Archive

Posts Tagged ‘electronics’
Orange Pi Development Boards

SocioNext MN87900 is a Really Tiny 24 GHz Radio Wave Radar Module for the Internet of Things

February 9th, 2018 4 comments

In the past, we covered tiny microwave radar modules operating at 5.8 GHz and measuring just 32 x 23 mm. Those modules are normally used to detect motion, distance, and/or direction of movement.

Socionext has now introduced MN87900, a single low-power single-chip 24 GHz radio wave IoT sensor solution that even smaller at just 12x7mm with the chip, Tx and Rx antennas, crystal, and 40-pin to solder the module to your board. The solution targets IoT equipments, security systems, smart home appliances, autonomous vehicles and drones, medical devices, and more.

SocioNext MN87900 key specifications:

  • Sensor Type – CW, FSKCW, FMCW (moving or stationary)
  • Detection
    • Motion direction – approaching or leaving
    • Motion speed – up to 200 km/h
    • Range – 0.15 to 8 meters 80°@-3dB, expandable to 30 meters  with a radome horn, a metal shield that narrows the field of view.
  • Variable frequency width –  24.15±0.1 GHz
  • Transmission Power – 0.8mW
  • Host Interface – SPI
  • Power supply voltage – 2.5V
  • Current consumption – 200mA
  • Module size – 12mm x 7mm x 1mm
  • Weight – 145 mg
  • Temperature Range – -40°C to 85°C

The chip is said to offers multi-mode sensing capabilities for detecting stationary or moving objects and measuring the distance and direction of movement, including whether an object is approaching or leaving.

The company also mentions the module can detect very slow movements such as breathing, muscle activity, or heartbeats, and while in continuous operation the MN87900 radar sensor consumes 500mW, it’s possible to use intermittent operation to reduce power requirements. For example, using one-sixth bursts consumes 80 mW. Another advantage highlighted by the company is that the system does not violate privacy since it can detect people, objects and complex activities without using a camera combined with computer vision.

An API is available to make of CW (continuous-wave Doppler), FSKCW (frequency shift keyed continuous wave), and FMCW (frequency-modulated continuous-wave) capabilities to sense distance, direction, and relative velocity information.

The company did not close pricing for the module. You’ll find more technical details on the product page.

Categories: Hardware Tags: electronics, IoT, motion, radar, socionext

Getting Started with IkaScope WiFi Pen-Oscilloscope, and ScanaQuad SQ50 USB Logic Analyzer & Signal Generator

February 5th, 2018 8 comments

A couple of weeks ago, I received IkaScope WS200 pen-like WiFi oscilloscope, as well as ScanaQuad SQ50 USB logic analyzer & signal generator, and I’ve already checked out the hardware both both in a aforelinked unboxing post. I had also very shortly tried IkaScope with GOLE 10 mini PC, but just to showcase potential use case for a Windows 10 mini PC with an inclined touchscreen display. But at the time I did not really a proper measurement, as it was more to test the mini PC than the oscilloscope itself.

I’ve now had time to test IkaScope desktop program and mobile app in respectively Ubuntu 16.04 and Android 8.0.0, as well as ScanaStudio for ScanaQuad USB device using Ubuntu 16.04 only, since there’s no mobile version of the program. While I’ll focus on Ubuntu and Android, most of the instructions will be valid for Window 10 and Mac OS X for the desktop programs, and iOS for the mobile app. This will be more of a getting started guide / basic tutorial, than a review, as I’ll go through some of the issues I may have come across, and show the basic functions of the program/app.

IkaScope connected to Xiaomi Mi A1 Smartphone – Click to Enlarge

IkaScope with Android and Initial Setup

My original plan was to test the oscilloscope with my computer running Ubuntu 16.04, and then switch to Android. However, my computer is connected to the network via Ethernet, and I don’t have a spare working WiFi dongle anymore. The oscilloscope can also work with Ethernet only devices, as long as WiFi is configured in station mode, but by default it starts in access point mode, so I had to change my plan and instead install IkaScope Android app on my smartphone first.

