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Posts Tagged ‘wifi’
Orange Pi Development Boards

Espressif ESP32 LyraTD MS1 HDK is Designed for Smart Speakers, Wireless Audio and other Smart Home Appliances

January 16th, 2018 6 comments

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.

Quokka IoT FPGA Board is Programmable with C# Language (Crowdfunding)

January 12th, 2018 1 comment

Quokka IoT (preliminary) hardware specifications:

  • FPGA – Intel Altera Cyclone IV, 6K logic elements, EP4CE6E22C8
  • Clock – 50MHz
  • Connectivity – WiFi via WiPy module
  • Expansion
    • 40x GPIO (3 banks by 8 pins, with direction and voltage (3.3V or 5V) configuration, 16 raw IO pins 3.3V)
    • 2x Dual Channel 10 bit ADC (3.3V)
    • 2x Dual Channel 10 bit DAC (3.3V)
    • H-Bridge for DC motors with support for external power
  • Power Supply – 5-24V DC input

The specifications are preliminary, because the FPGA may be replaced by one with more logic cells (e.g. 20K) depending on the popularity of the project. Drivers are available for each hardware component on the board including ADC and DAC drivers, UART, JSON serializer\deserializer and much more.

As mentioned in the introduction, C# programming is possible with QDT, and it’s not limited to Quokka IoT board, so you should be able to use it with other FPGA boards, although a license may be required as we’ll see below.

You can watch a short demo of the board in action while attached to a robotic chassis.

The project has launched on Kickstarter with a $30.000 AUD funding goal (~$23,600 US). Rewards start at 150 AUD ($118 US) for Quokka IoT board only, but if you want to use the board with QDT, you’d need to add 50 AUD extra for a total of 200 AUD (~$158 US). Shipping adds 25 AUD ($19.7 US), and delivery is scheduled for May 2018.

Thanks to TLS for the tip

$1 RDA5981 WiFi IoT Arm Cortex-M4 SoC is Designed for Smart Home Devices, Smart Speakers

January 11th, 2018 9 comments

RDA Microelectronics processors are found in a few cheap smart and not-so-smart phones, as well as the even cheaper Orange Pi i96 board. But the company does not only design cellular chips, but their portfolio also includes solutions for the Internet of Things and TV & radio tuners.

RDA5981 is a WiFi IoT chip specifically designed for smart home & audio application, such as smart speakers, and it’s found in devices running Baidu DuerOS, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. The company explains it can be widely used in televisions, set-top boxes, smart appliances, wireless monitors, and other products.

RDA5981A Block Diagram

RDA5981 A/B/C processor specifications:

  • CPU – Arm Cortex-M4 @ up to 160 MHz with integrated MPU and mbed uvisor
  • System Memory  – Up to 448 KB SRAM for network stack and application, external PSRAM interface
  • Storage – Up to 32Mbit SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi
      • 2.4 Ghz 802.11b/g/n WiFi up to 150 Mbps with 20/40 MHz bandwidth
      • WPA, WPA2, WEP, TKIP,CCMP security
      • STA, softAP, P2P, STA+softAp, STA+P2P modes
      • A-MPDU, A-MSDU, HT-BA
    • TCP/IP stack with SSL (TLS?)
  • Host Interfaces – SPI / UART (AT command set) / USB2.0
  • Peripherals – GPIO, 2x UART, 2x I2S, 1x I2C, 8x PWM, 4x SPI, 1x SDMMC, 1x USB2, 2x ADC
  • Security – Hardware crypto accelerator AES/RSA, true random number generator (TRNG), and CRC accelerator
  • Misc – Watchdog, 16×16 bits eFuse configuration
  • Package – 5×5mm2 QFN package, 0.4mm pitch QFN-40

The company provides support for FreeRTOS and mbedOS5.1 for the chip. You could get a very basic datasheet from the company’s product page, but if you don’t want to leave your contact details, there’s even more information on Electrodragon Wiki.

