CH9102F – A replacement for CP2104 USB to UART bridge

CH9102F vs CP2104

I’ve just mentioned Silabs CP2104 USB to UART chip price had increased, and indicated WCH CH9102F chip could be used as an alternative instead in a post about LILYGO T-Display boards. I had never heard about CH9102 chips before (CH9102F and CH9102X), so I decided to investigate a bit more by checking out both CH9102 and CP2104 datasheets. The good news is that CH9102F and CP2104 have basically both the same pinout albeit with some small differences that may or may not matter depending on the application, and come in a 4x4mm 24-QFN package (4x4mm) meaning if you run out of CP2104 chips, CH9102F can be used as an alternative, and should be a drop-in replacement. CH9102X is pretty similar to CH9102F but offered in a 5x5mm 28-QFN package with extra GPIOs. Back to the main contenders… According to LILYGO, one of the differences between CH9102F and CP2104 is the […]

Arduino programmable wireless multitool offers color display, touch controls (Crowdfunding)

QUARK ESP32 multitool

QUARK may look like the perfect weapon to hijack a plane, but instead, it’s an open-source, Arduino-based wireless multitool for hardware engineers equipped with a full-color screen and touch-based controls. Based on ESP32 WiFI & Bluetooth wireless SoC, Mulin Group’s QUARK is an ultra-portable multimeter, signal generator and oscilloscope, a bit like IkaScope WiFi Pen-Oscilloscope, except having a laptop or phone to visualize measurements is only optional. The company also compares it to DT71 smart tweezers which do not have an oscilloscope function due to the tiny display. QUARK features & specifications: WiSoC – ESP32 dual-core processor with WiFI & Bluetooth connectivity Display – 240 x 134 IPS display Measurements Voltage – 0 to 26 V Current – 0 to 3.2 A Resistance from 0 to 2 MΩ Capacitance from 2 pf to 1000 uF Inductance up to 1 H Sampling rate for oscilloscope function – 400 ksps Features – […]

LUNA board enables USB Hacking through Lattice ECP5 FPGA (Crowdfunding)

LUNA USB Hacking board

Severa USB hacking/debugging boards were launched in 2020 either based on microcontrollers or FPGA with the likes of Tigard (FTDI FT2232HQ), Ollie (STM32F042), Glasgow Interface explorer (Lattice Semiconductor iCE40), or Protocol Droid (STM32). All those were launched on Crowd Supply, and there’s now another one with LUNA “multi-tool for building, analyzing, and hacking USB devices” based on a  Lattice Semiconductor LFE5U-12F ECP5 FPGA that raised over $100,000 in a few days. LUNA hardware specifications: FPGA- Lattice Semiconductor LFE5U-12F ECP5 FPGA with 12K LUTs System Memory – 64 Mbit (8 MiB) RAM for buffering USB traffic or for user applications Storage – 32 Mbit (4 MiB) SPI  flash for PC-less FPGA configuration USB – 3x High-Speed USB interfaces, each connected to a USB3343 PHY capable of operating at up to 480 Mbps. 2x USB Type-C ports for device-mode communication (leff-side) 1x USB Type-C port for host-mode communication, device-mode communication, or USB […]

NextPCB acquires KIKIPCB, celebrates with midsummer sale (Sponsored)

NextPCB Mid Summer Sale

In the PCB manufacturing business, scale matters with larger companies being able to source materials at a cheaper price, and get discounts on shipping. In order to provide even more cost-effective services, a wider range of options, as well as shorter turnaround times, NextPCB has recently acquired KIKIPCB. This will allow the companies to share all services, factories, and talents they have such as PCB prototyping, small and medium volume production, PCB assembly service and PCB & SMT factories, let alone all component inventory, and hundreds of engineers. To celebrate their new acquisition, NextPCB is organizing a midsummer sale with up to 30% discount for PCB orders. and up to 20% off for PCBA orders. Specifically, the company offers a 30% discount when the  PCB area is less than 3 m², and 20% for larger orders. For PCB manufacturing and assembly services, the price is reduced by 15% for orders […]

A customer’s review of NextPCB PCB manufacturing service (Sponsored)

NextPCB sample

This article is based on the feedback from “Fix Until Broken”, one of NextPCB customers who details his experience with their PCB manufacturing service, including the ordering process, pricing, customer service, available options, and quality of the boards ordered. Ordering with NextPCB Ordering is a very simple process. First, check your design rules just like you would with any board manufacturer. If you want to check it yourself or set it into your design rules with your EDA/CAD, you can find PCB capabilities on their website. Alternatively, NextPCB also offers a free program to check your Gerber files for free. NextDFM is great for checking Gerber files. This is especially true when using files from an open-source design that you got from Github. After checking your design rules you can start the ordering process. For the free trial just make sure you are using 1-2 layers, ordering no more than […]

NextPCB offers free PCB prototypes for first order (sponsored)

Shenzhen Huaqiu Electronics Co., Ltd, better known as NextPCB, is a PCB manufacturer with multiple factories in China that has been in business for over 15 years. The headquarter of the company is however located in Paris, France, under a company called NOVA SILK ROAD SARL, but most operations are managed in China from the branch office in Shenzhen, and the company operates three plants all certified by IATF16949, ISO9001, ISO14001, UL, CQC, RoHS and REACH: A PCB prototype factory in Bao‘an District, Shenzhen, Guangdong A PCB mass manufacturing factory in Xigang District, Jiujiang Economic Development Zone, Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province A PCB assembly plant in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China. The prototype factory always for fast turnaround for prototype, while the mass manufacturing factory targets higher volume production with further lower costs. Beyond just making PCBs, the assembly plant works on soldering BGA, Micro-BGA, QFN, and other components to […]

NextDFM software detects PCB design problems before manufacturing (Sponsored)

NextDFM

Shenzhen Huaqiu Electronics Co., Ltd, better known as NextPCB, is a PCB manufacturer with multiple factories in China, and that has been around for over 15 years. During this time, the company dealt with thousands of engineering problems of PCB leading to higher prices and delayed schedules. So to help its customers, the company has developed NextDFM software to detect common PCB design problems, and ultimately help engineers to build low-cost and high-efficiency PCB projects. DFM stands for “Design For Manufacturability”, glad you asked. NextPCB is a free download that’s available for Windows only for now, but the company is also working on Linux and Mac OS versions that will be released in the future. The software supports generic Gerber files as well as PCB layout files from EDA programs such as Altium, Pads, and Protel99SE. Once your file is loaded in the program you’d be able to run the […]

USB2IO high-speed interface explorer tool combines Intel Cyclone 10 FPGA and STM32H7 MCU

USB2IO interface explorer

In the second part of 2020, we’ve seen a fair amount of USB debugging tools for electronics designers and hardware hackers including the Glasgow Interface explorer with an ICE40 FPGA. But if you need even more flexibility or higher I/O speeds (up to 300 MHz), DAB Embedded USB2IO interface explorer should help thanks to the combination of an STMicro STM32H7 MCU and an Intel Cyclone 10 FPGA. USB2IO interface explorer hardware specifications: MCU – STMicro STM32H743 Arm Cortex-M7 @ 480MHz CPU clock An external 64MB QSPI flash for extra FPGA code storage; FPGA  – Intel Cyclone 10LP (10CL040) with 40k logic elements, 1,134 Mbit embedded memory, 126 DSP blocks External memory – 32MB SDRAM for MCU and FPGA (64MB in total) Storage – 64MB QSPI for connected to MCU for FPGA code storage I/Os via 20-pin external header/connector 16 x GPIO mode (single-ended), 8x LVDS pair mode or a mix […]