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Posts Tagged ‘m2m’

Texas Instruments Tiva C Series Connected LaunchPad Unboxing and Quick Start Guide

March 28th, 2014 No comments

Texas Instruments Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected LaunchPad is an evaluation kit for the Internet of things with a Cortex-M4 MCU (Tiva TM4C1294), an Ethernet port, and USB interfaces for power and debugging. At $19.99 including shipping via Fedex, it’s one of the cheapest ways to get devices online. I’ve purchased one via TI e-Store, and already received it. I’ll post some pictures of the kit, go through the Quick Start Guide, and provides links to resources to go further.

EK-TM4C1294XL Connected LaunchPad Unboxing

I’ve received the kit in the package below with feature a QR Code linking to http://www.ti.com/launchpad, as well basic specifications (refer to my previous post for specs), list of tools (Code composer studio, Tivaware, Keil, IAR…) and package content.

Tiva_C_Series_Connected_Launchpad_Package
In the box we’ve got the board itself, a retractable Ethernet cable, a USB to micro USB cable for power and debugging, and Connect LaunchPad Quick Start Guide.

Board, Ethernet & USB Cables, and Quick Start Guide

Board, Ethernet & USB Cables, and Quick Start Guide

The Quick Start Guide describes the boards, the different pin on header, and how to get started. You can find both sides of the document here and here.

Top of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

Top of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

A closer look at the board shows the Ethernet port, a micro USB port, two user’s buttons as well as wake & reset button on the left, the MCU is in the middle, and the debug part on the right of the board with another micro USB port. Close to the MCU, you also have several jumpers to select the power source (ICDI (In-Circuit Debug Interface), OTG, and Boosterpack), as well as some selections for CAN and UART.  At the bottom you’ve got a breadboard area, and there are also 4 Boosterpack headers (male) on the board.

Bottom of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

On the back of the board we’ve got the female headers for the BoosterPacks and description, as well as the MAC Address.

TI_Connected_Launchpad_vs_Arduino_LeonardoThe first time I open the box, I felt the board to be larger than I expected. The above photo shows the Connected LaunchPad next to an Arduino Leonardo clone.

You could also watch the unboxing video.

Getting Started with Tiva C Series (EK-TM4C1294XL) Connected LaunchPad

The board is preloaded with an application that connected to a Cloud based platform called Exosite. The very first thing you need to do is to register your board via ti.exosite.com. This requires registration, and you can also use you Google+ or Yahoo account for this process. After login, go to Click here to add a new device to your portal, click “Select a supported device below”, and “EK-TM4C1429XL Connected LaunchPad”.

Click continue to enter the MAC Address (found at the back of the board), a device name, and the device location as shown on the screenshot below.

Connected_launchpad_device_setupClick Continue and confirm at the next step. The device setup is completed at this stage.

This following step is optional to get started, but if you want to access the serial console, you’ll need to install drivers. It appears many of the tools are available for Windows and Linux (CCS and TivaWare), but the Quick Start Guide mentions a Windows PC is required, so that’s what I used. You’ll need to download Stellaris ICDI Drivers and extract spmc06.zip yo your computer.

Then connect the Ethernet cable between your board and your hub/router, and the micro USB to USB cable between the board and your Windows PC, which should then detect a new hardware. Select to install your own drivers, and select the path “spmc016\stellaris_icdi_drivers”. This will install “Stellaris Virtual Serial Port“. After this is complete, Windows will still detect a new hardware again, twice, repeat the steps above to install “Stellaris ICDI DFU Device” and “Stellaris ICDI JTAG/SWD Device“. If case you have issues, you can check the full instructions (PDF).

Now you can go to the Device Manager, to check installation is complete, and the serial port number, COM7 in my case.

Stellaris_ICDI_Driver_Device_Manager
You can now start Putty or Hyperterminal, and setup a 115,200 baud 8N1 connection on your COM port to access the serial port.

Let’s go back to ti.exosite.com. Under “Device List”, click on your device to connect to it, and interact with  the dashboard.

Tiva_Connected_LaunchPad_ExositeIt will show the Junction temperature, update counters when you press the user’s buttons, and turn on and off two LEDs on your board. The response time was very slow when I tested it maybe 5 to 10 seconds. My Internet connection might be in cause, or the refresh rate of the dashboard.

The portal will also show a map with other Connected LaunchPad around the world (over 300 at the time of my connection), and a game of Tic-Tac-Toe using you board (which I haven’t tried). You can check the full website screenshot.

