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

Miniature ARM baord

ARM development boards always been bigger, and more complex than other 8-bit systems. But things are different now – ARM also can be smaller but yet more powerful embedded devices than PICs or AVRs. We already know that ARM processor can be as small as 8 pin chip. LPC810 ARM Cortex M0+ is one of great examples. And you know you don’t need much to get it running. Jan built probably smallest ARM device with this chip which can be used in many cool projects where bigger processing power is needed. For instance in wearable electronics projects. The board (which is called Catweazle) consists of LPC810 processor in DIP package, 3.3V LDO linear regulator and LED which indicates when it is set to ISP programming mode. Controller can be programmed via UART by using any USB TTL cable and standard software like Flash Magic. Board has 6 I/O for normal use. Chip carries 4K of flash, 1 K of SRAM, 2 timers, hardware SPI, I2C and UART. And most importantly this is a true 32-bit controller for $1 Continue reading

STM32 Nucleo boards enable faster prototyping

ST decided to enter the Arduino and mbed ecosystem with their new STM32 Nucleo boards. I think this is good decision if you want to get more activity with your products. Before we had to figure things out with their discovery boards. Now we have more options to develop ARM applications. First of all Nucleo boards have Arduino like shape that allows plugging most of Arduino shields and instantly have long list of expandability. Another feature is so called “mbed-enabled”. This means that you have option to develop programs using this great open source software platform and online tools. Nucleo boards come with all I/Os available next to Arduino headers. Also you have integrates ST-Link debugger programmer. So you can program, debug without additional tools. If you like you can use it as great prototyping board and use your old skills with regular tools like GCC. Nucleo boards come in several flavors that feature different microcontrollers like F30R8, F103RB, F401RE and L152RE. More boards are to come. Prices start from $10.32 per unit. Continue reading

Rising STM32F4 clock speed above the limits

STM32F4 microcontrollers are powerful enough for most of applications. Their max core speed is 168MHz. Newer seems are even 180MHz. Anyway iabdalkader thought that speed limit might be a part of marketing thing and so he started testing different speeds by changing RCC block values of microcontroller. Actually there is no hidden secrets here, but as always manufacturer states that running above recommended clock speed doesn’t guarantee proper microcontroller operation. He was able to rise speed up to 240MHz without noticeable problems. Temperature measurements have shown the overall rise by 4 degrees. After all this is great to know that we can squeeze more juice when needed, in other hand if you are looking for reliable device operation, better stick within specs. If not your program crashes, but in long run there might be errors in memory reads or simply this will shorten MCU lifetime. Continue reading

Custom car ECU based on STM32

Practically all cars have Engine control unites. Older ones are simpler, while new are stuffed with sensors and actuators. But his didn’t scared Andrey to build his own Engine Control Unit (ECU) which would take all work from original unit. Most of his work was reverse engineering of original Ford Aspire 1996 ECU where he could determine signals coming from sensors and control data. Right now it controls fuel injection, ignitions, fuel pump, idle air valve solenoid. As input it reads MAF signal, fuel and timing. Clearly there is much work to do before it could be claimed simple and understandable so it could be used as aftermarket engine control unit. But video proves it working and that’s a good start. Continue reading

Spectrum analyzer based on TIVA Lanchpad Series

Gabriel Francisco has been working on low frequency spectrum analyzer. It was meant to analyze accelerometer data gathered from automotive suspension system to measure comfort of the ride. But this analyzer can be used for any low frequency signals. Basically this measuring system consists of Graphical User Interface (GUI), data acquisition hardware based on LM4F120 TI’s ARM Cortex-M4 and data source – accelerometer. Logic analyzer support 8 channels with 512Hz sampling frequency. Data is passed through software FIR low pass filter with 75Hz cuttoff frequency. Then it calculates 256 points FFT, Power Density Spectrum. Graphical interface has several handy controls and signal ploting. Gabriel have made additional custom board for better connectivity and also designed whole custom PCB which seems hasn’t been built yet. Continue reading