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Posts Tagged ‘m2m’

Izitron I-SEN1 Environmental Sensors Board Works with XBee Modules

February 7th, 2016 No comments

Izitron, a start-up based in the South of France, has designed a board with temperature, pressure, humidity and light sensors and a XBee header to provide a way to monitoring environmental variables for weather monitoring, agriculture, industrial applications, and more.

I-SEN1_Environmental_monitoring_boardI-SEN1 technical specifications:

  • Sensors
    • Temperature – Microchip MCP9700-E/T0; accuracy: ±4°C Accuracy from 0°C to +70°C | -4°C/+6°C Accuracy from -40°C to +150°C; temperature range: -40 to 125 °C
    • Pressure – Infineon KP236N6165; accuracy: 2%; pressure range: 60 kPa to 165 kPa; temperature range: -40 to 125 °C
    • Humidity – Honeywell HIH-5030-001; accuracy: ±3% RH; range: 0 to 100% RH; temperature range: -40 to 85 °C
    • Light – AMS TSL14S-LF; reponsivity: 16 mV/ (uW/cm2); temperature range: 0 to 70 °C
  • Header for XBee RF module
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • 5 to 12V via Wago terminal block
    • 2x batteries
    • No power management chip
    • Power on/off button
  • Power consumption – Up to 4 years battery life (2x 3.5V/2.4A) when transmitting once per minute
  • Dimensions – 61 x 33 cm

XBee_Environmental_Monitoring_Mesh_Network

Beside one or more I-SEN1 boards, you’ll also need an XBee RF module for each board, and a XBee USB adapter and an extra XBee RF module to connect to your computer or gateway board. Software setup is using Digi’s XCTU application for Windows, MacOS or Linux, as well as three XML files for configuration: one for the gateway, and either “battery” or  “cable” XML files for the boards since on battery mode the boards will communicate directly with the gateway (star topology), and use mesh networking in case the boards are powered via their terminal block. You’ll also need to create your own app using XBee API, and the Java based an open source sample, demoed in the video below, will be provided to backers.

The company aims to raise at least 24,600 Euros via Kickstarter in order to go ahead with manufacturing. You can pledge 22 Euros ($24.50) for one Izitron I-SEN1 board (Early Bird) rewards, and after 500 boards the price goes up to 31 Euros ($34.60 Euros). They also offer different packs with several boards, up to 10 boards for 285 Euros. As previously mentioned XBee RF boards are not included, so you’d need to purchase them separately. Shipping varies from 5 to 15 Euros, and delivery is scheduled for August 2015.

Via Time4EE

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TI SimpleLink CC1310 Wireless MCU Promises 20 Km Range, 20-Year Battery Life on a Coin Cell

December 18th, 2015 8 comments

Some LPWAN standards such as SigFox, LoRa, or nWave allows for transmission of data at low bitrate over several kilometers, and I’ve very recently featured Microchip’s LoRa modules and motes in this blog. So when Texas Instruments sent their December 2015 newsletter entitled Wireless MCU spans 20 km on a coin cell, I decided to have a look, and the company’s CC1310 wireless Cortex-M3+M0 MCU based on a proprietary sub GHz technology also claims to last 20-year on a coin cell for applications such as grid communication infrastructure and heat and water meters.

TI CC1310 MCU Block Diagram

TI CC1310 MCU Block Diagram

SimpleLink CC1310 key features:

  • Microcontroller – ARM Cortex-M3 @ up to 48 MHz with up to 128KB programmable flash, 8KB DRAM for cache/general purpose, 20KB Ultralow Leakage SRAM
  • Sensor Controller – Ultralow power and autonomous; 16-Bit Architecture; 2KB of Ultralow Leakage SRAM for code and data
  • RF core
    • Cortex M0 core with 4KB RAM, and ROM
    • Data rate – 4000 kbps (Max)
    • Receiver Sensitivity – –124 dBm using long-range Mode, –110 dBm at 50 kbps
    • Selectivity: 52 dB; Blocking performance: 90 dB; programmable output power up to +14 dBm
    • Single-ended or differential RF Interface
    • Suitable for systems targeting compliance with ETSI EN 300 220, EN 303 131, EN 303 204 (Europe); FCC CFR47 Part 15 (US); ARIB STD-T108 (Japan)
    • Wireless M-Bus and IEEE 802.15.4g PHY
  • Peripherals
    • All digital peripheral pins can be routed to any GPIO
    • 4x general-purpose timer modules – 8x 16-Bit or 4x 32-Bit Timers, PWM each
    • 12-Bit ADC, 200 ksamples/s, 8-Channel Analog MUX
    • Continuous Time Comparator
    • Ultralow Power Clocked Comparator
    • Programmable Current Source
    • UART, 2× SSI (SPI, MICROWIRE, TI), I2C
    • I2S
    • Real-Time Clock (RTC)
    • AES-128 security module, True Random Number Generator (TRNG)
    • Support for eight capacitive sensing buttons
    • Integrated Temperature Sensor
  • External System
    • On-Chip Internal DC-DC Converter
    • Few External Components
    • Integration with SimpleLink CC1190 range extender
  • Power Supply – 1.8 to 3.8V
  • Power Consumption
    • Active mode – Rx: 5.5 mA; Tx (+10 dBm): 12.9 mA; MCU: 48.5 CoreMark/mA; Sensor Controller @ 24 MHz: 0.4 mA + 8.2 µA/MHz
    • Sensor Controller woken up once per second performing one 12-Bit ADC sampling: 0.85 µA
    • Standby: 0.6 µA (RTC running and RAM and CPU retention)
    • Shutdown: 185 nA (Wakeup on external events)
  • Packages – 7-mm × 7-mm RGZ VQFN48 (30 GPIOs); 5-mm × 5-mm RHB VQFN48 (15 GPIOs); 4-mm × 4-mm RSM VQFN48 (10 GPIOs)
Connected Water Meter Block Diagram

Connected Water Meter Block Diagram

Software and development tools include reference designs for Different RF configurations, packet sniffer PC Software, Sensor Controller Studio, SmartRF Studio, SmartRF Flash Programmer 2, IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM, Code Composer Studio as well as development kits such as SimpleLink sub-1 GHz CC1310 development kit bundle comprised of one  CC1310EMK-7XD-7793 evaluation module kit with  two boards with the wireless MCU and RF layout (779 to 930 MHz) with two antennas, and two SMARTRF06EBK  evaluation board that is the  motherboard for the CC1310 evaluation module, and equipped with an on-board XDS100v3 debugger, LCD, buttons, LEDs, debugger and sensors.

SimpleLink CC1310 Evaluation Module Kit

SimpleLink CC1310 Evaluation Module Kit

TI CC1310 MCU is selling for $2.50 to $3.98 per unit for 1K orders, and the development kit is available for $299 + shipping. More details can be found on Texas Instruments SimpleLink CC1310 and CC1310 development kit product pages.

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Microchip Introduces $11 RN2483 & RN2903 LoRa Modules and $70 LoRa Evaluation Kits for IoT & M2M Applications

December 15th, 2015 15 comments

LoRa is one of those long range low power WAN standards used for the machine to machine (M2M) and Internet of things (IoT) applications. I already featured a Semtech Lora module here with a line-of-sight range of up to 20 to 30km, and the company has just partnered with STMicro to deploy LoRa solutions, but today, I’m going to have a look at Microchip Lora modules and development kits that I discovered in the company’s Micro Solutions Nov/Dec 2015 publication.

LoRa_Technology_Network_Topology

The company has launched two modules for the European and North American markets with respectively RN2483 LoRa 433/868 MHz
R&TTE Directive Assessed Radio Modem and RN2903 915 MHz North American modem. Apart from the different frequencies, both modules have similar features:

  • On-board LoRaWAN Class A protocol stack
  • Tx/Rx Power
    • RN2483 – 40 mA (14dBm, 868MHz) Tx, and 14.2 mA Rx @ 3.6V
    • RN2903 – 124 mA Tx max, and 13.5 mA Rx @ (2.1 to 3.6V)
  • ASCII command interface over UART
  • Castellated SMT pads for easy and reliable PCB mounting
  • Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU) over UART
  • 14 GPIO for control, status, and ADC
  • Highly integrated module with MCU, crystal, EUI-64 Node Identity Serial EEPROM, Radio transceiver with analog front end, and matching circuitry
  • Operating Voltage – RN2483: 3.6V; RN2903: 2.1V to 3.6V
  • Dimensions – 17.8 x 26.7 x 3 mm
  • Operating Temperature Range – -40C to +85C
  • FCC and IC Certified, RoHS compliant

Demo source code, datasheets, product briefs, and user’s guides are available on the modules’ product pages linked above.

US and EU versions of Microchip LoRa Technology Motes (Click to Enlarge)

US and EU versions of Microchip LoRa Technology Motes (Click to Enlarge)

The first development tool is LoRa Technology Mote with either RN2483 @ 868 MHz or RN2903 @ 915 MHz. It is a standalone battery-powered LoRa node, used to to demonstrate the long-range capabilities of the modem, and verify inter-operability with LoRaWAN v1.0 gateways and infrastructure.  The key features listed for Lora Motes:

    • MCU – Microchip PIC18LF25K50 8-bit MCU
    • Connectivity
      • EU version (RN2483) – 868 MHz High-Frequency SMA Connector & 433 MHz Low-Frequency Antenna test Point
      • US version (RN2903) – 915 MHz High-Frequency SMA Connector
    • Display – OLED display; 128 x 64 resolution
    • USB – USB Mini-B Connector
    • Sensors – Ambient Light Sensor, Linear Active Thermistor (MCP9700T)
    • Programming / Debugging – Mote ICSP Programming
    • Misc – S1 & S2 buttons for menu navigation, 4x LEDs controlled by PIC18 (2), and module (2), battery power switch
    • Power – 2x AAA Battery Pack; LDO Regulator (MCP1825S); alternative power supply through hole connectors
    • Dimensions – N/A
Lora PICtail (Click to Enlarge)

RN2483 Lora PICtail Daughter Board (Click to Enlarge)

The second options is RN2483/RN2903 LoRa Technology PICtail/PICtail Plus daughter boards that can be connected to PIC18 Explorer or Explorer 16 development boards, with the latter supporting PIC24, dsPIC, or PIC32 MCU families.

LoRa PICTail daughter board specifications:

  • US version – Microchip RN2903 Low-Power Long Range, LoRa Technology Transceiver Module with one SMA connector for 915 MHz band
  • EU version – Microchip RN2483 LoRa Technology Transceiver Module with two SMA connectors for 433 MHz and 868 MHz bands
  • MCU – PIC18 MCU for custom functions
  • USB – 1x mini USB connector
  • Expansion interfaces
    • Solder pads around the module for GPIOs, power pins and communication signals
    • PICtail connection interface
    • PICtail Plus connection interface
  • Programming – ICSP header to program the on-board PIC18 MCU
  • Misc – UART traffic LEDs
  • Power Supply – On-board LDO; supply current measurement points
  • Dimensions – N/A

You can find user’s guides and some extra documentation for all four kits on their respective product pages: RN2483 LoRa Technology Mote, RN2903 LoRa Technology Mote, RN2483 LoRa Technology PICtail (Plus) Daughter Board, and RN2903 LoRa Technology PICtail (Plus) Daughter Board.

Both RN2483 and RN2903 modules are available now for $10.90 each in 1,000-unit quantities, while LoRa Technology Motes go for $69.99 and LoRa PICTail boards for $65 on microchipDIRECT or other distributors.

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ARM TechCon 2015 Schedule – IoT, Servers, 64-bit ARM, Power Usage Optimization, and More

October 1st, 2015 No comments

ARM_TechCon_2015The ARM Technology Conference (ARM TechCon) will take place on November 10 – 12, 2015, in Santa Clara Convention Center, and just like every year, there will be a free exposition for companies to showcase their latest innovation and/or products, as well as a technical conference with sessions and workshops sorted into various tracks:

  • Automotive/Embedded Vision
  • Embedded
  • IoT
  • Mobile/Connectivity
  • Networking Infrastructure/Servers
  • Tools & Implementation
  • Wearables/Sensors
  • ARM Training Day
  • Sponsored Vendor Training
  • Special Event
  • General Event
  • Software Developers Workshop

You can find the complete schedule on ARM TechCon website. Although I won’t attend, I’ve created my own virtual schedule with some of the sessions I found interesting.

Tuesday – November 10

  • 8:30 – 9:20 – ARM Vision for Thermal Management and Energy Aware Scheduling on Linux by Ian Rickards (ARM), Charles Garcia-Tobin (ARM), Bobby Batacharia (ARM)

This talk will cover the history and where are we going, for ARM’s Power Software (IPA, EAS, and some concepts for the future).

ARM will detail the latest update on our thermal control software Intelligent Power Allocation (IPA) which has just been released in mainline Linux 4.2. The tuning and implementation flow allow IPA to be easily deployed in Linux-based devices including Android.

We will also introduce ‘Energy Aware Scheduling’ (EAS) which is a new development by ARM/Linaro to allow the Linux scheduler to make the most energy efficient decisions using a generic energy model based approach. EAS includes improved upstream Linux support for ARM “big.LITTLE” systems and other advanced multi-cpu topologies.

  • 9:30 – 10:30 – Innovation is Thriving in Semiconductors by Mike Muller (ARM)

The human capacity to find a path past difficult challenges is astonishing. Though traditional silicon scaling is more complex at advanced geometries, electronics design innovation is more robust than ever as engineers devise new ways to improve the latest chips. ARM CTO Mike Muller will describe advances in design innovation spanning low power, trust, and architectural innovation all the way from sensors to server and beyond. And he’ll unveil the latest technology achievements from ARM in his signature lively, humorous and engaging style.

  • 10:30 – 11:20 – IoT Prototyping 101: The All-in-One Platform by Steven Si (MediaTek)

Power efficiency, connectivity and size are top priorities for any developer looking to prototype innovative IoT devices. Best utilizing these key features with ARM’s technology will be the spotlight of this session a live demonstration of how a developer at any level can create the next big thing in IoT. Skills to be shown: connecting sensors; using a cloud interface to build a virtual device; sending data from the device to the cloud and communicating with other smart devices. (cnxsoft: possibly using LinkIt ONE platform)

  • 11:30 – 12:20 – Khronos APIs for Fast and Cool Graphics, Compute and Vision by Neil Trevett (Khronos)

Discover how 100 companies cooperate at the Khronos Group to create open, royalty free standards that enable developers to access the power of hardware to accelerate the demanding tasks in cutting-edge mobile applications including heterogeneous parallel computation, 3D graphics and vision processing. This session includes the latest updates to API standards including OpenGL, OpenCL, OpenVX, and the recent Vulkan new generation graphics and compute API. The session will explore how modern APIs will accelerate the availability of compelling experiences such as neural-net based driver assistance, virtual and augmented reality, and advanced environmental tracking and 3D reconstruction on ARM-based devices

  • 13:00 – 15:00 – Boosting Performance from ‘C’ to Sky with Custom Accelerators on ARM-based FPGAs by Shaun Purvis (Hardent)

Offloading tasks to specialized hardware, such as a GPU or FPU, is a common approach to boosting software performance. However, the fixed nature (i.e. hard-silicon) of such hardware places an upper limit on just how much performance can be boosted. In order to break down this barrier, some modern SoCs have combined ARM processing power with programmable logic allowing software to be offloaded to custom, scalable, accelerators. With accelerators that can be tailored to specific needs, suddenly the sky’s the limit! But that’s not all. Combining these SoCs with modern tools allows designers to migrate high-level functions directly to hardware, skipping all the hardware design in between. This presentation will introduce one such tool and discuss the design methodology that takes a software-defined system and turns it into a custom hardware accelerated one.

  • 15:30 – 16:20 – Bringing Mali, the Android GPU of Choice, to Wearables by Dan Wilson (ARM Ltd.)

In this talk we will look at the trends for the use of graphics processors in Wearable devices and how the technical requirements of this space differ from that of smartphones and other segments. We look specifically at the ARM Mali GPU Utgard architecture which provides the perfect fit for Wearable designs and describe how this architecture has been implemented to create ARM’s latest ultra-low-power Mali GPU.

  • 16:30 – 18:00 – Efficient Interrupts on ARM Cortex-M Microcontrollers by Chris Shore (ARM)

Most real-time embedded systems make extensive use of interrupts to provide real-time response to external events. The design of the interrupt architecture is crucial to achieve maximum system efficiency. When designing software for devices based on ARM’s Cortex-M microcontroller cores, it is important to understand the interaction between interrupt priority, sub-priority, tail-chaining and pre-emption to achieve the most efficient design. This session will examine various use cases and give practical advice to software developers.

Wednesday – November 11

  • 8:30 – 9:20 – How (Not) to Generate Misleading Performance Results for ARM Servers by Markus Levy (EEMBC) & Bryan Chin (Cavium)

Cloud workloads are putting unique demands on SoCs and other system-level hardware being integrated into scale-out servers. Traditional benchmarks address the suitability of processors for different tasks. However, many factors contribute to the whole system performance memory, disks, OS, network interfaces, and network stack. In addition, the manner of generating workloads can affect the results. This session uses a case study from Cavium’s ARM-based Thunder X system and the EEMBC cloud and server benchmark, to present results that demonstrate how subtle test environment variations can obfuscate benchmark results and how a properly designed benchmark can overcome these obstacles.

