Monday, April 21, 2014

CADSTAR Express 15

Express is a set of free PCB design tools limited to 300pins and 50 components.  It has the same functionality of CADSTAR, a PCB design suite from Zuken optimized for small and mid-size design teams.

An interesting new feature of CADSTAR is the CADSTAR Touch App for Android and iOS devices.  It links to the CADSTAR IDE to turn your tablet or smartphone into an input device.  For example, you can pan, view all, and run Macros you have defined in CADSTAR.  The Android version also supports voice commands.  See the video below for a demo.

I have been a user of CADSTAR Schematic since version 13, I find it is a professional quality, low-cost solution.  The yearly maintenance cost is very affordable and entitles you to download the newer versions which are released about once a year.  I receive great support from my distributor, Algozen, who helped organize a local CADSTAR User's Day I attended last week.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Win Free Passes to Freescale Technology Forum

Freescale Semiconductor is asking what great inventors would do today if they had Freescale MCUs.  Answer to enter a drawing for passes to the Freescale Technology Forum Americas 2014, you also receive hotel accommodations and development tools.

Development tool description from
"Includes the Tower System development kit and Freescale Freedom development platform for Kinetis MCUs, sensor shields, Tower System shield adapter, i.MX 6Solo community board, and a coupon for three Tower System peripheral modules of your choice."

Post to social media using the hashtags #FTF2014 and #GreatInventor to increase your chances. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2014.

Friday, December 6, 2013

TI and Microchip End 2013 With Discounts on Tools

Microchip has up to 40% off a dozen development boards, with the best prices of the year going until Jan 3, 2014 when purchased at MicrochipDirect.  Use coupon code EOY2013 to see the discounted price in your cart.
Low Pin Count USB Development Kit

Texas Instruments is discounting the original BeagleBone white 50% (order BeagleBN), along with three other AM335x development boards at 20% off.  At $143, the AM3359 Industrial Communications Engine (order TMDSICE3359) includes two GbE ports that can be controlled from the Programmable Real-Time Unit (PRU) or from a Gbe switch.  These prices will last until December 31, 2013 at the TI eStore.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Embedded Graphics Application Design Contest

$10000 cash and development tools will be awarded for best applications using the ST Microelectronics STM32F429 ARM core in the EvoPrimer development platform.  The application must use the Chrome-ART Accelerator graphics technology shown in the video below.  You may add your own custom hardware to the platform if you send it and all the design files with your entry.  For more information on the contest and the EvoPrimer platform go to The total cost for the base platform and STM32F429 target board is a little over $100 and can be purchased from STMicroelectronics or online distributors.  The contest ends on February 15, 2014.  The grand prize is $5000, and all prize winners will receive Raisonance development tools with no code size limitations and EvoPrimer platforms.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Atmel AVR Hero Consumer Electronic Design Contest

The Are You an AVR Hero? Contest kicked off at Maker Faire a few weeks ago.  Maker Faire is over, but you can still enter you design until December 31, 2013.  This is a Facebook contest and half of the judging criteria is public votes, so you want to enter early.  The other criteria are quality of the idea, quality of the device design, and commercial potential. Here is a link to the official rules.  Click here to vote on a design and click here to enter.

At the time of writing, the design with the most votes (83) is an LED Matrix Tic-tac-toe game using an AVR ATtiny85 on a solderless breadboard.

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Arduino Features 1GHz Texas Instruments Processor

The Arduino TRE Board is coming soon, an official Arduino open source prototyping platform.  Announced today on the TI E2E community site as the most powerful Arduino available to date.  It features the Texas Instruments Sitara AM3359 ARM Cortex-A8 processor.  This is the same processor used on TI's BeagleBone Black. It is clocked at 1GHz, and the board also has 512MB 800MHz DDR3, HDMI, 4-ports of  USB, audio I/O, XBee RF module Connectors and lots of I/O.  For Arduino shield compatibility, it has the shield connectors and also an Atmel ATmega32u4.  This board will also run embedded Linux. It is targeted to prototyping 3D printers, networking hubs for building control, lighting and telemetry, and DIY projects that require more processing power.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

EEWeb Embedded Developer Magazine

EEWeb has released the first issue of a new monthly magazine targeting the embedded space.  EEWeb Embedded Developer can be read online or downloaded in pdf format.  The premiere issue covers NXP MCU ecosystem, a Rasperry PI primer (part 1), the Wandboard from Mouser, ARM CORTEX-A9, interviews and a 32-BIT MCU comparison.  There are also short reviews of the BeagleBoard-xM, TI's Tiva C series Evaluation kit (ARM Cortex-M4F-based MCU), and the LPC812-LPCXpresso Board.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Raspberry Pi Magazine

EEWeb has dedicated an issue of the EEWeb Pulse to the Raspberry Pi.  See Pulse Issue 106, July 9th, 2013 (The cover currently shows the wrong year, 2012).  It features an interview with founder Eben Upton and pi projects.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

STM32F4 Discovery Kit Expansion

The $14 STM32F4 Discovery kit with ARM Cortex-M4 Processor can be expanded with three new boards.  There is a baseboard that provides Ethernet, Micro SD, plus more I/O ($40), an LCD board with touchscreen ($55), and a camera module for video or photos ($34). Schematics and example code are available, see this element14 community page for more information.  The software includes the Micruim uC/OS-II RTOS, a fat file system, and LwIP protocol stack.  The Cortex-M4 processor itself is designed for digital signal control, applications that blend control algorithms and DSP, and require a low-power, low cost solution.

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Microsemi ARM uClinux Starter Kit

Microsemi's SmartFusion2 Starter Kit includes a small ARM SoC FPGA module and a baseboard for user interfaces and expansion.  The kit is $299 but if you attend an Avnet Electronics Marketing Microsemi SpeedWay Design Workshop ($99) you receive a kit at no additional cost.  The SmartFusion2 SoC integrates a 166 MHz ARM Cortex-M3, accellerators for DSP, security and communication interfaces on a single chip.  The Microsemi press release for the starter kit has a nice summary of features for the development board and the SoC itself.

The module itself is an Emcraft Systems mezzanine form factor system-on-module (M2S SOM), you can find more information about the M2S SOM, including documentation and baseboard schematics, at Emcraft's website.  The development sysetem will run uCLinux, and boasts a 0.5sec boot (to console prompt) in this video: