ZiP (zGlue Integration Platform) Enables the Design & Manufacturing of Low Cost Custom Chips

When I first started to read about zOrigin on Crowdsupply, I was not really impressed. Meh… Yet another Bluetooth LE fitness tracker with a few sensors, and an Android app. But as I read further, I found out the interesting part was inside the device: ZGLZ1BA, a custom chip manufactured using ZiP (zGlue Integration Platform) chip-stacking technology, which produces something similar to SiP (System-in-Package) but at a much lower cost and manufacturing lead time. But let’s have a look at zOrigin tracker first, which acts as a demonstration / evaluation platform for ZiP technology. Key specifications & features: “SoC” – ZGZL1BA ZiP with Dialog Semiconductor DA14585 16MHz 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 MCU with BLE Analog Devices AD8233 Heart Rate Analog Front End (AFE) Macronix MX25R4035F 2 Mbit Flash Memory MCube MC3672 Accelerometer Maxim MAX77734 Power Managment IC (PMIC) SiTime SIT1552 32 kHz Oscillator Vishay SI8466EDB MOSFET 30 passive components Package […]

Hexabitz Modular Prototyping Platform Enables Wire-Free 3D Electronics Designs (Crowdfunding)

A few years ago, I made a Raspberry Pi case made of perfboard and created some sort of DIY modular 3D electronics design by using the top and sides of the case to also hold electronics components and associated circuitry like a relay, and LEDs. The just launched Hexabitz hexagonal / pentagonal modules are designed to make prototyping easier, and also provide flexibility to create all sort of wire-free (3D) electronics designs with minimal soldering. A little over a dozen of modules are currently on offer, most with an STM32F0 Arm Cortex M0 micro-controller: Modules with built-in MCU 01R00, P01R00 – RGB LED (hexagon / pentagon) with Cree Tri-color (RGB) SMD LED, 4-Pin PLCC H02R10 – Bluetooth/BLE V4 based on Laird BT900-SA + chip antenna, +8 dBm max H04R00 – Audio amplifier, speaker, and headphone jack based on ST TS4990IST 1.2W audio power amplifier, 0.7W, 8 Ohm speaker H05R00 – SPI […]

NeTV2 Open Video Development Board Works with Encrypted and Unencrypted Video Streams (Crowdfunding)


Chumby NeTV was an open source hardware Linux IPTV media player based on a Xilinx Spartan FPGA and a Marvell Armada 166 processor, and unveiled in 2011. Many years have passed since then, and now Bunnie Huang has come up with a new version. The NeTV2 development board is also optimized for open digital video application, but based on a more powerful Xilinx Artik-7  FPGA, and a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ can be added for things like seamless JTAG configuration and overlay video generation. Key features and specifications: FPGA – Xilinx Artik-7 XC7A35T-2FGG484 (available with XC7A50T option during campaign only) System Memory – 512 MB RAM, 32-bit wide DDR3-800 Storage – micro SD card, 8 MB SPI  flash Video Ports 2x HDMI type A inputs 1 x HDMI type A output 1 x HDMI type D output. One input/output pair configured for in-line ‘NeTV mode’ video filtering. Max Video Bandwidth […]

HiFive Unleashed RISC-V Linux Development Board Gets a $2000 FPGA Expansion Board

If you’re a RISC-V architecture’s enthusiast or represent a company working on products with the new ISA, you may have spent $999 or more on Hifive Unleashed RISC-V Linux development board a few months ago. You now have the opportunity to spend an extra $1,999 for HiFive Unleashed Expansion Board powered by a MicroSemi PolarFire FPGA programmed with a PCIe root port bridge, and allowing you to test all sorts of peripherals such as HDD’s & SSD’s,  HDMI output, and audio cards, network adapters, graphics cards, and so on. Expansion board specifications: FPGA – Microsemi Low Power PolarFire FPGA with 300K Logic Element 4 Gbit DDR4 x16 SPI Flash for remote FPGA updates, QSPI Flash connected to GPIO 24 lane PCIe Switch x1 PCI Express card connector x16 PCI Express card connector with 4 lanes of PCIe gen2 connected SSD M.2 connector SATA connector HDMI connector eMMC Nand Flash uSD […]