Click to Enlarge

The app is still shown to be in development / a beta version, but as I did not encounter any critical issues, except at the beginning. To turn on the oscilloscope you have to press the probe tip, and should soon see the white LED blink, meaning some “IkaScopexxxx” access point should be setup and ready to go. However, after several attempts, I failed to find any IKASCOPE ESSID in the list of access point. Based on some recommendations on the Internet, I installed WiFiManager, and lo-and-behold IKDASCOPE-…200-00493 SSID showed up. I could easily connect to it, and since it’s an open network, no password is needed.

Time to launch IkaScope app. First you’ll go through a very short wizard showing the key zones in the app, and then we can tap on the top left corner, and click on Connect. It should then show your IkaScope in AP mode (White). 

While you could just select it, and start measurements like when I did when I played with in in Windows 10, it is recommends to switch to station mode. To do so, tap on the setup/configuration on the right side, which should bring you to the “add a network” page as shown below.

You can add just one, but if you add more, you’ll likely get better coverage. Note that the oscilloscope on supports 2.4 GHz, so your 5 GHz ESSID won’t show up.

Now you can go back, maybe wait for the oscilloscope to turn off, and turn it on again by pressing the tip, and a solid Blue LED should show on the device…

.. STA mode (Blue) icon will have replaced the AP mode (white) icon in the mobile app.

Go back again, and you’ll see IKASCOPE WS200 connected in station mode. The screenshot below also shows “CNX-SOFTWARE_5GHz” ESSID, but that’s the connection used by the phone, not the scope.

I’ll detailed the options about the app into more details in the Ubuntu section as they have the same features, and I could only find some cosmetic differences between the mobile and desktop version. I still used the Android app to measure the 16 MHz clock signal from an Arduino Leonardo clone as shown in the top picture.

You can see a short demo about the measurement below.

IkaScope in Ubuntu 16.04

Now that IkaScope WS200 probe is in station mode, I can use it with my Ethernet connected Ubuntu 16.04 computer.

You’ll find IkaScope desktop program on the company website for Windows (.exe) , Linux, and Mac OS X. In the case of Linux, the program is distributed as a tarball, which you need to extract, before running the installation script:

There’s also a an uninstall.sh script to remove the program if you don’t need it anymore. Note the tools only work on 64-bit x86 platforms (x86-64).
After installation IkaScope can be found in the dash, but if I click on the icon, nothing happens, even after a reboot. So I launched it from the terminal instead:

Just like  in Android, you’ll get through a short “tutorial” at the beginning showing the main parts of the interface. Click on IkaScope icon on the top left corner of the program, and connect to find IkaScope.

My probe was  already setup in Station mode, so all I had to do was to select, but if you are using a computer with WiFi, and WS200 probe is in AP mode, you’ll need to connect to the access point, and ideally change that to station mode as shown in the Android section.

I did the same measurement on Arduino Leonardo board, but without using AUTOSET at first. You could then change the voltage and time resolution and offset as needed, but in most case, you’ll probably want to simply use AUTOSET to let the program automatically select the best settings.


A 16 MHz signal has a 62.5 ns period, so first I used the cursor in TIME mode, and moved A and B to confirm both the period and frequency.

Cursors can also be used for voltage (vertical scale). An easier to check the frequency is to use the Measure menu, which allows to automatically reports frequency, period, width, duty, voltage average/peak-to-peak/rms/max/min, and rising and falling times.

Other options include coupling (DC or AC), and Trigger which can be set to automatic, normal, single, rising / falling / both edges  as shown in the screenshot below.

There’s no math function, but I’ve read the company may implement FFT and other functions in the future. I charged the oscilloscope around two weeks ago, and battery level is still well higher than 50%, even after that review. The company estimates a charge should last around one week with a typical use. That’s because the oscilloscope will automatically turn off if it is not being used.

ScanaQuad SQ50 Logic Analyzer in Ubuntu 16.04

Let’s now move on to ScanaQuad SQ50 USB logic analyzer. We’ll need ScanaStudio program available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. That’s what I had to do to install the program in Ubuntu 16.04:

Contrary to Ikascope program, ScanaStudio will install on both 32-bit and 64-bit x86 operating systems. An uninstall script is also provided.

