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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Intresting take on 'union' in C Language

We were busy developing the next version of the Kicad-tools utility when we came across this interesting piece of C Language tangle.
Essentially we wanted to have something like this.
Here the 'a' is1 Byte data and the 'dta' is a bit field made up in an Union.
typedef struct{
    BYTE a;
            BYTE b0:1;
            BYTE b1:1;
            BYTE b2:1;
            BYTE b3:1;
            BYTE b4:1;
            BYTE b5:1;
            BYTE b6:1;
            BYTE b7:1;
        BYTE dta;

This is the code snippet of the data structure.
We need to assign this data structure some constant values to hold the configuration bits.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cortex-M4F Launchpad: In Making

Another Launchpad in the making, you can get yours free.
Register in the website to get a Free Stellaris ARM Corext - M4F Launchpad. Hurry as only 25 would be available for this draw. This board would be available by 25th September 2012.
The initial costing would be $4.30 like the earlier MSP430 Launchpad.

We have made Stellaris ARM Cortex-M4F Launchpad wish List:
  • Same form factor as MSP430 Launchpad
  • Free Code Composer Studio like C2000
  • JTAG header for external target debugging
Here is an updated video:
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player  

DSP for Hobbyists: C2000 Launchpad

Just when we thought that DSP means "costly " stuff and out of hobbyist turf, what TI did was break ice on that. Texas Instruments C2000 Launchpad is a break though for hobbyist seeking to implement DSP processing. Now with this Piccolo chip-set family all real time control and closed loop PID would become breeze.
This kit contains a Galvanically isolated JTAG XDS100 which can be used to debug the on board TMS320F28027 of Piccolo Family.

The chip TMS320F28027 is a 60MHz DSP from the grand TMS320 family. The programs written for this chip are upgradable to any member of this TMS320. This means that if you need better ram or MAC units .etc. you have an upgrade path. Also in the F2802x family this chip has the highest features, possibly cost optimization the lower parts can also be used. TI is also providing samples of F28027 which means you can make custom boards for your projects.
We too plan to have some more reviews on this kit once ours arrives.

Here some useful links related to this innovative kit:
UPDATE: (14-Sept-2013)
This board is now available in Bharat(India) at Embedded Market website for INR2415/-

PCB Tools: Design & Calculations

We found two very essential tools for PCB design and fabrication. These tools help to design various PCB features easily.

[1] Saturn PCB Design Toolkit
Saturn PCB Design INC provides this tool free of cost, thanks to them for this good tool for all PCB designers.This software allow to design the following features with great Ease:
  • Via - The through hole interconnect can be modeled for parasitic using this tool. You can also find out the Current Rating, Resonant Frequency and Power Dissipation
  • Trace Width Calculations
  • Transmission Line and Signal property calculations
  • Differential Pair Line design
  • Pad Stack Calculations
  • Crosstalk Calculation
  • Current carrying capacity for critical power traces
  • Embedded Resistances on PCB
  • Thermal Calculator for heat dissipation design
  • Planar Inductor design
  • And Many more very use full tools.
.In fact this tool is updated to IPC-2152 Standard for the PCB design as per industry standards.
Thanks to DP for publishing about this tool

[2] Footprint Expert from PCB Libraries
 This tool is quint-essential if you design complex footprints for the PCB. In general may IC vendors provide the PCB footprint dimensions. However if you want to design as per standard to be Maximized, Normalized or Small footprint dimensions it is not possible. This tool is IPC-7351A compilant and provides a wide verity of footprint design tools.
This also has an inbuilt library that helps you to find commonly used  once the calculator has found your desired dimensions of the PCB footprint the same can be replicated onto a library editor. This tool not only provides the way of calculating footprint but it also has Silkscreen, Solder-mask and Paste generation. Additionally the software automatically updates itself over the net to give the updated libraries of the components.