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FPGA COTS boards add VITA 67.3 connectors

The high-performance COTS boards integrate VITA 67.3 connectors for maximum RF signal density and speed
By Gina Roos, editor-in-chief
Annapolis Micro Systems is integrating SV Microwave’s SMPM VITA 67.3 connectors in a variety of high-performance COTS boards to deliver maximum RF signal density and speed to the VPX backplane. These devices can be used in embedded systems for military and aerospace applications.
The RF connectors, aligned with the SOSA technical standard, are available in 11- and 14-port modules that accept up to 0.086-inch coaxial cable, with an SMPM minimum pitch of 0.228 inches. The VITA 67.3 connectors mount side by side with other standard VITA connectivity, including VITA 66 optical connectors and MULTIGIG RT3 connectors, which support 25 Gbits/s. TE Connectivity recently released the MULTIGIG RT3 connectors that use quad-redundant contacts to meet VITA standards for reliable operation under intense vibrations.
The blind mate VPX backplane connectors are available on the latest versions of Annapolis’ WILDSTAR COTS boards. These boards feature Xilinx or Intel FPGAs.
The WILDSTAR 6XB2 6U OpenVPX board (WB6XB2) also integrates two SV Microwave connectors.

ON Semi unveils rugged SiC MOSFETs

New SiC MOSFETs are qualified to work in industrial and automotive applications
By Gina Roos, editor-in-chief
ON Semiconductor has launched two new silicon-carbide (SiC) MOSFET devices, the industrial-grade NTHL080N120SC1 and the AEC-Q101 automotive-grade NVHL080N120SC1. These devices can be used in applications such as automotive DC/DC and on-board chargers for electric vehicles as well as solar and uninterruptible and server power supplies.
The 1,200-V, 80-mΩ SiC MOSFETs offer high power density with highly efficient operation that can reduce operating costs and overall system size due to smaller footprints. This also translates into less thermal management requirements, which further reduces the bill of materials costs, size, and weight, said ON Semi.
Key features:
Low leakage current
A fast intrinsic diode with low reverse-recovery charge, which gives steep power-loss reduction and supports higher frequency operation and greater power density
Low Eon and Eoff/fast turn ON and OFF combined with low forward voltage to reduce total power losses and cooling requirements 
Low capacitance supports the ability to switch at very high frequencies, which reduces EMI issues.
Higher-surge, avalanche capability
In addition, the devices feature a patented termination structure that delivers higher reliability and ruggedness, said the company. They also offer a maximum operating temperature of 175°C.
ON Semiconductor’s SiC devices and solutions will be on display at APEC.

10 best shields for Arduino

Pairing a shield with an Arduino board raises the platform to a new level for engineers and makers
By Cabe Atwell, contributing writer
The Arduino open-source development board is an immensely popular platform for engineers and makers to prototype their projects quickly. Its success and versatility is driven by its community, who has used it to drive home automation, power robotics, augmented reality, and a host of other projects.
While on its own, the Arduino is an excellent tool for any project, but pairing it with a shield expands its capabilities and raises the platform to a new level. In this roundup, we will take a look at some of the more useful shields that can turn an ordinary project into an excellent one.

