Avnet & TE: Helping startups get their ideas to market

How an IoT startup got its smart parcel-tracking solution to market in under 3 years

Hanhaa is a small London-based IoT startup with a big mission: to enable businesses to monitor their global shipments at massive scale – meaning, tens of thousands of parcels – and make detailed information more easily accessible and cost-effective. Where was the parcel? Was it within the allowable temperature range? Had it got wet? Had it been tipped, dropped, or opened? This startup founder’s promising vision hinged on one small, yet surprisingly complex, piece of technology: the prototype’s chip antenna. A new 3.30 minute video case-study outlines how Avnet helped Hanhaa to identify and overcome key design challenges in order to get its smart parcel-tracking solution to market in less than 3 years.

The Make The World A Better Place Design Challenge

Do your part to Make the World a Better Place and win cash prizes.

Design engineers and developers sit in a unique position. They literally have the power to change the world. IAR Systems, Renesas, and Embedded Computing Design are now asking the embedded community to put those powers to good use, and Make the World a Better Place. In this unique challenge, the Better Place Challenge team are asking the electronics engineering community to develop solutions that will make a positive impact – and awarding $10,500 USD in cash prizes to transform those solutions into realities. You could improve health, save lives, time, or money, reduce energy consumption, or improve the world in some other way. The team have set some preliminary boundaries; the rest is up to you.


Phase One (May – August)

First, put your idea down on paper. Explain how your design will “Make the World a Better Place,” including the marketability of the end product. Then explain all the hardware and software that would be required, with a detailed bill of materials. If your “paper design” is selected as one of up to twenty finalists, the Better Place Challenge team will send you the hardware and software that’s available from the sponsors (you’re on the hook for the rest).

Phase Two (August – November)

Build your design and get it to function in the manner described in Stage One. Take a video of your design in action, and submit the video with any explanation that’s needed.

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Order the latest products from the TI store

Current and power measurement for automotive designs

The TPS61322x family is the industry’s first low VIN, low IQ synchronous boost converter that can support 0.5A output current. This device is in a SOT23 package and needs only three external components, so it helps to saves PCB area and BOM cost in a wide variety of systems.

Just one click to your 16-cell HEV/EV active balance solution

This 16-channel active balance reference design combines the high integration and accuracy of the bq76PL455A-Q1 with a bidirectional DC/DC cell balancer to create a high-performance battery management solution for large capacity battery packs. • Charge or discharge any of 16 cell inputs as needed up to 5A • Stack modules up to 1300V

Choose your devices to get started today.

Break the speed barrier with LMG1210 GaN driver

Breaking the speed barrier of your power design is now possible. Our new GaN half-bridge driver, LMG1210 enables designs at any speed (even up to 50MHz) with integrated dead time capability for 5x smaller DC/DC converters. This device is in an easy-to-use QFN package for a wide range of high-frequency applications such as Class-D audio amplifiers and Class-E wireless charging.

Meet LMG1020, the fastest GaN driver

GaN delivers sub-nanosecond pulses for LiDAR. Imagine if we could equip our technology with the highest resolution LiDAR vision. Our new LMG1020, a low-side GaN driver, makes it possible. This 5V GaN driver is the only driver capable of sub-nanosecond laser pulses for high-definition LiDAR laser diodes in the industry’s smallest package size.

Achieve true 6A performance with ultra-small 5.5V step-down power module

TI’s new synchronous step-down power module delivers continuous 6A output current with up to 93% efficiency for space- and height-constrained point-of-load power supplies. The TPSM82480 DC/DC converter offers an optional automatic power-save mode to maintain high efficiency across the full-load range. In addition, it features adjustable soft start, VSEL to support multiple processor stages and a power-good indicator.

Are you still using a discrete switch?

Load switches can be designed with MOSFETs, resistors, and capacitors, but a fully integrated solution offers several benefits over these discrete components. TI has a broad power load switch portfolio that offers multiple benefits for a variety of applications. Upgrade to an integrated solution today with devices such as the TPS22916, TPS22971, TPS22965-Q1, and TPS22918-Q1.

