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Posts Tagged ‘development board’

HackaBLE Board is a Tiny, Breadboard-Friendly Bluetooth LE Development Board

November 18th, 2017 4 comments

Earlier this year, I wrote about Electronut Labs’ Bluey development board powered by Nordic Semi nRF52832 development board with BLE, NFC, and a few sensors, and partially open source hardware with the KiCAD schematics and PCB layout available on Github.

The company is now back with another open source hardware nRF52832 BLE board, namely hackaBLE, that’s much smaller (28x18mm), and with 2.54mm pitch castellated pin headers making suitable for use for breadboard, or as a module on a custom designed board.

Click to Enlarge

hackaBLE board specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semi nRF52832 ANT + BLE ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz processor with 512kB flash, 64kB RAM
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.2/5 LE and other proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless standards via chip antenna
  • Expansion
    • 2x 9-pin castellated headers with GPIO, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
    • 2x 5-pin solder pads for more I/Os
  • Debugging – 4-pin SWD header
  • Misc – RGB LED, and user button
  • Power Supply – 5 V via VDD or Vin pin.

The company explains “hackaBLE use offers more value than just using the BLE module directly – since it incorporates the necessary passive components – including the ones for the buck converter for power saving – and adds an RGB LED and a button for convenience. It’s also much easier to solder than the bare modules.”. More details, including the KiCAD schematics and PCB layout can be found on Github, as well as the PCB footprint for the board for those who plan on making a custom board.

Click to Enlarge

The company can also provide PogoProg board with 4 pogo pins to program the board through the SWD header, Bumpy SWD debugger, and snapVCC board outputting 5V/3.3V from a 9V battery.

hackaBLE can be purchased from Tindie for $20, and you could also get the $44 premium devkit with hackaBLE and the three boards mentioned and pictured above.

WandPi 8M Development Board Coming Soon with NXP i.MX8M SoC for $89 and Up

November 17th, 2017 19 comments

Wandboard launched in 2012 using Freescale i.MX6 Solo/Dual processor, following soon after by Wandbord Quad. We are not hearing much about those boards today, but since the processor comes with 10 to 15-year long term support, they are still being sold, and software keeps getting updated. For example, the board first shipped with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), and the company recently provided Android 7.1 (Nougat) images, and Android 8.x Oreo is likely coming next year.

The company has now unveiled the next generation of Wandboard boards with WandPi 8M powered by NXP i.MX 8M Cortex A53/M4 processors, with up to 2GB DDR4, 16GB eMMC flash, and various network connectivity options and ports.

Three versions of the board (Lite, Pro, Deluxe) will be available with the following specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX8M Quad with four ARM Cortex A53 cores, a Cortex M4F real-time core, and Vivante GC7000Lite GPU with support for OpenGL/ES 3.1, OpenGL 3.0, Vulkan, OpenCL 1.2
  • System Memory / Storage
    • WANDPI-8M-LITE – 1GB DDR4 + 4GB eMMC flash
    • WANDPI-8M-PRO – 2GB DDR4 + 8GB eMMC flash
    • WANDPI-8M-DELUXE – 2GB DDR4 + 16GB eMMC flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Video Decode – 4K UltraHD HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG) up to 4Kp60 for H.265, VP9, 4Kp30 for H.264, 1080p60 for MPEG2, MPEG4p2, VC1, VP8, RV9, AVS/AVS+, h.263, DiVX.
  • Connectivity

    40-pin Header Pinout Diagram

    • Gigabit Ethernet port via Atheros AR8035 chip
    • WANDPI-8M-PRO/DELUXE – Dual band 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.2 via Atheros QCA9377; MHF4 antenna connector
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion Header
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi (mostly) compatible GPIO header with I2C, UART, SPI, PWM, GPIO, SAI/I2S, 5V, 3.3V and GND
    • mikroBUS socket with SPI/I2C/UART/PWM/GPIO/Analog for MikroElectronika Click Boards (now over 250 modules)
  • Debugging – 1x micro USB port for serial console access
  • Misc – Reset button
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB type C port
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56 x 17.5 mm
  • Weight – Working on it
  • Environment / Reliability –
    • Temperature Range – 0 to 50°C
    • Humidity – 10 to 90% RH humidity
    • MTFB – 50,000 hours
    • Shock – 50G/25ms
    • Vibration – 20G/0-600Hz
  • Certifications – Compliant with CE / FCC / RoHS / REACH directives

The block diagram also reveals MIPI camera display (FPC) and MIPI camera (BTB) which are not listed in the specifications.

