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Focus on Wireless

Featured articles from Digi-Key Electronics

Wireless technology is now a very important part of the overall electronics scene. There is an enormous variety of wireless technologies from the familiar Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to the more specific standards like LoRa, SigFox, Zigbee and many more. Each wireless standard has its place within the wireless ecosystem and there are modules and different platforms for them. Find out more about these technologies and how you can use them in the Digi-Key Focus on Wireless.

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Amphenol Harsh Environment Solutions

Whilst it is easy to run electronic circuits in the controlled environment of a laboratory or a home, in real life, electronics needs to operate in harsh environments. Here temperature, moisture, dust and many more items mean that connectors and other solutions for harsh environments are needed. Find out more . . .

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Analog Devices Enables Industrial Automation Transitions

In recent years, industrial facilities have started to push for greater efficiency in their manufacturing processes. With the technology available today, industry is obtaining more automation, better precision, and increased process data volume. All of this is rapidly bringing manufacturers closer to realising the benefits that Industry 4.0 has to offer including increased safety, reliability, and productivity – all while reducing the environmental impact that harsh industrial processes are associated with. Find out more . . .

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Updating Firmware at the Edge Using Amazon FreeRTOS

Firmware updates often need to be done and often in the field. Amazon FreeRTOS helps developers simplify the process of connecting an Internet of Things (IoT) device to the cloud. However, even with a simpler cloud connection, a major hurdle that many developers will be facing is how to update their devices’ firmware in the field. This useful article examines how developers can utilise the bootloader capabilities built into Amazon FreeRTOS (a:FreeRTOS), often referred to over-the-air updates (OTA), to quickly get a bootloader solution running on their IoT device.

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Welcome to the Wireless Menagerie: RF Bands and Protocol Choices for Embedded Developers, Part 2

We featured Part 1 of this two-part series in last week's newsletter and this discussed the various wireless connectivity options available to embedded system designers and provided some relevant examples. This week, Part 2 discusses the characteristics of wireless modules in more detail, along with insight on how to go about using them effectively. As modules can enable designers of IoT modules to focus on what they are good at, leaving the wireless elements to experts in that field who have been able to take advantage of the benefits of scale as many module manufacturers will use their modules.

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Welcome to the Wireless Menagerie: RF Bands and Protocol Choices for Embedded Developers, Part 1

Choices for RF bands, protocols, wireless systems are often difficult to make.Embedded devices and systems have historically been standalone with plug-in wired interfaces for data exchange and maintenance. Now designers are under increasing pressure to add some sort of wireless interface to connect their system or device to other systems, or to the Internet of Things (IoT). Find out more.

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Take the Fast Track to Bluetooth 5 Mesh Networking

With the availability of mesh networking capability for Bluetooth 5, developers can enhance the range and network availability of wirelessly connected systems, such as IoT devices. However, mesh networking has layers of complexity between low-power wireless hardware design and mesh networking software development that can quickly entangle developers and jeopardize project schedules. Find out more about Bluetooth mesh networking.

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Combine Arduino with Open-Source RISC-V Architecture for Low-Cost, High-Performance Embedded Design

Embedded systems developers are always looking for ways to further cut development time, especially for proofs of concept and fast prototyping. Development kits have become the shortcut of choice, but designers need to be able to balance form factor and a widely supported ecosystem with performance requirements. Find out more about how to reduce development times by using Arduino with open-source RISC-V architecture.

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Rapidly Build Mesh Connected Lighting Applications with Zigbee and Thread

Thread and Zigbee both enable mesh networking for applications like large scale lighting control. Find out about the requirements for mesh networks in automation applications and the roles of Zigbee and Thread in meeting these requirements. Also find out about a connected lighting kit from Silicon Laboratories as an example and how to use it to develop mesh connected lighting applications based on Zigbee or Thread protocols.

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The Next Evolutionary Step in Drone Design

Drones are being seen increasingly and are being used more widely for business and pleasure. It has even been suggested that drones could become as important as the Internet in the future as they become used for aerial photography, delivery, monitoring, agricultural use and even medical applications. Find out more about their use and design . . . . .

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LTE Cat M1 Modules Provide an Alternative to Broadband and Smartphones for Assisted Living Systems

As the number of people over 60 increases, this results in a greater need for assisted living solutions. Electronic assisted living and monitoring systems healthcare to be provided in a better way and more cost effectively. It reduces the strain on the health services which can easily become over-stretched. LTE Cat M1 modules form an ideal basis for many assisted living systems as they enable reliable connectivity to be provided very easily. Read more . . .