TI’s next-generation Wide VIN buck controller

The LM25145 synchronous buck controller brings you the latest in feature set and package technology for high-current applications requiring up to 42V input. RDS(on) current sensing, 40ns minimum on-time, and wettable flanks packaging are just a few features that you can leverage to upgrade your Wide VIN buck controller design and squeeze more performance out of your power supply.

The smallest and most efficient SIMPLE SWITCHER® ever

SIMPLE SWITCHER® has been making switching regulator design easy for the better part of three decades. Today, we introduce the smallest and most efficient SIMPLE SWITCHER regulator ever. The 36V, 2A/3A LMR33620 / 30 comes in a familiar 8-pin SOIC or tiny 2mm x 3mm HotRod™ WSON with wettable flanks. Shrinking your converter solution size has never been so simple.

Meet TI’s most popular 3/4 pin 1.5A adjustable positive voltage regulator

The LM317 is an adjustable three-terminal positive-voltage regulator capable of supplying more than 1.5 A over an output-voltage range of 1.25 V to 37 V. It requires only two external resistors to set the output voltage. The device features a typical line regulation of 0.01% and typical load regulation of 0.1%. It includes current limiting and safe operating area protection.

SIMPLE SWITCHER® 4.5V to 40V, 3A low component count step-down regulator

The LM2596 series of regulators are monolithic integrated circuits that provide all the active functions for a step-down (buck) switching regulator, capable of driving a 3-A load with excellent line and load regulation. These devices are available in fixed output voltages of 3.3 V, 5 V, 12 V, and an adjustable output version.

Oscilloscope innovation. Measurement confidence

Rohde & Schwarz is again expanding its oscilloscope portfolio with the launch of the R&S®RTC1000, R&S®RTM3000 and R&S®RTA4000 series oscilloscopes. With this market introduction Rohde & Schwarz has now the most up-to-date 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 class instruments on the market.

Oscilloscope innovation. Measurement confidence. Quality scopes that fit small budgets – The new R&S®RTC1000 series oscilloscope

The new R&S®RTC1000 series oscilloscope features the highest instrument integration in its compact form factor. Starting at a price of EUR 835, the instrument’s comprehensive features are tailored to meet the needs of users in the field of education, engineers with low budgets and hobbyists. R&S®RTC1000 oscilloscopes are available in models from 50 MHz to 300 MHz. They are the first in the 1000 class to offer bandwidth upgrades via software license all the way to 300 MHz bandwidth; these upgrades can be purchased as test needs increase over time. The two-channel oscilloscopes have maximum sample rates of 2 Gsample/s and a memory depth of 2 Msample. All R&S®RTC1000 models come as standard with LAN and USB interfaces. The R&S®RTC1000 oscilloscope is now available from Rohde & Schwarz and selected distribution channel partners.

Oscilloscope innovation. Measurement confidence. Get in touch with the new R&S®RTM3000 and R&S®RTA4000 series oscilloscope

The new R&S®RTM3000 oscilloscope offers bandwidths of 100 MHz, 200 MHz, 350 MHz, 500 MHz and 1 GHz. The products incorporate a proprietary 5 Gsample/s 10-bit ADC, and each model includes 40 Msample (80 Msample interleaved) per channel acquisition memory with an optional 400 Msample segmented acquisition memory. The new R&S®RTA4000 oscilloscope offers bandwidths of 200 MHz, 350 MHz, 500 MHz and 1 GHz. These models include the same 10-bit ADC, but have even more memory, with an astonishing 100 Msample (200 Msample interleaved) per channel acquisition memory and standard 1 Gsample (1,000 Msample) segmented acquisition memory. Both instrument series feature a brilliant 10.1″ capacitive touchscreen display to operate quickly and efficiently.

While the R&S®RTM3000 series comes in two- and four-channel models, the R&S®RTA4000 series oscilloscopes are exclusively four-channel models. Base prices start at EUR 3,190 for the two-channel 100 MHz R&S®RTM3002. The four-channel 200 MHz R&S®RTA4004 starts at EUR 5,230. For users with more demanding needs, a number of upgrade options are available. These include 16 integrated digital channels with a mixed signal oscilloscope (MSO) option, protocol decode and triggering options for a variety of industry standard buses as well as an integrated waveform generator. The R&S®RTM3000 and the R&S®RTA4000 oscilloscopes are now available from Rohde & Schwarz and selected distribution channel partners.

