NRF51 – To Spend or Not to Spend…

MicroCrystal RV-8803 – A Really Accurate RTC June 17, 2019- RTC chips traditionally were the domain of Maxim and NXP. Switzerland-based MicroCrystal recently made quite a buzz with its RV-8803, which offers simple integration, an I2C interface and extreme accuracy. Let us start out by looking at a system overview. Figure one shows how this I2C RTC is made up internally – interested observers note … Continue reading MicroCrystal RV-8803 – A Really Accurate RTC
Analog Devices’ LTM2887 – If a Digital Bus Needs Galvanic Isolation June 15, 2019- In theory, digital buses are intended to connect things to one another. Sadly, one sometimes wants but a logical connection – in many cases, galvanic isolation helps out. Should you ever feel like isolating very fast buses, definitely give the LTM2887 a chance. From a technical point of view, Linear Technologies attempt at entering the … Continue reading Analog Devices’ LTM2887 – If a Digital Bus Needs Galvanic Isolation
AVAGO APDS-9008 or APDS-9005-020 – Keeping an Eye on Ambient Light June 14, 2019- Recent times saw quite a bit of interest for part numbers such as the APDS-9008 or APDS-9005-020 – they are a very interesting type of ambient light sensor. One of the oldest questions in regards to light sensors involves their spectral sensitivity. If a part is to output but one voltage level, the conversion between … Continue reading AVAGO APDS-9008 or APDS-9005-020 – Keeping an Eye on Ambient Light
STMicroelectronics’ LIS2DH12 – Low Power Motion Sensing June 12, 2019- Apple’s iPhone introduced gyroscopic sensors to a wider range – before that, accelerometers were not commonly found in consumer hardware. STM sells excellent parts which, however, get little media attention – time to take a look at the LIS2DH12. Integrating the part into your circuit as an MPU6500 alternative or MPU9500 alternative is not difficult. … Continue reading STMicroelectronics’ LIS2DH12 – Low Power Motion Sensing
Panasonic AMG8833 – FLIR for cheap June 7, 2019- FLIR made infrared thermal sensors cool – sadly, their parts are all but cheap (and suffer from export control problems). Panasonic’s Grid-EYE family is a low-resolution alternative which comes at significantly lower cost. From a technical point of view, Panasonic’s image sensor could not be simpler. We are looking at an 8×8 sensor with an … Continue reading Panasonic AMG8833 – FLIR for cheap
DipTronics DTS-62R-V – Small Switch, Very Big (and Very Cheap) June 5, 2019- When yours truly was but a lowly cadet, various US manufacturers produced (pricey but quite reliable) switches. Chinese vendors recently started to catch up – seeing the DTS-62R-V top our customer interest list shows that the run stage of the crawl-walk-run cycle is reached. DipTronics has been around the Asian switch market for ages, exhibiting … Continue reading DipTronics DTS-62R-V – Small Switch, Very Big (and Very Cheap)

Some years ago, development kits were expensive by definition…

Some years ago, development kits were expensive by definition. As the “maker revolution” redistributed electronics development into smaller and smaller companies, prices fell. Whilst Boeing or UAC might not flinch at a 600€ PCB, some of our clients balk heavily. When dealing with Nordic Semiconductors, developers have the choice between a large amount of boards, all of which recently gained a lot of attention. As always, use OEMSecrets to find the best prices – even when dealing with “super-low volume” such as development boards, distributors will and do charge more or less contango.

NRF51-DONGLE

A few years ago, an event organized by WEKA Media raised attention – a speaker claimed that many semiconductor vendors create but one silicon design, and tailor the ICs to various wireless protocols only via the loaded firmware.

The NRF51 supports a set of so-called SoftDevices, which can be used to emulate various wireless systems – it can be used as both Bluetooth and custom wireless system. Finally, the product can even be used as a Bluetooth sniffer, thereby saving money.

NRF52 DK

Adding hardware to the above-mentioned dev board can be difficult – soldering to “eye side contacts” is not exactly a pleasure. Thus, the nRF52 DK was introduced, providing an Arduino Uno-like pinout which greatly simplifies the adding of various peripherals.

This is especially interesting for all working under time pressure; if the demands placed on the “edge device” are low, a bit of firmware run on the wireless module can eliminate the micro-controller. Incidentally, Nordic are not the only firm doing this – a variety of other companies deploy similar technologies, albeit under strict NDA.

NRF6936 Thingy:52

In some cases, starting out with an advanced design can be helpful – the final revision can then be created by “eliminating” unneeded elements. The Thingy52 provides a set of sensors along with a GPIO extender, whose schematics are outlined in the second half of the PDF found here.

Nordic furthermore provides a set of example applications for Android and iOS – if you need to get started quickly, this is definitely the way to go.


Even more…

The three above-mentioned products provide wide-band access to various wireless protocols; this is especially useful if you aren’t completely sure which way leads to the future. If you already know which chip to use, using one of the dedicated development kits for the specific chip can be a more attractive option.

In short, if work on an RF system is planned, purchasing the evaluation board definitely is a good idea. Knowing that the radio software works simplifies design verification – in addition to that, never underestimate the amount of software work needed. Buying developer boards allows the software team to get to work before hardware is ready to ship…