When you start the board for the first time, and connect to Exosite you can see the following log.

Connected_LaunchPad_SerialAnd if you type “stats”, you’ll basically get what you can see from the Exosite dashboard.
Connected_LaunchPad_Serial_StatsThat’s all for the first steps with Tiva Connected LaunchPad. Texas Instruments also has uploaded a 5-minute video showing the Quick Start Guide steps.

Going further

Texas Instruments redirect developers to www.ti.com/tool/ek-tm4c1294xl  to access the software, drivers, and documentation, to start with “Project 0″ at www.ti.com/tiva-c-launchpad which for this board is Hello Blinky. The project requires the use of Code Composer Studio (SW-EK-TM4C1294XL-CCS), TivaWare (SW-EK-TM4C1294XL), and the ICDI drivers installed previously which you can get via http://www.ti.com/tool/sw-ek-tm4c1294xl. Please note that the download will require you to go through a ridiculous “U.S. Government export approval” form, but I got accepted immediately after application. During installation of CCS you may want to select a custom install, selecting “Tiva C Series ARM MCUs” only to avoid a large download and installation. I haven’t gone further for now due to lack of time. Beside CCS, Keil, Mentor Embedded and IAR Systems IDEs can support the board, and TI Tiva C Series MCUs.

It may also be worthwhile going through “Creating IoT Solutions with the TM4C1294XL Connected LaunchPad Workshop” with provides an introduction of CCS, TivaWare, and should go through all the MCU peripherals via sample code.

There are at least two other third party software tools:

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802.11ah Wi-Fi (900 MHz) to Provide Low Power, Long Range Connectivity for the Internet of Things

February 21st, 2014 3 comments

Most devices now feature Wi-Fi modules capable of handling 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4 Ghz (and 5 GHz for dual band Wi-Fi), and newer devices and routers boast 802.11ac connectivity @ 5GHz with increased bandwidth (up to 1.2 Gbit/s in theory, maybe around 400 Mbit/s in practive), and in some case increased range with  beam-forming. But thanks to an article on EETimes, I’ve learned there’s another upcoming Wi-Fi standard called 802.11ah operating in the 900MHz range, with data rates from 150 Kbit/s with a 1 MHz band to as much as 40 Mbit/s over an 8 MHz band, lower power consumption, and a least double of the range of a typical 802.11n device,capable of covering an area of about 1 km2. The target applications are sensors networks, backhaul networks for sensor and meter, and extended range Wi-Fi, as the standard allows long range and more clients at low bitrates.

Smart Grid with 802.11ah - Source:

Smart Grid with 802.11ah – Source: Seoul National Univeristy

This new Wi-Fi standard will compete with other sub 1GHz wireless standard such as Zigbee, and Z-Wave, and it seems to have similar applications as Wi-Fi 802.11af standard operating in the TV white band. Companies such as Broadcom, CSR, Huawei, Intel, LG, Marvell, NEC, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ZTE are participating in IEEE 802.11ah standard which is expected to get ratified by the end of 2015. If you want to learn more about technical details, you could read a publications entitled IEEE 802.11ah: A Long Range 802.11 WLAN at Sub 1 GHz by the Department of ECE and INMC from Seoul National University.

802.11ah_specturmA Greek company, Antcor, will demonstrate its 802.11ah DSP block supporting 4×4 MIMO for home gateways and industrial automation networks at Mobile World Congress 2014, and the first 802.11ah SoCs should hit the market before the end of this year, using the draft specifications.

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GPS/GSM Yon Bike Lamp Let You Track Your Bicycle

January 29th, 2014 3 comments

Everything is getting smart these days. We’ve got smart phones, smart watches, smart homes, etc…, and now we’ve got smart bicycles thanks to products such as Yon Bike Lamp by Nastek Tecnologia, a Brazilian company, that can track and report your bicycle location for riding statistics and/or in case of theft.

Yon_Bike_LampThere are not that many technical details, but we do know the bicycle taillight features Telit GL865-QUAD GSM/GPRS module supporting 4 GSM bands: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz, compliant with eCall European directive, and that’s control using Python scripts. The chip most probably helps with location tracking thanks to m2mLOCATE service which accesses a database of over 40 million cell-IDs.

The light gets its location via GPS, and connects to the outside via GSM/GPRS and SMS. You can either login to a website or via an Android or iOS app in order to access the light statistics and location. If it also possible to send an SMS to the light, and once it wakes up from sleep mode, i.e. when the built-in accelerometer detects movement, it will reply with a link to its location. Beside the tracking features, it can also be used a a standard taillight…

There’s no mention of availability outside the Brazilian market, nor pricing. Yon Bike Lamp is not the first IoT / M2M products for smart bicycle, and others products are also available, or soon will be, such as Helios Bars, and Pegasus Skylamp 2 which has the same functionality as Yon Bike Lamp and sells for $148.

Via Embedded Star

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Categories: Hardware Tags: IoT, m2m

Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 is a Tiny Embedded Linux Server Fitted into an RJ45 Connector

December 15th, 2013 7 comments

Lantronix has recently launched XPort(R) Pro Lx6, a secure embedded device server supporting IPv6, that barely larger than an RJ45 connector. The device runs Linux or the company’s Evolution OS, and is destined to be used in wired industrial IoT / M2M applications.

Lantronix_XPort_Pro_Lx6Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 Specifications:

  • Processor - Freescale ColdFire MCF5208 up to 166.67 MHz (TBC) 32-bit processor
  • System memory – 16MB SDRAM
  • Storage – 16MB Flash
  • Serial Interface -  Software selectable data rates from 300 to 921kbps
  • Programmable IO – 3 PIO pins (software selectable)
  • Network Interface – 10Base-T and 100Base-TX Link with support for IPv4 and IPv6, and the following protocols: TCP/IP, UDP/IP, ARP, ICMP, SNMPv2, TFTP, FTP, Telnet, DHCP, BOOTP, HTTP, SMTP, PPP, AutoIP, RSS, and SYSLOG
  • SecurityTCP/AES and UDP/AES
  • Temperature Range – Operating and storage: -40° to +85° C
  • Relative Humidity – 0% to 90% non-condensing
  • Regulatory ApprovalsFCC Part 15, Subpart B, Class B, ICES-003 Issue 4 (2004), Class B, EN55022:2006 and EN55024:1998 + A1:2001 + A2:2003, AS/NZS CISPR22:2006, VCCI V-3/2009.04, EN 61000-3-2:2006, EN 61000-3-3:1995+A1:2001+A2:2005
  • Power -  3.3VDC. I/O Max Rating: 3.3v
  • Dimensions – 33.9mm (L) x 16.25mm (W) x 13.5mm (H)
  • Weight – 9.6g
Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 Block Diagram

Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 Internals

The company provides two Windows based application namely “DeviceInstaller” and “Com Port Redirector”, to respectively install and configure the device, and control COM port-based equipment over the network. Management and control is also possible via the internal web manager, telnet, or the serial port, and configuration can customized using XML files.

XPort Pro Block Diagram

XPort Pro Block Diagram (Older IPv4 only version)

XPort Pro evaluation kit can be used for development, and includes an evaluation board with support for XPort Pro Lx6, a +5V power supply, an RS-232 DB9 cable, a Cat5e Ethernet cable, and a 25-to-9pin serial adapter.

Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 is available now and sells for $39 per unit for 1,000 order, and comes with a 2-year limited warranty. For reference, XPort Pro, an earlier model without IPv6 support, sells for $62 per unit, and the evaluation kit goes for $90 (without XPort Pro (Lx6). You may want to visit Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 page for further details.

Via Linux Gizmos

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Categories: Hardware, Linux Tags: IoT, Linux, freescale, lantronix, m2m

Weightless Roadmap – Silicon, Modules, SDKs, Base Stations and Networks

November 11th, 2013 No comments

The Weightless Standard aims at using the “white space” spectrum, previously used by analog TV broadcasts, for free M2M / IoT communication coupled with low power and cost-efficient hardware offering a range of over 10 km. Longer term the target is to reach $2 hardware cost, and $2 yearly servicing costs. Companies involved with Weightless include Neul, ARM, CSR and Freescale among others. You can read my previous post about Weightless for a longer overview.

The Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG) has recently revealed the hardware roadmap for the new standard, which I’ll summarize below.

Neul_Iceni_May_2013Weightless Chip

Neul Iceni, the first weightless silicon, was officially announced in February 2013. The latest version of the chip taped in May 2013 integrates UHF radio operating between 410 and 790 MHz supporting both TV white space and narrowband operation. It is suitable for low volume production applications. A third generation will be taped this month, with a UHF radio supporting the 169 to 876 MHz spectrum, that the chip is expected to ship on modules in commercial volume in Q2 2014.

Weightless Modules

The first modules supplied by Neul will Iceni (second generation taped in May 2013), and become available in Q1 2014 for about $12. The modules will measure 35mm x 45mm. Cost will be reduce to about $7 in 2015, and less than $4 in 2016 with a small footprint (20mm x 24mm).

Weightless Base Station

Neul_Weightless_Base_Station

The first base stations will be based on NeulNET 2510, and support a panel Omni/Sectorised antenna, a power over Ethernet supply and an Ethernet connection to backhaul. NeulNET 2510 will initially support a TV white space downlink in the 470 to 790 MHz spectrum with a narrowband uplink in the 410 to 790 MHz range. Weightless firmware will be written in Java, and software will run on Linux. The BTS will be made available to early access customers in Q1 2014, before pre-commercial availability starts in Q2 2014. BTS leases will only cost a few “tens of dollars” per month, and the lease costs are expected to fall significantly in future generations.

Weightless Development Kit

There are not many details about the Weightless development kits, but we do know several Weightless SDKs will be announced. The first SDKs will be based on a Neul module and will be available to early access customers from Q1 2014 with general release in Q2 2014.

Weightless Networks

The UK and the USA will be the first two countries with Weightless network deployments, that are expected to  take place in Q2 2014. Trial networks using NeulNET CDP (Connected Device Platforms) will initially be used, but migration to pre-commercial networks should occur in Q2 2014. Further networks deployed by Neul will follow alongside networks operated by other vendors.

So that means it should be possible to start “playing” with Weightless sometimes in Q2 2014, or Q3 2014, as the 5 hardware components listed above should all become available, at least in parts of the UK and the US.

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Sierra Wireless Airprime WP & AR Series Modules Feature Tricore M2M SoC

February 28th, 2013 No comments

Sierra Wireless, a company providing machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions, has recently introduced a new (nameless) architecture for embedded wireless communications comprised of a multicore (again, nameless) “high speed application processor” + Cortex M0 MCU + Radio SoC, secure cloud services (AirVantage) to store the data, and an open application framework with M2M libraries and development tools. This new architecture will be available in the company’s AirPrime WP & AR Series wireless modules to provide 2G to 4G technologies for the Internet of things. WP Series are industrial grade modules to be embedded into applications such as smart metering, remote monitoring, transportation, security systems, networking, and healthcare, whereas AR series will be used for automotive applications.

Sierra Wireless AirPrime WP Series

The 2G versions will feature an M2M system-on-a-chip with a advanced tri-core architecture that includes a 2G EDGE modem, a Cortex A5 ARM application processor, and an ARM Cortex-M0 processor to enable ultra-low power operation. The 3G/4G LTE versions will be based on Qualcomm Gobi 9×15 chipset, a multi-mode modem solution powered by an ARM Cortex A5 processor and running Linux that integrates all the modes of 3G and 4G LTE.
Those wireless modules can then send data securely to AirVantage M2M Cloud which is comprised of 2 components:

  • AirVantage Enterprise Platform – Used to collect, transmit, and store machine data, and process and schedule events, from any number of devices, across any network operator around the world.
  • AirVantage Management Service – Used to centrally deploy and monitor AirPrime embedded modules, including configuring device settings, delivering firmware and embedded application updates, and administering airtime subscriptions.

Products can be developed with Sierra Wireless’ C/C++ Open AT Application Framework which includes:

  • An M2M operating system providing wireless services (voice call, data call, SMS) and TCP/IP connectivity, and gives access to hardware interfaces.
  • Libraries called Location (GPS), eCall (Modem), Security, Internet (TCP/IP Stack) and AirVantage agent (M2M Cloud client). There’s also a third party library “WirelessIDEA” that allows you to write your applications in Java.
  • Sierra Wireless Developer Studio – Eclipse based integrated development environment

Open_AT_Framework_Architecture

The framework is free to download from Sierra Wireless developer zone and requires a machine running Windows XP/7 with Java 1.6.

Sierra Wireless and ARM are demonstrating the new module architecture both at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, and at Embedded World, in Nuremburg, Germany. The demo simulates a wearable healthcare device that could be carried by an elderly person or a patient, and if the person falls, the system detects it thanks to an accelerometer, places a call, and return to low power mode once the call completes. The Cortex M0 takes care of the accelerometer in low power mode (60 uA), an more powerful processor takes care of the call handling (60 to 90 mA). If the system always stay in low power mode, a cell battery should last over 2 years.

Watch the video below for an introduction of Sierra Wireless and their new architecture, and see the demo described above.

You can find more information on http://www.sierrawireless.com/NextGenModules.

