Meet STMicro STM8S Based One Dollar Development Board

ESP8266 modules are $3 Wi-Fi boards targeting IoT applications that can be used in standalone mode, or connected to another MCU based board. But what if you don’t actually need Wi-Fi, but instead require a tiny board to control a few GPIOs? Arduino Pro mini can be used for this, but it costs about $10 on Sparkfun, and it’s certainly cheap enough for most projects. Switching to Aliexpress, you can get Arduino Pro mini clones for about $2, and a bit less in 10 pieces quantities. But you can get even cheaper and add a micro USB port with STMicro STM8S based boards that can be found for 5.5 CNY (Less than $1) on, or – once oversea shipping is factored in – about $1.60 to $1.70 on BuyInCoins, or Aliexpress without headers, and the version with headers sells for about $2 or more. Let’s check the board specifications: […]

LA1016, LA2016, and LA5016 Logic Analyzers Cost as Low as $75

I remember 10+ years ago, when my managers argued whether buying a logic analyzer, because some of its functions could be done by an oscilloscope, and logic analyzers were selling for a few thousands dollars at the time. Fast forward to 2014, it’s now possible to acquire lower end logic analyzers that connect to a PC for as low as $75 thanks to products such as LA1016, LA2016, and LA5016, all supports 16-channels and respectively 100, 200 and 500 Mbps sampling rate. Key features and specifications: Input channels – 16 Max Sampling Rate: LA1016: 100M; LA2016: 200M; LA5026: 500M Measurement Bandwidth – LA1016: 20M; LA2016: 40M; LA5016: 80M Min pulse width – LA1016: 20ns; LA2016: 12.5ns; LA5016: 6.25ns Hardware memory size – LA1016/LA2016: 1Gbits; LA5016: 512Mbits Hardware sampling depth – LA1016/LA2016: 50M/channel; LA5016: 32M/channel Max compressed depth – LA1016/LA2016: 10G/channel; LA5016: 5G/channel Input voltage range – -50V ~ +50V Input […]

Beyond Debug Key Enables JTAG & UART Debugging, Supports OpenOCD

Beyond Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor company based in Slovenia which develops their own 32-bit BA2x IP cores, has sent me one of their development tool, namely Beyond Debug Key supporting JTAG and UART interfaces either with BeyondStudio for the company’s BA2x processor, or the open source suite OpenOCD for other processors. Since I don’t have any Beyond Semi boards, I instead configured it, and quickly tried it with Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained ARM Cortex A5 development board, and OpenOCD (Open On-Chip Debugger). The debug tool comes in the package above describing the key features of the kit: Performance Transfer rate in excess of 600 kB/s 30 MHz maximum JTAG clock Less than 20 μW power draw from target board Compatibility Fully compatible with Beyond BA2x processor family Access any 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit or 64-bit processors via JTAG Works with all JTAG compliant devices Software Support OpenOCD for access to a range […]

Linaro 14.08 Release with Kernel 3.16 and Android 4.4.4

I’m a little late for that one, as Linaro 14.08 was released last Thursday. Nevertheless, this release features Linux kernel 3.16 (baseline), Linux 3.10.52 (LSK), and Android 4.4.4. As usual Linaro has worked on member hardware such as Qualcomm based IFC6410 and ARM Juno &Vexpress boards. They’ve also committed changes for LLVM, big Endian, and added a workload generator tool (rt-app) to the Ubuntu and Android image. This tool has been developed and used by the power management working group, presumably to measure and optimize power consumption under various loads. Here are the highlights of this release: Linux Linaro 3.16-2014.08 GATOR version 5.19 (new version) updated topic from Qualcomm LT (ifc6410 board support) updated Versatile Express ARM64 support (FVP Base and Foundation models, Juno) from ARM LT (Landing Team) updated Versatile Express patches from ARM LT updated LLVM topic (follows the community llvmlinux-latest branch) Big endian support (the 2014.05 topic […]

Parallax Propeller 1 P8X32A Open Source Multi-core MCU

Lots of electronics devices are now powered by open source software such as Linux, open source hardware is not as wide-spread, but gaining tracking traction thanks to the like of Arduino,, Olimex, and many  projects on crowdfunding websites, and now we even start seeing some open source silicon. Existing open source processors include LEON3 (SparkV8) MCU, OpenRisc, and just very recently, LowRISC, based on 64-bit RISC-V instruction set architecture, has been announced with the backing of some of Raspberry Pi co-founders, Google ATAP, etc… and is currently being developed at the University of Cambridge, UK. Parallax Propeller 1 P8X32A is another MCU which has been open sourced last week.   Propeller 1 P8X32A had however been released in April 2006, and can be sourced as a 40-pin DIP chip for prototyping, and 44-pin QFP and QFN for production, and come with the following key features: Power Requirements: 3.3 VDC […]

Element14 Design Center Helps You find a Development Board and Tools for Your Project

Element14 has just launched a Design Center, currently in beta version, which let’s you do parametric searches for development kits, debuggers, software tools, by tools vendor, silicon manufacturers, board features, and processor architecture / type. So for example if you want to work on a low power Linux based gateway with Ethernet and Zigbee, you may search for a board with Ethernet and Zigbee, and comes with an ARM Cortex A5 processor. In this example, the website returned four SAMA5D3x evaluation kits from Atmel which support Ethernet, as well as Zigbee via an external module. Then if you want to find which tools are available from Atmel, you can select “Emulation and Debugging”, “IDE & Compiler”, and “Operating Systems & Stacks”, as well as “Atmel” and “ARM” core architecture which will return Atmel Studio 6, and a JTAG emulator. It’s not quite perfect, as the only features you can search […]

ARM Introduces DSP ‘Lab-in-a-Box’ For Education Combining STMicro STM32F4-Discovery Board and Wolfson Audio Card

DSP (Digital Signal Processing) courses at University have traditionally used software simulation packages (Matlab), or hands-on labs using development kits costing around $300 per student. In order to reduce costs, ARM University program and their corporate partners have launched a DSP ‘Lab-in-a-Box’ so that university students can learn DSP and audio systems with hardware selling for about $50, or over 80% cheaper than previous educational hardware. A typical DSP Lab-in-a-Box (LiB) would come with: STMicroelectronics ARM Cortex-M4-based STM32F4 Discovery MCU board Wolfson Microelectronics and Farnell element14 Wolfson Audio Card. ARM Keil MDK-Professional development tool with a 1-year renewable software license. Teaching materials such as lecture slides, code samples, and hands-on lab manuals. STM32F4-Discovery board features an STM32F407VGT6 MCU (ARM Cortex-M4F core) with 1 MB Flash, and 192 KB RAM, sensors (motion and accelerometer), a digital microphone, and audio DAC, a micro USB connector, and various buttons and LEDs. The Wolfson […]

How to Extract a Device Tree File from Android Firmware Files

Up to now, all our cheap Android devices were based on older Linux kernel (3.0.x, 3.4.x) that still used board files (arch/arm/board, but we’ve recently seen companies like Amlogic and Rockchip release source code with Linux kernel 3.10.x. One of the key differences between these version are the move from board files to flattened device tree and multi-platform support. If it is fully implemented, a single kernel image should be able to boot multiple hardware platforms, and all low level configuration handled by the device tree file. Since I’ve connected the serial port of Tronsmart Vega S89 for debugging, and it’s a slow news day, I thought I might try to boot the Linux kernel I compiled myself, but one of the challenge was to get the device tree file. I’ll show how to extract it from the firmware. It should also be possible to get it directly from the […]

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