RFCat N32 Long Range nRF52832 Bluetooth Board Delivers 30x the Transmission Power with an Amplifier

RFCat N32 Long Range Bluetooth Board

Bluetooth 5.0 has two main new features: high speed (2Mbps) and long-range. But as we’ve seen in our nRF52840 vs nRF52832 vs nRF52810 comparison is that only nRF52840 supports Bluetooth 5.x long range. Bluetooth 5 long range is achieved with two new lower bit rates of 500 kbps and 125 kbps. So what do you do if you’d like a longer range and keep using the higher bit rates? You add a power amplifier and LNA to your board, and that’s exactly what Nikolaj (RFCat) did with RFCat N32 board based on Nordic Semi nRF52832 wireless SoC. RFCat N32 board specifications: Wireless module – Meshtek-H52 Smart Mesh Module with integrated PCB antenna based on Nordic Semi nRF52832 Arm Cortex-M4F Bluetooth 5-ready SoC (See datasheet) Skyworks RFX2401C PA &LNA with 18.9dBm TX gain and 11dBm RX gain USB – 1x USB-C port for power, programming and debugging via CP2102N USB to UART bridge I/Os – 2x 13-pin 2.54mm pitch headers with …

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zGlue Launches the Open Chiplet Initiative in Collaboration with Google and Antmicro

Open Chiplet Initiative

We first covered zGlue’s ZiP (zGlue Integration Platform) in 2018 as the company introduced its multi-chip module similar to SiP (system-in-package) via a crowdfunding campaign. Just like SiP, the technology packages several components into a single package, but costs have been brought down to enable low-volume production of custom chips for a reasonable price. Since then the company announced new ZiP multi-chip modules such as nRF52832 based Omnichip and the FPGA, Arm or/and RISC-V based GEM ASIC by Antmicro. The company recently announced the Open Chiplet Initiative, a collection of open-source designs, tools and file formats, launched in collaboration with Google and  Antmicro. There are four main types of tools within the Open Chiplet Initiative: Open Chiplet Interfaces – Currently only ZEF (zGlue Chiplet Info Exchange Format) is provided. It defined the part numbers, pins, and mechanical dimensions of various parts. The ZEF specification can be found on Github. Design Tools PyChipBuilder, a Python implementation of zGlue’s ChipBuilder tool that …

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nRF52805 Tiny Bluetooth 5.2 SoC is Optimized for Small Two-layer PCB Designs

nRF52805 Block Diagram

Nordic Semi has just added a new member to its nRF52 Bluetooth 5 wireless SoC family with nRF52805 offered in a tiny WLCSP package measuring 2.48×2.46 mm and optimized for cost-effective 2-layer PCB designs. nRF52805 key features and specifications: MCU Core – Arm Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz Storage & Memory – 192 KB Flash, 24 KB RAM Wireless Bluetooth Low Energy and 2.4 GHz proprietary protocols. High bitrate – 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps +4 dBm TX power -97 dBm RX sensitivity (1 Mbps Bluetooth LE) Integrated balun with single-ended output I/Os – UART, SPI, TWI, 2-channel 12-bit ADC Security 128-bit AES Power Consumption 7 mA in TX (4 dBm) 4.6 mA in TX (0 dBm) 4.6 mA in RX (1 Mbps) 0.3 μA in System OFF 1.1 μA in System ON with 24 KB RAM retained and RTC running Supply Voltage – 3.6V max Package – 2.48×2.46 mm WLCSP Note the latest Nordic Semi wireless SoC does not support all …

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Particle Takes Pre-orders for its Cellular Tracking SoM, Evaluation Kit, and Tracker One Asset Tracker

Tracker Som Evaluation Kit

Earlier this year, Particle announced its Tracking System turnkey solution comprised of Tracker SoM LTE IoT module, Tracker One asset tracker with enclosure, as well as Particle Tracking Services software suite with geolocation services, fleet management, and an open device firmware application framework to integrate with off-the-shelf IoT sensors and enable OTA firmware updates. The hardware devices were expected for June/July 2020, and the company has now started to take pre-orders for Tracker SoM, its evaluation kit, and Tracker One for respectively $79.99, $99.99, and $127.99. Shipping is expected to start in August 2020. We already covered Tracker SoM in our initial article with the full specifications, but basically, it’s a Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 powered module with 8MB flash, ESP32 for WiFI (including support for indoor location),  U-blox Neo-M8U GNSS module, and a choice of Quectel BG96 LTE CAT M1 module for the US or Quectel EG91-X CAT 1 module with 2G/3G fallback for EMEA region. We did not have …

