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Posts Tagged ‘devkit’

Bolt IoT Platform Combines ESP8266, Mobile Apps, Cloud, and Machine Learning (Crowdfunding)

November 22nd, 2017 No comments

There are plenty of hardware to implemented IoT projects now, but in many cases a full integration to get data from sensors to the cloud requires going though a long list of instructions. Bolt IoT, an Indian and US based startup, has taken up the task to simplify IoT projects with their IoT platform comprised of ESP8266 Bolt WiFi module, a cloud service with machine learning capabilities, and mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Bolt IoT module hardware specifications:

  • Wireless Module – A.I Thinker ESP12 module based on ESP8266 WiSoC
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi secured by WPA2
  • USB – 1x micro USB for power and programming
  • Expansion – 4-pin female header and 7-pin female header with 5 digital I/Os, 1x analog I/O, and UART
  • Misc – Cloud connection LED

The hardware is not the most interesting part of Bolt IoT, since it offers similar functionalities as other ESP8266 boards. But what may make the project worthwhile is built-in support for the company’s cloud service (lifetime access to backers) that simplifies node and data management, as well as Bolt IoT mobile app to control the board with your smartphone (Android or iOS)

Some other noticeable features of the Bolt IoT cloud platform include:

  • Remote configuration of the pins on Bolt WiFi module from the dashboard
  • Built-in code editor, and code deployment to all your Bolt based IoT devices with a single click.
  • Data Visualization
  • Machine learning for future data prediction and anomaly detection with just a few clicks.
  • Notifications over SMS and E-Mail.
  • Integration with systems like IFTTT and Zapier
  • Integration with smart home devices like Alexa and Google Home

The whole ecosystem supposedly allows developers to work 10 times faster, and use 80% less code than other methods.  The company will also provide an API that let you manage notifications, select third party visualization tools, and control devices from your own app.

The company launched their platform on Kickstarter at the beginning of November, and they’ve now surpassed their $10,000 funding target, having raised close to $30,000 from about 700 backers. Bolt IoT module with lifetime access to Bolt Cloud requires a $12 pledge, but they also have kits with Arduino baseboard and sensors starting with a $37 Starter Kit to the $650 Legendary kit with multiple Bolt board, and a very long list of modules. For some reasons that I may have missed all kits also include $10 credit with DigitalOcean VPS provider. Bolt Cloud will be free to all backers for life, but after the KS campaign Bolt IoT will charge a fee for commercial projects, and potentially for hobbyist projects too. Shipping adds $5 to $100 depending on the selected reward, and delivery is scheduled for February 2018.

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

Google Cloud IoT Core Enters Public Beta, Various Devkits Available

September 29th, 2017 No comments

Back in May, I wrote about Allwinner R18 based Banana Pi BPI-M64 Board with Google Cloud IoT Core support, as Google unveils the new cloud service during Google I/O. However, at the time it was only available to selected partners, and Google has recently launched the public beta making their IoT device management platform available to all.

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I first learned about this through an ARM community blog post announcing availability of the ARM-based IoT Kit for Cloud IoT Core on Adafruit using Raspberry Pi 3 board,  a breadboard, and various modules that can be managed through Google services.

But that are plenty of other IoT kits or boards for Google Cloud IoT Core including:

You’ll find purchase links and documentation for each board on Google Cloud IoT Core’s IoT Kit page. Sample code specific to the RPI3 kit can also be found on Github.

Google Cloud IoT Core Architecture / Features Overview

Google IoT Core is free to use for up to 250 MB/month with no limit on the number of devices, and if you exceed this limit pricing per MB depends on data usage:

  • 250MB to 250 GB – $0.0045 per MB
  • 250GB to 5 TB – $0.0020 per MB
  • Over 5 TB – $0.00045 per MB

2.9″ ESPaper Lite Kit is a $40 ePaper Display Kit with an ESP8266 WiFi Module

September 28th, 2017 8 comments

Squix (Daniel Eichhorn) has designed a 2.9″ ESPaper Lite Kite is a battery powered kit based on a black and white ePaper module, and ESP-WROOM-02 module based on Espressif Systems ESP8266 WiSoC.

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2.9″ ESPaper Lite Kit specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP-WROOM-02 WiFi module with Espressif ESP8266
  • Display – 2.9″ B&W ePaper module with 296×128 pixels resolution connect over SPI to ESP8266
  • Debugging / Programming – 6-pin serial port header
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for programming
  • Misc – 3 buttons: Reset (wake up from deep sleep);  S0 (flash/GPIO0); S1: user button connected to GPIO12; power switch; charging and (firmware) flashing LEDs
  • Power – JST connector for LiPo battery; charging circuit

You’ll need a 3.3V USB to TTL debug board for flashing the firmware to the board, and a LiPo battery to power it up. The solution is particularly useful if you want a battery powered display that is infrequently updated, since such display only consumes electricity when updated. They could run the module for several weeks with a 800m Ah battery while updating weather info every 20 minutes. MiniGrafx library provides drivers and samples for the board. It is available on Github.

The 2.9″ ESPaper Lite kit can be purchased for $39.90, but if you want something easier to get started you may want to get the 2.9″ ESPaper Plus Kit instead for $49.90, as it adds a USB to serial converter, a 600 mAh battery, an enclosure, and a USB cable.

Short Demo with 96Boards SynQuacer 64-bit ARM Developer Box

September 27th, 2017 17 comments

Even if you are working on ARM platforms,  you are still likely using an Intel or AMD x86 build machine, since there’s not really a good alternative in the ARM world. Linaro talked about plans to change that at Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 in March, and a few days ago, GIGABYTE SynQuacer software development platform was unveiled with a Socionext SynQuacer SC2A11 24-core Cortex-A53 processor, and everything you’d expect from a PC tower with compartment for SATA drives, PCIe slots, memory slots, multiple USB 3.0 ports, and so on.

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The platform was just demonstrated a Linaro Connect San Francisco right after Linaro High Performance Computing keynotes by Kanta Vekaria, Technology Strategist, Linaro, and Yasuo Nishiguchi, Socionext’s Chairman & CEO.

If you have never used a system with more than 14 cores, you’d sadly learn that the tux logos at boot times will only be shown on the first line, skipping the remaining 10 cores, of the 24-core system. It was hard to stomach, but I’m recovering… 🙂

The demo showed a system with an NVIDIA graphics card connected to the PCIe x16 port and leveraging Nouveau open drivers, but it’s also possible to use it as an headless “developer box”. The demo system booted quickly into Debian + Linux 4.13. They then played a YouTube video, and ran top in the developer box showing all 24-cores and 32GB RAM. That’s it. They also took questions from the audience. We learned that the system can build the Linux kernel in less than 10 minutes, they are working on SBSA compliance, and the system will be available through 96Boards website, with a complete build with memory and storage expected to cost less than $1,000. The idea is to use any off-the-shelves peripherals typically found in x86 PC towers. We still don’t know if they take MasterCard though… The video below is the full keynote with the demo starting at the 52:30 mark.

A First Look at ESP32 PICO Core Development Board Powered by ESP32-PICO-D4 SiP

August 30th, 2017 12 comments

Last week, I wrote about ESP32-PICO-D4 system-in-package (SiP) that contains ESP32 WiSoC, 4MP SPI flash, a crystal oscilloscator and some passive components in a single 7×7 mm package in order to allow smaller designs based on ESP32. The company noticed the post, and asked me whether I’d be interested in receiving “some development boards based on ESP32 PICO”, an offer hard to refuse :), and within a couple of days I received the package below.

So I  ended up with 10 identical development kits, the company probably thought it was no worth paying for DHL to only send one or two development boards… The boards may also be part of some contests… We’ll see 😉

So let’s take two, and have a closer look at “ESP32_PICO_Core_Board_V3″… It comes with two rows of 20 pins with access to all I/Os, and features three main chips: ESP32-PICO-D4 SiP, AMS1117 voltage regulator, and Silabs CP2102 USB to UART controller for programming and debugging.

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There’s also an antenna, a EN and BOOT buttons, and a micro USB port. The board measures 52x20mm. On actual product, the USB bridge part would be there, so you could have something around half size or even much smaller…

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… something like the ESP32-PICO-D4 module below whose picture I found on the web.