Image credit: Arduino 

1. Keyestudio Easy Module Shield
Image credit: Keyestudio via AliExpress
Keyestudio’s Easy Module Shield is a learning platform for those just entering the world of Arduino and doesn’t require any soldering, making it easy to use as well. The add-on board features a DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor, LM35D temperature sensor, rotary potentiometer, and photoresistor. It also hosts an IR receiver, piezo buzzer, RGB/blue/red LEDs, two-channel digital port, single-channel analog port, IIC interface, TTL serial port, and a pair of pushbuttons. The Easy Module Shield is compatible with the Arduino Uno R3 only.
2. Dragino LoRa Shield
Image credit: Dragino
Dragino’s LoRa Shield is an excellent board that adds a long-range transceiver to the Arduino, with the trade-off being low data rates. The shield is based on Semtech’s SX1276/SX1278 chip and can achieve a sensitivity of over −148 dBm. Features include a programmable bit rate up to 300 kbps, a low RX current of 10.3 mA (200-nA register retention), fully integrated synthesizer (resolution of 61 Hz), and a built-in bit synchronizer for clock recovery. It also packs a built-in temperature sensor and low battery indicator, 127-dB Dynamic Range RSSI, and automatic RF Sense and CAD with ultra-fast AFC, among a host of other features.
3. Adafruit 1.8-inch color TFT shield with micro SD/joystick
Image credit: Adafruit
Some projects may require a display of some sort, and Adafruit’s 1.8-inch (128 × 160) Color TFT shield is an excellent choice and even includes a micro SD slot, three selection buttons, and a five-way joystick for navigation. The shield is “Arduino R3”-compatible, allowing it to be used with all Arduinos (Mega, Zero, etc.) and Metro microcontroller add-on boards. The shield also features a four-wire SPI digital interface, an onboard 3.3-V (@ 150 mA) LDO regulator, and an I2C seesaw chip and is 5-V−compatible (use with 3.3-V or 5-V logic).
4. 1Sheeld+
Image credit: 1Sheeld via Adafruit
1Sheeld+ is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tethered shield for Arduino that turns Android and iOS smartphones into 40 different shields. This shield breaks down into two part: the shield itself and a mobile app. On the shield side, the board features an Atmel ATMega162 and a BLE module and communicates with an Arduino via UART. The board acts as the middleman, piping data between a smartphone and the Arduino board.
The app allows you to choose between 40 virtual shields that make use of the smartphone’s sensors rather than using physical boards. For example, you could control an RC vehicle utilizing the phone’s gyroscope or control lighting systems using voice commands.
5. Arduino Motor Shield REV3
Image credit: Arduino
Arduino’s Motor Shield allows the board to drive DC and stepper motors, relays and solenoids — essentially an essential piece of hardware if you plan to build a robot. The Motor Shield is built around the L298 dual full-bridge driver, which allows you to control two DC motors, including the speed and direction of each, independently. What’s more, the shield is TinkerKit-compatible, allowing you to connect a host of different modules, including a MOSFET receiver, additional relays, and more.
The article was originally published at EE Times. Please visit:
6. Adafruit Wave Shield
7. ExCamera Gameduino 2 shield
8. TinySine GSM/GPRS Shield
9. Cytron PS2 Shield
10. Nootropic Design Video Experimenter Shield

3D printer creates plastic parts 8 times faster

Researchers have developed a new manufacturing system and process that is eight times faster than conventional 3D printing
By Gina Roos, editor-in-chief
A new additive manufacturing system and process developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU produces plastic components eight times faster than conventional 3D printing while reducing materials costs. The new Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing (SEAM) system and process takes only 18 minutes to produce a plastic component that is 30 cm high, according to the researchers.
Fraunhofer IWU developed the technology for the additive manufacture of large-volume resilient plastic components. Up to 7 kg of plastic can be pressed through the hot nozzle with a diameter of 1 mm per hour using the SEAM system. In comparison, using 3D-printing processes like fused deposition modeling (FDM) or fused filament modeling (FLM) typically achieves only 50 grams of plastic per hour, said Fraunhofer IWU.
Another benefit is lower cost. SEAM processes standard plastic granules (instead of expensive FLM filament) into resilient, fiber-reinforced components that are several meters in size. Researchers said that this process lowers materials costs by a factor of 200.
In addition, this method can handle materials that previously couldn’t be processed by 3D printing. Fraunhofer researchers have tested a variety of plastics that are typically used in industrial applications, ranging from thermoplastic elastomers to polypropylene and polyamide-6 with a 40% content of carbon fibers (PA 6 CF). These materials are characterized by high stiffness and strength, or high elasticity, that can’t be processed by conventional 3D printers, said researchers.
The SEAM process can also generate various wall thicknesses within one printed path. As an example, the process generates strand widths between 1.2 and 3.1 mm for PA 6 CF using a 1-mm nozzle, depending on table speed and extrusion performance.
Watch the video:
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The SEAM process “is highly significant for future further development of additive manufacturing technologies for industrial applications and constitutes a decisive step for increasing efficiency of 3D-printing processes,” said Fraunhofer. Markets that can leverage the new 3D printer include tool manufacturers and automotive and aerospace industries.
Fraunhofer plans to demo the ultra-fast 3D printer at Hannover Messe, Booth C22, Hall 2.