  • 9:30 – 10:30 – Keynote by Simon Segars (ARM’s CEO)
  • 10:30 – 11:20 – Pentralux Flexible Digital Displays on Paper, Plastic, Cloth & Synthetics by Mathew Gilliat-Smith (DST Innovations), Anthony Miles (DST Innovations)

DST Innovations has created a flexible digital display proof of concept produced on plastic, paper, cloth or synthetic substrates. It’s integrated with the ARM mbed OS and will be suitable for developers and designers to integrate into third party products. Initially the digital screens will be for informational or promotional data and video. Being bright, safe, robust and requiring little power, the design parameters will be significant and far reaching for the wearable sector in thousands of clothing, fashion, promotional and other commercial concepts. The screens will offer inter-connectivity through the mbed ecosystem to receive transmitted IoT cloud generated data.

  • 11:30 – 12:20 – Are you ready for USB Type-C? by Ravi Shah (NXP Semiconductors) & Andy Lin (NXP Semiconductors)

USB Type-C offers new features and benefits like reversible plug orientation, improved data rates up to 10 Gbps as well as an unprecedented, scalable, 100 W power-delivery capability that can power higher wattage devices and support faster charging. This session will review the features, benefits and applications it is being designed into today. In addition, design considerations and lessons learned from the field will be reviewed.

  • 12:30 – 13:20 – From Concept to Reality: Advancing ARM-based Enterprise SoCs – Presented by Applied Micro Circuits Corporation by Dr. Paramesh Gopi (Allied Micro Circuits Corporation)

No abstract…

  • 14:30 – 17:20 – STM32L7 Hands-On Workshop by James Lombard & Steve Miller (STMicroelectronics)

Thursday – November 12

  • 8:30 – 9:20 – All Things Data: Healthcare by Pierre Roux (Atmel)

Examples of IoT are everywhere, including digital home, remote resourcing monitoring and automation, but what gets less attention is how the IoT will impact healthcare with the combination of technologies that leverages big data and analytics that go along with it.

This talk will look at opportunities, hurdles and the skills required to make the most of this intersection of Internet-connected physical objects and the deluge of data. It will examine new generation of data analytics for use cases associated with our changing world and, examine the role big data analytics will play in the future of the healthcare industry.

  • 10:30 – 11:20 – The ARM Cortex-A72 processor: Delivering high efficiency for Server Networking and HPC by Ian Forsyth,  Director of Marketing, ARM

New content-rich features, services and evolving business models are transforming network architectures, giving rise to the Intelligent Flexible Cloud (IFC). Architects are decentralizing intelligence to deliver required flexibility and to cope with increased traffic demands. This, in turn, is driving new classes of SoCs, enabled by technology standards including software-defined networking (SDN) and network functional virtualization (NFV). These require significant throughput-per-watt efficiencies within networking and servers. This talk will explore how the latest Cortex-A72 CPU offers compelling performance and throughput to meet the requirements of these future workloads.

  • 11:30 – 12:20 – Porting to 64-bit on ARM by Chris Shore (ARM)

With the introduction of the A64 instruction set in ARMv8-A, many developers need to port existing code to work in a 64-bit environment. At the coding level, this presentation will cover porting C code, assembly code and NEON code. Issues covered will include data typing and type conversion, pointers, bitwise operations, differences in the SIMD register bank layout, mapping of assembly instructions. At a system level, we will cover maintenance operations and extensions to the security architecture.

  • 13:30 – 14:20 – Keynote- The Hard Things About the Internet of Things by Colt McAnlis (Google)
  • 14:30 – 15:20 – Wearable System Power Analysis and Optimization by Greg Steiert (Maxim Integrated), Jesse Marroquin (Maxim Integrated)

This session will demonstrate how to extend battery life by showing the real world impact of system level architecture decisions. The session will introduce a technique for measuring battery current and then use that technique to compare the power efficiency of different system implementations. Tradeoffs analyzed will include: power architecture, operating voltage, sensor data interfaces, DMA, SIMD.

Takeaway: a method for measuring real time power consumption,  advantage of operating at the lowest voltage possible with efficient regulators, tradeoffs of different sensor interfaces and of different micro-controller architectures (peripherals/M0+/M3/M4)

  • 15:30 – 16:20 – Improving Software Security through Standards Compliance and Structural Coverage Analysis by Shan Bhattacharya (LDRA)

This presentation will focus on secure software best practices. Ensuring the security of embedded devices involves more than simply using vulnerability preventive programming. However, paying attention to and leveraging security standards such as CWE/CVE, CERT C and even CERT Java, will certainly improve the probability of delivering a secure and effective system.