Promotion: Oscilloscope/spectrum analyzer bundles

Buy a new R&S®RTM3000 or R&S®RTA4000 oscilloscope from January 16, 2018 to June 30, 2018 and get a new 3 GHz R&S®FPC1000 spectrum analyzer. Register and get your additional spectrum analyser.

ON DEMAND WEBINAR: The 3 necessary evils – Discover and solve power integrity, signal integrity and EMI issues affecting designs

Today a lot of electronic designs are faced with multiple challenges while integrating digital, analog and RF circuits. To achieve compliance and relevant performance, designers need to characterize power lines and tracks, high speed comms and verify their integrity while not causing any bigger EMI issues. Since they interact and interfere with each other, a comprehensive debugging approach is required to get your products to market in time. Attendees will learn: The relevance of power integrity, signal integrity, and EMC Their interactions and their impact on your design To uncover, to locate and to solve these challenges Presenter: Jithu Abraham, Oscilloscope Product Manager Duration: 1 hour

TPS7B68 – Watchdog Meets LDO

Power supply problems and software lockups are amongst the most common issues…

Power supply problems and software lockups are amongst the most common issues plaguing embedded systems. Watchdog timers alleviate the latter – they are now embedded in almost all microcontrollers. Some standards, however, demand the use of dedicated IC – in this case, Texas Instruments is just the part you need.

Coming from a background of voltage regulator design, it is obvious that Texas Instruments integrates all kinds of advanced features into the IC. In particular, the part presents itself as shown in figure one.

…The TPS7B68x family combines a variety of useful features.

First of all, automotive applications are known for their voltage ranges. TI takes this into account by allowing an input range of up to 40 V. Output voltage is set by the device type, and both 3V3 and 5V parts are available. Furthermore, with sufficient cooling, all of the parts are able to supply to 500 mA of current – this, of course, requires the presence of a large ground plane for heat dissipation.

In addition to acting as a voltage regulator, the part provides a power good threshold pin. The pin will be enabled when the voltage output has reached the defined threshold, thereby preventing BOR issues.

And watch over it…

The main feature, however, is the watchdog timer. Texas Instruments allows developers to choose between normal and window-based watchdog operation by setting the voltage level present at a specific pin. Window-based watchdog timers are especially interesting in that they control both over- and underflow scenarios in a fashion similar to the one outlined in figure two.


Fret not -the TPS family can be used without a dedicated crystal. TI implements an RC oscillator on the part, whose frequency can be tuned with a single external resistor – as controllers get faster, the watchdog window can be narrowed to reduce downtime.

STM8S903K3T6C 8Bit Microcontroller from STMicroelectronics

If an 8bit microcontroller is needed…

If an 8bit microcontroller is needed, Microchip normally comes up first. STMicroelectronics, a company more commonly associated with 32-bit processors, also offers quite a bit of eight bit technology.

The STM8S903K3T6C, which we are going to introduce today, is a classic member of the family. First of all, take a look at its pricing and let us compare it to a similarly specced Microchip part (PIC16F18875).

As can be seen by the OEMsecrets pricing, SGS stays true to its promise of being cheap – the part is, by and large, more affordable than parts from other vendors. When looking at the integrated peripherals, the STM8S903K3T6C gives you everything – one interesting detail is that STMicroelectronics does not use HEF, but instead provides real EPROM memory for user data. Other than that, Microchip provides more in the peripherals department – features such as the configurable logic cell, standard even on very low end PICs, are not available. However, developers do not need to worry about the development environment; both Microchip and SGS provide IDEs. ST Visual Develop, however, is a custom development not based on the recently-required Atollic.

Keep in mind that the chip is not nearly as wide-spread as PIC and AVR – getting help with an AVR problems is much easier, especially due to the large community grown by various projects such as the Arduino.

What to choose?

