[Florian] and his engineering team at Munich-based bmc::labs has developed a clever set of prototyping boards for vehicle hacking and rapid product development, collectively called the bmc::board or bmc::mini. These stackable development boards were initially designed for in-house use. The team took a general purpose approach to the design so the boards could be used across a wide range of projects, and they should be useful to anyone in the field. [Florian] decided to release the boards to the community as open-source and certified by OSHWA (Open Source Hardware Association).
There are four boards currently defined, with several more in the works:
- mini::base — Main microcontroller board, STM32F103-based
- mini::out — I/O board with CAN bus, JTAG, etc.
- mini:: grid — RF board providing GPS and GSM capability
- mini::pit — local wireless connectivity, WiFi and Bluetooth, and 2nd CAN bus
At 54 x 42.5 mm, these boards are pretty small; a form-factor they describe as “exactly half a credit card”. We like the Wurth WR-MM family of stacking connectors they are using, and the symmetrical pinout means you can rotate the cards as needed. But at first glance, these thru-hole connectors seem to limit the stack to just two boards, although maybe they plan move to an SMT flavor of the connector in future designs permitting taller stacks.
If you’re into vehicle electronics and/or vehicle hacking, definitely take a look at these. You can check out [Florian]’s bmc::board Hackaday.io project page and the team’s GitHub repository for more details. Here’s another project by team member [Sebastian] using one of the future bmc::bike modules to eavesdrop on ECU communications, where he sensibly advises the reader “First, pull over and get off the bike. Never hack a two-wheeled vehicle while riding it!”.
No discussion of vehicle CAN bus tools should omit the work of Craig Smith, who literally wrote the book on hacking your car, and whose talk along with Hackaday’s own Eric Evenchick of CANtact fame we covered back in 2016. [Florian] has started a CrowdSupply campaign where you can see some more details of this project and a short promotional video.
Australian engineer [John Catsoulis] developed a small module called the Scamp2 dedicated to running Forth. The focus of his Udamonic project was not only to highlight Forth, but to make a module which was easy to use and doesn’t require any IDE on your computer. According to the website, these modules have found their niche in education as well as rapid prototyping for product development. His site has some good resources, including several Scamp/Forth example applications such as a model train controller or adding a real-time clock module.
The core of the module is a Microchip PIC24F64GB202 MCU with 64K Flash and 8K RAM. Of this, Forth takes up only 20K of Flash and 2K of RAM. [John] is using FlashForth, a version of Forth which came from [Mikael Nordman] at the University of Queensland almost ten years ago. FlashForth has been implemented on a wide variety of PIC and AVR ATmega processors and has apparently developed quite a following in Australia and elsewhere.
We estimate from the photo that the Scamp is about 80 mm long, just slightly longer than a standard piece of MIL-A-A-20175A Type II chewing gum ( 73 mm ). You can use it as-is, or with the header pins installed, the Scamp can be plugged into a breadboard for easy hacking. Regarding the interfacing of Scamp to other equipment, [John] says “Writing software to use other hardware is very easy, and fun.” We like his attitude.
Here is some more information from his Hackaday.io project page, and he also has a Tindie site. If you want a good overview of using Forth in embedded systems, check out Forth: The Hacker’s Language by our own Forth-guru [Elliot Williams]. Thanks to [Stephen Walters] for sending in the tip.
Continue reading “Forth Module The Size Of A Stick Of Gum”
When [Andy Brown] recently tripped over ST’s new G0 series of MCUs, he figured after some research that the best way to learn everything there’s to know about the STM32G0xx by making his own development board based around the STM32G081. The result is a Nucleo-style board, breaking out all pins to convenient 2.54 mm headers, and with a number of niceties, such as an on-board coin cell and 32.768 kHz LSE oscillator for RTC use and three different power supplies (3.3 V, 2.5 V, and 1.8 V) for the MCU.
The board is programmed with an external ST-Link programmer that connects to the SWD interface on the MCU, with a 20-pin programming header provided. While by no means small or compact, it makes for very easy breadboarding and prototyping, with all 2.54 mm headers accessible from the bottom and top.