Again the icon can be found in the Dash, but clicking on it won’t launch the program, so I started from a terminal:

The first time I launched the program I was prompted to update the protocols, which are written in JavaScript, and open source with the code on Github.

Click on Download / Update checked button to have the latest protocols loaded into the program. After that, you should get to the main user interface.

I clicked to create a new workspace, which showed several ScanaQuad “demo” devices, but no way to connect to the actual hardware.

However, after searching in the knowledge base, I found out I may have to use the Device wizard compatibility, which can be accessed from the top right icon, and will start a 5-step wizard asking you to disconnect any SUB serial device – including your ScanaQuad -,and reconnect the ScanQuad.

Everything is pretty self-explanatory, and this step may be needed in either Linux or Mac OS X, but not in Windows. You should now see your ScanaQuad USB logic analyzer listed when creating a new workspace, possibly after a reboot (but not needed here).

I selected ScanaQuad SQ50, and clicked on Create workspace button. The very first time, I had to wait as ScanaStudio updated ScanaQuad firmware, which took around a minute. Your workspace should now be shown with the 4-channel used by the tool and some default configuration.

Click to Enlarge

Since last week I reviewed tinyLIDAR, a board based on STM32L0 MCU + VL53L0X ToF sensor that returns the distance from obstacles up to 2 meters away, and that interfaces with the host processor over I2C, I decided to monitor I2C signals with the device.

Click to Enlarge

I connected the black probe to a ground pin, the green probe to SCL, and the red probe to SDA as shown above.

Click to Enlarge

In ScanaStudio, I set sampling rate to 1 MHz, voltage to 5V, clicked on Add new in the Protocols section, selected I2C from the list, assigned CH 3 (Red) to SDA  and CH 4 (Green) to SDL, and clicked Finish. Finally, I also set a trigger to start capture whenever I2C signals are detected.

Click to Enlarge

Now we can click Start at the top right of the interface to make the program wait for the trigger. Going the “Arduino GUI terminal” for tinyLIDAR board, I press enter to read distance (2 byte) from I2C device with address 0x10.

The command ‘D’ should be 0x44 according the ASCII table, and the distance returned is 120 mm.

Click to Enlarge

Right after pressing enter, ScanaStudio captured the SDA and SCL signal and decoded data with a write and a read command as expected:

  • Write 0x10 with 0x88
  • Read 0x10 with 0x00 and 0x78

I would have expected 0x44 (‘D) in the write command, but for some reasons I have not looked into, the command is shifted by one bit. The read data is however fully as expected as 0x78 converted to 120 mm.

I then made the sensor to face the ceiling in order to get a longer distance and use the two fields.

The terminal reports 1823mm, and the I2C capture show 0x071F distance which indeed converts to 1823 mm. So all good here.

If you’re interested in the other supported protocols, you could check out the aforelinked Github repository, and the screenshot below (correct as of February 5, 2018).

More protocols may eventually be supported, or you could roll your own JavaScript decoder if needed.

ScanaQuad SQ50 Signal Generator in Ubuntu 16.04

ScanaQuad also works as a signal generator using the same ScanaStudio program. Mixed mode is supported too, with two inputs for the logic analyzer, and two outputs for the signal generator. I expected to be able to  easily generate sine waves, square waves, and sawtooth waves, but one you switch to Generator mode, the only two options in the Signal builder section are:

  • Square signal wizard up between 1 Hz and 12.5 MHz (min/max values depend on sampling rate) with with duty cycle slider.

Click to Enlarge

  • Signal builder script

Click to Enlarge

The latter has template with all sort of signal include 1-wire, HDMI-CEC, MODBUS, PWM, SPI, and so on. It also mean you should be able to create seesaw and sine waves, but you may have to work (i.e. write some JavaScript code) for it.

Instead of feeding back the signal to the device in mixed mode, I used SQ50 to generate signals, and WS200 probe for measurement.

  • CH1 generating 12.5 MHz square wave with 25% duty cycle


Not what I would call a neat square signal, and the 25% duty signal is not quite right either due to the distorsion.

  • Let’s lower the frequency to 1 MHz with the same duty cycle.


That’s more like it, although there’s still some noise.

    • CH2 generating FM signals

The waveform looks fairly good, and matches the one defined in ScanaStudio.

I’d like to thank Ikalogic for the opportunity to test their measurement devices. IkaScope WS200 oscilloscope sells for 299 Euros exc. VAT, while ScanaQuad SQ50 goes for 89 Euros exc. VAT, and other USB LA+SG models with better specifications such as SQ200 go for up to 149 Euros.

Getting Started with TinyLIDAR Time-of-Flight Sensor on Arduino and Raspberry Pi

January 30th, 2018 8 comments

TinyLIDAR is an inexpensive and compact board based on STMicro VL53L0X Time-of-Flight (ToF) ranging sensor that allows you to measure distance up to 2 meters using infrared signals, and with up to 60 Hz. Contrary to most other VL52LOX boards, it also includes an STM32L0 micro-controller that takes care of most of the processing, frees up resource on your host board (e.g. Arduino UNO), and should be easier to control thanks to I2C commands.

The project was successfully funded on Indiegogo by close to 600 backers, and the company contacted me to provided a sample of the board, which I have now received, and tested with Arduino (Leonardo), and Raspberry Pi (2).

TinyLIDAR Unboxing

I was expecting a single board, but instead I received a bubble envelop with five small zipped packages.

Click to Enlarge

Opening them up  revealed three TinyLIDAR boards, the corresponding Grove to jumper cables, and a bracket PCB for three TinyLIDAR boards together with headers and screws. So I looks like I received the “3 tinyLiDAR – IGG Special” plus the bracket board that was supposed to be a stretch goal unlocked at $25K (but they only got $23,717). Maybe that’s a good sign for backers, we’ll see.

Click to Enlarge

Due to time constraints, I won’t use the bracket, but only single boards. The brackets can be used with three tinyLIDAR boards using different I2C addresses, and you’ll see an example use with the Follow-me 2 Sketch where the 3 LIDAR boards are mounted on a tilt/pan platform that can track your hand.

Click to Enlarge

The bigger chip on the by is STM32L0 Cortex M0+ microcontroller with the much smaller STMicro VL53L0X laser ToF sensor placed right on top of it on the photo above. There are also a few I/O include the 4-pin I2C Grove connector and through holes, some pogopin for direct UART access, an LED, a reset button, and more, as described in the diagram below.


TinyLIDAR on Arduino

Now, it’s time to play with the board using sample and documentation on a dedicated page.  Refer to this page for the latest versions, as below I’ll link to the versions I used for the review.

To easily evaluate and learn about the platform, the company has made what they call Arduino GUI Terminal sketch to let your control the device from an Arduino board using a serial terminal. https://microelectronicdesign.s3.amazonaws.com/tinyLiDAR_Terminal_GUI_1_1.ino

The company only tested Arduino Uno, but it turns out I don’t have one so I had to use an Arduino Leonardo clone instead, and after initial troubles, and help from my contact at the company (Dinesh), I could use tinyLiDAR_Terminal_GUI_1_24.ino with my boardsince it now supports Arduino Uno, Leonardo, and Mega .If you don’t use Arduino Uno (default), make sure you enable your board accordingly in the code by commenting out the relevant line:

The hardware connections are very easy as you just need to connect the jumper cables to the I2C pins, 5V and GND on the board.

Click to Enlarge

Once this was done I connect a micro USB cable to my computer, and tried to upload the ino sketch file, but it failed to compile. That’s because I forgot to install Arduino I2C Master Library, which can be downloaded here, and you just need to click on Sketch->Include Library->Add .ZIP library, and select the freshly downloaded  I2C_Rev5.zip file to complete the installation. I could then build and upload the program to Arduino Leonardo.

Time to start a serial console using minicom, TeraTerm, Putty or others with 115200 8N1 and no flow control to access the Arduino GUI terminal:

You’ll get a list of command in the terminal, but you may want to read the reference manual to clearly understand each item.

I started with the query command, which worked just fine:

I could also use to read command, but to test accuracy I decided to use a ruler and a small box as shown below.