  • 16:30 – 17:20 – Top Android Performance Problems of 2015 by Colt McAnlis (Google)

When you look at performance problems all day, you’re bound to lose your hair. So rather than balding early yourself, Colt McAnlis will walk you through the top performance problems that dominated 2015. This talk will cover the range of issues from Memory, to Rendering, to Networking, listing specific topics that have shown up in many of the top apps in Google Play. We’ll even take some time to look at the differences in some form factors, and how you should plan around that.

  • 17:30 – 18:30 – Happy Hour :)

If you are going to attend, you can register online. While as usual, going to the expo and attending vendor’s sponsored sessions is free, there are different passes to join the conference sessions, ARM training day, and software developers workshops. The earlier you register, the cheaper.

Conference Pass ARM Training Day Software Developers
Workshop
Expo Pass
Super Early Bird
(Ends July 24)
$599 $199 $99 Free
Early Bird
(Ends Sept. 4)
$799 $249 $149 Free
Advanced
(Ends Oct. 30)
$999 $299 $199 Free
Regular/Onsite $1249 $349 $249 Free

There are also discounts for groups, students, press & media, and government employees. You can check details on ARm TechCon 2015’s Passes & Prices page.

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Comparison Table of Low Power WAN Standards for Industrial Applications

September 21st, 2015 1 comment

WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee are commonly found in consumer devices part of the “IoT ecosystem”, but the range, cost, power consumption, and/or scalability of these wireless standards are not suitable. For example, agricultural and forestry applications normally require long distance, and smart parking or city lighting may requires scalability to a great number of nodes, so alternatives are needed. EDN wrote a thorough article comparing 10 alternative wireless standards: Weightless-W, Weightless-N, Weightless-P, SigFox, LoRaWAN, LTE-Cat M, IEEE P802.11ah, Dash7, Ingenu RPMA, and nWave.

LP-WAn Comparison Table - Click to Enlarge - Source: EDN PDF

LP-WAN Comparison Table (Source: EDN PDF)

The table includes the frequency band, channel width, range, transmit power, packet size (minimal or maximal), downlink and uplink data rates, maximum number of connected devices, topology, roaming capability, and status. If you had to implement something today, four to five solutions are “in deployment”: SigFox, Ingenu RPMA, nWave, LoRa, and possibly Dash7, while the other are only starting to get deployed, or will be finalized in 2016. All standards have a Line of Sight range of at least 1km, with RPMA claiming up to 500km… Many standards are quite scalable as they support up to 1 millions node or more, but RPMA, and especially LTE Cat-M and P802.11ah are much less suited to projects with a large number of sensor nodes. Typical power consumption and an estimate of costs would have been two nice extra rows to have in that table, but number for these two are probably hard to come by, especially since each project is different.

If you are interested in these long range low power wide area network wireless standards, I recommend you read the complete article on EDN for much more details.

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Weightless-P Standard is Designed for High Performance, Low Power, 2-Way Communication for IoT

August 10th, 2015 1 comment

Weightless was unveiled over two years ago, as a new standards for IoT leveraging “white space” spectrum, previously used by analog TV broadcasts, for free M2M / IoT communication using low power (10 years battery life) and cost-efficient hardware ($2 hardware) offering a range of 5 to 10 km. Development kits and base stations were scheduled for Q2 2014, but there’s either been some delays or they are only available to Weightless members, as you need to register to get notified once hardware becomes available.

WeightlessThe Weightless SIG (Special Interest Group) has not stopped working on the standard as there are now three Weightless standards: Weightless-W (using White band spectrum), Weightless-N (sub-GHz spectrum), and and newly announced Weightless-P offering similar features as 3GPP carrier grade solutions, but at lower costs and lower power consumption.

The key features of Weightless-P are shown below:

  • Excellent capacity and scalability for IoT deployment
    • FDMA+TDMA in 12.5kHz narrow band channels offer optimal capacity for uplink-dominated traffic from a very large number of devices with moderate payload sizes
    • Operates over the whole range of license-exempt sub-GHz ISM/SRD bands for global deployment: 169/433/470/780/868/915/923MHz
    • Flexible channel assignment for frequency re-use in large-scale deployments
    • Adaptive data rate from 200bps to 100kbps to optimise radio resource usage depending on device link quality
    • Transmit power control for both downlink and uplink to reduce interference and maximize network capacity
    • Time-synchronised base stations for efficient radio resource scheduling and utilisation
  • Bidirectional
    • Supports both network-originated and device-originated traffic
    • Paging capability
    • Low latency in both uplink and downlink
    • Fast network acquisition
    • Forward Error Correction (FEC)
    • Automatic Retransmission Request (ARQ)
    • Adaptive Channel Coding (ACC)
    • Handover, Roaming, Cell re-selection
  • Long range
    • Lower data rates with channel coding provide similar link budget to other LPWAN technologies
    • 2km in urban environment
  • Industrial-grade reliability
    • Fully acknowledged communications
    • Auto-retransmission upon failure
    • Frequency and time synchronisation
    • Supports narrowband channels (12.5KHz) with frequency hopping for robustness to multi-path and narrowband interference
    • Channel coding
    • Supports licensed spectrum operation
  • Ultra-low energy consumption
    • GMSK and offset-QPSK modulation for optimal power amplifier efficiency
    • Interference-immune offset-QPSK modulation using Spread Spectrum for improved link quality in busy radio environments
    • Transmit power up to 17dBm to allow operation from coin cell batteries
    • Adaptive transmit power and data rate to maximize battery-life
    • Power consumption in idle state when stationary below 100uW (vs 3mW for the best cellular technologies)
  • Secure and efficient networking
    • Authentication to the network
    • AES-128/256 encryption
    • Radio resource management and scheduling across the overall network to ensure quality-of-service to all devices
    • Support for over-the-air firmware upgrade and security key negotiation or replacement
    • Fast network acquisition and frequency/time synchronization
  • Low cost and complexity
    • Using standard GMSK and offset-QPSK modulation channels ensures broad availability of hardware and no dependency on a single vendor
    • Compared to UNB, narrowband operation is less sensitive to frequency offset and drift, allowing the use of lower cost, lower power XOs or DCXOs instead of TCXOs
    • Maximal transmit power of 17dBm allows for integrated power amplifier
  • Open standard
    • Brings the reliability and performance of cellular technologies at a fraction of the cost by avoiding any legacy or backward-compatibility concerns
    • Ensures interoperability between the manufacturers
    • Provides for multi-vendor support to stimulate ongoing innovation and minimize end user costs
    • Royalty free IP minimizes production costs

Hardware for the new Weightless-P standard will be available in Q1 2016.

You may wonder about the differences between Weightless-W/-N/-P and which one you should use for your IoT project. The Interest group published a table comparing the three standards.

Weightless-N Weightless-P Weightless-W
Directionality 1-way 2-way 2-way
Feature set Simple Full Extensive
Range 5km+ 2km+ 5km+
Battery life 10 years 3-8 years 3-5 years
Terminal cost Very low Low Low-medium
Network cost Very low Medium Medium

So if one way communication is suitable, go with Weightless-N, if the “white-space” spectrum is available in your country go with Weightless-W, and otherwise you may want to select Weightless-P for high performance 2-way communications.

You can find some information on all three royalty-free  standards on Weightless technical information page. But if you want access to the full specifications for your project(s), you’ll need to become a Weightless members with membership starting at 900 GBP (~$1400) per year for “associate” members.

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WiPy Wi-Fi Board for IoT Runs MicroPython on Texas Instruments CC3200 (Crowdfunding)

April 24th, 2015 29 comments

If you’ve interested in connecting devices via Wi-Fi, you’re being spoiled as “Internet of things” boards keeps getting designed and produced. The latest board with WiPy, a small board powered by Texas Instruments CC3200, running MicroPython, and consuming less than 1mA in suspended mode with Wi-Fi connected.

WiPyWiPy specifications:

  • MCU – TI CC3200 ARM Cortex-M4 @ 80 MHz with 256KB RAM, Wi-Fi and TCP/IP stack
  • Storage – 2MB flash
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11b/g/n 16Mbps (AP, Station and WiFi-Direct), on-board antenna and u.FL connector
  • Expansion – 2x 14-pin headers (2.54mm pitch) with
    • Up to 25 GPIOs
    • 2x UART, SPI, I2C, I2S, and SD card
    • 3×12 bit ADCs
  • Others
    • 4×16 bit timers with PWM and input capture
    • RTC
    • Hash and encryption engines: SHA, MD5, DES, AES
    • Reset switch, heartbeat LED
  • Power Supply – 3.6 – 5.5V DC input; 3.3V output up to 250mA
  • Power Consumption – Active: 14 mA; Suspended (Wi-Fi connected): 850 uA; Hibernating (No Wi-Fi): 5 uA
  • Dimensions – 25mm x 45mm (1.0″ x 1.77″)

WiPy_MicroPythonBeside low power consumption, the board can switch from suspended to active mode in less than 5 ms, send some data, and go back to sleep, with the developers claiming several years on a single battery charge with this type of activity.