As for the STM32G0 series itself, the jury is still out on its performance compared to the F0. The former swaps the Cortex-M0 core for an M0+, with a reduced pipeline length (3 stages in the G0) but increased frequency (64 MHz versus 48 MHz). The G0 has a little bit more SRAM, but so far less Flash storage. According to ARM, this MCU range is designed to remove any need to still use an 8-bit MCU. Big claims, indeed.
The biggest issue which [Andy] had while developing this board was probably with the CH340 USB-UART chip. Ordering them from AliExpress as is common, the CH340G ICs he got just wouldn’t work on the first board revision, forcing him to switch to the CH340E and requiring a board respin. This version has an internal oscillator and as a bonus even came in the original tape packaging when it arrived, instead of in a plastic baggy like with the CH340G parts.
See a video of [Andy] going through the design after the break.
Continue reading “Building A Development Board For The STM32 G0 Series”
The PocketBeagle single-board computer is now a few months old, and growing fast like its biological namesake. An affordable and available offering in the field of embedded Linux computing, many of us picked one up as an impulse buy. For some, the sheer breadth of possibilities can be paralyzing. (“What do I do first?”) Perhaps a development board can serve as a starting point for training this young puppy? Enter the BaconBits cape.
When paired with a PocketBeagle, everything necessary to start learning embedded computing is on hand. It covers the simple basics of buttons for digital input, potentiometer for analog input, LEDs for visible output. Then grow beyond the basics with an accelerometer for I²C communication and 7-segment displays accessible via SPI. Those digging into system internals will appreciate the USB-to-serial bridge that connects to PocketBeagle’s serial console. This low-level communication will be required if any experimentation manages to (accidentally or deliberately) stop PocketBeagle’s standard USB network communication channels.
BaconBits were introduced in conjunction with the E-ALE (embedded apprentice Linux engineer) training program for use in hands-on modules. The inaugural E-ALE session at SCaLE 16X this past weekend had to deal with some last-minute hiccups, but the course material is informative and we’re confident it’ll be refined into a smooth operation in the near future. While paying for the class will receive built hardware and in-person tutorials to use it, all information – from instructor slides to the BaconBits design – is available on Github. Some of us will choose to learn by reading the slides, others will want their own BaconBits for independent experimentation. And of course E-ALE is not the only way to learn more about PocketBeagle. Whichever way people choose to go, the embedded Linux ecosystem will grow, and we like the sound of that!
Whether we need them or not, we don’t usually shy away from a development board. [Keith] sent us a tip on the DragonBoard 410c after reading our recent coverage of the latest Beagleboard release. Arrow Electronics is manufacturing (and distributing, not surprisingly) the first Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 series based development board. At the time of writing there are two boot images on the 96boards.org site available for download Android 5.1 and an Ubuntu based version of Linux.
The DragonBoard 410c is stuffed with an Arm Cortex-A53 (Arm block diagram after the break) with max speed of 1.2GHz and support for 32bit and 64bit code. It also has on-board GPS, 2.4GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, full size HDMI connector, a micro USB port that operates in only device mode, two full size USB 2.0 ports for host mode, a micro SD card slot. In the way of GPIO it has a 40 pin low speed connector and a 60 pin high speed connector, there is also an additional 16 pin breakout for analog audio, and the list goes on (follow links above for more info).
For those of you playing buzzword drinking games not to worry, the board can be made Arduino compatible by using the mezzanine connector and there is a plan for the board to be Windows 10 compatible. Better make that a double!
Continue reading “64bits Of Development Board”
Back in 2011 we did a short roundup of some popular development boards. We promised a follow up at some point, and that time is near. We would really like to make this a fairly comprehensive list and there are always suggestions sent in after the article that we overlooked.
This time, we’re asking that you tell us what dev boards you prefer and why. Either reply in the comments or email us directly at email@example.com. We’ll round up all of your suggestions and bring you the “development board brakedown for 4th quarter 2012”.
Please keep in mind that we can’t possibly know everything about every single board out there, so if there’s some special feature of a board that you love, be sure to let us know!