Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Data Logger Development Boards

In my search for a small, powerful, and inexpensive data logger I came across a few interesting development boards.

This Maple-like board features a Microchip PIC32MX440F256H 80 Mhz microcontroller and a 16-channel 10bit ADC (only 11 channels are available on this board).  It can sample at 1MSPS and can perform conversions in sleep and idle modes. The price is very reasonable too at 12.95 EUR (<$18USD).  The UEXT connector allows you to add Olimex modules for a wide variety of peripherals and interfaces.  Modules are available for interface, adapters, sensors, LCD, IO, video, RF. RFID, Ethernet, time, GPS, MP3 and Biofeedback.

FEZ Domino was on this list because of the price and small size but it has now been discontinued.

ADI part number EVAL-ADXL345Z-DB ($59.00)  This datalogger isn't as powerful with only a 40+MHz ARM7-based ADuC7024 MCU, but has a lot of features. The MCU itself has a multichannel, 12bit, 1 MSPS ADC, voltage reference, temperature sensor, voltage comparator, up to 4 DACs, power supply monitor, PLA and 3-phase 16bit PWM generator.  The board can be powered by two AAA batteries, and includes a 3-axis accelerometer, the ADXL345.  The development environment for the sample code requires a evaluation version of the compiler, but there are GNU tools available for the processor. 

One of sparkfun's more popular products, the Logomatic V2 has a simple design and fewer features than the rest and is a little more expensive ($59.95).  It uses the 60MHz NXP LPC2148 ARM7 and you can find a lot of open source code examples on the net.  The board comes with the main logging firmware on Github, and SparkFun's USB bootloader, you can modify the source of either project using free WinARM GNU tools.  Jean-Sebastien Stozel developed a few projects to extend the firmware including a generic C++ multitasking framework using FreeRTOS.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Renesas Offering Free Micruim RTOS

Commercial products using 32-bit RX and 16-bit RL78 MCUs can qualify for a free Micruim RTOS license until March 31, 2013.  This can be uC/OS-II or uC/OS-III and middleware (TCP/IP, USB, File System), plus uC/GUI.  The promotion is called 'The Power of 2' and is available in the Americas.  See the video below for more information, it also mentions how NASA uses uC/OS-II on the Mars Rover.

The Micruim website just completed a major update, they now have free PDF books and example projects with registration.  They are also offering free live training classes in Micrium's office in Florida.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Start-up Develops Wireless iPod Controller for Smartphones

A former client, Tau Cygnus, sent me a note that a prototype I helped develop is ready for production.  The Cyborg dock makes use of an iPod and a smartphone (or tablet) to connect your audio system and to control it wirelessly.  The free app works with Apple, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook devices.  The iPod dock connects directly to your music system so there is no streaming or buffering of the audio.  The app runs on your wireless phone or tablet to browse and control playback remotely.  Visit for more details and see the video embedded below.  There is currently a funding campaign at to help start production.  In case you are wondering, I'm no longer working for Tau Cygnus and I'm not receiving any compensation for this post.

If you want to expand the capabilities of the Cyborg, "...we have opened up Cyborg for developers. An API is provided so third party developers can customize Cyborg - the API is provided for both Android and Apple platforms. Of course our base station software that you helped with is under the GNU license, so that is provided as well" (President of Tau Cygnus, Greg Smolinski).  For my part, I reviewed the schematics and layout, performed the board bring-up (not too much smoke), ported the bootloader, and ported the Linux OS to the system.  It looks like a lot of additional work has been put into this since those early prototypes were completed.  When you contribute to a project like this, it is great to see the finished product.  I hope it does well and people will enjoy using it.