Microwave upconverter/downconverter ICs ease design and reduce cost

24-GHz to 44-GHz wideband integrated microwave upconverter and downconverter drive 28-/39-GHz transceiver performance
By Carolyn Mathas, contributing writer
Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) announced the ADMV1013 and ADMV1014 highly integrated microwave upconverter and downconverter ICs. The pair operates over a very wide frequency range with 50-Ω match from 24 GHz up to 44 GHz, promoting design ease and lower costs associated with building a single platform covering all 5G mmWave frequency bands, including 28 GHz and 39 GHz.
The highly integrated upconverters and downconverters are comprised of in-phase (I) and quadrature-phase (Q) mixers with on-chip programmable quadrature phase-shifter configurable for direct conversion to/from baseband (operable from DC to 6 GHz) or to an IF (operable from 800 MHz to 6 GHz). Other on-chip features include voltage variable attenuators, transmit upconverter PA driver and downconverter receive LNA, LO buffers with ×4 frequency multiplier, and programmable tracking filters. The majority of programmability functions are controlled via an SPI serial interface.
The chips are unique, according to Analog Devices, in that, for each upconverter and downconverter, they correct respective quadrature phase imbalance. Therefore, the difficult-to-suppress sideband emission is improved from a typical value of 32 dBc by 10 dB or more. According to the company, this provides an unmatched level of microwave radio performance, while the combination of all features provides unprecedented flexibility and ease of use, minimization of external components, and the ability to implement small form-factor systems such as small cells.
The devices are suited for microwave radio platforms that operate in the growing 28-GHz and 39-GHz 5G wireless infrastructure bands. The 1-GHz bandwidth capability, along with the upconverter’s OIP3 of more than 20 dBm that supports stringent modulation schemes, are necessary to enable multi-Gigabit wireless data. The devices can also be used in satellite and earth station broadband communication links, aircraft radios, RF test equipment, and radar systems.
Samples and production quantities of the ADMV1013 (40-pin, 6 × 6-mm LGA) and the ADMV1014 (32-pin, 5 × 5-mm LGA) are available. Prices start at $90.79 for the ADMV1013 and $88.37 for the ADMV1014.

ST, Sequans team up on LTE for IoT cellular extension board

Solution brings LTE for IoT connectivity to the STM32 MCU ecosystem globally
By Carolyn Mathas, contributing writer
Sequans Communications and STMicroelectronics announced the development of a dedicated cellular extension board for ST’s STM32 Discovery kits using Sequans’s Monarch LTE-M module. The extension boards are expected to encourage even greater IoT development, given an easy-to-use IoT device solution that operates on LTE networks globally. With this board, developers can easily prototype their IoT applications adding LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity to an STM32 Discovery board via the Sequans Monarch GM01Q module.
The Monarch-based GM01Q module supports 17 LTE bands and the expansion board is pre-integrated into STM32CUBE software suite for a turnkey solution to connect STM32-based products to such cloud servers as AWS, GCP, Azure, etc.
Additional cellular extension board features include a Sequans GM01Q LTE Module, worldwide LTE-M support upgradeable to NB-IoT, a debug connector for modem upgrade and console, a switchable SIM interface, eSIM, MicroSIM, and high-performance SMA antenna for frequency ranges from 700 MHz to 2,100 MHz.
The Sequans GM01Q-STMOD works with any STM32-based DISCOVERY kit using a STMod+ connector, as well as with Nucleo kits using X-NUCLEO-STMODA1. Cellular driver and examples for STM32 available with STM32Cube expansion package are available at X-CUBE-CELLULAR.
The new Monarch cellular extension board for ST Discovery kits is available now, and the more integrated Monarch/STM32 module solution is currently under development and is expected to be available later in 2019. Free drivers and code examples are available with the STM32Cube package. More information on the GM01Q-STMod Development Kit is available for download.
The GM01Q development kits are being made available to select developers at Mobile World Congress, Feb. 25−28. Visit Sequans in Hall 5, Stand 5C87 and ST in Hall 7, Stand 7A61.

Tiny, smart audio amplifier conserves battery life

11-V boosted audio amplifier improves audio quality in smartphones and portable devices
By Carolyn Mathas, contributing writer
Cirrus Logic announced that its CS35L41 smart power amplifier is the industry’s smallest low-power boosted solution. The amplifier, supporting stereo audio in smartphones and portable devices, housed in a 5.64-mm2 WLCS package, is approximately half the size of DSP smart amps.
Features include an integrated DSP and fifth-generation enhancement and protection algorithms for improved audio quality without overworking the application processor or external DSP. Speaker-protection algorithms come into play while driving the speaker to the max, resulting in high output power while protecting the speaker. This enables OEMs to achieve an improved audio experience in mono and stereo applications while conserving battery life.
The CS35L41 addresses amplifier performance, audio enhancement, and battery management, minimizing power consumption and battery current while maintaining audio performance. The CS35L41 offers the lowest power consumption, lowest noise, and smallest package size of any amplifier in its class, according to Cirrus Logic.
Amplifier performance: 5.3-W digital input, mono Class D amplifier with an integrated 11-V Class H DC/DC converter that improves system efficiency, minimizes power dissipation, and preserves battery life.
Audio enhancement: Cirrus Logic’s SoundClear Playback software provides fine-tuning to the specific mobile-system speaker. Equalization, compression, and psychoacoustic enhancement algorithms improve sound clarity and increase loudness. Playback filtering compensates for the unique frequency response of the speaker, eliminating pre-ringing found in conventional linear phase filters.
Battery management: Battery life is preserved via Class H boost and super-low 6.7-milliwatt (mW) quiescent current and predictive battery management. Managing battery demand enables maximum loudness and audio quality without unexpected “brown-out” conditions. The battery management system adapts to conditions, protecting the battery and mobile system, yet enabling volume and maintaining quality.
The CS35L41 is shipping in production volumes. Tuning tools enable high-end as well as mid- and low-cost designs. 

Arduino IoT Cloud simplifies the node, edge design

Attach sensors, actuators, and switches to the board and get your IoT design running within minutes
By Majeed Ahmad, contributing writer
Arduino has introduced the IoT Cloud platform that allows developers, system integrators, and maker hobbyists to program boards without needing to program via Arduino Sketch. The public beta release of the Arduino IoT Cloud features automatic dashboard generation as well as webhooks and Transport Layer Security (TLS) support.
According to Luca Cipriani, Arduino’s CIO, the IoT Cloud platform marks an end-to-end IoT design approach encompassing hardware, firmware, cloud services, and design know-how. So developers can quickly and automatically generate a sketch and make the device operational within minutes after unboxing a board.
The Arduino IoT Cloud platform is especially targeted at boards for battery-powered IoT edge applications like environmental monitoring, energy monitoring, and industrial automation. “The IoT Cloud provides a streamlined way to create local IoT nodes and edge devices,” said Massimo Banzi, CTO and co-founder of Arduino.
Banzi quoted the example of an IoT greenhouse that can remotely turn the lights on and off, start the irrigation system, and read and adjust the temperature inside the greenhouse without human intervention. It can be automated and controlled using an Arduino MKR WIFI 1010 board along with the Arduino IoT Cloud.
Simply attach the relevant sensors such as temperature, light, and humidity sensors, actuators such as an irrigation pump, and switches such as lights and fan to the board and upload the Arduino Sketch software. The IoT greenhouse will be up and running in minutes to automatically control the properties of the actuators via a simple web interface.
The properties are stored in the Arduino IoT Cloud and can be remotely changed without the need to visit the greenhouse. And once the system is in place, it will wait for events and react to them as necessary.

Road test: Seat Leon Cupra – a hot hatch with a sense of modesty

Seat’s Leon Cupra has always been there or thereabouts when it comes to desirable hot hatches and the latest version is no exception.
A power upgrade means the Cupra is now packs an impressive 300PS, which puts it on a par with a Volkswagen Golf R.
The uprated 2.0 TSI turbo engine manages to deliver an extra 10PS than previously and maximum torque has increased from 350Nm to 380Nm.
It will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 5.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 155mph.
When it arrived the Cupra was Seat’s most powerful road car to date, though it was slightly outdone by the Cupra R, which puts out 310PS.

Seat Leon Cupra
The differences between the Cupra and Cupra R are marginal though and it’s academic anyway as all 24 Cupra Rs which made their way to the UK some time back were snapped-up.
On paper there’s very little between them, though the Cupra R’s suspension and aerodynamic upgrades give it a slight edge.
To complicate matters further, and somewhat bizarrely, the estate version of the Cupra is actually the most powerful version you can currently buy, due to the fact the ST comes with Haldex four-wheel-drive mated to a double-clutch automatic gearbox.
Putting all that power through four wheels rather than two makes a lot of sense and gives it a distinct advantage.

It will take you from 0 to 60 in just 4.9 seconds making it a rather unusual estate car.
Four-wheel drive is only available on the ST.
Going back to the Cupra R, it boasted some more sporty styling flourishes including wider wheelarches, a deeper front bumper, extended side skirts and a tailgate spoiler.
Not over the top
While they had a dual styling and aerodynamic purpose the standard Cupra in many ways benefits from not being too over the top.
It is not one of those garish hot hatches that draws attention – rather it is understated and almost sedate.
To my mind this is a good thing. There are plenty of people who want pure performance without exaggerated features and the Cupra does just that.
Even the 19-inch alloys and red brake callipers don’t overstate things.
On top of that you get all the practicality of a regular Leon family hatchback – even more in the ST.
The Cupra 300 comes with dynamic chassis control, a progressive steering system and electronic self-locking differential as standard.
Multi-mode drive control
It features a multi-mode drive control system allowing the driver to choose from comfort, sport, individual and Cupra modes.
As one might expect the last of those offers a more extreme driving experience.
Comfort is suited to everyday motoring and ensures the Cupra copes admirably as an everyday motor.
The sport setting is fun and suitably engaging while Cupra mode takes it to a more fun level and makes for an exhilarating drive.
If you are pushing it you can rest assured that the Cupra offers plenty of reassurance, unless you switch everything off – which is an option.
Safety and driving aids include traffic jam assist, lane assist, adaptive cruise control and pedestrian protection, electric parking brake and keyless entry.
There is also an integrated media system, an infotainment system with eight-inch screen and a connectivity hub that comprises a smartphone wireless charger and a GSM antenna amplifier to boost signal coverage.
A stand out feature that impressed was the auto-hold function for the electronic parking brake which activates as soon as the car comes to rest.
FAST FACTS
Seat Leon 5dr Cupra 2.0 TSI 300 PS manual
Price: £30,495
Mechanical: 300PS, 1,984cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Combined mpg: 40.9
Insurance group: 33
CO2 emissions: 158g/km
BiK rating: 30%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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High-speed design: It takes a village to succeed

eSilicon, Wild River Technology, and Samtec combined forces to develop a 56-Gbits/s test board
By Martin Rowe, senior technical editor, test & measurement, EDN & EE Times
You’ve probably heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” The same can be said for high-speed digital design. That’s the lesson that engineers at eSilicon, Wild River Technologies, and Samtec learned when eSilicon needed a board to test its latest 56-/112-Gbits/s PAM4 SerDes for use in IEEE 802.3bs (200-/400-Gbits/s Ethernet) and several Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) implementations.
To find out how the three companies worked on the problem, I met on Jan. 30 with representatives of the three companies at DesignCon 2019 in Santa Clara, California.
“We needed a way to evaluate our chip,” said eSilicon’s director of field applications, Tim Horel. The board (Fig. 1) not only lets eSilicon engineers do that, it also serves as a reference design. The goal was to design a board that could pass data at a bit-error ratio (BER) of 10E-11 over 5 m of copper cable without the need for forward-error correction (FEC). The board, which was on display at DesignCon 2019, can maintain that BER over 7 m of copper, according to eSilicon’s director of marketing, Mike Gianfanga.
Fig. 1: A test board for eSilicon’s 56-/112-Gbits/s SerDes is based on Samtec’s Bulls Eye connectors that provide direct contact to the board. The board was on display at DesignCon 2019. Image: Martin Rowe.
Rather than rely on a single approach to board design, Wild River Technology’s CTO, Al Neves, assembled three independent teams, one at Samtec and two at Wild River. Each used different design and simulation tools with the two Wild River teams using ANSYS HFSSand Simbeor THzsoftware. Fig. 2 shows the results of return loss measurements for each design team. The green dashed line represents performance limits based on IEEE P370.
“We needed agreement from the teams to know if we had the right design,” said Neves. “Along the way, we broke EDA tools every week.”
Fig. 2: Return loss measurements from three teams needed agreement for the design to continue. Image: Wild River Technology.
The board uses Samtec’s Bulls Eye connectors to pass the high-speed signals. These connectors require no soldering; solder results in unacceptable return loss. Instead, connections are made with pins to the board that each make three points of contact. A compression fit holds the connector in place.
“We bent the cables to make sure the pins kept in contact with the board,” said Neves. “The connections didn’t break.”
The engineers modeled the high-speed transmission channel at frequencies to 70 GHz. That provided the S-parameters needed to assure accurate de-embedding, which removes the effects of the channel from measurements. De-embedding lets engineers prove that the SerDes met published specifications.
See more DesignCon 2019 Coverage
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