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Posts Tagged ‘mbed’

WizziKit is a DASH7, LoRa and Sigfox Wireless Sensor & Actuator Network Kit

September 13th, 2017 2 comments

Over the last few years, I’ve written several article about LoRaWAN, Cellular IoT, and Sigfox based long range low power IoT solutions. DASH7 is another LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) standard that operates on the same 868 and 915 MHz ISM bands as LoRa and Sigfox, but has much lower power consumption, and the cost of a shorter range up to 500 meters, instead of the 5+km associated with LoRa or SigFox.

The DASH7 Alliance Protocol (D7A) is an Open Standard, and if you want more details you can download version 1.1 of the specifications on DASH7 Alliance website. I’m writing about DASH7 today thanks to an article on ST blog about Wizzilab’s Wizzikit, an evaluation kit and framework for DASH7 with a gateway, and several nodes that can also optionally support LoRaWAN and Sigfox protocols.

Click to Enlarge

The kit is comprised of the following items:

  • WizziGate GW2120 Ethernet/Wifi/Dash7 gateway – based on GL-iNet AR150 router –  with antenna for the selected band (868/915 MHz) and USB power cable.
  • 2x Nucleo-L432KC STM32 development board compatible with Arduino. mbed, and ST morpho
  • 2x D7A SH2050 Nucleo Shield with a multimode Murata Lora Module supporting LoRa, DASH7, and Sigfox, as well as four sensor chips: light sensor,  magnetometer & accelerometer, humidity and temperature sensor, and a pressure sensor.
  • 2x mini USB cable to power up and program the Nucleo boards

DA7 SH2050 Shield

You’ll also need to add you own USB power adapter for the gateway. The kit also comes with access to the company’s DASH7Board cloud service. The Wiki includes some information, including a quick start guide explaining how to register the gateway, and start loading the demo code using mbed. Since DASH7 is much more power efficient than LoRaWAN it can either be used to prolong battery life, or to send more frequent messages for example to control actuators. With LoRaWAN, downlink access can only be initiated by the end node, but DASH7 is bi-directional allowing for OTA firmware upgrades. The solution was showcased a few months ago at ST Techday with two demos: sending a message to a single node, and OTA code upgrade (actually picture upload) to multiple boards with a broadcast message.

Wizzilab’s Wizzikit is sold for 299.00 Euros with either 868 and 915 MHz band. Further details on be found on Wizzilab website.

RadioShuttle Network Protocol is an Efficient, Fast & Secure Alternative to LoRaWAN Protocol

September 6th, 2017 5 comments

LoRaWAN protocol is one of the most popular LPWAN standards used for the Internet of Things today, but some people found it “lacked efficiency, did not support direct node-to-node communication, and was too costly and far too complicated for many applications”, so they developed their own LoRa wireless protocol software called RadioShuttle, which they claim is “capable of efficiently sending messages in a fast and secure way between simple LoRa modules”.

Some of the key features of the protocol include:

  • Support for secure or insecure (less time/energy) message transmission, multiple messages transmission in parallel
  • Unique 32-bit device ID (device number) per LoRa member, unique 16-bit app ID (program number for the communication)
  • Security – Login with SHA-256 encrypt password; AES-128 message encryption
  • Air Traffic Control – Nodes only send if no LoRa signal is active on that channel.
  • Optimized protocol –  Message delivery within 110 ms (SF7, 125 kHz, free channel provided); default LoRa bandwidth 125 kHz (125/250/500 kHz adjustable), as narrow bandwidths allow for a longer range; Automatic transmitting power adjustment
  • Operating modes
    • Station, constant power supply recommended –  12 mA in receiving mode, transmitting mode (20 to 100 mA)
    • Node Online (permanently receiving), constant power supply recommended – 12 mA in receiving mode, transmitting mode (20 to 100 mA)
    • Wireless sensor (Node Offline checking) – Node reports back regularly. 1 µA in standby mode, battery operation for years.
    • Wireless sensor (Node Offline) – Node only active if events are reported. 1 µA in standby mode, battery operation for years.

The Radioshuttle library has a low memory and storage footprint with current requirements of

  • 100 kB Flash for RadioShuttle library with SHA256 & AES
  • 10 kB RAM for Node Offline/Checking/Online mode
  • 10 kB RAM for Station Basic mode (RAM depends on the number of nodes)
  • 1 MB RAM for Station Server mode (Raspberry Pi, 10,000 LoRa nodes)

The solution supports various Arduino boards, some ARM Mbed boards (e,g, STM32L0, STM32L4), and Linux capable boards like Raspberry Pi or Orange Pi (planned). Semtech SX1276MB1MAS and SX1276MB1LAS (SX1276-based), MURATA CMWX1ZZABZ-078/091 (found in STM32 Discovery kit for LoRaWAN), and HopeRF RFM95 transceivers are supported.