Click to Enlarge

I tested 5cm and 10 cm:

  • 5cm:

  • 10cm:

Not that good…. But there’s a calibration command as explained in the reference manual:

CD Auto-Calibrate Distance Offset
Perform Offset Distance Calibration on tinyLiDAR.
Before using this calibration command, please set tinyLiDAR to Continuous, High Accuracy mode by issuing
the commands “MC” and “PH”. See example code in Appendix A for details.
ST recommends to use a distance of 100mm to a white target. Therefore, place a white target 100mm away
from tinyLiDAR before running this calibration.
Must specify calibration distance in mm.
The new offset correction distance will be placed in non-volatile memory and used for all subsequent
operations. This calibration takes about 10 seconds to run and the LED will flash slowly during the calibration.
You can reset to our factory defaults by executing the “RESET” command.

So let’s go ahead by placing the board at 10 cm from a white box (OK mine was not exactly white), run MC and PH commands (although it does not look necessary),  before running running CD without parameter to do the actual calibration:

Let’s go back to single step operation (ms) and tinyLIDAR preset (pt), and try the measurements again

  • 5cm:

  • 10cm:

It’s getting better, although the first two steps always seen to be stuck to some previous measurements. I’ve been told it may be due to some buffer in the serial terminal.

Trying some longer distances:

  • 20cm:

  • 30cm:

It’s basically doing the job. If you need more accuracy, longer range, or faster measurements, you can change the mode:

  • PL: long range mode (up to 2m, 33ms)
  • PS: high speed mode (up to 1.2m, 20ms)
  • PH: high accuracy mode (up to 1.2m, 200ms)
  • PT: tinyLiDAR mode (up to 2m, 18ms)

One interesting feature, especially if you run on batteries, is the autonomous mode where the board is configured to automatically check the distance range every X second, and trigger a pulse when within range, without having to send I2C commands from the host, except the initial one. In the Arduino GUI terminal, you can for example run:

From there, you won’t show anything in the Arduino terminal, so you can either monitor the autonomous pin – as shown in the diagram below – with the host board or a multimeter…

… or instead you may consider soldering GND and serial TX pins on tinyLIDAR board, and access the read-only console use a USB to TTL debug board as shown below.

The terminal needs to be set to 115200 7N1 without flow control, and you’ll should an output similar to the one below when you run the A command above:

Just to be extra clear, at this stage I have two serial terminal in my computer:

  • /dev/ttyACM0 connected to Arduino where I can input commands
  • /dev/ttyUSB0 connected directly to tinyLIDAR where I can see debug output (read-only)

If you want to integrate it into your own program, you’ll have to send commands as shown by the Arduino sketch to read distance:

The code above is for Arduino Uno, so if you use Arduino MEGA or Leonardo you’ll need to change the PORT to PORTD, and SCL and SDA to pin 0 and 1 respectively.

TinyLIDAR on Raspberry Pi 2/3

Arduino is cool, but if your project is better suited to Raspberry Pi board, you can also connect tinyLIDAR to the I2C port of Raspberry Pi 2/3, or any other Raspberry Pi boards. The instructions are explained in details on Instructables, also explaining some of the shortcomings of I2C on Raspberry Pi board (lack of clock stretching support, pull up resistors installed). The steps are very details, even suitable to people having never used a Raspberry Pi, so here I’ll go faster focusing on settings specific to tinyLIDAR use.

First you need to scratch the I2C PCB trace on tinyLIDAR with a cutter to disconnect the pull-up resistors since it’s already done on the Raspberry Pi board. Now we can connect tinyLIDAR to the I2C pins, as well as 3.3V and GND.

I used the same Raspbian Stretch Lite image with SSH enabled (/boot/ssh file present) as I did for ANAVI Light pHAT. Now we need to install pigpio in Raspberry Pi as follows:

You’ll also need o run raspi-config to enable I2C.

The next step is optional, but I still recommend it as at the beginning I had trouble finding tinyLIDAR. That’s the step to detect tinyLIDAR I2C address:

We can see 0x10 I2C address is detected, and that’s our tinyLIDAR board. If you don’t have any addresses detected, re-check your connections.