ESP32-PICO-D4 features are basically the same of ESP32 ones, just more compact, so how does ESP32 PICO Core board compares to other breadboard friendly board based on ESP32? To find out, I compare it to ESP32-T board with ESP32-Bit module, and ESPino32 board with ESP-WROOM-32 module, which I plan to review/play with in about 2 weeks.

ESPino32 vs ESP32 Pico Core vs ESP32-T – Click to Enlarge

ESP32 Pico Core is clearly smaller. Compared to ESP32-T it’s about the same length, but much thinner, and include 2 extra pins, while in terms on functionality it’s more comparable to ESPino32 both with 40-pins, two button, and micro USB port, but the size difference is even greater.

ESP32 Pico Core on Breadboard – Click to Enlarge

If you wonder, the board is breadboard compatible, and since it’s thinner leave two rows of pins free on each side, compared to just one for most boards.

The boards are not for sale right now, and there’s no info on their website about them. You’ll however find some more details in ESP32-PICO-D4 datasheet.

Microchip SAM D5x and SAM E5x ARM Cortex-M4 Micro-Controllers Launched with Optional Ethernet and CAN Bus

August 2nd, 2017 No comments

Microchip has just introduced two new families of micro-controllers based on ARM Cortex-M4F with SAM D5x and SAM E5x series sporting up to 1 MB of dual-panel flash and 256 KB of SRAM both with ECC support. Both families also support QSPI flash with XIP (eXecute In Place) support, features an SD card controller and a capacitive touch controller, with SAM E5x family also adding support for two CAN-FD ports and Ethernet.

Microchip SAM A5x/E5x key features and specifications:

  • MCU Core – ARM Cortex-M4F core running at 120 MHz with single precision Floating Point Unit (FPU)
  • Memory – Internal memory architecture with user configurable Tightly Coupled Memory, System memory, Memory Protection Unit and 4KB Combined I-cache and D-cache; up to 256KB ECC SRAM, up to 1MB ECC flash
  • Storage I/F – Quad Serial Peripheral Interface(QSPI) with Execute in Place (XIP) Support
  • Peripherals
    • Up to 2x Secure Digital Host Controller (SDHC)
    • Peripheral Touch Controller (PTC) supporting up to 256 channels of capacitive touch
    • Full speed USB with embedded Host/device
    • Dual 1Msps 12-bit ADCs up to 32 channels with offset  and gain error compensation.
    • Dual 1Msps, 12-bit DAC and analog comparator
    • Up to 8x Serial communication (SERCOM) ports configurable as UART/USART, ISO 7816, SPI or I2C
    • SAM E5x series only:
      • 10/100M Ethernet MAC with IEEE1588 (E53/E54)
      • Dual Bosch CAN-FD 1.0 Controller (E51/E54)
  • Security – Symmetric (AES) and Asymmetric(ECC) Encryption, Public Key Exchange Support (PUKCC), TRNG and SHA- based memory integrity checker
  • Power Modes – Supports 5 Low power modes with 65µA/MHz Active Power Performance
  • Packages – 48 to 128-pin package options
  • Temperature Range – -40°C to 85°C

Some SAMD5x SKUs are pin-to-pin compatible ARM Cortex M0+ based SAMD2X MCU, so you can easily upgrade existing design with a more powerful MCU core. There only one main “sub-family” with SAMD5x: SAMD51, but SAME5x has three sub-families depending on Ethernet and CAN options:

  • SAME51 – 2x CAN-FD
  • SAME53 – Ethernet MAC
  • SAME54 – 2x CAN-FD and Ethernet MAC

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Microchip has used the higher end version of SAME54 processor in SAM E54 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit in order to help customer kick-start development as soon as possible. Key features for ATSAME54-XPRO board:

  • MCU – Microchip ATSAME54P20A microcontroller
  • Storage – 256 Mbit QSPI Flash, SD/SDIO card connector, AT24MAC402 serial EEPROM with EUI-48 MAC address
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet (RJ45) via KSZ8091RNA PHY
  • USB – micro USB interface, host, and device
  • Expansion
    • Parallel Capture Controller header (ArduCAM compatible)
    • CAN connector
    • Three Xplained Pro extension headers
  • Debugging
    • 10-pin Cortex Debug Connector with SWD
    • 20-pin Cortex Debug + ETM Connector with SWD and four bit trace
    • Embedded Debugger
    • Embedded current measurement circuitry (XAM)
  • Security – Microchip ATECC508 CryptoAuthentication device
  • Misc – 1x reset button, 1x programmable button, 1x QTouch PTC button, 1x yellow user LED, backup super capacitor, 32.768 kHz & 12 MHz crystals
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

The board and all Atmel SAMD5x / E5x processor are supported by Atmel Studio 7 IDE, and Atmel START online tool to configure peripherals and software.

Microchip SAM D5x and SAM E5x are in available in volume production, with pricing starting at $2.43 for 10K orders. SAM E54 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit is available for $84.99. Adafruit is also working on – likely cheaper –  SAMD51 based Feather M4 and Metro M4 boards that will support Arduino (See github for current code).

More details can be found on SAM D and SAM E MCU product pages.

Hologram LTE Software-Defined Global Network for Cellular IoT Projects Starts at $0.40 per Month per Device

July 26th, 2017 15 comments

Cellular connectivity can be rather expensive, and in the IoT realms, new LTE standards are still evolving and you may want to manage your own mini cellular network, so ideally we would need a provider that offers both low cost and flexibility. Hologram LTE network does both as it’s a software-defined network, and pricing starts at $5 for the SIM card and $0.40 per month per device.

Global IoT SIM Card

The company also just announced that their network was available for global deployment with the service available in more than 170 countries via partnerships through over 200 cellular carriers. The SIM card supports automatic roaming and carrier switching, and spacebridge inbound tunnel access allows for secure remote programming and device management.

The SIM card specifications are as follows:

  • 2G/GPRS, 3G HSPDA, 4G LTE
  • Read/Write Cycles: Min. 500,000
  • Operating Temperature: -25°C ~ 85°C
  • Data Retention: Min. 25 years at 25°C
  • Triple-cut for Mini, Micro, and Nano SIM formats
    • Mini: 15 x 25mm
    • Micro: 12 x 15mm
    • Nano: 8.8 x 12.3mm

Pricing is divided into zone 1 (cyan) and zone 2 (purple blue) depending in the country where the SIM card operates, with the latter being more expensive.

Within each zone there are two pricing methods, with pay-as-you-go plans with a fixed platform fee per month plus a charge per megabyte, or monthly  plans with a fixed amount of data. For example, a SIM card in zone 1 would cost a $0.40 platform fee per month plus $0.60 per megabyte (charged per KB), or $3.99 for 10MB of data, while a SIM card operating in zone 2 would be $0.40 platform fee per month plus $0.85 per MB, or $6.99 for a monthly 10MB plan. You can also choose monthly plans with less or more data up to 500MB per month, except in the US where the company offers high bandwidth monthly plans up to 5GB per month. Inbound SMS are free, and outbound SMS cost $0.19 per MB or $0.30 per MB depending on your zone. You’ll find all details on the pricing page.

While the SIM card costs $5, you can try the service for free by “purchasing” a developer SIM card that comes with 1MB data per month. I ordered one with DEVPLANBLASTOFF promo code for free shipping. I’ll see if I ever receive it, and whether I can use it where I live, since in theory all SIM cards must be registered with an ID card or passport to work, and mandatory fingerprinting is coming next year.

Hologram Onboarding Kit – Click to Enlarge

You can certainly use the SIM card on your own hardware, but the company can also provide Hologram Dash board based on Ublox Sara-U260 2G/3G module, and kits such as the one above with components, sensors, cables, and other accessories. The documentation explains how to get started with Dash board, the SIM card, and cloud messaging and APIs.

Hologram is not the only company offering pay-as-you-go and monthly plans for cellular IoT, as Particle (previously Spark) has offered an inexpensive monthly plan for a little while, but it does not relies on an SDN implemtation. You’ll find further information and details on Hologram website.