In 2022, the element14 community launched 23 roadtests, spanning product categories such as sensors, test equipment, single board computers, cellular IoT, FPGAs (SoCs), power devices, hand tools, prototyping kits, Bluetooth, and connectors. The overall number of roadtests were less than I had hoped, but in the first half of 2022, there were still some hiccups in getting products for roadtests. Those problems seem to be resolving themselves now, so I expect we will launch more roadtests in 2023.
What were this year's favorites? The favorite products vary from year to year, with the exception of single board computers, which have always been popular with element14. I'm surprised by how interests change from year to year. A few years ago, IoT and wireless connectivity seemed to be the rage. AI and machine learning products may be replacing them. With all the innovation going on in the automotive sector, I anticipate we will see more interest in EV-related products in the coming years.
Annually, I poll community members to get an insight about their favorites. This has practical value because it can influence to some degree what products I recommend for roadtests in the coming year.
The Top Categories: Sensors, Test Equipment and SBCs
There was no surprise that test equipment ranked in the top favorites category. An engineer needs his/her tools, right? And the new generation of test equipment is so sophisticated, a roadtest is a great way to try them out. We will continue to roadtest test equipment in the coming year. As I said previously, single board computers always rank high. I think historically element14 members have always had a passion for SBCs, which isn't surprising, as I like to think element14 is the home of the Raspberry Pi, at least when it comes to engineering communities. Sensors ranked the highest, which was a bit of surprise at face value. This may have been influenced by element14's Summer of Sensors program, which put a big spotlight on sensors.
One area that surprised me was motor control. Specifically, that it was either missing or not a top vote getter. Motor control is a huge area of engineering, but perhaps it isn't a top interest on element14. In 2023, I hope to do a lot more with motor control. Our sponsors are interested in taking advantage of our members' knowledge in this area.
What were the favorite roadtested-products of 2022? Without further adieu, here are the top three vote-getters:
First Place: Sound and Vibration Measurement Hat for Raspberry Pi
I was a bit surprised that this received the most votes by our members. But, upon reflection, it is related to the Raspberry Pi and it was a sensor roadtest -- two areas of continuing interest on element14. But the sensor itself is high precision, and the entire kit is comparable to something that would cost much more. Here's some more information about the product: The sound and vibration measurement hat for Raspberry Pi (MCC 172 IEPE Measurement DAQ HAT) features two channels for making sound and vibration measurements from IEPE sensors such as accelerometers and microphones. It features a 24-bit A/D per channel and a maximum sample rate of 51.2 kS/s/ch. All DAQ HATs include C/C++® and Python examples and open-source library. Comprehensive API and hardware documentation are also provided. (Image Credit: Jan Cumps)
Second Place: Nordic Bluetooth LE Audio Development Kit
I was not surprised that this board was a top vote getter on element14. It's the first one we have roadtested that features Bluetooth LE Audio, which is the latest upgrade to the standard that promises to enhance Bluetooth audio performance, improve power efficiency, add support for hearing aids, and more. More information on the product: The Nordic Semiconductor nRF5340 Audio Development Kit contains everything needed to start development. It supports all Auracast features. The kit is configurable and can function as a USB dongle to send or receive audio data from a PC. It can also function as a Business Headset or a True Wireless Stereo (TWS) Earbud. The three main components of this DK are the nRF5340 SoC, nPM1100 PMIC, and Cirrus Logic’s CS47L63 Audio DSP. The CS47L63’s high-performance DAC and differential output driver are optimized for direct connection to an external headphone load. The new “Low Complexity Communications Codec” (LC3) that replaced Bluetooth Classic’s “Low Complexity Subband Codec” (SBC) is also available for this DK. The LC3 codec has superior audio quality compared to SBC, even at about half the wireless data rate. This low data rate is a key factor in minimizing the power consumption of your products.
Third Place: LattePanda 3 Delta
The only surprise about this roadtest-product is that there weren't more applicants! This is a powerful single board computer that scored 76 applicants, which attests to the high level of interest it offers to element14 community members. More information on the product: It features the latest Intel 11th generation mobile quad-core processor N5105 with up to 2.9GHz burst frequency. Compared to its previous generation, the CPU speeds up to 2x faster, and the GPU speeds up to 3x faster. With such great performance, you can use it to watch 4K HDR videos smoothly and even game on it. It uses 2933MHz high-frequency LPDDR4 RAM — up to 8GB, 2x larger than the previous generation — for a superfast, smooth performance whether you’re loading a large amount of web pages in Chrome, or running multiple virtual machines. More memory means more efficient multitasking. There's up to 64GB for more software and data can be installed without any external storage. It uses WIFI 6 whose transfer speed is 2.7 times faster than WIFI5. It is also equipped with a USB 3.2 gen2 x1 port that has an ultra-high bandwidth, delivering up to 10Gb/s of throughput which is twice faster than USB3.2 gen1 x1 (previously known as USB3.0). It has a Gigabit Ethernet port onboard, which can connect to the Internet at extremely high speed.