LonRa Board – Click to Enlarge

The developers have also designed their own LongRa board, compatible with Arduino Zero, based on Semtech SX1276 LoRa radio chip with a 168 dB link budget and support for 868 MHz & 915 MHz frequency. The board can be powered by its micro USB port, or by two AA batteries if you’re going to use the board as a wireless sensor node.

RadioShuttle protocol is not open source for now, and while it support multiple devices as stated previsouly, if you are not using LongRa board, a 25 Euros license is required per device.

 

NXP i.MX RT Series Crossover Embedded Processor is Based on an ARM Cortex-M7 Core @ 600 MHz

August 17th, 2017 2 comments

Microcontrollers (MCUs) provide real-time processing, low power, low cost, and plenty of I/Os, but with security and user interface requirements of recent embedded devices, the processing power may be a limitation, and embedded systems designers may have to use an application processor instead gaining performance, but losing some of the benefits of MCUs. The bridge the gap between performance and usability, NXP has launched i.MX RT series of Crossover Embedded Processor which uses the powerful ARM Cortex-M7 MCU core clocked at up to 600 MHz, a frequency partially made possible by eliminating on-chip flash memory.

Block Diagram

The first member of the family is NXP i.MX RT1050 with the following key features and specifications:

  • MCU Core – ARM Cortex-M7 @ up to 600 MHz; 3015 CoreMark / 1284 DMIPS
  • Memory – Up to 512KB SRAM/TCM (Tighly Coupled Memory) with response time as low as 20 ns
  • Storage – 96KB RAM; interfaces: NAND, eMMC, QuadSPI NOR flash, Parallel NOR flash
  • GPU – 2D graphics acceleration engine with resize, SCS, overlay, rotation functions
  • Display I/F – 24-bit LCD display controller supporting up to 800×480 resolution
  • Camera I/F – 8-/16-bit parallel camera sensor interface
  • Audio I/F – 3x I2S, S/PDIF Tx/Rx
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet with IEEE 1588 support, interfaces for WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Thread
  • Other Peripherals
    • 2x USB 2.0 OTG with PHY
    • 8x UART, 4x I2C, 4x SPI
    • GPIOs
    • 2x CAN bus
    • 8×8 keypad
    • Dual 20-ch ADC, 4x ACMP
  • System Control – eDMA, 4x Watchdog timers, 6x GP timers, 4x Quadrature ENC, 4x QuadTimer, 4x FlexPWM, IOMUX
  • Security – Cipher & RNG, secure RTC, eFuse, HAB
  • Power
    • Integrated DC-DC converter
    • Low power mode at 24 MHz
  • Package – 10×10 BGA package with 0.65mm pitch

The company claims i.MX RT processor provide twice the performance &  power efficiency, half the cost, and allows for faster development time. NXP also explains the BoM cost is reduced due to the high integration of the solution, and the embedded processor can be used in 4-layer PCB designs.

Click to Enlarge

Software development for the i.MX RT crossover processor can be done with MCU tools like MCUXpression, IAR and Keil, and it also supports FreeRTOS, and ARM mbed.  There’s an evaluation kit, but no details were provided.

Target applications include audio Subsystem such as professional microphones & guitar pedals, consumer products like smart appliances, cameras, LCDs, home and building automation,  IoT gateways, industrial computing designs such as PLCs, factory automation, test and measurement, HMI control, and motor control and power conversion, for example for 3D printers, thermal printers, UAV, robotic vacuum cleaners, etc…

NXP i.MX RT1050 processor is sampling now, with broad availability expected for October 2017, and pricing starting at less than $3.00 per unit for 10k orders. More information can be found on the product page.

Thanks to Lucas for the tip.

Categories: FreeRTOS, Hardware, NXP i.MX Tags: cortex-m7, mbed, mcu, nxp

Aspencore 2017 Embedded Markets Study – Programming Languages, Operating Systems, MCU Vendors, and More

August 15th, 2017 2 comments

Aspencore media group asked readers of their EE Times and Embedded.com websites to fill out an online survey about their embedded system projects. They got 1,234 respondents mostly from North America (56.3%), followed by Europe (25.2%), and Asia (10.6%). This resulted in a 102-page market study which you can download here. I’ve extracted a few slides to have a look at some of the trends.

My current embedded project is programmed mostly in:

C language is still the most used language in embedded systems, but other languages like C++, Python and even assembly language are gaining traction.

Please select ALL of the operating systems you are currently using.

Operating system is more spread with Linux being the most used via Embedded Linux distributions, Debian, and Ubuntu. FreeRTOS comes in second place, while Android registers fourth with 13%.

Which of the following Version Control software systems do you currently use?

Git has finally supplanted Subversion in 2017, with all other version control software losing ground.

Did you start your current embedded design with a development board?

Switching to some hardware slides, 44% used a development board to start their embedded design with ST Microelectronics, Texas Instruments and Xilinx at the top three.

Which form factor boards are you currently using, and considering using ?

Most used custom or proprietary form factors in their designs, and I’m actually surprised at the rather large number of designs using low cost boards form factors such as the ones used in Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or BeagleBone boards. The “considering using” for Raspberry Pi is particularly high. The question does not clearly states whether it’s for evaluation / prototyping only, or in the end product however.

Please select the processor vendors you are currently using.

The chart is a little confusion due to the recent M&A activity, but Texas Instruments, Freescale (now NXP) and Atmel (Now Microchip) take the top three spots. You cannot add Freescale (26%) and NXP (17%), or Atmel (26%) and Microchip (25%), since some respondents may have already selected both. Renesas is only at 9%, but it was only second to NXP (Freescale + NXP) in MCU market share in 2016, so maybe the apparent discrepancy is due to the sampling in the survey with the majority of respondents from the US & Canada, which may also explain why Greater China companies like Holtek, or CEC Huada Electronic Design do not register at all.

You’ll find many more interesting slides in the full study.

GR-LYCHEE Development Board to Combine Renesas RZ/A1LU Processor, ESP32 Module, and a VGA Camera

June 23rd, 2017 9 comments

Japanese semiconductor vendors have mostly stayed away from the maker market, at least outside Japan, as most people would be hard-pressed to come up with a hobbyist development board powered by processor or micro-controller from Toshiba, Sony, Renesas or other Japanese companies, despite the three aforementioned names being in the top 20 semiconductors companies. I can only remember having written about Fujitsu F-Cue 96Boards, as well as Renesas GR-PEACH mbed board since I started this blog 7 years ago. Renesas seems to be the only company to have a real community behind with their “Gadget Renesas” pink-colored development boards, and the latest and seventh board is GR-LYCHEE powered by Renesas RZ/A1LU ARM Cortex-A9  processor, and equipped with a WiFi & Bluetooth module, and a camera.

GR-LYCHEE Prototype – Click to Enlarge

Renesas GR-LYCHEE board preliminary specifications:

  • Micro-processor – Renesas RZ / A1LU (R7S721030VCFP 176-pin QFP) ARM Cortex-A9 Processor  @ 384 MHz with 3MB on-chip SRAM
  • Storage – 8 MB flash+ micro SD card
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE via ESP32 wireless module
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack (heaphone + mic)
  • USB – 1x USB host port
  • Camera – 1x camera interface for VGA (640×480) camera
  • Expansion – Arduino UNO headers
  • Debugging & Programming – 1x micro USB port, JTAG interface
  • Misc – 32.768 Hz RTC clock, 2x user buttons, reset button, 4x user LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V via 1x micro USB port; operating voltage: 3.3 V / 1.18 V

The board is mbed compatible so at launch you’ll be able to use the mbed compiler with the board. The board is still in beta version, documentation is still being worked on, and launch is scheduled for the end of November 2017. While most Gadget Renesas’ users are likely in Japan, Renesas also organized events in India, ASEAN, and Oceania with GR-PEACH board earlier this year as you’ll find out by visiting the community’s English page.

Documentation and more details about GR-LYCHEE board should eventually surface in the product page (in Japanese only for now).

STMicro Unveils STM32L4 Discovery Kit for IoT with WiFi, BLE, NFC, Sub-GHz RF, and Plenty of Sensors

May 29th, 2017 3 comments

STMicro has recently introduced B-L475E-IOT01A Discovery kit powered by STM32L4 Cortex-M4 and targeting IoT nodes with a choice of connectivity options including WiFi, Bluetooth LE, NFC, and sub-GHZ RF at 868 or 915 MHz, as well as a long list of various environmental sensors.

Click to Enlarge

B-L475E-IOT01A Discovery kit key features and specifications:

  • MCU – STM32L4 Series MCU based on ARM Cortex -M4 core with 1 MB Flash memory, 128 KB SRAM
  • Storage – 64 Mbit (8MB)  Quad-SPI Flash memory (Macronix)
  • Connectivity
    • Bluetooth 4.1 LE module (SPBTLE-RF)
    • Sub-GHz (868 or 915 MHz) low-power-programmable RF module (SPSGRF-868 or SPSGRF-915)
    • Wi-Fi module based on Inventek ISM43362-M3G-L44 (802.11 b/g/n compliant)
    • Dynamic NFC tag based on M24SR with its printed NFC antenna
  • Sensors
    • 2x digital omni-directional microphones (MP34DT01)
    • Capacitive digital sensor for relative humidity and temperature (HTS221)
    • 3-axis magnetometer (LIS3MDL)
    • 3D accelerometer and 3D gyroscope (LSM6DSL)
    • 260-1260 hPa absolute digital output barometer (LPS22HB)
    • Time-of-Flight and gesture-detection sensor (VL53L0X)
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port (Full speed)
  • Expansion – Arduino UNO V3 headers, PMOD header
  • Debugging – On-board ST-LINK/V2-1 debugger/programmer with USB re-enumeration capability: mass storage, virtual COM port and debug port
  • Misc – 2 push-buttons (user and reset)
  • Power Supply – 5V via ST LINK USB VBUS or external sources

The board supports ARM mbed online compiler, but can also be programmed using IDEs such as IAR, Keil, and GCC-based IDEs. STMicro also provides HAL libraries and code samples as part of the STM32Cube Package, as well as X-CUBE-AWS expansion software to connect to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT platform.

You’ll find documentation, hardware design files, software, and tools on  the product page, where you’ll also be able to purchase the board for $51.94 with either a 868 or 915 MHz RF module.

Aconno Bluetooth 4.0 & 5 IoT Development Board Features an nRF52832 or nRF52840 Module, an e-Paper Display, Sensors and More

March 31st, 2017 1 comment

Bluetooth 5 is the latest iteration of Bluetooth with up to four times the speed and twice the range of Bluetooth 4.0 LE, and so far apart from Puck.js and Nordic Semi nRF52840 devkit, I had not seen many Bluetooth 5 IoT modules or boards. Aconno, a German startup, has designed ACD-52832 Bluetooth 4.0 / Thread / ANT+ IoT development board based on their own nRF52832 module, and equipped with some goodies like a black & white e-Paper display, a joystick, sensors, I/Os, etc… They’ve also launched an updated module with Bluetooth 5 using nFR52840 SoC. I don’t have the full details about the new module, but the nRF52832 module and devkit is interesting to look at, especially features should be similar.

Aconno ACD-52832 board specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ACN52832 based on Nordic Semi nRF52832 ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz SoC with Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, Thread, NFC, and 2.4 GHz proprietary
  • Display – e-Paper display with 200×200 resolution, 184 dpi pixel density
  • Sensors
    • ST iNEMO 9-DoF inertial module with a accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer
    • Temperature sensor with -40°C to 125°C range and ± 4K accuracy
    • Light sensitive sensor
  • I/Os – Pin header with seven I/O ports; 2x potential free relay outputs; 2x PWM controlled servo outputs
  • Debugging – micro USB port for J-Link or drag and drop flashing
  • Misc – IR emitter; 5-way digital joystick; 2x LEDs; 2x tactile switches; potentiometer for ADC values; buzzer
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB port
    • 1,200 mAh Li-Ion battery
    • Texas Instruments USB Li-Ion battery charger with up to 0.5A charging devices.
  • Dimensions – 105 x 65 mm (module is ~ 20 x 25 mm)

The board can be programmed and debugging via Segger J-Link OB through the micro USB interface, and Nordic toolchain using Keil, IAR and GCC. It’s also supported by mbed online compiler allowing drag & drop programing. The board and module supports Nordic’s SoftDevices to enable the wireless protocols needed for your project. Potential applications include IoT sensor nodes and hubs, rapid prototyping, desktop peripherals, remote controls, sports & medical wearables, smarthome sensors, beacons, toys, and NFC <-> BT tags.

ACN52832 Module Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Charbax interviewed the 4-person company at Embedded World 2017, where they showcase the old and new modules, the development board, as well as some other products based on the module such as soil moisture sensor, an e-Paper picture frame, an interesting tiny SMT prototyping board with traces made with conductive ink pen, a DIN rail box with e-Paper and so on..

The nRF52832 module is sold for 12 Euros + VAT, while the development board goes for 99 Euros + VAT on Amazon Germany. It’s also possible to buy directly on their own shop, and they have a 20% discount for a few more days. For more information, including manuals for both the module and devkit, and some other hardware kits, visit Aconno products page. Pricing and info about nRF52840 do not seem to have be posted to their website yet.

STMicro Introduces STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board & I-NUCLEO-LWAN2 STM32 LoRa Expansion Board

February 21st, 2017 4 comments

STMicroelectronics and Mouser have launched two new products with LoRa connectivity: STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board with an STM32L072 ARM Cortex M0+ MCU and Semtech SX1276 transceiver, and I-NUCLEO-LRWAN1 STM32 LoRa expansion board for STM32 Nucleo boards with an STM32L052 MCU and Semtech SX1272 radio transceiver.

STM32 LoRaWAN Discovery Board

Click to Enlarge