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Nordic Semi nRF52 WiSoCs are Susceptible to Debug Resurrection using APProtect Bypass

nRF52 APProtect

Nordic Semi nRF52 are popular wireless Cortex-M4 SoCs with Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.15.4 radios. APProtect (Access Port Protection) is a new security feature of nRF52 MCUs designed to enable readback protection and disable the debug interface. This is supposed to prevent an attacker to obtain a copy of the firmware that would allow him/her to start the reverse engineering process or access some sensitive data such as keys and passwords. It’s all good, except “LimitedResults” managed to bypass APProtect and permanently resurrect the debug interface on nRF52840-DK and a Bluetooth mouse. This requires physical access to the hardware and relies on a fault injection technique. The APProtect background and hacking technique are all explained in detail on LimitedResults blog post, but basically he first had to remove some capacitors and use a low-cost homemade voltage glitching system combines with an oscilloscope to try to locate a particular pattern into the power consumption. The goal was to find when the User …

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Fingernail-sized BLYST840 nRF52840 Module Features Bluetooth 5.2, Thread, Zigbee and 46 I/O (Crowdfunding)

BLYST840

Canada based I-SYST inc has designed a tiny nRF52840 module about the size of a fingernail. BLYST840 module fully leverages the capability of Nordic Semi’s wireless microcontroller with Bluetooth 5.2, Thread, and Zigbee connectivity, and exposes 46 I/Os. BLYST840 specifications: Wireless MCU – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F microcontroller @ 64 MHz with 1 MB flash, 256 KB RAM Connectivity Bluetooth 5.2 up to 2 Mbps, -96 dBm sensitivity for long-range; Up to 111 dB link budget; Bluetooth Mesh IEEE 802.15.4 radio support for Thread & Zigbee NFC-A Built-in ceramic antenna Output power – Adjustable from +8 dBm to -20 dBm 46 I/O pins exposed via pads around the edges of the module including QSPI/SPI/2-wire/I2S/PDM/QDEC Programmable Peripheral Interface (PPI) SPI interface @ 32 MHz Quad SPI interface @ 32 MHz EasyDMA for all digital interfaces USB 2.0 (12 Mbits) 12-bit/200K SPS ADC Security Arm TrustZone Cryptocell 310 128-bit AES/ECB/CCM/AAR co-processor Misc – Built-in 32 MHz & 32.768 MHz crystal Supply …

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Particle Tracking System Offers Software, Hardware LTE IoT Module and Tracker in Turnkey Solution

Trakcker SoM

Particle’s first cellular M2M module was launched in 2015 when the company was still called Spark IO. Since then they’ve offered new modules and boards supporting recent standards like NB-IoT and/or LTE Cat-M with product likes Boron and  E series castellated modules. The company found out that most of their customers used their boards for asset tracking despite many off-the-shelf products already available, and the main reason was the ability to customize the solution. To help their customers, the company has now launched the Particle Tracking System combining a software suite with LTE IoT system-on-module and Tracker One reference product to ease the development and deployment of customized asset tracking solutions. Particle Tracking System is comprised of three main components relying on the existing Particle IoT platform: Particle Tracking Services software suite with geolocation services (mapping and geodatabase), fleet-wide device management, an open device firmware application framework to integrate with off-the-shelf IoT sensors, and enable OTA firmware updates. Tracker SoM …

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Google Pigweed Libraries Streamline Embedded Software Development on 32-bit Microcontrollers

Pigweed pw_watch

There are many components required for embedded software development, including cross-toolchain, a build system like buildroot or YoCto Project, and debugging tools like OpenOCD.  Once you’ve installed those, development involving several steps including building the code, flashing it to the board, and then running the program on the target. Google would like to make embedded software development to be as easy as web development as possible, similar to editing a file and running it in a web browser, so they’ve just released Pigweed open-source collection of embedded-targeted libraries/modules to streamline the development process for 32-bit microcontrollers such as STMicro STM32L452 or Nordic Semi nRF52832. Pigweed aims to help all steps of the process including tools/environment setup, program development, and code submission. Setup consists of running a bootstrap script that will automatically install tools such as Python 3.8, clang-format, and an Arm compiler in a virtual environment in order to leave the system’s default environment unmodified. There are several development “pw_” …

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