Now that we have confident the hardware is OK, we can install “RPI TinyLIDAR Terminal GUI”:

and launch it with:


From there, it’s the same as in the Arduino terminal GUI, for example read and query commands:

Again the RPi terminal GUI is just for evaluation, but you can study the Python in order to integrate support for tinyLIDAR into your own Python application.

That’s all for this getting started guide.

The crowdfunding campaign is now over, but you can buy TinyLIDAR board directly on MicroElectronic Design website for $24.95.  You’ll also find the bracket board for $4.95 and a pack of 100 mounting screws on that page. Further details may also be found on the product page.

Ikascope WS200 Oscilloscope and ScanaQuad SQ50 Logic Analyzer & Pattern Generator Review – Part 1: Unboxing

January 16th, 2018 1 comment

IkaScope WS200 WiFi oscilloscope fits in your hand like a pen, and works with devices running desktop or mobile operating systems, namely Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. I covered the tool last September, and IkaLogic – the French startup behind the project –  has now sent me a sample for review, as well as their ScanaQuad SQ50 4-channel logic analyzer and pattern generator.

Since I had never checked out the latter, I’ve decided to start the review with an unboxing post, before reporting my experience actually using the tools next month.

IkaScope WS200 Wireless Oscilloscope Probe

The oscilloscope comes with a ground clip, a micro USB to USB cable for charging, and a getting started guide with a QR code to download IkaScope program or app.

Click to Enlarge

Once you open it, it really looks like an over-sized Stabilo highlighter. The only needed hardware connection needs is the ground clip, and micro USB port to charge the battery. The other side of the getting started guide lists some specifications, and…

Click to Enlarge

… describes the behavior of LEDs found on either side of the micro USB port. There’s no obvious power button, since the tip of the probe is used for this purpose. Pressing the tip for one second will automatically turn it on, and the device will turn off after a while if there’s no measurements, This helps getting long battery life.

But more on that in the second part of the review.

ScanaQuad SQ50 Logic Analyzer & Pattern Generator

The second package includes a tiny box – SQ50 – that can serve as a 4-channel logic analyzer or/and a pattern generator, a mini USB cable for power, and a cable with 5 probes including one for the ground.

Click to Enlarge

The left side of the box comes with a mini USB port for power and communication with the host computer, and we can also see the power LED on the top of the case.

We have a 5-pin header to connect the probe on the other side.

It may also be interesting to check out ScanaQuad SQ50 specifications:

  • Number of Input/output channels – 4
  • Max. Sampling rate – 50 MHz
  • Memory per channel – 1M
  • Digital pattern generator – Mixed mode (Capture + Generate)
  • Input protection – ± 12V
  • Trigger options – Edge, Level, Pulse, arbitrary pattern , serial protocol
  • Adjustable in/out voltage – Yes
  • Adjustable input resistance – No
  • Open drain output with optional pull up – No
  • Differential input pairs – None

The “50” is in the product name is clearly referencing the maximum sampling rate, and the company also have other models from 25 MHz to 200 MHz with either less features, or more with differential input pairs, open drain output, adjustable input resistant, and protection up to +/- 35V. The devices can be controlled with ScanaStudio program for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X. No mobile version. Protocol decoders are written in JavaScript, and can be found on Github.

ScanaQuad SQ50 is very easy to open with four screws on the bottom of the enclosure, so I went ahead to checkout the ICs used in the design.

Click to Enlarge

We have four of them:

  • Xilinx Spartan XC3S50AN FPGA with 50K system gates, 1,584 equivalent logic cells, 11K distributed RAM bits, 54K block RAM bits
  • Cypress CY7C1041DV33-10ZSXI 4-Mbit (256K × 16) Static RAM
  • TI OPA4354 250MHz, Rail-to-Rail I/O, CMOS Quad Operational Amplifier
  • FTDI FT240XQ Full Speed USB to 8- bit FIFO

Maybe this information would be useful to people wanting to try out Sigrok, or other alternative software.

IkaScope WS200 oscilloscope sells for 299 Euros exc. VAT, while ScanaQuad SQ50 goes for 89 Euros exc. VAT, and the company also offer other models up to SQ200 for 149 Euros. As a side note, the company is also doing a survey for users’ of logic analyzers and/or oscilloscopes, so if you have 10 to 15 minutes to spare you may consider participating.