The board run MicroPython and so it can be programmed using Python 3.4, minus some functions like “with” or “yield from”. You’ll notice no USB port on the board that can be used for programming, that’s because you’d normally connect via Telnet to access the console, and program the board from there, and alternatively you can also connect via FTP to upload Python scripts or other files. WiPy supports BSD sockets, and MicroPython compatible librairies are being worked on to handle HTTP, SMTP, XMPP, FTP, and MQTT, and since the TI MCU also support hardware hash and encryption, secure HTTPS and SSL connection will also be available.

MicroPython_GPIO

Sample code to toggle a GPIO in Python

There aren’t any shields for WiPy, as it’s breadboard compatible so you can easily connect it to your existing modules for your project, but they’re still in the process of developing an expansion board with a micro USB and battery connectors, FT234XD USB to  serial converter, a LiPo charger, a micro SD socket, two prototyping areas, and more.

WiPy_Baseboard

MicroPython source code for CC3200 is already available on WiPy github account, and the hardware files are being promised once the project is about to ship.

WiPy has just reached its 30,000 Euros target on Kickstarter, where you can pledge 27 Euros to get WiPy with the headers of your choice (male, female, double stackable, or none), or 37 Euros to also include the expansion board above. Shipping is included, and delivery scheduled for August 2015. You can find more details, ask question on their forums, and soon access tutorials on www.wipy.io.

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NodeMCU is both a Breadboard-Friendly ESP8266 Wi-Fi Board and a LUA based Firmware

April 18th, 2015 12 comments

NodeMCU is a LUA based interactive firmware for Expressif ESP8622 Wi-Fi SoC, as well as an open source hardware board that contrary to the $3 ESP8266 Wi-Fi modules includes a CP2102 TTL to USB chip for programming and debugging, is breadboard-friendly, and can simply be powered via its micro USB port.

NodeMCU_Development_BoardLet’s checkout the hardware first. The latest version of the board (V1.0) has the following specifications and features:

  • Wi-Fi Module – ESP-12E module similar to ESP-12 module but with 6 extra GPIOs.
  • USB – micro USB port for power, programming and debugging
  • Headers – 2x 2.54mm 15-pin header with access to GPIOs, SPI, UART, ADC, and power pins
  • Misc – Reset and Flash buttons
  • Power – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 49 x 24.5 x 13mm
NodeMCU Headers' Pinout

NodeMCU Headers’ Pinout

The hardware documentation for the board can be found on nodemcu-devkit repo, including schematics and PCB layout designed with Altium Designer, but they should also be compatible with the cheaper Altium CircuitStudio. Sadly, the files have not been updated for 3 to 4 months, so they don’t completely match the latest hardware shown above, and some pins were not connected in the earlier version.

NodeMCU can be purchased for $10 and up on Aliexpress or Seeed Studio. However, it’s not entirely clear which version of the board is sold… The Aliexpress shop shows hardware v0.9, but says they will send the latest version, while Seeed Studio mentions NodeMCU “v2”,  and shows picture of v1.0 hardware, which should be the one you want. The new board will also be up for sale in Europe on nodemcu.eu for 15 to 18 Euros including VAT.

NodeMCU firmware is build with ESP8266 SDK v.0.9.5, based on Lua 51.4 without debug and os modules, lua-cjson, and relies on spiffs (SPI Flash File System) file system. The quick start guide is written on the bottom of the board:

  1. Install CP2102 driver (not needed in Linux)
  2. Use 9600 baud rate
  3. Connect Wi-Fi and enjoy!

Once you are connected, you can just type the command in the terminal. For example to connecting to your Wi-Fi router:

You can also toggle or/and read GPIO status in a similar way to what you’d with Arduino:

To get the board automatically run a script right after boot is complete, you can edit init.lua as follows:

You can find the firmware source code and documentation on Github, as well as nodemcu-flasher, a Windows only tools to flash the firmware to a module. There’s also a separate tool called esptool that will let you flash nodemcu from Linux. In case you find the documentation is all over the place, you might want to checkout NodeMCU video tutorial below.

Nodemcu.com is the official website for the project, but you’ll find more information on Github. You can also get answers to your questions on their BBS or ESP8622 community forums.

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