WandPi 8M Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Information about software is currently limited, and we just know the boards will run Linux with “open source code and binary images that are easily accessible” as well design guides and schematics just like the previous Wandboards. The company also shows some logos for the Yocto Project, Ubuntu, Android, Kodi, and Debian, so we can expect support for those.

WandPi 8M boards will ship in Q2 2018, but the company is already taking pre-orders for $89 (LITE), $99 (PRO) and $119 (DELUXE). You’ll find purchase links and a few more details on the product page. Those relatively low cost development boards could also be good news for other open source i.MX8 projects such as Purism Librem 5 smartphone, and MNT reform DIY modular laptop, as more developers may be involved on working on i.MX 8M software support.

STMicro Introduces Ultra-efficient STM32L4+ Series MCUs with Better Performance, Chrom-GRC Graphics Controller

November 16th, 2017 3 comments

STMicroelectronics has announced an upgrade to their STM32L4 series Cortex-M4 micro-controllers with STM32L4+ series upping the maximum frequency from 80 MHz to 120 MHz delivering up to 150 DMIPS (233 ULPMark-CP) , and ultra low power consumption as long as 33 nA in shutdown mode without RTC.

The new family also adds Chrom-GRC graphics controller (GFXMMU) that can handle both circular and square TFT LCD displays together with a MIPI DSI interface and displayer controller, making it ideal for wearables, Chrom-ART 2D accelerator for better graphics performance, two Octo SPI interfaces, and more memory (640KB max) and storage (up to 2MB flash).

STM32L4+ Block Diagram (Parts in Red Show New/Updated Features vs STM32L4)

If you want to know all differences between STM32L4 and STM32L4+, and/or learn how to use peripherals, STMicro has setup a nice free STM32L4+ online training page, which allow you to do just that either by downloading PDF documents, or following e-Presentations with slides and audio.

STM32L4+ appears to have the same power modes as STM32L4, except that it can turn SRAM3 on or off in STOP 2 mode.

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STM32L4+ series are available in different lines: STM32L4R5/S5, STM32L4R7/S7 (with TFT interface) and STM32L4R9/S9 (with MIPI‐DSI and with TFT interface) with details provided in the table below.

STM32L4+ series are software compatible with STM32L4 series, and mostly (but not entirely) pin-to-pin compatible.  Developers can use the same STM32 tools such as ST-Link and STM32CubeL4 embedded software, and three development board have been launched to get started with the new MCUs:

  • For headless development – NUCLEO-L4R5ZI STM32 Nucleo-144 development board with STM32L4R5ZI MCU. Supports Arduino, ST Zio and morpho connectivity ($19)

  • For wearables with round display – 32L4R9IDISCOVERY Discovery kit with STM32L4R9AI MCU ($89)

  • More complete kit with both a 4.3″ LCD TFT display and a 1.2″ MIPI DSI round LCD display – STM32L4R9I-EVAL Evaluation board with STM32L4R9AI MCU ($320)

STMicro STM32L4+ devices are already in production with price starting at $6.52 for orders of 10,000 pieces. Visit the product page for more information.

Via Time4EE

Meet the Blue Version of Raspberry Pi 3 Board, For Brazil Only

November 16th, 2017 3 comments

It’s always fun to buy electronics and gadgets from China, while there are sometimes technical “headaches”, they are mostly solvable and part of the fun. But in some cases, government regulations and customs ruin the party even before you get the device.  Most of the time, it’s just in the form of unexpected custom duties, but other times, you may get a phone call asking you to get some documents… With experience, I’ve learned to give up at that point, but I tried one before… The courier will usually not tell you exactly what you need, just some clues, so I’ll have to make a few phone calls… After 8 phone calls to different government officers, I discovered that I needed a document saying I do not need document… Hooray! But sadly, it could not be done over the phone, online, or by snail mail, I would have to go to some government office in person 700 km away. I estimated the total cost would be around $300 with uncertain results, so I gave up, and the device went to “customs heaven”.

The regulations vary from country to country, and in the past, I’ve read stories about outrageous custom duties in Brazil. More recently (today), I’ve also learned many electronics items required Anatel product homologation, some sort of telecommunications license, since the country does not recognize FCC/CE regulations.

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While it would be an impossible tasks for individuals to obtain this kind of compliance, you’d think companies should have a fairly easy time. Apparently not, as the Raspberry Pi Foundation has just announced an Anatel compliant Raspberry Pi 3 board, that’s exactly the same as the original Raspberry Pi 3 board launched in February 2016, except for having a Blue PCB, and a marking with ANATEL ID: 04908-17-10629.

The board is sold in Brazil only via FilepeFlop for 199.90 reals (around $60), a bit higher than in most countries due to fairly high custom duties. If you live outside of Brazil, and would like to add the board to your collection, the only options would be to go to Brazil, ask a friend in Brazil (provided he/she can ship it out of the country), and use some expensive virtual address/forwarding services.

Allwinner H6 Datasheet and User Manual Released

November 15th, 2017 19 comments

Putting aside the ill-fated Allwinner A80 SoC, Allwinner H6 is the first Allwinner processor with multiple high speed interfaces such as Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and PCIe, and also support 4K HDR with the company’s Smart Color Engine for video processing.  So far, it’s been found in some 4K HDR TV boxes such as Zidoo H6 Pro or Beelink GS1.

We’ve already known Shenzhen Xunlong was working on Orange Pi 3 Plus board with the processor for a few months,  but Pine64 appear to have joined the party, and will soon launch Pine64 H64 board according to their Wiki. No photos yet, but the company released various documents for the board including Allwinner H6 V200 datasheet (80 pages), and Allwinner H6 V200 user manual (965 pages).

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The documents should – for instance – allow sunxi-linux community to port drivers for the processor.

Some corrections have been made to the first list of specifications, for example video encoding is now limited to 1080p @ 60 fps instead of 4K @ 30 fps. and the wiki confirms the CPU frequency is limited to 1488 MHz instead of the 1.8 GHz reporting by CPU-Z or marketing materials, and X-Powers AXP805 will be the companion chip / PMIC for Allwinner H6 (V200).

Today we also got some more information about the Allwinner H6 development boards, none of which are available yet, with some photos from Shenzhen Xunlong‘s H6 Orange Pi One with Gigabit Ethernet, and H6 Orange Pi Lite with WiFi (RTL8189ETV) and one USB 3.0 port.

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That means we’ll have at least four Allwinner H6 SBCs around the beginning of next year. An Allwinner H6 SDK (RC4 – not final) with Linux 3.10. can also be found on MEGA. Another Linux 4.4 SDK should come in Q1 2018.

QNAP QBoat Sunny IoT Mini Server Board Officially Announced with Annapurna Labs AL-314 ARM Processor

November 15th, 2017 11 comments

We first had a glance at QNAP QBoat Sunny at CES 2017. At the time, QNAP IoT development board was powered by an Intel AnyWAN GRX750 dual core Atom based processor with 2GB RAM, 4GB flash, three Gigabit Ethernet ports, some mSATA slot and so on.

The company has now officially announced the board, but with a twist, as the Intel processor has been replaced by Annapurna Labs (now part of Amazon) AL-314 quad core ARM Cortex-15 processor instead, and left most of the other features pretty much unchanged.

QBoard Sunny board specifications:

  • Processor – Annapurna Labs AL-314 quad core ARM Cortex-15 processor up to 1.7 GHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 512MB NAND flash, 2x M.2 2260/2280 SATA slots for SSDs (Key M)
  • Network connectivity – 3x Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio out jack, 3.5mm audio in jack
  • Expansion
    • 1x M.2 Key A 2230 for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth
    • 40-pin connector, for I2C, UART, SPI, SDIO, GPIO
  • Misc –  Debug console via 3.5mm jack; RTC battery; status and user LEDs; power & system reset buttons; pin connector for 4-wire fan
  • Power – 12V/3A
  • Power Consumption – 9.49 Watts with SSD idle; 13.31 Watts in operation
  • Dimensions – 144 x 126 x 33.5 mm (with heatsink base)
  • Weight – 490 grams
  • Environmental Conditions – 0 to 35˚C, 5 to 95%, non-condensing, wet bulb temperature: 27˚C

The board runs QTS Lite 4.3.3 embedded Linux operating system, supports features like Wake on LAN, scheduled power on/off, and automatic power on after power recovery.

