The work on our most complex Open Source Hardware Linux board started – meet the Tukhla iMX8QuadMax SOC based board to be designed with KiCAD

We started working on our most complex OSHW board with KiCAD.

iMX8 is broad range of very different ARM architectures under same name which some people may find quite confusing.
Here is the table chart:

You can see by yourself:

  • iMX8X is quite humble with up to x4 Cortex-A35+Cortex-M4F cores, something less capable than Allwinner A13 or STM32MP1XX
  • iMX8M, Nano/Mini/Plus is x4 Cortex-A53 + Cortex-A7/M4F something in the range of power of Allwinner A64
  • finally iMX8QuadMax comes with different configurations, but the high end is Octa-core with x2 Cortex-A72 + x4 Cortex-A53 + x2 Cortex-M4F and is more powerful than the popular Rockchip RK3399

Why we did started working on such monster?

Company from EU which values the OSHW recognized the absence of high end open source Linux board and asked us to design one. They offered to cover all associated design costs. They specially requested this to be not yet another RK3399 board, but based on SOC with proper documentation and software support. NXP’s high end iMX8QuadMax matched their requirements perfectly.

Currently all powerful Cortex-A72 comes from Chinese or Korean origin and are always closed projects, the only published info in best case is PDF schematic which can’t be verified i.e. the final product may or may not match what they publish. The popular Raspberry Pi go even further and their “schemaitcs” are just connector diagrams.

This is how the Tukhla project was born, it will have:

  • MIMX8QM5AVUFFAB Octa-core SOC with: ( x2 Cortex-A72, x4 Cortex-A53, x2 Cortex-M4F, x4 GPUs with 16 Vec4-Shader GPU, 32 compute units OpenGL® ES 3.2 and Vulkan® support Tessellation and Geometry Shading, Split-GPU architecture enables 2x 8 Shader Cores, 4k h.265 Decode, 1080p h.264 encode)
  • x2 LPDDR4 x32 databus RAM memory with up to 16GB of RAM configuration
  • PMU taking all power lines from single 12V/4A source
  • micro SD card
  • eMMC Flash with differnt sizes
  • QSPI Flash
  • x1 SATA for external HDD/SSD drives
  • x2 single lane PCIe with M2 connectors for NVMe
  • HDMI input 1.4 RX with HDCP 2.2
  • HDMI output 2.0 TX with HDCP 2.2 4K
  • USB 2.0 OTG
  • USB 3.0 HOST
  • x2 Gigabit Ethernet
  • x2 MIPI CSI camera connectors

The price of MIMX8QM5AVUFFAB alone is around EUR 100 in small quantities and currently LPDDR4 4GB cost EUR 35, LPDDR4 8GB cost EUR 50, LPDDR4 16GB cost EUR 180.

So with BOM over EUR 200 this board will not be affordable for the most of Raspberry Pi $35 price range users.

This board targets professionals, who need high performance board and being not dependent by Chinese SOC vendors. With all hardware open, which gives them security for their business as the design is public.

iMX8QuadMax SOC is available in automotive AEC-Q100 Grade 3 (-40° to 125° C Tj), Industrial (-40° to 105° C Tj), Consumer (-20° to 105° C Tj)

Some of the features like HDMI input are not present in the Chinese SOCs at all.

iMX8QuadMax may have DSP and incorporate Vision and Speech Recognition interactivity via a powerful vision pipeline and audio processing subsystem.

The Software support include: Android™, Linux®, FreeRTOS, QNX™, Green Hills®, Dornerworks XEN™.

iMX8QuadMax is fully supported on NXP’s 10 and 15-year Longevity Program

Tukhla means Brick in Bulgarian (and other Slavish languages) and it will be the OSHW building block for whole range of different solutions.

How long it will take to finish this design?

We honestly don’t know. It took more than month just to capture the schematic in the state it is now:

There is long path now to create and verify all component packages (just the SOC is in 1313 BGA ball package), verify the schematic signals, place the components on the PCB, route high speed signals manually.

It may be 6 months or more. We got unofficial info that NXP engineers spent more than year to make the NXP iMX8QMax demo board.

S3-OLinuXino OSHW IP Camera update: board routing complete, next to-do prototype.

Screenshot from 2019-12-03 08-44-18Screenshot from 2019-12-03 08-45-48

S3-OLinuXino is now completely routed and we make prototypes to verify everything is well designed. If the prototypes are OK production will follow in Q1 2020.

ESP32-GATEWAY-EA revision with external antenna is in stock

ESP32-GATEWAY-EA

Our popular ESP32-GATEWAY board now have revision with external antenna ESP32-GATEWAY-EA. Metal enclosure is on the way too.

New ESP32 Development board in stock ESP32-DevKit-Lipo target handheld applications with build in LiPo charger

ESP32-DevKit-LiPo

ESP32-DevKit-Lipo is pin to pin compatible with Espressif ESP32-CoreBoard (ESP32-DevKitC) board, but adds additional LiPo charger and battery connector, allowing board to work from LiPo battery when external power supply is missing.

Tomorrow 16.10 at SofUnitConf in Paradise Center in Sofia we will have Workshop with this board to show how easily it could be programmed with JavaScript and Espruino.

Powered by the Open Source Community ideas KiCAD is leading with new useful features which are missing even in the high end paid “professional” CAD products

screenshot-2018-09-02-10-56-15

KiCAD got a lot of attention from Open Source and Maker community after Eagle was bought by Autodesk and moved to paid subscription model. This definitely was the most silly idea for CAD tool monetarization as on practice make all projects designed with Eagle owned by Autodesk and they can cut you from using them at any point they decide.

We know that in Open Source community size is vital for the project development. KiCAD obviously gained lot of community for the last two years and this starts to pay off.

Two weeks ago one interesting project was released:

Interactive HTML BOM generation plugin for KiCad EDA

Very useful tool for people who build prototypes it shows interactively where every part from the BOM to be placed on the board.

We didn’t have time even to check it while new amazing project is released:

uconfig-e15364263208721.png

uConfig

This tool create KiCAD components by extracting the component info from PDF datasheet. Just imagine how much time this will spare when create 300-400 pin BGA component.

With such rapid development KiCAD is becoming leader with unique features which are missing the other paid “professional” CAD EDA products.

This once again proves the advantages of community driven Open Source development – the products become just better as many people think and develop together.

ESP32-POE Open Source Hardware IoT development board with WiFi/BLE/100Mb Ethernet with 802.3 POE is in stock!

ESP32-POE-1

ESP32-POE board is now in stock. The prices start from EUR 14.36 for 50 pcs order.

This board offers Open Source Hardware / FOSS solution and building block for distributed sensor network with power over existing LAN infrastructure.

Possible use cases are Home automation, Industrial machine logging, remote environmental monitoring, access control, remote displays etc.

The board contains ESP32-WROOM-32 module with WiFi/BLE and Ethernet connectivity , RESET and USER buttons, micro SD card, LiPo battery charger and LiPo connector which allow board to work even with power supply drops.

The UEXT connector on the board can be used to connect many different sensors like:

Si3402-B chipset takes care for the power over ethernet, it’s IEEE 802.3 compliant, including pre-standard (legacy).

Important notice, to keep board compact and as it’s main purpose is to connect to cloud different remote sensors there is no galvanic isolation between board and the power delivered by the LAN switch or router.

ESP32-POE has internal programming interface and you can program it with Espressif SDK or Arduino via USB cable. As the board is not galvanic isolated from the Ethernet power supply, before you connect the USB cable to your computer you should remove the Ethernet cable or you should use USB-ISO between your computer the ESP32-POE!

 

KiCAD 6 Donation campaign

Probably inspired by the successful Bootlin campaign for open source Allwinner VPU drivers, two days ago Maciei Suminski and Tomasz Wlostowski made Youtube video where they apeal for fund rising 30 000 CHF for the development of KiCAD v6!

Everyone can show their support for the most successful open source PCB design tool at:  https://givetokicad.web.cern.ch

TUXCON FOSS and OSHW conference 2018 in Plovdiv is just 18 days away, so plan your visit properly ;)

15241999_541171392758646_9152584434294422876_n

TuxCon 2018 conference about Free Open Source Software and Open Source Hardware will be June 9 and 10th in Plovdiv.