The features looks interesting and could become a competitor to Realtek RTL8710AF or even Espressif ESP8266, especially Electrodragon sells their RDA5981X1 WiFi module based on RDA5981A for just $1.92 plus shipping.

Specifications for the module:

  • SoC – RDA5981A with 8Mbit internal flash, 288+160 KB RAM
  • 24 castellated pin exposing
    • Up to 16 free GPIOs
    • 2x UART up to 4Mbit, 3x ADC, 1x USB, 1x I2C, I2S in, I2S out, 1x SPI, up to 4x PWM, etc… (Pins are multiplex with up to 6 different function per pin)
    • VCC (3.0 to 3.5V), GND
    • Reset
  • Dimensions – 17.60 x 15.50 mm

The module also comes with a red breakout board (with 2.54mm pitch) included in the price. The company says RDA5981A IC itself sells for around $1 with price obviously depending on quantity.They also mention the SoC still have bugs without expanding. The board can be programming with AT commands or using mBed as explained in the Wiki linked above.

RDA5981A “Arduino” Development Board

There’s also an RDA5981 board with Arduino header, which I could only find on Taobao for under $50. Somebody also setup a new Github account with more information, and beside the RDA5981A/B/C models listed in the datasheet,  there seems to be an RDA5981AM chip as well. All RDA5981 variants are shown to be suitable for smart home, but RDA5981C can also be used for smart speakers and WiFi toys, maybe because it comes with 32 Mbit SPI flash? We’ll have to see how things evolve, and whether the solution will gain traction.

Via Olimex

Obniz ESP32 Board is Programmable in JavaScript from the Cloud (Crowdfunding)

December 21st, 2017 No comments

ESP32 WiFi / Bluetooth boards are now commonly supported by the Arduino IDE, and alternative firmwares are also available to program them using JavaScript (e.g. Espruino), or MicroPython. But if are familiar with JavaScript / Node.js, and don’t want to flash your own firmware, Obniz board could be an option.

The board exposes 12 I/Os programmable from the company’s Cloud service, and features a OLED display used to show your program information, or a QR code to easily program the board from your smartphone’s browse once a WiFi connection has been setup.

Obniz hardware specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP-WROOM-ESP32 based on  ESP32 dual core 802.11 b/n/g WiFi + Bluetooth LE WiSoC
  • Display – 128×64 OLED display
  • I/Os
    • 12x I/O pins each configurable as GPIO, ADC, UART, SPI or I2C (no specialized pin, each can handle those functions)
    • Up to 1A drive per I/O to control motors
    • 3.3 or 5V selectable for each I/O
    • Short protection
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port

You’d program the board directly inside your web browser using JavsScript in Obniz cloud, and the company also provide a parts library in JavaScript. A REST or Websocket APIs are also provided, so you could control or program the board with curl, Switch or Node.js.

Tokyo based CambrianRobotics has launched the solution on Kickstarter with the goal of raising 1.5 million JPY (~$13,200 US). A super early bird pledge of ~$26 should get your Obniz board in March 2018. If you’ve miss all early bird rewards, the required pledge amount rises to about $42. Other rewards include a robot kit, basic & ultra kits. Shipping adds about $4.40 to Japan, and up to $17.60 to the rest of the world.

Marvell 802.11ax WiFi Chips are Designed for Enterprise Gateways, Mainstream Routers, and Set-Top Boxes

December 12th, 2017 No comments

High-Efficiency Wireless (HEW), better known as 802.11ax, is a new WiFi standard that is supposed to deliver up to 10 Gbps bandwidth over 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequencies, and improve the average throughput per user by a factor of at least 4 times in dense environments. Several draft of the specifications have been voted on, but the latest 802.11ax timeline seems to indicate the final 802.11ax specifications will only be approved sometimes in 2019.

