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mikroElektronika ARM development tools

May 28th, 2012 No comments

Recently mikroElektronika has been so kind to send us a couple of samples of their latest ARM development tool series.

The latest mikroElektronika ARM development tool series


mikroElektronika is known for their broad range of development boards especially in the PIC series where the most common board is their EasyPIC board. Now they have done it again and come up with a new product line – the ARM series.
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Categories: ARM, Development boards, Reviews, Tools Tags:

Review: ChipKIT Uno32

May 26th, 2012 11 comments

Name: ChipKIT Uno32
Distributor: Farnell
Price: Β£18.94 ~ $30

Evaluation Type: Development Board, PIC32
Application you used the part in: Arduino form-factored development/prototyping
Was everything in the box required?: The box only contains the board itself, nothing else
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Shield compatibility with other Arduino shields (should be 3.3V compatible)

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Categories: ARM, Development boards, Reviews Tags:

Review: STM32F4-DISCOVERY

April 6th, 2012 36 comments

Name: STM32F4-DISCOVERY
Distributor: DigiKey
Price: ~$20

Evaluation Type: Development Board, ARM Cortex-M4
Application you used the part in: QuadCopter
Was everything in the box required?: The box only contains the board itself, nothing else
What were the biggest problems encountered?: It is hard to find a good but inexpensive or free compiler

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Categories: ARM, Development boards, Reviews Tags:

Review: ITeadMaple (and 2.4" Touch Display)

November 30th, 2011 3 comments

Name: ITeadMaple + 2.4″ Touch Display
Distributor: ITead Studio
Price: $33 + $25

Evaluation Type: Development Board, ARM
Application you used the part in: Embedded Graphics Display
Was everything in the box required?: Yes! A USB A to USB Mini-B cable was also required for programming
What were the biggest problems encountered?: None – it’s a very easy board to use for a beginner, just like the Arduino

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Categories: ARM, Development boards, Reviews Tags:

mbed – Rapid Prototyping with Microcontrollers

October 18th, 2011 15 comments

Name: mbed
Distributor: Silica Avnet
Price: $60

Evaluation Type: Development Board
Application you used the part in: Easy embedded development with microprocessors
Was everything in the box required?: Yes
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Requires an internet connection for software development (compiling)

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Categories: ARM, Development boards, Reviews Tags:

EZ430-Chronos Unboxing and Demonstration

October 3rd, 2011 3 comments

About a month ago Texas Instruments started their so called TI Deals – “A cool new way to get discounted tools and kits from Texas Instruments”
The service is an advertising stunt by Texas Instruments which lowers the price of some of their development tools in a specific period.

The first product to be lowered in price were their EZ430-Chronos watch. A watch with their CC430 MCU inside with wireless connectivity.

The regular price for the watch was $49.00, though as it being the first product in their new “TI Deals”, the product were sold for $24.50 – 50% off! Including free shipping.
An extremely cheap price for a good looking watch (maybe a bit big) with developer possibilities. So I decided to get myself one – and luckily for me I ordered one in time, as they went out of stock pretty fast!

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Categories: Other Microprocessors, Reviews Tags:

Review: IEMP v1.0 – Simple Arduino DDS Signal Generator

September 11th, 2011 No comments

Name: IEMP v1.0 – Simple Arduino DDS Signal Generator
Distributor: ITead Studio
Price: $59

Evaluation Type: Development Tool
Application you used the part in: Signal generation
Was everything in the box required?: No, but Yes if you want to customize
What were the biggest problems encountered?: The power supply on the board gets really hot when used

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Categories: Reviews, Tools Tags:

Review: POWERAVR NXP LPC1768 board V2.0+3.2"LCD

September 2nd, 2011 90 comments

Name: POWERAVR NXP LPC1768 board V2.0+3.2″LCD
Distributor: WayEngineer
Price: $70

Evaluation Type: Development Board
Application you used the part in: Development/evaluation of the LPC1768 part
Was everything in the box required?: Yes
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Examples only provided for the Keil uVision compiler

