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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Meet the Sigfox founders

This last monday I had the chance to meet the two Sigfox founders Ludovic Le-Moan and Christophe Fourtet during a really nice day at Labege (SigFox headquarter) with other Sigfox ambassadors.

From the meeting we had with the founders I retained some of the Sigfox strategical guide line:

 

 

  • Scalability –  this is the major point raised during our discussions : the network must be able to scale and all what has been designed in the radio protocol & technology, as in the cloud architecture was for scalability.

Thanks to this initial design no big change are expected in the radio solution in the coming years. It has already been designed for future.

In regard to this scalability strategy we have also meet the team operating the network. I’ve seen a really nice Network Operation Center, well equiped and with about 40 people involved. It has been fun for me as in my daily job I’m managing internal inter-application communication of a large company. The volume of data we are proceeding every day is quite similar as of now but Sigfox is well more equiped than I am and better prepared for scaling 😉

 

  • Reliability – The ISM band will continue to have more and more noise on it coming from all the coming radio device using it. Sigfox design has been made to ensure a long term capacity to support this evolution. Ultra narrow band is actually the best and secure way to continue to communicate over noisy environment also protecting this common good by limiting the spectral usage.

 

  • Simplicity –  Sigfox has been made to be simple to use with no parameters to tune the radio or the protocol. Everything is defined to ensure a good quality in the communications. This spirit will be kept in the future but potentially we will have the capability to tweak some of the parameters. We could imagine to limit the repetition time for frame with lower criticality. This will save power or send more frame per hour. We could imagine to get higher speed. Why not having more downlink ? Larger payload ?

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Wisol WSSFM20R1 module

New comer in the Sigfox ecosystem : the Wisol FM20R1.

Wisol have already changed the Sigfox module world by providing a solution based on the OnSemi design for transmitting on Sigfox network for about 2$. Now they are back with a full SoC solution for a really competitive price estimated under 15$. This solution is providing SigFox, GPS, Wifi, NFC, RF and includes an accelerometer.

 

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Why electronic does not mean china and why 5$ IoT is for Chinese ?

This is a regular discussion I have with prospect or with different business oriented people about producing electronics in developed countries and costs of devices. When you talk about electronic products in many minds it is equivalent to talk about Chinese production & design. It’s like when you talk about software in a couple of years ago it was a kind of synonym  with back-office Indian development.

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Sigfox on the move !

sigfox
sigfox

In many occasion some of my Sigfox prototypes has been in movement with difficulties to emit ; many source can cause this but basically from discussions with specialists speed is not a close friend of Sigfox technology.

As a quick test is always better than a long theorical discussion, tonight, I took my car and made some tests.

This post details the test of Sigfox running in a car at different speed.

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Sigfox technical basics

Sigfox has just published a documentation on the technical basis of the network. This pdf document is a good summary of all what you need to know to get start on the technology.

The document is attached here Sigfox technical overview

To complete this overview you can also take a look to my different post & video

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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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