Continue reading Getting Started with IkaScope WiFi Pen-Oscilloscope, and ScanaQuad SQ50 USB Logic Analyzer & Signal Generator

ALio Proto Board Supports Through Hole, DIP, and SMD Components (Crowdfunding)

December 27th, 2017 No comments

Perfboards and  stripboards are very useful to design your own simple electronic boards without having to design your own board from scratch. However, you have to select through hole or DIP components, as – while possible with some efforts – such boards are not designed for SMD components.

AERD, an open source electronic development startup based in Indonesia, has designed ALio prototyping boards supporting both through hole and SMD components, as well as some common connectors/accessories such as micro SD card, USB connector, and so on.

ALIo Proto Board – Arduino Version

Three versions of the board (basic, embedded, Arduino) are available with the following specifications & features:

  • Fits SMD and PTH components at the same time.
  • Double layer bus (top and bottom)
  • Other components/headers
    • All versions – 1.1 mm pitch pad for micro SD/SD card breakout
    • Embedded & Arduino only – mini & micro USB pads, 1x SPI breakout
    • Arduino only – Arduino header, one extra SPI breakout (2 in total)
  • Dimensions –  88.2 mm x 65.3 mm x 1 mm
  • PCB – FR4 0.8 mm
  • Finishing – HASL-lead
  • Finished copper – 1 Oz Cu with black masking and white silkscreen.

ALio’s  double layer bus allows you to minimize jumper wire usage, but I feel it might be a little confusing to use, and could lead to mistakes. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it. An example with an early prototype of the board mixing some SMD and through hole components is shown below.

ALio is actually not the first board to support both SMD and FTH components, as Elecfreak Flower board also does, but has a different design with one side of SMD and SOIC components, and another for PTH components, but according to the comparison below does not support double layer bus, and does not feature micro/mini USB footprints that are convenient for powering the board, nor the micro SD card pads.

You can get ALio boards via Crowdsupply, with all rewards at $14 for both ALio boards (either basic, embedded or Arduino edition). Shipping is free to the US, $7 to the rest of the world, and delivery is scheduled for February 2018.

Categories: Hardware, Video Tags: crowdsupply, diy, electronics

Build your own Digital Scale with this DIY Kit

December 11th, 2017 6 comments

Electronics DIY kits are easy to find from either Arduino kits, or robotics kits, to oscilloscope kits among others. But I can’t remember ever seeing digital scale kits, maybe because I did not look for it, but that’s exactly what I found on ICstation for $27.99 with a scale that can measure weights up to 10 kilograms with a reported one gram accuracy. The DIY scale can also be pruchased on eBay for $29.99.

Main items in the (Trans–CRS–162DZC) kit and features:

  • MCU – STC MCU Limited STC89C52 8-bit (80C51 compatible) MCU in 40-pin DIP package
  • RTC – DS1302 8-pin DIP chip + CR1220 socket and battery
  • EEPROM – AT24C02 serial EEPROM (DIP chip)
  • Display – LCD1602 16×2 digit display
  • Keypad – 4×4 matrix keypad
  • Sensors – DS18B20 one-wire temperature sensor, “C3 high precision” 10kg strain pressure sensor
  • Boards – HX711 load cell amplifier module, printed circuit board for the MCU, RTC, EEPROM, etc…
  • Misc – Buzzer, transistors, various passive components
  • Enclosure and accessories
  • Power Supply – 5V DC
  • Dimensions – 15.2cm x  14.1cm x 6.5cm (assembled)
  • Weight – 500 grams

Follow the assembly guide to build the scale yourself, and you should be good to good to use your own scale/clock/alarm/thermometer toy.The scale could also be the starting point to make your own design either programming the STC89C52 micro-controller with your own program (AFAIK source code is not available so you’d have to start from scratch), or possibly “IoTize” the scale by replacing the MCU by a Bluetooth or WiFi (ESP8266) module.

Categories: Hardware Tags: diy, electronics, sensor

MeanWell Mini Switching Power Supplies May Be Useful for Development Boards

December 11th, 2017 16 comments

While some people or organizations with lots of boards may use high-end USB hubs to power and control them, most people likely use wall adapters to power their development boards like Raspberry Pi 3, ASUS Tinkerboard, Orange Pi PC, and so on.

At least that’s what I do, except in some cases when I suspect power issues, and I go with a more powerful SMPS (switch mode power supply). I don’t use it often because it’s a large brick and expose 220V. But the other day, as I attended Chiang Mai Maker Party, I found one maker uses some tiny (and cute) power supply from a company called Mean Well to power his Raspberry Pi boards.

The model used above with RS-15-5 with takes 100-240VAC 0.35A input, and output 5VDC up to 3A. The power supply include AC Neutral, AC Live, Ground, DC V+ and DC V-  pins where you can insert the wires/cables and fastened them with a screw. You’ll find the complete specifications here. Unless you can put the power supply into an enclosure, this type of power supply may not be recommended if you have young kids running around, in case they fiddle with the mains connections.

The company meant well… when they designed the nomenclature of their power supplies, as the first number stands for the wattage, and the second for voltage. So for example, if you want a 25W power supply with 5V output, you ‘ll find RS-25-5 model. In the datasheet linked above, they have 15W power supplies from 3.3V to 48V.

RS-15-5 power supply pictured above can be purchased for $8 on Amazon US, and plenty of sellers offer it on Aliexpress or eBay. More models can be found on their website.

Sigrok Compatible ZeroPlus Logic Cube LAP-C USB Logic Analyzers Support up to 32 Channels, 75 MHz Bandwidth

December 4th, 2017 1 comment

Back in 2015, I discovered USB123 USBee AX PRO, an ultra cheap logic analyzer (now $5 shipped) with 8 channels, and up to 24 MHz. I purchased one at the time, and successfully tested it with Sigrok & Pulseview open source tools that now work in Linux, Windows, Mac OS, FreeBSD, Android, and several other operating systems.

As I read through my list of RSS feeds today, I noticed Peter Scargill had tested ZeroPlus Logic Cube Lap-C 322000 logic analyzer also connected to your PC via USB, but with better specifications including 32-channels, and 75 MHz. Peter used the company’s Windows software (ZEROPLUS Logic Analyzer LAP-C_Standard_V3.14.03), but a quick search confirmed ZeroPlus Logic Cube Lap-C family is supported by Sigrok.

Click to Enlarge

LAP-C 322000 is the top model from the family with the following hardware specifications:

  • Sample Rate – Internal clock (timing mode): 100Hz~200MHz; external clock (state mode): 100MHz
  • Bandwidth – 75MHz
  • Working Range – -6V~+6V
  • Accuracy – ±0.1V
  • Memory – 64Mbit, i.e. 2Mbit per channel with up to 512Mbits with compression enabled
  • Trigger – Condition: Pattern/Edge; 32 channels; trigger count: 1~65535
  • Phase Errors: < 1.5ns
  • Maximum Input Voltage: ±30V
  • Impedance:500KΩ/10pF
  • Power Supply – 5V/500mA via USB port
  • Safety Certification – FCC / CE / WEEE / RoHS / REACH

Click to Enlarge

The hardware is based on ZEROPLUS ZP-322MB-5 which is believed to be a custom ASIC from the company, Genesys Logic GL660USB (USB2.0 to IEEE-1284 / DMA bridge), Cypress SRAM, and various other chips as explained in the sigrok page.

The company’s software supports Windows 2000 to Windows 10 with plenty of features (Waveform display, filter, filter delay, trigger delay, protocol analysis, etc..), and you can read a detailed review of the device used with the Windows software if you are interested. If you prefer open source software, or run another operating system Sigrok should be a worthwhile alternative.

ZeroPlus Logic Cube LAP-C 322000 is not a low cost part as it goes for $1,599 on Amazon, but other models with the same 75MHz bandwidth, only 16-channels, a lower clock speed (up to 100 MHz), and less memory (512Kbits) such as Zeroplus LAP-C 16032 can be purchased for about $135 on Amazon or eBay. More details should be available on ZeroPlus website.