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Weightless Overview and Neul Iceni, The First Weightless Chip

February 18th, 2013 2 comments

The Weightless Special Interest Group (SIG) has recently announced the world’s first transceiver chip using the Weightless Specification and operating over white space spectrum. Neul Iceni chipset makes use of the entire TV white space spectrum to provide low power connectivity for M2M and IoT applications using the Weightless Standard.

Weightless Module

3D Rendered Weightless Module with MCU, Weightless IC, Antenna, and Battery

Weightless Standard Overview

Since this is the first time I write about the Weightless standard, let’s see what it is and what will be used for. There has been a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine communication (M2M), but one of the limiting factor is currently the cost of technology (and networks?) to provide communication. That is where “white space” spectrum comes into play. A large spectrum was used by analog TV channels, and since many countries have now switched to digital TV, part of this spectrum is unallocated (hence the name “white space”). According to Wikipedia, in the US, analog television broadcasts, which operated between the 54 MHz and 806 MHz, ceased operating on June 12, 2009, and power TV stations were required to switch to digital transmission and operate only between 54 MHz and 698 MHz, freeing the spectrum above 698 MHz. In the US, regulations have changed to allow free (as in free beer) use of this spectrum, and regulatory changes are also in the process in other countries and regions around the world (Watch one of Charbax videos for details about expected regulations changes in different countries). So Weightless standard will use white spaces, but since machine traffic is very different compared to human traffic, a different communication standard also had to be defined with those key features:

  • Great flexibility in the data rate provided depending on the application, range and environment. From 16Mb/s for wireless broadband to 1kb/s for M2M.
  • Time division duplex (TDD) operation since it may be difficult to find a pair of white space channels with appropriate duplex separation in all areas.
  • Relatively long frame duration of the order of 2s so that when high spreading factors are used on the frame header it remains a small percentage of the overall frame duration.
  • Frequency hopping at the frame rate to minimize the impact of interference – both received and caused.
  • A design that minimizes costs and power consumption.
  • A broadband downlink using single carrier modulation within a 6-8MHz TV channel.
  • A narrowband uplink with 96 uplink channels per downlink channel to accommodate the lower terminal transmit power while maintaining a balanced link budget.
  • Highly efficient MAC-level protocols that result in small headers per transmission and hence little overhead even when the payload is only a few bytes long.]

The Weightless SIG expects that in a few years, you’ll be able to get free M2M communications with:

  • A range > 10km
  • Battery life > 10 years
  • Chipset cost < $2

Weightless is a royalty-free open standard, and you can download the draft Weightless Specification (You’ll need to become a member first. Registering as an “Observer” is free).

Neul Iceni Weightless Silicon

Since most of you probably never heard about Neul before (I hadn’t), a short company introduction is needed. First, even though they’ve just announced a Weightless chipset, Neul is not a silicon company. Neul touts itself as a “Wireless Services and Solutions”, and develops wireless network technology to enable the use of TV ‘white space’ spectrum, and manufactures radios that meet the FCC white space radio specification. So I understand they are a pure “white space” company, and to help push for adoption, they decided to design and release a silicon compliant with the draft version of Weightless standard. On their website, they have an even more aggressive price target than the one published on Weightless SIG website, as they expect to to go from a $5 BoM today to a $1 chipset by 2014, with battery life of 15 years for things like smart meters.

Weightless Chip Block Diagram

Weightless Chip Block Diagram

Neul ‘Iceni’ is a TV White Space transceiver chip, capable of tuning across the entire UHF TV white space spectrum (470 – 790MHz). This single chip solution is said to draw very little power to deliver secure and long range wireless, non-line-of-sight connectivity for both machine-to-machine (M2M) or Internet of Things (IoT), as well as for applications in wireless broadband.

Iceni provides the following key capabilities:

  • Operation over the entire TV white space frequency range, from 470MHz to 790MHz, and support for both 6 MHz and 8 MHz channel bandwidths.
  • Adaptive digital modulation schemes and error correction methods can be selected according to the trade-off between data rate and range required for a given application.
  • Encryption mechanisms ensure secure data transfer over the air.
  • Memory-mapped parallel bus interface and discrete interrupt lines can be used for waking the external application processor, such as an ARM Cortex M3, upon receipt of a relevant frame.
  • Programmable IOs are available for controlling the external RF front-end, such as a Transmit Power Amplifier.

Neul ‘Iceni’ samples are already available to select partners for testing and development of white space-enabled solutions. Currently, there’s very little information about this chip, no product brief, and basically nothing on Neul website part from the press release.

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