KiCad 6.0.0 released with revamped user interface, thousands of changes

KiCad 6

It took around 3.5 years of development to release KiCad 6.0.0 open-source EDA suite, as the previous major release, KiCad 5.0.0, was introduced in July 2018. KiCad 6.0.0 comes with a refreshed user interface that’s supposed to reduce the barriers of entry for new users and users switching from other design software with notably the schematic and PCB editors now feeling like being from the same program instead of completely different tools. As noted by the developers, it’s difficult to summarize all the changes because of the thousands of updates made between KiCad 5 and KiCad 6, but here are some highlights: Revamped schematic editing with the object selection and manipulation paradigm as the PCB editor, and several new features such as net classes, one-click wire start, intersheet references Brand-new schematic and symbol library file format allowing embedded symbols Redesign of the PCB design tool with new options such as […]

USB board emulates CR2032 or CR2016 coin cell battery

CR2032 battery emulator

You can now develop CR2032 or CR2016 powered devices without having to use an actual coin cell thanks to Peter Misenko’s (Bobricius) “coin cell battery emulator CR2016/CR2032”. The USB board contains a rounded part that is compatible with CR2016 or CR2032 coin cell batteries and allows you to power your target board via USB. The board also includes holes for alligator clips to measure the current, and by extension the power consumption. Coincell battery emulator CR2016/CR2032 specifications: Power Supply 5V via Micro USB port 3V regulator 3V + GND pins for incompatible holders Power measurement – 2x alligator clip holes for Amperemeter mode  (the onboard solder jumper must be open) Dimensions – Designed for a CR2016 battery (1.6 mm thick), but an adapter can be soldered for a CR2032 battery (3.2mm thick) It’s not a size fit all solution since it will only work with a specific type of battery […]

Smart Power 3 – A $45 smart power analysis tool for embedded systems developers

Smart Power 3

Hardkernel has launched a number of popular Arm SBC’s with the ODROID family over the years, but the Smart Power 3 is a different type of product, as the ESP32-based smart power meter can help embedded systems engineers optimize their hardware and software power consumption and/or check for spurious power peaks during boot up or shutdowns. In the past, we’ve reviewed relatively expansive tools like Qoitech Otii Arc or gone the DIY route,  but at $45, Hardkernel offers a power monitoring solution that’s both inexpensive and easy to use, albeit with fewer features than Qoitech’s device. Smart Power 3 specifications: MCU – ESP32 dual-core microcontroller via ESP32-WROOM-32E module Output Channels – 2x output channels (Max 50W + 50W) via 2x 4mm banana jacks each Output Voltage – 3V DC to input voltage – 1V Output Current – 3A max per channel Measurement Voltage, Current, Power Maximum sampling rate: 200Hz (5msec […]

ESP32 Arduino 2.0.0 release adds ESP32-C3 and ESP32-S2 support

ESP32-C3 Dev Module Arduino IDE

As just noted in my article about LILYGO T-32C3 module, the ESP32 Arduino 2.0.0 release happened a few days ago adding ESP32-C3 and ESP32-S2 support to the Arduino IDE. But the news probably warrants its own post and it is a major release of the Arduino code for ESP32 that also includes other new features and changes namely: Upload over USB CDC. Support for the KSZ8081 Ethernet PHY. LittleFS update for partition label and multiple partitions. Added support for RainMaker. BLE 5 features for ESP32-C3 (ESP32-S3 ready). ESPTOOL update. Added 802.11mc WiFi RTT FTM (Fine Time Measurement) support. Online Documentation added (somehow it requires a login to Readthedocs). USB MSC (Mass Storage) and HID support (ESP32-S2 only). UART refactoring (SerialHardware). New examples, boards added, bugs fixed. You can find a more detailed changelog, including the exact files changes in the source code, on Github. If we want to give it […]

Oracle Cloud “Always Free” services include Ampere A1 Arm Compute instances

Oracle Cloud Always Free Ampere A1 Computer Arm Cores

Oracle added thirteen additional new “Always Free” services to Oracle Cloud Free Tier last June, including Ampere A1 Arm Compute, Autonomous JSON Database, NoSQL, APEX Application Development, Logging, Service Connector Hub, Application Performance Monitoring (APM), flexible load balancer, flexible network load balancer, VPN Connect V2, Oracle Security Zones, Oracle Security Advisor, and OCI Bastion. So that means you could register an account for free, albeit a credit card or debit card is required for a $1 hold released after a few days, and use up to four Arm-based Ampera A1 cores with 24GB RAM for evaluation for free forever. Oracle Always Free services include: Infrastructure 2x AMD based Compute VMs with 1/8 OCPU and 1 GB memory each 4x Arm-based Ampere A1 cores and 24 GB of memory usable as one VM or up to 4 VMs. Note: 1x OCPU on x86 CPU Architecture (AMD and Intel) = 2x vCPUs; […]

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 […]

WARP-V: A RISC-V CPU Core Generator Supporting MIPS ISA

WARP-V CPU Core Generator

If you have been working on open standard RISC-V ISA CPU cores, there is a high chance that you have come across WARP-V. For newbies, WARP-V is a RISC-V CPU core generator written in TL-Verilog (Transaction-Level Verilog) that supports not only RISC-V but also MIPS ISA. WARP-V has been in discussion for a while due to its unparalleled architectural scalability in a small amount of code. The famous proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” applies to the invention of TL-Verilog and with that this WARP-V CPU core generator. For decades, hundreds of engineers have been working on designing a single CPU core that was more complex in the race to achieve higher single-core performance. But with recent developments in the semiconductor industry, developer and engineer Steve Hoover, with decades of experience in designing CPU cores, has come up with the idea of developing a WARP-V core in just 1.5 […]