Welcome back to Elektor Lab Notes! Every few weeks, our busy engineers and editors post lab notes and updates about new DIY electronics projects, interesting industry news, and helpful engineering tips, tricks, and insights. We encourage you to share your thoughts in the Discussion section at the bottom of this page. Let us know what you are working on!
Elektor Lab Notes

Mathias Claussen (Engineer/Editor, Elektor)

Kendryte K510

While the K210 is a powerful MCU that even can run Quake, "Canaan" or the "Company", has announced the K510. This is a new generation of AI-enabled MCU featuring a dual core CPU with RISC-V instruction set and a third core acting as DSP. The K510 can be seen a the big brother of the K210, and it offers more peripherals, computing power with its CPUs and triples the performances of its AI accelerator. While the K510 is now announced, it might take some time until we have products that will use it. And if they arrive, we will see if it can run Quake.

ARM MCU Gets Even More Flexible

Traditional MCUs are made of sturdy and fragile silicon packed into an enclosure. With the new PlasticARM, this changes. Made out of flexible material, the PlasticARM from ARM can be bent. This also means a step forward into ultra-low-cost microprocessors that can be embedded into a new classes of products. Currently, the PlasticARM offers 128 bytes of RAM and 456 bytes of ROM with a maximum clock speed of 29 kHz with a fully function Cortex-M0 core.
PlasticARM in Lab Notes
PlasticARM (Source: nature.com)

New ESP32-H2 with RISC-V Core Is Comming

Sometimes GitHub can be an interresting place to find out about new chips comming down the pipe. For instance, the ESP32-H2 has shown up in the ESP-IDF code base on GitHub. You can find informaton about the chip scattered arround the IDF, so we currently assume an MCU that will have no Wi-FI but 802.15.4 wireless as used in Thread or ZigBee, making this chip an option for smart home applications. Also on GitHub we can extract information about the clockspeeds it will run on currently ranging from 16 MHz to 96 MHz. The Memory Map provided shows the set of peripherals included in this chip. It seems to be a modified ESP32-C3 that also includes the USB Serial and JTAG adapter. For a clear set of features, we will wait for the official press relase from Espressif. In the meantime, check out their GitHub repository and maybe you'll find some more information. 

Luc Lemmens (Engineer/Editor, Elektor)

Reverse-Engineering a COMeter

You may have noticed that there are some designs of COmeters being developed in our lab, but of course there are also many of these devices commercially available. We decided to buy one online — not to have an easy (and affordable!) alternative instead of making our own designs, but to see if the hardware inside can be re-used for own developments. So I did some reverse engineering to see if such a COmeter can be hacked. we will report on the results soon.

Soldering Station, Correction

Not the most rewarding work, but I have corrected the PCB layout of the soldering station we presented in this year’s May/June issue. We overlooked the fact that the maximum Gate-Source voltage of the power FET could be exceeded in this design. The updated gerber files of the main PCB (V1.2) are available for download.
Soldering station
Take a look nside the 3D-printed enclosure.

C. J. Abate (Content Director, Elektor)

As you've read in our lab notes, Elektor kicked off the summer with a bang. Below are some highlights.

Popular Articles

Here are some of the most popular articles that we posted in July:
  • "Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect (Review)": As Clemens Valens explains, the Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect board combines an RP2040 microcontroller with a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module. Besides wireless connectivity the little board comes with a microphone and a six-axis smart motion sensor with AI capabilities.
  • "Hands-Free Measurements with Sensepeek Tools": When testing a prototype or fixing electronic circuits, connecting test cables or probes can be challenging. In many cases, test clips won't fit on the components’ terminals, and a pin-shaped test probe needs one of your hands to keep it connected to the test point. Your other hand may be needed elsewhere. Luc describes a solution to free up your hands.
  • "Elektor @ 60: Engineering in July": Wonder what Elektor was covering in previous July editions? To celebrate Elektor 60, we take a look a few interesting past articles: "Stepper Motor Generator," "Grid Dipper," "NiCad Charger," and "Twin Dimmer"

World Ethical Electronics Forum (WEEF)

In our previous edition of Lab Notes, we told you about the upcoming 2021 World Ethical Electronics Forum (WEEF). As you will recall, Elektor and ELEKTRONIK PRAXIS are inviting you to think along with us to provide answers to key ethics-related questions. We also want to know if any of you experts would like to contribute to the event.

Mark your calendar and start thinking about ethics-related topics to discuss with us.
  • Event: WEEF 2021
  • Date: November 18, 2021
  • Location: Munich, Germany (and online)

In the coming months, we will collaborate with industry partners, well-known engineers, CEOs, and top maker pros to publish articles, surveys, and other thought-provoking content on crucial ethics-related topics. Would you like to speak at the event or present a paper on an important subject like the ethics of digitization, the importance green energy, new solutions for eco-friendly PCB printing, or ethical AI? Email us your thoughts.