only be considered if they exceed their funding target on Kickstarter ($80,000).

Several shields are available for Flutter:

  • Breakout Board – Socket board for Flutter
  • RC Shield – Features a buzzer, DC jack, a few FETs for switching things on, plugs for 4 R/C servos, and a temperature sensor. It can be used for R/C cars, quadcopters…
  • Network Shield – Wi-Fi and Ethernet board
  • Bluetooth Shield – Bluetooth version has not been disclosed

All that will be open source hardware once the project development is complete.

Initial prototype is working, but since they may change the Radio chip, and they’ll add an encryption chip, some hardware re-designed is needed, and firmware needs to be further developed, which means the project should complete and ship in April 2014. If you’re interested you can check out their Kickstarter campaign, and pledge $25 for Flutter Basic or a T-Shirt. If you want the Flutter Pro, you’ll need to pledge at least $75 for a kit that also includes a Flutter Basic board, an RC shield, and 2 USB cables and breakout boards. Pledges include shipping. As mentioned previously, this product is only available in the US, unless they decide to do a stretch goal to support 898Mhz and/or 433Mhz bands.

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$200 Direct Insight Triton-TXEK EvalKit for iMX6 Features Freescale i.MX 6Quad Processor

August 21st, 2013 3 comments

With Wandboard Quad, SABRE Lite, Nitrogen6X, and UDOO, we already have some choices when it comes to low cost Freescale i.MX 6Quad development platforms. Direct Insight, a British company, has developed another called TRITON-TXEK EvalKit for iMX6 that includes the company’s Triton-TX6Q SoM, for 130 GBP (about $200).

Direct Insight TRITON-TXEK for iMX6

Direct Insight TRITON-TXEK for iMX6 (Carrier Board + TRITON-TX6Q SoM)

TRITON-TXEK for iMX6 Specifications:

Specifications listed for the Triton-TXEK evaluation kit include:

  • SoC – Freescale i.MX 6Quad quad core Cortex-A9 @ 1GHz with Vivante GC2000 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 128MB NAND flash + SD card slot
  • Display – TFT panel via 40-pin LCD flat cable header
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – USB 2.0 host + mini USB 2.0 host/device
  • Serial – RS232on D-Sub connector
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Power Supply – 5V
  • Dimensions – Module: 68mm × 31mm, Baseboard: Who knows…
  • Operating temperature – -20 to 70°C

Since the only easily accessible display option is the LCD interface, the company also provides three optional displays to be connected to the evaluation kit:

  • 4.3″, 480 × 272, Capacitive Multi-Touch (Price not available)
  • 5.7″, 640 × 480, Capacitive Multi-Touch (125 GBP)
  • 7.0″, 800 × 480, Capacitive Multi-Touch (125 GBP)

The company provides a Linux BSP standard with source, toolchain, and schematics, and Linux comes pre-installed in the SoM. Windows Embedded Compact 7 and Android 4 support will be available later for an extra charge.

TRITONTX6Q SoM

TRITON-TX6Q SoM

Based on the features above, the board is unlikely to be appealing to hobbyists. However, if you plan to develop a product, it could be an option, as you could use the company SoM with your custom based board, and many i.MX6Q pins appear to be easily accessible (TBC) via the numerous through holes on the carrier board. The carrier board is also compatible with all TRITON-TX SoM based on Freescale i.MX283, TI Sitata AM3354, and Freescale i.MX6. If you need a more advanced development board, the company also provides TRITON-TX StarterKit-5 for 855 GBP ($1,339).

You can find (not that much) more information on Direct Insight’s TRITON-TXEK for iMX6 page, and my earlier post about the company’s TRITON-TXQ6 SoM.

Thanks to Allan for the tip.

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How to Buy an Arduino Leonardo (Clone) Kit for Less than $20

August 13th, 2013 13 comments

Borderless Electronics Indiegogo campaign for their $9 electronics kit with an Arduino Leonardo clone went so well that the owner of the campaign decided to limit the total number of boards to 15,000, and basically stop the campaign early to avoid production delays. For $12 ($9 + shipping), you could get a full kit with:

  • Arduino Leonardo clone
  • A mini breadboard with 10 Jumper wires
  • A plug for a 9V battery
  • A few components: 6 LEDs, 10x 330 Ohm resistors, 10x 1 KOhm resistors, 3x push buttons, 2 NPN transistors, 5 diodes, a light sensor, and a sound buzzer
  • A micro USB to USB cable

Although they may start a new one campaign in a few months, the campaign is over, and you can’t get this cheap Arduino kit anymore.

$20 Dollars Arduino Kit: Arduino Leonardo Compatible Board with Breadboard, Jumper Wires, and Components

$20 Dollars Arduino Kit: Arduino Leonardo Compatible Board with Breadboard, Jumper Wires, and Components

But one of my reader (onebir) let me know that for less than $20, you can  get an Arduino Leonardo clone with a USB cable, a large Breadboard, and many components, by purchasing three items on Aliexpress,.com:

  • Arduino Leonardo R3 compatible development board with USB Cable – $9.48
  • 400-tie point breadboard (8.2 x 6.2cm) with 65 jumper wires – $5
  • Components kit with nearly 250 components – $5

So for a total of $19.48 (all prices include free shipping), you get a full Arduino compatible electronics kit.

Here’s the content of the components kit:

  • 210x resistors with values: 100, 1K, 4.7K, 10K, 47K, 100K, and 1M (30 pieces for each)
  • 4x potentiometers:  2x 10K, and 2x 100K.
  • 12x LEDs: yellow, red, green, and white (3 for each color)
  • 6x 12*12 tact switch body
  • 15x tact switch keys: blue circle, red circle, white circle, white square, green square (3 of each type).
  • 2x 40 pin 2.54 pitch header

The kit does lack some fun components like a buzzer, a servo, a light sensor, etc… that you can find in Seeed Studio SideKick Basic Kit for example, but it does seem to be a decent deal nonetheless.

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