A while ago, Francesca from Element 14 kindly contacted me to ask if I wanted to receive some products from their catalog for review. I said yes and since I already had a wishlist going on (as most electronics guys have) it was easy to pick up some products. I also considered current and future projects when picking the items and so I had 4 items:

I asked for the STM32VLDISCOVERY because I wanted to play with one of these ever since I discovered this STM32 book written by Geoffrey Brown. The book seems so nicely written and from a practical point of view seems like it will get me started and working on the STM32 in no time. I’m also working on a couple of projects right now for which the STM32 might seem like overkill but I might use it anyway just build some experience around this chip.

I asked for the ATXMEGAA3BU-XPLD because it is a nice platform all around. The MCU is the ATxmega256A3BU and you also get some analog sensors, an lcd display and lots of IO’s. Excellent for when you need to throw something together and test it on an Atmel ATXmega. The ATSAM4L-XPRO which I received in error, features Atmel’s ATSAM4LC4C Cortex-M4 MCU which is nonetheless interesting in the industry but isn’t of much use to me on it’s own without some expansion board.

The TPS54231EVM-372 and TPS5450EVM-254 from Texas Instruments were requested because I use both of these in two of my projects and I wanted to have a reference testing platform for comparison to my own implementation in layout and design. I use the TPS54231 in the new Audio Spectrum Analyzer to power the digital/LED section and I use the TPS5450 in my DIY digital power supply as the switching  pre-regulator before going into a linear reg.

More will follow on these as I am going to perform some measurements like output noise on the TPS54231EVM-372 and TPS5450EVM-254 using my entry level scope and compare the results with the ones from the datasheet.

Also if you would like to checkout more products from these manufacturers, see the Newark category pages:

T-Clock An ARM7 Controlled Blue LCD Clock

T-Clock is a demo-application for Philips LPC2000 ARM7TDMI controller with a KS0108/KS0107-based graphics-LCD (128*64 pixels), DCF77 time-receiver and one wire bus (for DS18x20-Temp.-Sensor).

The time and date are received with a DCF77-receiver-module. The DCF77-signal is transmitted from a station near Frankfurt/Main, Germany and can be received all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle-East. Please visit www.ptb.de and ask google with “DCF77” for more information. In times when the DCF77-signal is not available (i.e. thunder and lightning near transmitter) the RTC of the LPC-controller is used to drive the clock.

The clock also display the temperature measured trough a DS18x20 family sensor. he sensors provide the temperature in digital form on a One-Wire-Bus. The Maxim Web-Site has a lot of information on the One-Wire-Bus.

The whole project should cost you about 100 Euro’s, not cheap but a very good and interesting project for ARM microcontrollers.

T-Clock An ARM7 Controlled Blue LCD Clock: [Link]

Lynx 5 Robotic Arm     Active-robots offer you the possibility to play with your own hi-tech robotic arm. The one I like it’s called The Lynx 5 and it can deliver fast, accurate, and repeatable movement. The robot features base rotation, shoulder, elbow and wrist motion, and a functional gripper. It’s made from ultra-tough laser-cut Lexan structural components, black anodized aluminum servo brackets, and custom injection molded components. The arm assembly has ball bearings for improved accuracy. The arm includes five Hitec HS-422 servo motors. One for the base, two for the shoulder, and one each for the elbow and wrist. An HS-81 is included for the gripper. The controlling of the arm is done by RIOS (Robotic arm Interactive Operating System) a Windows 95, 98, XP program. With RIOS, your robot can be taught sequences of motion via the mouse or joystick. The inverse kinematics engine makes positioning the arm effortless. This extremely powerful program uses external digital and analog inputs to affect the robot’s motion for closed loop projects. It’s available for about 450 $; for more information on this and other robot stuff you can visit they’re page at active-robots.com

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