Annapurna Labs does not appear to be the kind of company that release SoC documentation publicly, and I really wonder why they even bothered to setup a website. They (or somebody else) did add support to Alpine SoCs in Linux 4.6, but I’d still assume you’d have to relies on QNAP for the OS and low level software, and just take care of the application on top, praying the lower level feature(s) you need is/are well supported.

Qboat Sunny ships with an Ethernet cable, a quick installation guide, a 36W AC adapter and power cord, a wall mount kit, an M.2 screw kit, and two M.2 SSD heatsinks. The promo video below explains why you may want to use the board in your (IoT) projects, for example using it instead of public cloud services to save money.

The company claims the board is available now at an affordable price. The only thing is I’ve not been able to find the price… At CES 2017, there was talk about a $100 to $120 with the Intel version. [Update: MSRP is $169/€159]. More details may be found on the product page.

Thanks to TLS for the tip.

$9+ Libre Computer Tritium Allwinner H2+/H3/H5 SBCs Leverage Raspberry Pi 3 Form Factor (Crowdfunding)

November 15th, 2017 17 comments

A few months ago, Libre Computer introduced Le Potato board (aka AML-S905X-CC) powered by Amlogic S905X processor plus up to 2GB RAM, and using Raspberry Pi 3 form factor.

The company is now back with three Tritium boards, using the same form factor, but instead powered by Allwinner H2+, H3, or H5 processors, with a lower price point as the Tritium IoT board (H2+ / 512 MB RAM) goes for $9 only.

Tritium 1GB and Tritium 2GB Boards

Tritium boards (ALL-H3-CC) specifications:

  • SoC and Memory
    • Tritium IoT – Allwinner H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2, 512MB DDR3
    • Tritium 1GB – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2, 1GB DDR3
    • Tritium 2GB – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with Mali-450MP4, 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 1x micro SD Card slot, eMMC module connector
  • Video & Audio Output
    • Tritium IoT – HDMI up to 1080p60, AV port
    • Tritium 1GB & 2GB – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K30, AV port
  • Camera – Parallel camera interface
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi header with I2C, SPI, PWM, UART, 5V, 3.3V, and GPIO
  • Debugging –  UART via header for access to the serial console
  • Misc – IR Receiver, u-boot button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – Raspberry Pi 3 form factor

The boards do not perform as fast as the Amlogic S905X one, and the I2S and S/PDIF header are gone, but a camera connector has been added to connect a camera. Tritium IoT board runs Linux only (e.g. Ubuntu 16.04), but Tritium 1GB can run also Android 7.0, and Tritium 2GB Android 7.1, beside the listed Linux distributions:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 by Libre Computer Project
  • Debian 9 Stretch by Libre Computer Project
  • Ubuntu 16.04 by Armbian

The Linux source will be released on Github as they’ve done for Le Potato, for which they’ve also released the PDF schematics, and CE/FCC certifications.

Tritium Board in Case made for Raspberry Pi 3

The project has been launched on Kickstarter with a $10,000 goal. The bare boards are available for respectively $9 (IoT), $19 (1GB), and $29 (2GB), but you can also get kits with all accessories such as the $59 “Tritium IoT Kit Special” with comes with:

  • Tritium IoT Board
  • 8GB eMMC 4.x Module
  • Push-Pin Heatsink with Thermal Tape
  • 5.1V/2.5A MicroUSB Power Supply
  • Active Cooling Media Center Polycarbonate Case
  • 1m HDMI Cable
  • 8GB MicrorSD Card
  • Wireless RF Remote with Mini Keyboard and Touchpad

Shipping is not included and depends on the selected reward, but for example it adds $7 to $9 to Tritium IoT board, and $10 to $14 to the kit listed above. Delivery is planned for January 2018, and general availability (outside the KS campaign) in February 2018. Hardware customizations are accepted for orders of 500 units or more.

The market is starting to get crowded with Allwinner H development boards thanks to the Orange Pi and NanoPi board families, but that also means software support should be good, and AFAIK, Tritium boards are the first to be compatible (HW + Mech) to Raspberry Pi 3, excluding NanoPi Duo + mini Shield which does not come with HDMI, and is limited to Allwinner H2+ with 512MB RAM. That means you could reuse or purchase RPi 3 accessories and they should work either out of the box (enclosures), or with some SW development efforts (add-on boards). RPi MIPI camera and display modules won’t work.

Texas Instruments MSP430 Value Line Sensing MCUs Sell for 25 Cents and Up

November 13th, 2017 2 comments

Texas Instruments MSP430 16-bit mixed signal microcontroller has been around since at least 2004, and the last time I played with the MCU was with eZ430-Chronos wireless watch development kit in 2011.

Over the years, the company has added more parts to  its MSP430 MCU portfolio, and they recently added two new MSP430 Value Line Sensing MCUs that offer up to 25 functions (timers, I/Os, reset controller, EEPROM…) for as low as 25 cents, as well as a new MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit .

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100 MCUs have the same features set, except for the memory (512 vs 1024 bytes):

  • 16-Bit RISC Architecture up to 16 MHz
  • Memory / Storage
    • MSP430FR2000 (new) – 0.5KB of Program Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM) + 512 Bytes of RAM
    • MSP430FR2100 (new) – 1KB of Program FRAM + 512 Bytes of RAM
    • MSP430FR2111 – 3.75KB of Program FRAM + 1KB of RAM
    • MSP430FR2110 –  2KB of Program FRAM + 1KB of RAM
  • Supply Voltage Range – 1.8 V to 3.6 V
  • Low-Power Modes (at 3 V)
    • Active Mode: 120 µA/MHz
    • Standby
      • LPM3.5 With VLO: 1 µA
      • Real-Time Clock (RTC) Counter (LPM3.5 With 32768-Hz Crystal): 1 µA
    • Shutdown (LPM4.5): 34 nA Without SVS
  • Analog
    • 8-Channel 10-Bit Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) with integrated temperature sensor, internal 1.5-V Reference, sample-and-hold 200 ksps
    • Enhanced Comparator (eCOMP) with integrated 6-Bit DAC as Reference Voltage
  • Digital Peripherals
    • 1x 16-Bit Timer With Three Capture/Compare Registers (Timer_B3)
    • 1x 16-Bit Counter-Only RTC Counter
    • 16-Bit Cyclic Redundancy Checker (CRC)
  • Serial Communications – Enhanced USCI A (eUSCI_A) Supports UART, IrDA, and SPI
  • Clock System (CS)
    • On-Chip 32-kHz RC Oscillator (REFO)
    • On-Chip 16-MHz Digitally Controlled Oscillator (DCO) With Frequency-Locked Loop (FLL)
    • On-Chip Very-Low-Frequency 10-kHz Oscillator (VLO)
    • On-Chip High-Frequency Modulation Oscillator (MODOSC)
    • External 32-kHz Crystal Oscillator (LFXT)
    • Programmable MCLK Prescalar of 1 to 128
    • SMCLK Derived From MCLK With Programmable Prescalar of 1, 2, 4, or 8
  • General Input/Output and Pin Functionality
    • 12x I/Os on 16-Pin Package
    • 8x Interrupt Pins (4 Pins of P1 and 4 Pins of P2) Can Wake MCU From LPMs
    • All I/Os are Capacitive Touch I/Os
  • Package Options – 16-Pin TSSOP (PW16); 24-pin VQFN (RLL)

The MCUs can be programmed with free development tools such as Code Composer Studio IDE or Cloud IDE, as well as third party solutions like IAR Embedded Workbench Kickstart. TI has also launched a new MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit based on MSP430FR2433 also part of MSP430 Value Line Sensing MCUs, but with more memory (4KB SRAM) and storage (16KB FRAM).

Click to Enlarge

The board includes EnergyTrace++ Technology available for ultra-low-power debugging, 20-pin LaunchPad kit standard leveraging the BoosterPack ecosystem, an on-board eZ-FET debug probe, and 2 buttons and 2 LEDs for user interaction.

MSP430FR2000 and MSP430FR2100 sells for respectively $0.29 and $0.39 in 1,000-unit quantities, and the former price drops to 25 cents in higher volumes. MSP430FR2433 LaunchPad development kit (MSP-EXP430FR2433) is sold for $4.30 with coupon code NewMSP430LP until the end of the year, after which the price will be $9.90.