XTRX SDR Mini PCIe Card Supports 10 MHz to 3.8 GHz Tuning Range, up to 120 MSPS Sample Rate

Fairwaves is a startup that aims to make deploying and operating mobile networks in rural regions profitable, and their latest project is called XTRX, a high performance Software Defined Radio (SDR) board packed into a mini PCIe card form factor. The project was launched on Crowdsupply earlier with year, got fully funded by around 700 backers, and the company is now working on fulfilling backers rewards by the end of August. XTRX board specifications: RF Chipset – Lime Microsystems LMS7002M FPRF (as found in LimeSDR Mini) FPGA Chipset – Xilinx Artix 7 35T RF Channels – 2 × 2 MIMO Sample Rate – ~0.2 MSPS to 120 MSPS SISO / 90 MSPS MIMO Tuning Range: 30 MHz – 3.8 GHz Rx/Tx Range: 10 MHz – 3.7 GHz 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz with signal level degradation PCIe  Bandwidth PCIe x2 Gen 2.0 up to 8 Gbit/s PCIe x1 Gen 2.0 […]

TinyFPGA BX is a Tiny Open Source Hardware iCE40 FPGA Board that Fits into a Breadboard (Crowdfunding)

Last Friday, I wrote about Fipsy, a $10 breadboard-friendly FPGA board powered by Lattice Semi MachXO2 FPGA with 256 LUTs, but I then remember I had covered a board somewhat similar with TinyFPGA board last year based on either the same MachXO2-256 (TinyFPGA A1), or a slightly more powerful  MachXO2-1200 FPGA (TinyFPGA A2). It happens the developer is now running a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdsupply for TinyFPGA BX board, which can be used with a breadboard, and is powered by Lattice Semi ICE40LP8K FPGA that will offer more flexibility thanks to 7,680 LUTs. TinyFPGA BX specifications: FPGA – Lattice Semi ICE40LP8K FPGA with 7,680 four-input look-up-tables, 128 KBit block RAM, Phase Locked Loop Storage – 8 MBit of SPI Flash Expansion 2x 14-pin header for I/Os, GND and Vin 21x solder pads on back of the board USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 FS port for programming Oscillator – 16 […]

SiFive Introduces HiFive Unleashed RISC-V Linux Development Board (Crowdfunding)

RISC-V free and open architecture has gained traction in the last couple of years. SiFive has been one of the most active companies with RISC-V architecture, introducing Freedom U500 and E500 open source RISC-V SoCs in the summer of 2016, before launching their own HiFive1 Arduino compatible board, and later the official Arduino Cinque board. That’s fine if you are happy with MCU class boards, but RISC-V is getting into more powerful processors, and recently got initial support o Linux 4.15, so it should come as no surprise the company has now launched HiFive Unleashed, the first RISC-V-based, Linux-capable development board. HiFive Unleashed key features and specifications: SoC – SiFive Freedom U540 with 4x U54 RV64GC application cores @ up to 1.5GHz with Sv39 virtual memory support, 1x E51 RV64IMAC Management Core, 2 MB L2 cache;  28 nm TSMC process System Memory – 8GB DDR4 with ECC Storage –  32MB […]

Tomu Arm Board Fits into a USB Connector, Adds Buttons, Two Factor Authentication to Your Computer (Crowdfunding)

We’ve covered many boards that claim to be the world’s smallest development board, and Tomu board does not claim anything like that, but it’s pretty small, as it’s made to fit into your computer’s USB board. It may be cool, but it could also potentially be useful, as the board exposes two (capacitive touch?) buttons, and two LEDs so you can use it as a computer accessory for example to add volume buttons, or as a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) token supporting two-factor authentication (2FA) to login to compatible online services. Tomu board hardware specifications: MCU – Silicon Labs Happy Gecko EFM32HG309 ARM Cortex-M0+ up to 25 MHz with 64KB flash, 8KB RAM USB – 1x USB 2.0 FS port Misc – 2x buttons, 2x LEDs: 2 (red + green) Dimensions – 1.4mm thick (0.6mm thick PCB) Singapore based Sutajio Ko-usagi – the company behind the project – provides the […]

ASUS Tinker board 3N