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Categories: ARM, Development boards, Reviews Tags:

Review: Microchip Multimedia Expansion Board (for PIC32)

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards
Application you used the part in: Evaluation of PIC32 USB Starter Kit II
Was everything in the box required?: Yes
What were the biggest problems encountered?: It requires some time to find the sufficient examples, and unfortunately most of the examples are pre-compiled HEX-files, so it is impossible to change something in the demos.
Though it is possible to find the same demos in the Microchip Application Library, it’s difficult to get theese working together with the Multimedia Expansion Board.

Scoring
Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 8
Demo Software was of good quality: 8
Demo was easy to use: 7
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 9
TotalScore: 50

Prelude
In this review I will be demonstrating and reviewing the PIC32 Multimedia Expansion board. This is a expansion product from Microchip, which extends the capabilities of their PIC32 Starter Kits. In the end you will find my conclusion, whether you should buy this board or not.
In the following review, the Multimedia Expansion board will be called MEB board.
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Categories: Development boards, PIC, Reviews Tags:

Review/Guide: ZTEX Spartan 6 module

February 25th, 2011 3 comments

A couple of weeks ago I recieved a Spartan 6 module from ZTEX. In this blog post I will be reviewing this excellent FPGA board.

ZTEX Spartan 6 module


The ZTEX USB FPGA Module 1.11 contains not only the Spartan 6 FPGA. It contains:

  • Cypress CY7C68013A EZ-USB-Microcontroller
  • Xilinx Spartan 6 XC6SLX9 to XC6SLX25 FPGA (I’ve got the XC6SLX25)
  • 64 MByte DDR SDRAM
  • MicroSD socket
  • 128 Kbit EEPROM memory
  • 48MHz Clock for the FPGA (going out from the Cypress)

Spartan 6 module content


The first impression of the board is a nice design, it looks good and it feels good. The second great thing about the board, is that almost every pin on the FPGA has been brought out, and even also some of the Cypress microcontroller pins. It is also possible to customize the Cypress microcontroller firmware. There are also some connections between the FPGA and the Cypress microcontroller, which makes it possible to develop applications that uses both the FPGA and the Cypress microcontroller.
As the Cypress microntroller has a USB capability, it is also used to upload designs to the FPGA, but it can also be used in your own applications.

When I first got the board it was kind of difficult getting started. Though the ZTEX website contains a lot of documents, schematics and layout, and they have a nice Wiki, I kind of missed an easy “Getting Started” guide.
But after reading the Wiki a couple of times, I downloaded their Firmware/SDK package and got their FWLoader running. The FWLoader is a Java application used to communicate with the Onboard Cypress microcontroller over USB.

To communicate with the Cypress microcontroller, you can use their FWLoader, found in their ZTEX EZ-USB SDK. To begin with, you have to upload the firmware for the Cypress microcontroller, which takes care of programming the FPGA. To do so, you have to copy “standalone.ihx” to the java folder (inside the SDK), and then afterwards execute the following command.

java -cp FWLoader.jar FWLoader -c -uu standalone.ihx -ue standalone.ihx -ii

After executing this command, it was now possible to communicate with the Cypress microcontroller using the commands explained on their FWLoader Wiki page. I was able to upload my first bitfile to the FPGA using the following command.

java -cp FWLoader.jar FWLoader -uf <bit-fil>

In the video above you can see my first experience with the board, getting a couple of LEDs to blink. I’ve used the 48MHz Clock, prescaled it, and made a simple counter – it worked πŸ™‚
So in total, it wasn’t that difficult to get it running. The things that was difficult, was figuring out how their FWLoader worked, and how I should upload new designs. Though their Wiki was a great help!

As the Spartan 6 has a lot of power, I am sure that this will be a well-used board, and I can already imagine getting the LatticeMico32, a 32-bit open soft core processor, to work on this.

Categories: FPGA, Guides, Reviews Tags: