Turn-key PCB assembly services in prototype quantities or low-volume to mid-volume production runs

Completely open source watch with tons of features

There are lots of DIY watch projects on the internet. Some of them are great, some of them lack to feel of finished product. If you looking something like this check out at F*watch project which open source and built by using free tools. It was developed at CERN as a gift for retiring colleague. It has everything you would expect on modern digital watch. It has been stuffed with bunch of sensors including GPS, Pressure sensor, accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor. Watch has 128×128 LCD display with back-light, micro USB connector, four push buttons buzzer, vibrating motor, and microSD memory card. It is powered by 500mAh Lithium-ion battery. To make it all possible, schematic was designed on four layer PCB with KiCad. Case was 3D printed out of resin. Plans were developed with open FreeCAD design tools. Clock is ticking around ARM Coretex-M3 microcontroller from SiLabs Giant Gecko featuring 128KB RAM and 1MB of Flash. Watch software runs a FreeRTOS operating system. Watch is fully functioning already, but seems that team are open for bug reports and feature request. Continue reading

USB key sized Java Script computer

Usually when you are building microcontroller project (say Arduino), you need to write code first, upload to microcontroller and then run it. And if you need to change something or run different program, you need to flash new program in to it. But these things can be done differently – by using script language like Java Script. Basically this works like this – an interpreter program continuously runs on microcontroller which accepts and runs scripts written by user during run time. This gives less hustle on developing things. You don’t need development tools like compiler or download cables. Scripting language is hig level language, where lots of things are hidden and you need to write less code. Also your programs are executed immediately once typed. Gordon Williams have started great kickstarter project where he is building an Espruino pico device which is USB memory stick size which runs JavaScript interpreter. All you need is to plug it to USB port and start playing with it. Java script is commnly used scripting language. Probably all websites have JavaSript on it, so… Continue reading

First steps with Freescale Freedom KL25Z board

Freescale is a great manufacturer which sometimes isn’t considered among common players like STM or NXP. They like many produce ARM controllers and so offer several development boards to play with. One of well known freescale boards are Freedom Bord KL25Z which has ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontroller clocked at 48MHz. It features 128KB of Flash and 16KB of RAM. Board comes with USB OTG. The dev board carries MMA8451Q accelerometer, capacitive touch slider, and RGB LED. All GPIO are available for further prototyping or expansion boards. Jan Henrik has covered this board on his instructable. He explains where to go next when starting with Freedom board. First of all he discusses software. Simply speaking all tools that are meant for ARM micros work with Freescale without problem. But fact is that Freedom board is MBED enabled, meaning that you can develop programs with popular online C/C++ editor, compiler and builder. Here you don’t have to wary about libraries and updates. So why not give a try. Then he goes through steps how to set up your first project in mbed.org and… Continue reading

STM32 programming options the easy way

Every time you start with new microcontroller, you have to deal with new ways of programming them. You may need to purchase and learn new tools and so on. But once you’ve done this process with any microcontroller, learning new is easy. So if you are in to STM32 microcontrollers Shawon have written pretty god guide on programming them. Since ARM Cortex micrcontrollers are flexible devices in terms of developing, debugging and flashing, you have several options of getting your code up and running. Like most manufacturers do, ST devices can be programmed and debugged with special ST-link adapter/debugger which works in JTAG or in SWD mode. Most development boards like discovery already have ST-link debugger integrated so the only thing is needed to run software and load your code. Other covered option is using built in bootloader which can be accessed through serial interface. ST have special software Flash Loader Demonstrator for programming in this mode. When programing with bootloader, special pins have to be pulled up or low in order to access it. This resource is great to… Continue reading

ARM Cortex-M0 development board with battery power in mind

There are tons of ARM development boards that are of various sizes shapes and power. But when things turn towards battery-operated gear, the list shrinks down. We expect battery operated and portable electronics part to be small size and include all battery management circuit along with charging and DC/DC conversion. Vsergeev introduces his version of a small ARM Cortex-M0 powered board. He wanted his board to be small, battery operated (USB), and below the price. The board size came out to be 70x43mm. It carries an NXP LPC1114FDH28 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller. Additionally, there is a 16-Mbit SPI FLASH memory. As mentioned before, the board can be powered by a USB (Mini-B) or LiPo battery. The battery can be charged with an onboard LiPo charger IC (MCP73831T). There are 4 LEDs on board, along with two pushbuttons and 2 DIP switches. For more IO capability, there is also an I2C 8 additional I/O pins expander. So there is a total of 16 I/Os on the header, SWD for flashing and debug, and 6 pin UART header that matches popular FTDI… Continue reading

Redesigning mobile phone with rotary dial

Rotary dials are long gone since everything went digital. Now every device is equipped with keys or touch sensitive input interfaces. But if you feel a little nostalgic about old times you may find this project really interesting. This is a custom made mobile phone with rotary dial for input. We already know that building mobile phone isn’t that hard when you already have GSM modules around. All you need it so hook everything to microcontroller and LCD and you are up to go. jaromir instead of adding buttons or touch sensitive LCD went with simpler but yet interesting solution – a rotary dial. The phone is controlled with 8-pin DIP NXP LPC810 ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontroller. He had to squeeze everything to fit 6 IO pins. Shift register solves a lot here. No matter if it looks cool, making calls, entering PIN numbers can be real pain, but it works. As a phone it has huge enclosure due to large rotary dial size. You will definitely amaze your mates when taking calls. More pictures of it at Picasa. Continue reading