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Posts Tagged ‘devkit’

Particle Unveils Three nRF52840 Bluetooth 5 Boards: Argon (WiFi), Boron (LTE), and Xenon, as well as Particle Mesh Technology

February 14th, 2018 1 comment

In the last year or so, Bluetooth has gotten an upgrade with the release of Bluetooth 5. The new protocol works on several existing platforms, but if you want support for the full set of Bluetooth 5 features such as longer range and higher bandwidth, we’ve seen you need a recent chip such as Nordic Semi nRF52840.

However so far, AFAIK you had to buy Nordic Semi own development kit for play with nRF52840, and now Particle has announced not one, but three low cost development boards powered by nRF52840 chip starting at just $9, and supporting their newly announced Particle Mesh technology. So for some reasons, it appears they did not go with Bluetooth Mesh.

Argon, Boron, Xenon

Particle Xenon – Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

Xenon is the cheapest model with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity (via nRF52840)
    • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
    • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
    • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
    • NFC-A tag
    • On-board PCB antenna
    • u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Particle Argon  – WiFi + Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

The Argon board has a similar designed as Xenon, except it adds a single core ESP32-S0WD for WiFi connectivity:

  • SoC
    • Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
    • Espressif ESP32-S0WD single core 32-bit LX6 microprocessor, up to 200 DMIPS with 448 KB ROM, 520 KB SRAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash for nRF52840, 1MB SPI flash for ESP32-S0WD
  • Connectivity via SoCs
    • ESP32
      • 802.11b/g/n WiFi (2.4 Ghz) up to 150 Mbps
      • u.FL connector for external WiFi antenna
    • nRF52840
      • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
      • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
      • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
      • NFC-A tag
      • u.FL connector for external antenna
    • On-board PCB antenna for Bluetooth or WiFi (user selectable)
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Particle Boron – LTE (NB-IoT / eMTC) + Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

Bron board have a again a similar design, but instead adds LTE IoT connectivity:

  • SoC – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • u-blox SARA R410 LTE modem
      • LTE CAT M1/ NB1 module with global hardware support (MVNO support for US/Mexico only)
      • 3GPP Release 13 LTE Cat M1
      • EGPRS Power Class E2
      • Dual SIM support: Nano 4FF (unpopulated) and MFF2
    • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
    • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
    • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
    • NFC-A tag
    • On-board PCB antenna
    • u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

All three boards support Particle Mesh, a mesh networking technology built on Thread, and “designed to connect the spaces in between existing Wi-Fi and cellular deployments with local networks that are low-cost, secure, and ultra-reliable”. Xenon boards can act as end-points or repeaters in the mesh network, while Argon and Boron boards would normally be used as WiFi/LTE gateways.

The company has priced the boards very aggressively at least during during the pre-order period with Xenon going for $9, Argon for $15, and Boron for $29, and shipping is free during the first 24 hours (9 hours left at the time of writing). The boards are expected to ship in July 2018, and after prices will go up to respectively $12, $19, and $39.

Particle also increased the free data allowance for their $2.99 cellular Device Cloud plan which now comes  with 3MB of data per month instead of just 1MB. If you exceed that amount, they’ve decreased the price per MB from $0.99 to $0.40 too.

Espressif ESP32 LyraTD MSC HDK is Designed for Smart Speakers, Wireless Audio and other Smart Home Appliances

January 16th, 2018 9 comments

[Update February 17, 2018:  The kit was previously referred as ESP32 LyRaTD MS1, but the company appears to have changed the name to ESP32-LyRaTD-MSC]

So apparently voice command will represent 50% of all searches in the next two years, and everybody is jumping on the smart speaker bandwagon, with announcements from many companies at CES 2018, including Google’s Android Things + Assistant products‘ announcement,  NXP i.MX 8M official launch, Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) development kit from Amlogic and Allwinner, and more.

Espressif Systems is about to join the party with their ESP32 LyraTD MS1 HDK (Hardware development kit) that most people will likely remember as “Audio Mic HDK” that was announced on Twitter.

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Espressif Audio Mic HDK specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROVER module with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE connectivity.
  • DSP – 4-mic array chip
  • Storage – micro SD card for audio files
  • Audio
    • Audio driver chip
    • Earphone jack
    • Dual speaker output ports
    • 4x microphone array with up to 3 meter sensitivity while playing music
  • Expansion
    • I2C/SPI header
    • 6-pin UART header
    • I2S header
    • Others undocumented
  • Debugging – USB-UART micro USB interface (based on CP2102N), and JTAG header
  • Misc – Power switch, 8x keys on top
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

The kit can work over WiFi or Bluetooth, supports major cloud voice vendors such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Baidu DuerOS. Soft decoder, and hot word recognition runs directly on ESP32 processor.

In twitter, the company also said you could implement your own hotword/keyword, by providing around 5000 unique recordings of your selected word, and that they expect to ship the board next week. It’s unclear when the board will be available for sale however.

One of the commenter mentioned he made his own ESP32 Circle evaluation kit with an audio jack, and a single microphone. If you are interested in that third party board, you can purchase it on Taobao for 169 RMB (~$26). The official Espressif Audio Mic HDK should sell for a bit higher due to the extra features.

$34 SmartFusion2 Maker Board Arm Cortex-M3 + FPGA Board Supports ESP32 & ESP8266 Modules

January 11th, 2018 16 comments

Xilinx Zynq SoCs are probably the most well-known FPGAs with ARM cores, as their Cortex A9/A53 cores can run Linux, but they are not the only ones. Microsemi launched SmartFusion2 SoC comprised of FPGA fabric and an Arm Cortex-M3 core in 2013, as well as a $300 development kit.

The company has now partnered with Digikey to launch SmartFusion2 Maker Board, a low-cost evaluation platform for the SoC that comes with Gigabit Ethernet, a USB port, a connector for ESP8266 module, PCB footprint for ESP32 module, among other features like a light sensor, LEDs, and buttons.

SmartFusion2 maker board (M2S010-MKR-KIT) main features & specifications:

  • SoC  – Microsemi SmartFusion2 M2S010 SoC with:
    • Arm Cortex-M3 @ 166 MHz, 6oKB+80KB eSRAM, 256KB eNVM
    • FPGA with 12,084 logic element, 400 Kbits RAM
  • Storage – 16 Mbit SPI Flash
  • Connectivity
  • USB (for programming/debugging) – USB integrated FlashPro5 programming hardware; USB port for UART communications
  • Sensor – Ambient light sensor
  • Misc – 8x user LEDs, 3x buttons including two user pushbuttons, 50 MHz clock source
  • Power Supply – 5V via mini USB port; LX7167A PMIC
  • Dimensions – N/A

The SmartFusion2 maker board can be used with Microsemi’s Libero SoC v11.8 or greater with a (Free) Silver license to program the FPGA fabric, and SoftConsole Eclipse based IDE to code the Arm Cortex M3 core in C/C++. You’ll find documentation on eewiki’s getting started guide.

Click to Enlarge

The board – also known as M2S010-MKR-KIT – can be purchased for $33.75 through Digikey with close to 2,000 unit in stock at the time of writing. There may also be further information on the product page on Microsemi website.

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

November 22nd, 2017 4 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.