This has not prevented companies to announce or unveil 802.11ax SoC or solutions based on the draft specifications, as we’ve seen in the past with NXP Layerscape LA1575 programmable WiSoC, Qualcomm gateway reference design, and Broadcom Max WiFi chips. Marvell has now joined the fray with their 802.11ax wireless portfolio.

All Marvell 802.1ax WiSoCs support all using uplink & download OFDMA / MU-MIMO, 1024 QAM, off-channel spectrum scanning, dedicated in-service monitoring, and precision location. Three SKUs have been launched for different markets / products

  • Marvell 88W9068 8×8, 8-spatial stream device with 5-GHz support (up to 4.8 Gbps) for premium enterprise and retail access points, carrier gateways and fixed wireless services.
  • Marvell 88W9064 4×4, 4-spatial stream device with 5/2.4-GHz support (up to 2.4 Gbps) and integrated Bluetooth 5 for mainstream enterprise and retail access points, carrier gateways and fixed wireless services.
  • Marvell 88W9064S 2×4, 2-spatial stream device with 5/2.4-GHz support and integrated Bluetooth 5 for the service provider and OTT set-top box markets.

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The chips also have PCIe 3.0 interfaces and Marvell MoChi Interconnect, beside lower speed interfaces like 2-wire setial, SPI, GPIO, and UART. 88W9068 block diagram is similar minus the Bluetooth parts, and support for 8×8 5.0 GHz only WiFi.

Marvell 802.11ax solutions will be demonstrated at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, US next year. More details can be found on Marvell’s 802.11ax WiFi solutions page. The company also uploaded the video below explaining the advantage of 802.11ax for multi-user access.

Thanks to TLS for the tip.

ESP32-PICO-KIT v4 Board Based on ESP32-PICO-D4 SiP Now Available for $10

December 7th, 2017 2 comments

A little while ago, I received a bunch of ESP32 PICO Core development boards which were based on Espressif Systems ESP32-PICO-D4 system-in-package with ESP32, 4MB SPI Flash, and other components. The advantage of such chip is that is requires less external component, and allows for smaller designs. For example, the boards I received would leave two row of pin on each side of the board, while most other ESP32 boards will only expose one row on each side.

I used the board to play with Micropython ESP32 port, and later-on when I launched a giveaway of 8 of the boards, I found out the name had changed to ESP32-PICO Kit, with the documentation listing v3 with all pins connected to male headers, and v4 with 6-pin not connected to a male header as shown in the photo below. Both versions of the board also have a different pin layout. But you don’t need to care since AFAIK v3 was never up for sale.

ESP32-PICO-KIT v4 however has now just launched, and Electrodragon offers it for $10 plus shipping.

Board specifications:

  • SiP – ESP32-PICO-D4 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth LE system-in-package
  • 3D antenna
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and programming;  CP2102 USB-TTL Serial Bridge
  • Expansion – 2x 20-pin headers with I/O and power signals. 2x 17-pin male headers soldered
  • Misc – EN and Boot buttons, on board power indicator LED.
  • Power regulator – AMS1117 3.3V regulator
  • Auto reset circuit
  • Dimensions – 51 x 20 mm

This board can be used like any other ESP32 board with ESP32 IDF SDK, Arduino Core, Micropython, and so on, it’s just narrower than most.

Other ESP32-PICO-D4 based boards have been launched such ESP32-PICO motherboard sold for $16 on Tindie, or TTGO T7, recently discovered by Time4EE, that can be purchased for $8.50 plus shipping on Aliexpress. The latter is however quite wider than the official Espressif devkit (estimated dimensions: 50×30 mm), but does provide a battery connector

TTGO T7

Standard ESP32 boards can now be purchased for as low as $5, so boards based on the SiP are currently a little bit more expensive, but I’d expect the price difference to come down overtime.

