Well the next phase for me has been looking a bit more in depth at the Energy Micro Giant Gecko EFM32 Starter Kit that comes included in the Energy Harvesting Kit. This has turned out to be a very impressive piece of equipment in my opinion!
So following the included instruction (I'm learning!) the first thing to do was download and install the free software from Energy Micro called Simplicity Studio. Unfortunately this is designed for Windows based computers whereas a few years ago I wised up and moved on to the far superior Mac OS (that might start an interesting debate!). Anyway after nearly a full day wasted downloading VMware, Windows and creating a Bootcamp on my computer I finally got the software installed!
Thankfully it was worth the effort as pretty much everything you could need is included within the software. Not only does it come bundled with some nice tools for developing, plenty of demo files for uploading but also has a vast knowledge base included ranging from specifications through to University tuition PDF’s.
Anyway after installing the software I was able to start playing with the Giant Gecko board. Having mainly develop recently with the Arduino controllers it is amazing to see how much is crammed into these boards! Not only does it have a built in LCD, backup battery, backup capacitor, light sensor, inductive-capacitive sensor, LEDs, touch slider, push buttons and a shed load of memory but it also has tonnes of GPIO pins and a multitude of connection ports! With an Arduino setup I would have to use loads of shields to achieve anywhere near this capability!
Where the Energy Micro MicroController Units (MCU) come into their own field however is their ability to shut down those features not required during use saving on power consumption. These different levels of capability are called Energy Modes which range from 0 to 4 with decreasing energy consumption and capability.
Bundled with the Simplicity Studio software is the energyAware Profiler which is a nice tool to assess the current consumption of the MCU during it's processes. This has been shown in a few of the uploaded videos though I thought I would include a few screen grabs to show the different current consumption between the 5 Energy Modes along with the use of the LCD and Real Time Clock (RTC).
Anyway thats enough about the Giant Gecko for now, time to move onto the Linear Technology Multi-Source Energy Harvester which I will review next time.....