At conferences and shows like the Embedded World in Nürnberg it is not only about gathering the trends of the industry: it is as well about collecting all the goodies handed out to the attendees. I’m less interested in things like pens or the like: what I love most are microcontroller on a board I can use :-). This year STMicroelectronics, Atmel and Cypress all had boards to distribute ‘like candies’ 🙂
STMicroelectronics handed probably more than 1000 STM32F103 Nucleo boards (you had to pre-register for the board). The board comes in a shiny plastic box:
❓ I guess the material is PET, but it does not have any PET markers on it. I’m wondering about how much antistatic that would be?
The board is mbed enabled.
The bottom of the board has cut/solder/resistors to configure the board pins:
All parts are populated, with one user LED and two buttons (USER and RESET). The on-board ST-Link/V2-1 is detachable and features a virtual COM port, USB MSD (Mass Storage Device) and debug port. The onboard Arduino compatible headers allow to add shields, while on the outer pin rows all microcontroller signals are available. The STM32F103RBT6 on the board is an ARM Cortex-M3 with 128 KByte FLASH and 20 KByte RAM, running up to 72 MHz. The board is sold for only $10.32, so much value for that price 🙂
Atmel AVR Xplained Mini
Atmel distributed the AVR Xplained Mini boards at their booth, and I nearly missed the board because it was in an unflashy manner. The board comes in a card box, inside an anti-static bag:
The board has holes for Arduino shields, plus space for own prototyping area. The board includes the debugging interface:
On the board there is an ATMEGA 168PA as target microcontroller (8bit AVR with 16 KByte Flash). The bottom side of the board has a small fix in it:
It has an onboard debugger interface and PCB USB connector.
The board features ‘Auto-ID’: the Atmel Studio 6.2 can identify the board and microcontroller on the board which is a cool feature. To bad that this is not an ARM microcontroller ;-).
Cypress PSoC 4 Prototyping Kit
Back to ARM :-). The most innovative packaging in my view had Cypress Semiconductor for their PSoC 4 Prototyping kit. The PSoC 4 CY8C4245AXI-483 is an ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller (48 MHz, 32 KByte FLASH, 4 KByte RAM). Cypress distributed 1000 boards at the show (according to the information in their booth).
The board is inside a flat piece of card board:
The backside had the Quick Start Guide printed on it:
I love it as it is a very environment friendly packaging. And second I see where Cypress is going with this: the package needs very little space, and can be shipped easily as a simple letter at minimal costs: just put an address label with a stamp on it and it is on the way to the user :-). And it only costs $4 🙂
More of a detail: peeling the label off did not work very well for me:
The board includes a breakable/detachable USB-Serial interface for bootloading (USB-UART, USB-GPIO, USB-I2C), and the main board has a blue LED with a user button:
To program it with SWD, on the right lower side the needed pins are available. I really like the board has routed all pins to the outside in a bread-board friendly way:
As the AVR board, it comes with a PCB USB connector, but it is using gold-plated contacts:
I have new toys I can play with 🙂 I love the creative way Cypress is distributing their PSoC boards, which gets me a free USB-to-Serial adapter as bonus. AVR has a very inexpensive and Xplained Mini board which can host Ardunio compatible shields, to bad that it is not an ARM core. The most ‘value in the box’ had STMicroelectronics with their Nucleo board: ST-Link detachable debugging interface, all components populated, at very low price. My take is that the Nucleo boards will get very popular.
Clearly 2014 seems to be even more the year of ARM based low-cost evaluation and development boards which benefit from the Ardiuino shield eco-system. Many boards are advertised as ‘mbed enabled’ which is a good starting point for evaluation (or for marketing). I rather want to go hard-core for development :-).
Happy Boarding 🙂