This is community driven event done by volunteers with the support of local IT companies and it’s totally free to participate.

In Saturday 9th of June in the Technical University building there will be two rooms, for lectures and workshops.

Hacking Risc-V core, implemented on iCE40 FPGA and playing with it’s instruction set and making small “monitor” program which allow you to enter programs written on machine code and executed on iCE40HX8K-EVB + iCE40-IO will be demonstrated, so if you want to touch and make your first program on RISC-V “computer” with VGA monitor and keyboard you may find Rangel Ivanov lecture interesting.

Plamen Vaisolov is retro computer maniac and keep working on them, implementing modern floppy disk emulators and other peripherials. He will share his experience with all these who miss Karateka and Load Runner 🙂

Neven Boyanov will talk about his experience with LoRA network and how to start on low budged.

Dimitar Gamishev has two interesting talks, one is for the Open Source Hardware and Software GPS car navigation he made. In the  second he will speak about the home assistants like Google Home and Alexa, how to implement them with small Linux computer like OLinuXino and even with ESP32-Lyra and how to impress your girlfriend by switching on and off appliances and lights with your voice.

There will be KiCAD workshop where everyone (even with no knowledge) will learn how to install, configure and make small robot PCB with KiCAD. Then some general knowledges about PCB materials and how to prepare all files and send to PCB board house for manufacturing. How to select the components, footprints, good routing practices, DRC/ERC checks, Gerber generation and tips how to design your PCBs in way to be produced at lower cost. At the workshop will be our design engineers and you can talk to them directly about issues you encountered when worked with KiCAD or other CAD product.

 

In Sunday 10th of June we will have traditional Soldering workshop at Olimex training building, where we will assembly and program with Arduino small robot which can follow line or escape from labyrinth. This will be the same robot which PCB we will design in the KiCAD workshop in the previous day. We will go detailed through the program and study how modifications affect it.

The workshop with end with barbeque in Olimex backyard 🙂

 

We are looking forward to see you in Plovdiv soon!

MOD-BME280 precise Humidity, Temperature and Pressure sensor Open Source Hardware module with UEXT and Breadboard connector

MOD-BME-u

BME280 is digital humidity, temperature and pressure sensor with I2C and SPI interface.

You can see on this link comparison of different Humidity sensors

The operating conditions are:

  • Temperature -40..+85C;
  • Humidity 0…100 % Rh;
  • Pressure 300…1100 hPa  (+9000m..-500m above sea level);

The sensor works on 3.3V and is with very low power consumption 0,1..3,6 uA.

The easiest way to connect MOD-BME280 is with UEXT connector to any board with UEXT connector as shown on the picture above.

For boards which has no UEXT connector MOD-BME280 can be connected via four jumper wires on breadboard:

MOD-BME280-b

The KiCad files are uploaded on GitHub.

The demo software use Adafruit BME280 libraries with two small modifications. The default address in MOD-BME280 is 0x76 while Adafruit library is set to 0x77.

UEXT connector requires D8 to be set LOW to power and 10 ms delay to settle the power before addressing the sensor. The code is at GitHub.

When you run it you will see this:

Screenshot from 2018-03-27 14-35-38

The sensor is very precise, if you move board up and down you can see altitude changes. The 171 meter is the altitude of Olimex building.

MOD-BME280 is perfect for IoT application for environmental conditions logging due to the low power consumption and precise measurements. It can be used both for indoor and outdoor applications.

TuxCon-Kitty the OSHW TuxCon 2017 conference badge soldering kit is in the web shop

TuxCon-Kitty

TuxCon 2017 conference was 3-4 of June in Plovdiv. Specially for the conference we made soldering kit badge, designed with KiCad and programmable with Arduino IDE.

TUXCON-KITTY-1

Here is how it looks assembled:

1a

2a

The project is hosted at GitHub. It’s good way to learn how to assembly SMT components and how to install, setup and program with Arduino IDE.

Do not hesitate to make pull request for your Arduino sketch if you manage to compose your own music with this board 🙂

 

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