OEMSecrets job is to make your life easier in all aspects. Due to that, we will not limit ourselves to introducing you to affordable part – we strive to also tell you what to do. When working on a use case with a small or medium amount of production volume, microcontroller pricing usually is but a small part of the bill of materials. Use our price comparison engine to find a cheap source of a chip you know well, stick to it and run to Venezuela – the man hours needed to learn a new design will not, in most cases, be amortised. If volumes are medium to large (or you have a good relationship to SGS), the STM8 is a sensible choice. However, in many cases, an STM32 can be had for an equal amount of money – ST did an amazing job at keeping their 32bit ARM cores cheap.


For large orders, take a look at Shenzhen. Developers returning from longer trips in the PRC usually report about a variety of microcontrollers which are not known to Western developers – their incredibly low price, however, is canon.

PSSI2021SAY – Current Source IC by Nexperia

Current sources can be considered the outcast of the voltage source

Current sources can be considered the outcast of the voltage source. They are a part which can be tremendously useful, but is not particularly well understood.

A constant current source is a device driving a set current out of its pin. Physics dictates this being done by varying the output voltage – just like a voltage source varies its output current to keep U constant. Current sources can be used for a variety of things; when used to drive light emitting diodes, they ensure constant brightness. When used with a zener reference, a reduction in zener voltage changes can be achieved.

Designing current sources out of readily available transistors is not particularly difficult, but can become space intensive. NXP – the company recently changed its name and now calls itself Nexperia – offers a constant current source IC named PSSI2021SAY. It provides fixed currents ranging from 15yA to 50mA, and is able to handle supply voltages of up to 75V.

Change me!

PSSI2021SAY is nifty due to its ability to be programmed. The part is not a classic constant current source: designers can set the desired working point by connecting a resistor as shown in the example in figure 1.

The resistor governs the amount of current produced…

This programming design, sadly, has its limitations. Achieving large output currents is only possible when the supply voltage is high – the datasheet provides the table shown in figure 2, which can act as a guideline for selecting voltage supplies.

…Maximum output current is limited by supply voltage

If the voltage demands can be met, the part can also have a on-off capability. NXP’s PDTC124XU allows the current source to be switched off by disconnecting its ground pin. An example design is shown in figure 3.

One good part rarely comes alone…

OEMSecret’s current going price for one piece hovers around 30 US cents. The main problem is that the part is available only in the SOT 353 housing, which is not particularly easy to prototype due to a pin pitch of 0.65 mm.

Analog Devices’ AD534 Series

Digital to analog converters usually come with one or two channels…

Digital to analog converters usually come with one or two channels. Sadly, analog output needs tend to flock – in that case, Analog Device’s eight-converter AD534x family is an excellent contender.

As with most DACs, the functional block diagram provides a general overview of the internal structure and makes for a great starting point. In case of the AD534x family, the chart looks like figure 1.

…Eight DACs lead to the presence of a large amount of glue logic.

Fortunately, the internal structure is simple. The part is a parallel input DAC, which means that a total of eight, ten or twelve data lines are needed to provide the entire set of output information. Address lines allow the selection of individual output buffers, thereby permitting targeted changing of individual DAC outputs.

Flexible configuration

Analog Devices AD534x series differs from other converters due to the sophisticated control scheme. In addition to the normal write control and chip select pins, a dedicated pin named LDAC allows you to get data into DAC registers.

In addition to that, that CLR pin provides a simple way to clean a register, while the RD pin allows you get data back from the DAC. This feature might not sound very useful at first glance – when dealing with microcontrollers with limited memory, being able to off-load a few bytes may spare you from having to switch to a larger model.

The architecture of the part does not allow for high speeds. Analog Devices claims that a write to one channel can be handled in 20 nanoseconds – this is not particularly fast, which means that you shouldn’t use the part for your next arbitrary waveform generator.

On the other hand, excellent stability values of both 8-, 10- and 12bit parts predestine the family for applications where controlled voltages are required – think variable gain amplifiers, biased sources or various parameters controlling an attenuator.

For prototyping, the situation is a mixed bag. AD provides the part in TSSOP and LFCSP housings – the first challenges hand solderers with a pin spacing of less than 0.65 mm. For pricing, the table shows the current OEMSecrets price.


Analog Devices deserves a special mention for the excellent data sheet. It contains valuable resources on both basics and application circuits – if you are not a seasoned pro in working ADCs, definitely take a look.