Amazon FreeRTOS Released for NXP, Texas Instruments, STMicro, and (soon) Microchip Microcontrollers

FreeRTOS is an open source real-time operating system for microcontrollers released under an MIT license, and when it comes to adoption in embedded systems it’s right there near the top with embedded Linux according to Aspencore 2017 embedded markets study. For example, some Espressif SDKs for ESP8266 or ESP32 are based on FreeRTOS, and so is Mediatek LinkIt Development Platform for RTOS. The recently announced Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS) leverages the open source operating systems, and extends it with with libraries that enable local and AWS cloud connectivity, security, and soon over-the-air updates. a:FreeRTOS is free of charge, open source, and available today. In order to get started, you’ll have a choice of 4 hardware platforms: STMicro STM32L4 Discovery Kit IoT Node (B-L475E-IOT01A) powered by STM32L475 ARM Cortex-M4 MCU with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, RF (868 / 915 MHz), and NFC connectivity, plenty of sensors NXP LPC54018 IoT module (OM40007) based on LPC54018 Arm Cortex-M4 core @ 180MHz with Longsys …

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Detect Lightning with Those AMS AS3935 “Thunder” Boards

Launched in 2012, AMS AS3935 Franklin lightning sensor  is – at its name implies – a lightning sensing IC. The chip was designed for low power, portable or fixed wire-line applications, and beside detecting electrical emissions from lightning activity, it can also provide an estimation of the distance to the head of the storm from 40km away down to 1km, while filtering out other signals from motors, microwave ovens, etc… The chip interfaces via SPI or I2C to the host processor / micro-controller, and comes in a small MLPW-16 (4x4mm) package. Price is $3.55 per unit for 1k orders. Applications include wearables, golf carts, pool safety, portable GPS, bike computers, weather stations, uninterruptible power supplies, smart grid systems, environmental monitoring systems, etc… Basically, AS3935 can be used either for weather monitoring, or safety applications. I’ve found two maker boards with the chip: MikroElectronika Thunder Click board compatible with MikroBUS socket (available now), and SwitchDoc Labs Thunder Board recently launched on …

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PingPong IoT Development Board Supports Cellular Connectivity, WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox, and More

Round Solutions, a supplier of products, services and concepts for industrial M2M and IoT markets, has introduced PingPong IoT development board with either Microchip PIC32MZ running an RTOS, or PIC32MZ DA running Linux, and equipped with a Telit modules for either 2G or 3G cellular + GNSS connectivity. The board can also support WiFi, Bluetooth, ISM/RF, NFC/RFID, LoRa, Sigfox, Iridium satellite, and serial interface thanks to a range of expansion boards. PingPong IoT board specifications: MCU / Flash RTOS version – Microchip PIC32MZ 32-bit Microcontroller @ 200 MHz, with 512 KB RAM and 2 MB Flash Memory + 4 MB external memory Linux version – Microchip PIC32MZ DA  (Full specs TBA) Connectivity Cellular connectivity Telit xE910 module with 2G, 3G and/or 4G LTE (coming soon) Data GSM/GPRS – Uplink/Downlink: 9.6 kbps UMTS – Downlink: 384 kbps, Uplink: 384 kbps HSPA+ – Downlink: 42.0 Mbps, Uplink: 5.75 Mbps LTE – Download: 100 Mbps, Uplink: 50 Mbps Frequency Bands (MHz) – 1800, 1900, …

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Flick HAT is a 3D Tracking & Gesture Expansion Board for Raspberry Pi Boards

Way back in 2012, I wrote about Microchip MGC3130 3D Gesture Controller with “GestIC technology” which allows you to make gesture up to 15cm from the surface and at lower power in order to control devices in a new way. At the time, the chip was said to sell for $2.26 in large quantities, and the evaluation kits went for $169 and up. I’m writing about MGC3130 about 5 years later, as Seeed Studio has started taking pre-orders for a $25.89 Flick HAT board based on the solution, and designed for Raspberry Pi boards, or other boards with a compatible 40-pin “GPIO” header featuring an I2C interface. Flick HAT 3D Tracking & Gesture HAT specifications & features: Chip – Microchip MGC3130 3D Tracking and Gesture Controller Tracking / Gesture Features 3D tracking Gesture sensing up to 15cm: Swipe (east to west, west to east, north to south, south to north), tap and double tap (center, east, west, north, south), airwheel …

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Aspencore 2017 Embedded Markets Study – Programming Languages, Operating Systems, MCU Vendors, and More

Aspencore media group asked readers of their EE Times and Embedded.com websites to fill out an online survey about their embedded system projects. They got 1,234 respondents mostly from North America (56.3%), followed by Europe (25.2%), and Asia (10.6%). This resulted in a 102-page market study which you can download here. I’ve extracted a few slides to have a look at some of the trends. C language is still the most used language in embedded systems, but other languages like C++, Python and even assembly language are gaining traction. Operating system is more spread with Linux being the most used via Embedded Linux distributions, Debian, and Ubuntu. FreeRTOS comes in second place, while Android registers fourth with 13%. Git has finally supplanted Subversion in 2017, with all other version control software losing ground. Switching to some hardware slides, 44% used a development board to start their embedded design with ST Microelectronics, Texas Instruments and Xilinx at the top three. Most …

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Think Silicon Ultra Low Power NEMA GPUs are Designed for Wearables and IoT Applications

When you have to purchase a wearable device, let’s say a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you have to make trade offs between user interface and battery life. For example, a fitness tracker such as Xiaomi Mi Band 2 will last about 2 weeks per charge with a limited display, while Android smartwatches with a much better interface need to be recharged every 1 or 2 days. Think Silicon aims to improve battery life of the devices with nicer user interfaces thanks to their ultra-low power NEMA 2D, 3D, and GP GPU that can be integrated into SoCs with ARM Cortex-M and Cortex-A cores. The company has three family of GPUs: NEMA|p pico 2D GPU with one core 4bpp framebuffer, 6bpp texture with/out alpha Fill Rate – 1pixel/cycle Silicon Area – 0.07 mm2 with 28nm process Power Consumption – leakage power GPU consumption of 0.06mW; with compression (TSFSc): 0.03 mW NEMA|t tiny 2D & 3D GPU with one to 4 cores …

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$79 Digilent OpenScope Open Source Multi-function Programmable Instrument Works over USB and WiFi (Crowdfunding)

Digilent OpenScope is an open source, portable, multi-function programmable instrument used for capturing, visualizing, and controlling analog and digital signals, that works with your smartphone or computer over USB or WiFi, and it can also be used in standalone mode as a development board, like you would use an Arduino or Raspberry Pi board. OpenScope MZ key features and specifications: MCU – Microchip PIC32 MZ (MZ2048EFG124) MIPS Warrior M-class micro-controller @ up to 200 MHz with 2048KB flash, 512 KB RAM External Storage – micro SD slot Wireless Connectivity – WiFi module USB – 1x micro USB for power and programming over FTDI Programming / Debugging – micro USB port, programming header Expansion – 30-pin Fly Wire connector with: 2x scope channels with 12 bits @ 2 MHz bandwidth and up to 6.25MS/s sampling rate 1x function generator output with 1 MHz bandwidth and up to 10MS/s update rate 10x user programmable DIO pins up to 25 MHz update rate …

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GR-LoRa is a Reverse-Engineered Open Source Implementation of LoRa PHY

LPWAN standards such as LoRa or Sigfox allow you to transmit data over long distance, at ultra low power (up to 10 years on a AA battery), and for free if your use your own network (P2P or gateway), or a few dollars per years if you go through a network provider. The low cost is possible since those standards rely on 900 MHz ISM bands, meaning nobody has to pay millions of dollars to the government to obtain a license fee. Matt Knight looked at LoRa, and while Level 2 and 3 of the protocol (LoRaWan) has public documentation, Level 1 (LoRa PHY) is proprietary and the standard is proprietary. So he decided to reverse-engineer LoRa PHY using Microchip RN2903 based LoRa Technology Mote and Ettus B210 USB software defined radio, and software packages and tools such as Python and GNU Radio to successfully deliver GR-LoRa open source “GNU Radio OOT module implementing the LoRa PHY”.  He presented his work …

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