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ESC 2010 update.

In late April I visited the exhibits at the annual Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, CA. For the most part, people I met with discussed microcontrollers, communication, and development kits. The short descriptions below represent only a snapshot of the interesting products announced or unveiled at ESC. The online version of this column includes many other descriptions.

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Future Technology Devices International (FTDI) now has VNC2 evaluation modules (V2DIP-x), a VNC2 evaluation kit ($US 79, V2-EVAL) and a VNC2 debug module ($US 17) that will help designers quickly develop embedded USB 2.0 Host/Slave circuits based on the company's new Vinculum VNC2 devices. The VNC2 operates as a programmable dual USB 2.0 host/slave intelligent controller that includes a 16-bit MCU core as well as flash memory and RAM. The V2-EVAL kit comprises a main development board that can accept a 32-, 48- or 64-pin evaluation module for the VNC2 package type chosen for investigation or development work. Two USB type-A connectors and a USB type-B connector provide interfacing configuration, and debug connections for the royalty-free Vinculum software development tools and integrated development environment. The board provides I/O headers for all supported interfaces such as UART, FIFO, SPI and GPIO. In addition, user configurable LEDs and switches are provided. Pricing for modules: V2DIP1-48 $US 21.50 and V2DIP2-48 $US 25.24. Visit: http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/VNC2.htm.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Renesas Electronics America has collaborated with Redpine Signals to simplify the use of IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n wireless communications with the Renesas R8C, RX and SuperH microcontrollers (MCUs). The Redpine devices use the company's Connect-io-n ICs that employ an SPI (10 Mbps) or UART (4Mbps) interface to communicate with a host MCU. The combination of an MCU and a wireless chipset provides all the functions needed for a wireless LAN (WLAN), so designers need not become RF experts to create wireless equipment. Applications for the Renesas/Redpine IC combinations include appliances, medical equipment, security systems, and lighting-control products. Developers can start with a Redpine WiFi starter kit ($US 299, part number RS2201R8C25). The kit includes the Renesas Electronics Starter Kit for the R8C/25 MCU, one 802.11 n companion board based on the Redpine Connect-io-n module, an E8a hardware-debug pod, the Renesas High-performance Embedded Workshop software, software examples, and documents. The kit comes pre-loaded with demonstration code. For more information: http://www.redpinesignals.com/connection.html and http://am.renesas.com.

Engineers might also take advantage of W2CBW003 system-in-package radio devices from Wi2Wi. This radio includes a separate IEEE 802.11b/g transceiver and a Bluetooth V2.0 + EDR radio. The latter provides an enhanced data rate of up to about 2.1 Mbits/sec. Wi2Wi had a development kit for this device ($US 399, part number W2CBW003-DEV). For information, visit: http://www.wi2wi.com.

Many designs do not require the complexity or capabilities of Wi-Fi or ZigBee communications. In those cases, the SNAP instant-on mesh network stack from Synapse Wireless deserves attention. The wireless network still relies on standard IEEE 802.15.4 radios that the SNAP protocol (actually its own operating system) uses to create an auto-forming multi-hop network that requires no router nodes. Individual modules--all peer devices--use Python-language scripts that give programmers control over every hardware pin on a Sow-cost RF Engine module. Synapse offers a Network Starter Kit ($US 99, EK2100) and a Network Evaluation Kit ($US 199, EK2500). Visit: http://www.synapse-wireless.com.

Wireless Cables demonstrated its AIRcable generic wireless controller development kit that includes an onboard BASIC interpreter and file system, and data-logger capabilities. The kit relies on the company's Bluetooth wireless programmable module that uses the AIRcable operating system. Wireless Cables also sells a variety of other wireless devices and modules that can communicate over distances as long as 30 km. For information, visit: http://www.aircable.net/products.html.

If you must monitor information from a variety of sensors, Monnit has M+WIT modules that will do the job over about a 600-ft range in the 900, 866,433 MHz bands. The modules use a Texas Instruments CC111x RF IC. Each module measures about one cubic inch and incorporates a lithium-ion battery that can last as long as eight years when transmissions occur every 20 minutes. Monnit has 15 types of sensor modules that measure or detect a temperature, low fluid level, light, proximity, shake, water leak, and so on. Developers can purchase an OEM Introductory Kit ($US 139), an OEM Developers Kit ($US 259), kits for specific applications, and individual sensor modules. The modules communicate with an M+Link USB dongle, an M+Link cellular, or an Ethernet gateway, so people can monitor sensor conditions locally or from remote locations. For information: http://www.monnit.com

To view Jon's complete ESC 2010 roundup, please visit http://www.ecnmag.com/Articles/2010/05/ESC-Update-2010/

by Jon Titus, Senior Technical Editor
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Title Annotation:Titus on Embedded
Author:Titus, Jon
Publication:ECN-Electronic Component News
Date:Jun 1, 2010
Words:817
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