November 2020 Hardware Roundup
A handful of SAM D21 and SAM D51 boards headline the November 2020 list of hardware, including a new Adafruit Feather and a bug-shaped IoT wearable.
Check out the November 2020 list of hardware!
Adafruit Feather M4 CAN Express
If you’re a fan of the SAM D51-based Feather M4 but find yourself in search of a board for CAN interfacing projects, you’re in luck! That’s because, Adafruit has given one of their favorite Feathers an upgrade with the SAM E51 microcontroller and its CAN bus support. The board features a CAN transceiver chip along with a 5V converter that generates 5V to the transceiver even when running on battery. The two CAN signal lines and ground reference signal are available on a three-pin 3.5mm terminal block, and the chip and booster can be put to sleep for power saving. The built-in CAN is capable of reading or writing packets, and offers both Arduino and CircuitPython compatibility. It’s also pin-compatible with the original Feather M4 and packs plenty of peripherals. The Feather M4 CAN Express is selling for just $25.
Fresh on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign — which raised over $13,000 — the CodeBug Connect is a cute, colorful, and SAM D21-controlled wearable platform designed to simplify embedded IoT development. The CodeBug is equipped with a 5x5 RGB LED array, two five-way navigation joysticks, an onboard accelerometer, a Wi-Fi chipset, 4MB of flash storage, four touch-sensitive GPIO “legs,” and a six-pin header configurable for UART/I2C/SPI, I2S, or analog audio out. What’s more, it can be expanded upon through a rich set of sensor add-ons, such as an environsense (temperature, pressure, humidity, altitude, UV, light and color), GPS, PIR, and air quality — most of which are chainable. On the software side, the CodeBug runs a MicroPython-compatible Pyiotos hybrid operating system.
Stefan Wagner has continued to release a bunch of new PCB designs in recent weeks, most notably a development board for the ATmega4808 complete with an integrated USB-to-serial converter, a 32.768kHz crystal for the RTC, a 3.3V voltage regulator, and support for the Arduino IDE via the MegaCoreX hardware package. Although targeting the top-end ATmega4808, Wagner’s board is compatible with three other members of the megaAVR® 0-series family: the ATmega808, ATmega1608, and ATmega3208. Other specs include 256B of EEPROM storage, 27 GPIO pins, four 16-bit timer/counters and a 16-bit real-time counter, three USARTS, SPI, TWI, configurable custom logic, an analog comparator, a 10-bit analog-to-digital converter, a watchdog timer with window mode, and an external interrupts on all general purpose pins. More details on the project can be found on Wagner’s EasyEDA page and over on GitHub.
Coming soon to Crowd Supply, Neuralaxy's NeuroStimDuino is an open source, dsPIC33F-driven Arduino shield neurostimulator for students, researchers, and hobbyists interested in neuroscience. The NeuroStimDuino can be configured over I2C communication from an external microcontroller like the Arduino Due. Each shield has a pair of independent output channels, which can be used to alternately contract flexor and extensor muscles or simultaneously contract multiple muscles, and can multiple units can be stacked on top of one another for additional output channels. It also has built-in safety features that limit the power density generated by the stimulator to stay within FDA guidelines. Once set up, the NeuroStimDuino can produce biphasic, rectangular, and constant current stimulation pulses with programmable frequency, pulse-width, and amplitude. Those wishing to get started with neuroscience can sign up on the campaign page to be notified of when it goes live.
BH Dynamics’ DynOSSAT-EDU is an open source, CircuitPython-compatible PocketQube development kit that provides makers, students, and amateurs with all the necessary modules for the operation of a real nanosatellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The platform is composed of three parts: a SAM D51 onboard computer with a nine-axis IMU, MCP9808 temperature sensor, and air quality sensor, a SAM D21-controlled electric power system with battery management and power distribution subsystems (including charging through solar panels using flight-proven MPPT electronics), and a SatComm LoRa board for simulating LEO-Earth communications as well as a PAN 2.4GHz module. Ready to take your projects to new heights? You can learn more about the DynOSSAT-EDU on BH Dynamics’ website and purchase a kit on their Tindie store, starting at $69.99.
JLogger-601 LoRa Datalogger
NHB Systems’ JLogger-601 is an inexpensive, low-power logger for remote data collection from a range of analog and digital sensors. Based on a SAM D21, the board is outfitted with six precision d24-bit analog input channels (with a programmable gain amplifier from one to 128), 8MB of flash storage, approximately 14 μA sleep current, and a MOSFET-controlled 3.3V output. The JLogger-601 has sockets for custom input modules on each channel, plus four high-speed 12-bit analog inputs, a 12-bit analog output, onboard LiPo charger, expansion headers, and the option to add a LoRa radio. If you need to monitor a handful of sensors from afar, save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars and buy a J-Logger-601 on Tindie for $85.
Peter Misenko (better known by the community as Bobricius) is back with the latest device in his line of Armachat Doomsday messengers. The Armachat Nano is a standalone terminal — which as its name would suggest — measures only 38x38mm and is made up of four layered FR4 panels. Hardware wise, the communicator consists of a 0.96” HD IPS display, touchpad, USB-C for power, and a SAM D21 at its core — meaning it can function as a generic development kit, too. Simply plug in a USB keyboard (perhaps this mini, SAM D21-powered QWERTY keyboard?) and start typing. You can follow along with Bobricius’ progress on Twitter, and get a closer look at the project in this deep dive article.
RunTinyRun is a keychain-sized, solar-powered endless runner game console made from scratch — comprised of an ATtiny10, a 128x32 OLED screen, and a button. The gadget uses an MCP1640 to boost voltage from its photovoltaic cells and charge a 0.1F supercapacitor. RunTinyRun was created in a couple form factors. The first version has all the components on the front with a solar panel on the back, while the second employs a pair of IXOLAR KXOB25-04X3F cells in parallel on the front together with the display with all other parts placed on the back.
RS485/Modbus Dev Board
Catnip Electronics has come up with a compact board for quickly building RS485/Modbus devices, which allows for various sensors and actuators to be added to a network. The aptly named RS485/Modbus Dev Board sports an ATtiny441, five GPIO pins, SPI and I2C ports, two analog inputs, two PWM outputs, and a 2x5 0.1” prototyping area. Want a simple way to expand your RS-485 network with sensors and other device without a native Modbus interface? The board is now on Tindie for $20.
Want to see more? Browse last month’s list here.