This Tiny ESP8266 Board is Designed for DIY WiFi Switches

December 5th, 2017 3 comments

Various breadboard-friendly boards based on ESP8266 or other chips are available on the market, but some readers are not quite satisfied with the offerings, and need more available pins on the breadboard so they ended up hacking the board matching their needs by either bending header pins, or soldering modules to stripboards. As I browsed new arrivals on ICstation website, I found a tiny board with ESP8266 module that exposes I/Os via what looks like 2.54 mm pitch header that should fit right into a breadboard.

But after further checking only three I/Os are exposed, and the board is actually specifically designed for wireless switches, and comes with firmware that works with eWelink app used in Sonoff devices. So the module could be useful for people wanting to control devices without doing programming at all, and limited to no soldering. Just connect the module, and control it without smartphone.

Board specifications:

  • PSA-B ESP8266 module supporting 802.11 n/g/n WiFi
  • Ceramic antenna
  • 6-pin header with 5V, 2x GND, OUT pin, LED pin, and key input pin.
  • Misc – Status LED , matching button
  • Dimensions – 2.7 x 2.5 x 0.8 mm

The boards looks very convenient if you plan to use eWelink app, but the UART pins are not directly exposed. However, Tinkerman also found PSA-B module inside ITEAD Studio 1-Ch self-locking board, and located Tx, Rx, and GND pins on the top side of the board, managed to upgrade the firmware to ESPurna using a cable with 3 pogo pins. For reference, PSA-B module is sold for $3.00 on ITEAD Studio, so total price for the board above could be a little lower than the $6.23  currently offered on ICstation, but at least it may save you time.

Categories: Espressif, Hardware Tags: automation, esp8266, IoT, wifi

Amazon FreeRTOS Released for NXP, Texas Instruments, STMicro, and (soon) Microchip Microcontrollers

December 2nd, 2017 7 comments

FreeRTOS is an open source real-time operating system for microcontrollers released under an MIT license, and when it comes to adoption in embedded systems it’s right there near the top with embedded Linux according to Aspencore 2017 embedded markets study. For example, some Espressif SDKs for ESP8266 or ESP32 are based on FreeRTOS, and so is Mediatek LinkIt Development Platform for RTOS.

The recently announced Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS) leverages the open source operating systems, and extends it with with libraries that enable local and AWS cloud connectivity, security, and soon over-the-air updates. a:FreeRTOS is free of charge, open source, and available today.

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In order to get started, you’ll have a choice of 4 hardware platforms:

  • STMicro STM32L4 Discovery Kit IoT Node (B-L475E-IOT01A) powered by STM32L475 ARM Cortex-M4 MCU with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, RF (868 / 915 MHz), and NFC connectivity, plenty of sensors

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  • Texas Instruments SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3220SF LaunchPad development kit (CC3220SF-LAUNCHXL) with  CC3220SF single-chip WiFi microcontroller (MCU) with 1MB Flash, 256KB of RAM.

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  • Microchip Curiosity PIC32MZ EF Development Board (Amazon FreeRTOS support coming soon) powered by PIC32MZ EF MCU (415 DMIPS) with 2 MB Flash, 512 KB RAM, integrated FPU, crypto accelerator, and connectivity via an on-board 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi module, and two MikroBUS connector for add-on boards.

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If you don’t own any of those boards, or don’t plan to purchase one, but still would like to play with a:FreeRTOS you could run the Windows Simulator instead.

Once we’ve selected our hardware platform (or simulator), we can access Amazon FreeRTOS console to configure and download the FreeRTOS kernel and software libraries for our application.  Development of the application is done though the tools provided for the board for example TI Code Composer Studio, STM32 System Workbench, IAR Embedded Workbench, or Visual Studio Community Edition.

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Amazon FreeRTOS is free as in speech and free as in beer, with the source code and links to documentation available in Github. Amazon will make money when you utilize AWS services such as AWS IoT Core, data transfer, or AWS Greengrass. The price list of AWS services that may be charged (if enabled) while using Amazon FreeRTOS can be found here.