Pinecil V2 soldering iron gets BL706 Bluetooth LE RISC-V MCU, USB PD EPR support

Pinecil V2 RISC-V soldering iron

PINE64 is about to launch the second generation Pinecil RISC-V soldering iron with the Pinecil V2 featuring a new Bouffalo Lab BL706 RISC-V microcontroller with Bluetooth LE connectivity, optimizations for higher power levels, as well as tentative support for the new USB PD EPR standard (Extended Power Range) working at up to 28V. I don’t solder every day, but when I do, I use my Pinecil soldering iron, as it’s heating super fast and does the job, and in my case, works quite better than the TS100 soldering iron. So it should come as no surprise that the Pincel is the most popular consumer hardware from the PINE64 community (after SOPine modules), and the new Pinecil V2 is a welcome upgrading building on the same design but with Bluetooth LE connectivity and a lower tip resistance. Pinecil V2 preliminary specifications: MCU – Bouffalo Lab BL706 32-bit RISC-V microcontroller @ 144 […]

CrowPi L Raspberry Pi 4 laptop review – Part 1: Unboxing and teardown

CrowPi L Raspberry Pi Education Laptop Review

Elecrow CrowPi L is an 11.6-inch laptop shell based on Raspberry Pi 4 designed for STEM education with optional electronics modules and tutorials. That’s an evolution of the CrowPi 2 laptop I reviewed in 2020 with a thinner design and more flexible since the electronics modules are optional, so it can serve the market of people just wanting a Raspberry Pi 4 laptop. The company has sent me a full “CrowPi L Advanced Kit” for review with the CrowPi L laptop fitted with a Raspberry Pi 4, as well as the Crowtail Starter Kit for Raspberry Pi. CrowPi L Advanced Kit Unboxing Let’s check out the laptop package first. Since in this design, the laptop comes with a battery, and mine already had a Raspberry Pi 4 installed, I could just turn it on immediately. Accessories include a wireless mouse, a 12V/2A power supply (with USB Type-C plug… this should […]

Easily work around components shortage with WIN SOURCE (Sponsored)

WIN SOURCE components supplier

The electronics industry and the severe shortage of components have had a huge impact on the electronics sector, disrupting the way products are produced and how they are produced. Despite the dramatic reduction in supply, demand for many components has increased dramatically. The reasons for the shortage of components are mainly multifaceted with the outbreak of COVID, and the aggressive stockpiling of goods by companies, and manufacturers that must prepare to shut down component production lines with lower profit margins. This has led to a narrowing of component selection, a reduction in the supply of some components, and so on. There are mainly two solutions to work around components shortage: find replaceable components or reliable component suppliers. This is where WIN SOURCE can help. The company has been assisting customers in finding deprecated, EoL (end-of-life), and difficult-to-find electronic parts ever since it was established in 1999 from its base in Shenzhen. WIN SOURCE has expanded since then with additional […]

Pixel Pump is an open-source, manual pick-and-place machine (Crowdfunding)

Pixel Pump pick-and-place machine

Pixel Pump is an open-source hardware vacuum pump that should be easier to use than a pair of tweezers to pick and place SMT components, and suitable for prototypes and small production runs. The system comes with a pen with five exchangeable stainless-steel nozzles to match the size of components, a foot pedal, and several tactile silicone buttons with RGB backlighting to control the unit. The button on the unit (customized parts bought from Alibaba) allows you to change operation modes, switch between high- and low-power settings, or activate reverse mode to clean your nozzle. It’s also possible to configure vacuum power and LED brightness with the buttons. The foot pedal is used to control the vacuum pump to pick up and release the components. A serviceable air filter is also integrated into the design to protect the vacuum pump and valves from debris. Robin Reiter, Pixel Pump’s designer, explains […]

Flashchip FCM32 is yet another alternative to STM32 microcontroller

Flashchip Microelectronics FCM32 development board

Once upon a time, people tried to avoid STM32 fakes and clones, but in a world where companies are allegedly purchasing washing machines to extract a few unavailable components, people have started to look for alternatives, and last week I wrote about the Geehy APM32 family of STM32 clones. But I had never heard about Flashchip Microelectronics FCM32 microcontrollers, and they are not that easy to find in search engines, so they must be relatively new. The company appears to make both FCM32F clones and FCM32H derivatives with no direct equivalent STM32 part numbers, a higher clock frequency, and faster flash. For example, the FCMF030F4P6 will match the specifications of STMF030F4P6 as far as I can tell. The good news is that the datasheet is available in both Chinese and English. The FCM32H030C8T6 appears to be a higher performance version of STM32F030C8T8 / FCM32F030C8T8 with a 100 MHz frequency, and […]

STMicro VL53L5CP FlightSense ToF sensor enables gesture recognition, human detection for the PC market

VL53L5CP ToF sensor for PC

STMicro introduced the VL53L8 multi-zone direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) sensor last month, but here’s another ToF sensor with VL53L5CP specifically designed for the PC market with the enablement of features such as user detection, gesture recognition, and intruder alert. STMicro says the ranging sensor continuously scans its field of view to map the scene and gather intelligence without using a camera or recording images. With 64 (8×8) zones within a wide 61-degree field, the VL53L5CP can detect and track multiple targets, calculating at their X/Y/Z coordinates and motion at high speed. VL53L5CP features: 940 nm invisible Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) and integrated analog driver 61° diagonal square system field of view (FoV) using diffractive optical elements (DOE) on both transmitter and receiver Receiving SPAD (single-photon avalanche diode) array Parallel multi-zone output – Either 4×4 (16 zones) or 8×8 (64 zones) separate ROIs (regions of interest) Up to 400 cm […]

Geehy APM32F103 clone of STM32F103 MCU has been tested to work without PCB or code modifications

APM32F103 STM32F103 clone

Geehy APM32F103 is a clone of STMicro STM32F103 MCU that has been tested by at least one person who claims it was just a drop-in replacement and PCB, code, hex, testing, and production did not have to be changed at all. Most STM32 microcontrollers are in short supply with 52+ weeks lead times and prices going through the roof, so people may be looking into the long list STM32 clones and fakes including APM32F103. They all claim to be pin-to-pin and firmware compatible, but when theory meets reality, things may go wrong. For instance, last year I had a conversation with one person who switched to GD32 microcontroller and had all sorts of issues (translated from French): I ordered samples from the GD32F103RCT6 (LQFP64) “clone”, tested them, and it’s a catastrophe… Out of 6 chips, I only managed to flash one. And that one will not boot either. I’ve dived […]

Free trial for 2 or 4-layer PCB with free shipping (Sponsored)

Free PCB order free shipping

NextPCB has launched an exclusive promotion for CNX Software readers offering a free trial for new users for up to 10 pieces of 2 or 4-layer PCB with free shipping for the first 300 orders with “cnxpro” redeem code. This exclusive offer is long-term, and valid for the first 300 orders every month!. Here are the conditions and instructions: Register at NextPCB Upload the Gerber files Select the following parameters: 2 or 4 layers, up to 10 pieces, not over 100x100mm (single size), green solder mask, white silkscreen, and Fr-4 material Fill in the redeem code “cnxpro” in the “Special Requests” field which you’ll find at the bottom of the page. Add to cart Fill out your shipping address Go through the File Verify, Production, and Deliver steps You’ll then be shortly contacted by a customer’s representative for the next steps, and to solve any potential issues with the design […]