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Designing Bluetooth Low Energy Smart Applications with Bluetooth Mesh

Find out about the architecture and capabilities of the Bluetooth mesh 1.0 protocol. This Bluetooth protocol has been introduced as a complementary stack to Bluetooth low energy firmware and brings open-standard mesh networking to Bluetooth low energy for the first time. The article also details the strengths and weaknesses of Bluetooth mesh, allowing designers to compare it with other low power wireless technology alternatives to determine if it is a good match for their wireless applications.

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Connect Designs Quickly and Securely to the Cloud Using Amazon FreeRTOS

Internet of Things developments need to consider a variety of different aspects, from embedded technology through to RF design. The traditional embedded systems developer typically works at the bare metal level on disconnected devices, but the IoT requires systems to connect to the Internet. This requires embedded system developers to learn how to connect their devices and use a higher level operating system, such as a real-time operating system (RTOS). Find out more . . .

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Comparison of RF and Bluetooth

many of the decisions made at the beginning of a project have a huge impact on the final product. Designers have many choices when it comes to wireless connectivity in applications ranging from human interface devices (HIDs) to remote sensors for the Internet of things (IoT). One of the more fundamental decisions that need to be made, and one that many designers still wrestle with, is whether to go with a standards based RF interface such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or ZigBee, or a proprietary RF physical layer (PHY) design and protocol. Read more . . . .

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IoT Prototype Development Using Readily Available Single Board Designs

The Internet of Things, and specifically the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is responsible for not only creating a transformative effect across many business sectors, but also for bringing about a fundamental shift in the way embedded IIoT solution development is approached. Many engineers faced with such projects have opted to select a commercially available single board computer (SBC) as the basis of the design. While this method can yield fast results, it can also take the developer down a path that makes it difficult to easily take the resulting design into high volume production. When selecting a prototyping platform it is important to carefully review the MCU that a design is based around, and the plethora of support components to see if they can be purchased separately and incorporated into a new design from scratch.

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Build a Low-Cost Industrial Controller with the Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi can fulfil many requirements including providing controllers for use in harsh environment, bur soemtimes the components can be difficult to source from small suppliers. Few small shop industrial operations require the combination of harsh operating environments, high I/O capacity, and complex functionality requirements for which programmable logic controllers (PLCs) were originally intended. While scaled down versions of PLCs are available, designers now also have the option to choose from an array of low-cost open-source hardware and software solutions for effective industrial monitoring and control. Read more . . . .

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Use Gateways to Overcome Low-Power Wireless LAN-to-IoT Bridging Challenges

Many low-power wireless interfaces and protocols such as Bluetooth low energy, ZigBee, Thread, and others are popular for smart home and smart industry sensor mesh applications. However, as developers are finding out, these RF protocols were designed before the Internet of Things (IoT) became a reality, and as such typically lack interoperability with Internet protocols (IPs) IPv4 and IPv6 making it challenging to connect designs to the IoT for smart sensing, automation, and control. Read more about how to overcome LAN to IoT bridging challenges.

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Ultra-Low Power Management for IoT Devices

The IoT is already estimated to be generating 100s of zettabytes (trillion gigabytes) of data per year, and this figure is only increasing. The amount of data the average household contributes to this figure is expected to increase fivefold by 2020. Creating data doesn’t require much compute power as data can be captured, digitised, and stored using the simplest of sensor hubs. Read more . . . .

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Bringing the IIoT to Life

The Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT is rapidly becoming a reality. It is widely recognised that the Industrial Internet of Things promises to bring about a transformative effect across many traditional industries. Not only will it uncover processes that are inefficient, plants in need of maintenance, and help management improve asset utilisation, but it also promises to make possible a raft of new business services. Read more . . .

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Update Firmware in the Field Using a Microcontroller’s DFU Mode

Firmware and software updates are a fact of life and enable small or even large issues to be corrected when equipment is in the field. In fact nearly every embedded system needs the ability to have its firmware updated in the field to add new features or fix bugs. However, firmware field updates can be challenging as a developer must either program their own boot-loader or procure a boot-loader from a third-party component supplier. Read more about firmware updating . . .

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Design Robust Systems for the Industrial IoT

The Internet of Things, IoT and Industrial IoT, IIoT share common objectives for translating streams of sensor data to useful information. For developers, however, significant differences lie in basic requirements including power, connectivity, and design reliability and robustness. These are key to the design. Find out how to design for the IIoT . . . .

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Add Firmware Security to an IoT Design with a Single Chip

In an increasingly security aware IoT landscape, IoT developers face seemingly conflicting demands for rapid development and tighter security for all phases of the application lifecycle. While many emerging solutions come with mechanisms for encryption, IoT designs need to be able to address a wider range of security threats. . . read more.

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