Category Archives: Hardware

Tips and test on hardware components, including hardware programming and design.
Astuce et tests de composants matériels, micro-électronique et programmation FPGA.

The impact of putting an antenna in a box

IoT design a usually a matter of antenna as already seen in different previous blog post. Antenna performance is the assurance of your capacity to deploy your object in larger zone and a way to save energy by reducing transmission power.

As we will see, if you get a hardware component and simply put it in a box its radio behavior will be totally different as the box is impacting the transmission.

This post will practically show you the impact of a box on a device radio quality.

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miniVNA Tiny Plus review

I’ve got my miniVNA Tiny+ this summer and start making test with it. A VNA is a Vector Network Analyzer. Behind this dark name, this is a tool able to analyze the radio response of your circuit and ensure your circuit is tuned to the right frequency. From the data measured by this tool you can find the right adaptation circuit to match your central frequency.

For more information about RF circuit matching, you can read this other post.

The miniVNA Tiny+ is a low cost VNA solution less than 300€ covering frequencies from 1MHz to 3Ghz. These frequencies are good for most of IoT need : LPWAN around 868MHz and Bluetooth at 2,4GHz. The steps are 10Hz for a large precision. With two ports you can measure S11 – power transmitted and received over the same port – and S21 – power transmitted from port 1 and received over port 2.

The miniVNA Tiny+ is an usb solution working with a computer connected to and a software running on the computer. The software is based on Java and may support different Operating Systems.

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I-Extruder – solder paste dispenser

Ordered from Kickstarter and received quickly, this solder paste dispenser really changed my life !! Now since about 3-4 month I’m using it regularly and it still mking me really happy.

It has start from a Kickstarter project I back on but failed the first time. This was disappointing as the classical tool I’m using for dispensing solder paste are really noisy. So when they did a second KS and make it I was really happy. More over they are neighbor of me (about 200km on the Est) and seeing a such good idea made from France is as a good news as a surprise.

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SMD pickup tool review

Sometime when you want to place a SMD component on a PCB you can use a handy vacuum pump. I’ve tried different low cost model from AliExpress this summer and this post will tell you what is looking best to me for my use.

First of all, I’m not using this tool for components like small resistor, I prefer tweezers for such components. I’m using a handy vacuum pump for larger components like QPF, TSSOP, SOP, QFN…

I’ve tried 3 different tools from AliExpress from 1$ to 9$

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Eclipse & nRF52 create a native project

As seen in a previous post, working with nRF52 and Eclipse is not the easiest challenge !

This post will detail how to create a template project for a BLE project using a softdevice working on the PCA10040 board and using my ble library.

This can be apply to most of ble starting project with nRF52. I assume you configured Eclipse IDE as described in this post. As a pre-requisite you also need git. The tutorial works with SDK 12.3

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Discover Nordic Semi nRF52832 with Eclipse

nRF52832_mediumnRF52382 is a BLE micro-controler based on a 32b Arm M4 core operating at 64MHz. It includes 512kb of flash memory and 64kb of RAM with a price about 2,80$.

It supports BLE (Bluetooth Smart) and ANT RF protocol. It also includes a NFC-A tag. NFC can wake up device and allow easy bluetooth pairing.

Device allows Over-the-Air Firmware Upgrade. It also have different SoftDevice (protocol stacks) with BLE or ANT8 or both.

By including internal Oscillators, power supply elements and Rf elements, this chip is a low cost solution for building IoT.

nRF52832 will be available Q1 2016 but development kit preview are available. (note – this post has been kept as a draft for a too long time !! )

Now, let’s read the next part for how to quick start with the development kit.

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Port a TD1208 firmware to TD1508

TD1208/TD1508

TD1508 is the FCC version of the TD1208, they are pin to pin compatible and based on the same SDK so converting an object working on a TD1208 sounds easy. Practically speaking there are some preparing steps because of some tiny bugs to solve.

Let see how to port a Telecom Design existing firmware for TD1208 to TD1508 (from ETSI to FCC).

 

 

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