Infineon / Arduino IoT Bundle - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Infineon / Arduino IoT Bundle

Author: monroerl@gmail.com

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Raspberry Pi add on boards

What were the biggest problems encountered?: A little heat build up and small connectors

Detailed Review:

This little board is powered by a Cortex Arm M10 processor, which means it has programmable functions but sips power. Don’t confuse the M10 with Intel’s M core processors even though this processor runs on 32 bit at 32 MHz. This isn’t lightning fast however this board isn’t designed as a graphics card. It’s designed to be a programmable LED controller. To program the board and run it you have an Arduino board or you can use Infineon’s own XMC1100 Boot Kit.

The XMC1100 is native to the XMC1202, so they sit on top of each other. This is pretty much what all microcomputers do, they allow for boards to stack on top of each other, connected via GPIO, serial or other direct methods. There is speed in doing this since the boards are physically attached and share input and output. Since the XMC1202 has its own programmable processor, that processor can add to the microcomputers own computation power, almost like a GPU would.

This frees up the main processor to focus on other tasks instead of having to computer graphics data. Think of it as having your own personal assistant. That assistant can pick up duties you don’t have time for so it frees you up to do other things, like play with other add on boards and write cool code.

The board is screaming red in color. It almost hurts your eyes to look at. Infineon and a few other companies have been doing this flaming color thing for one reason or another. I guess it helps you find the board if you ever misplace it. I’m talking ultra-bright red. The type of red that usually signals danger. Luckily, the board isn’t a danger just really bright.

I noticed quite a bit of empty space on the board. What I would consider to be wasted space because I like my boards to be packed with every sensor and gadget available. The XMC1202 does one thing but it does it well. It controls LED’s. This means you have an assortment of options with a programmable LED board. You are a little limited on the pin count though so make your connections count.

If you are interested in controlling all of the lighting in your home or small office, this board is for you. If you want to set up a cool LED display that says what a great programmer are, this is the board for you. The XMC 1202 can control up to three different LED channels at a time. This means you can configure a string of red LEDs to flash, while a strand of blue LEDs pulse and your green LEDs orbit in a loop. There you have a nice Halloween custom or a funky outfit for your dog.

I was a little surprised by the heat put off by the board during my testing. The buildup isn’t terrible but it would be something to take into consideration if your poor dog were wearing an outfit using this dev board. The LED’s don’t really put off any heat but they did make my dog look at me really funny when they started to flash. He tried to bite them. It was funny to see his mouth light up as the LEDs pulsed.

The XMC1202 has some of the pin outs marked so you know what they do. It also helps that the red monster has connector holes to stack onto the other boards. There is about a ½ clearance that you will need to take into consideration where the wires are connected. I found this additional space useful to help move some of that excess heat away from the main board. The space uses plastic parts so you don’t need to worry about making extra sparks if the two boards touch. I’ve seen other addon board that seem to have forgotten that electricity likes to move through metal parts. It’s always fun to see some sparks but never from your own device or your dog.

The XMC doesn’t have any switches for power or reset. This isn’t a big problem since you can program which conditions turn on the board and which ones shut it down. Remember that the LED’s will need their own power source. The board says it can provide the power at 5Vs but unless you plug in a power supply running at 1.5 Amps, get your own power for the LEDs. It’s just easier that way. Unless you want to add on some capacitors, charge- zap, charge- zap. You get the idea.

I did run into another small problem, I don’t have tiny hands. I know these are microcomputers. I know they are supposed to be small but do they really have to make connectors that small? I had to use a magnifying glass just to insert the wire leads. A big magnifying glass and a big flashlight, even though the board put off its own light with the red color.

Luckily the manufacture understands that some of us have normal sized hands. For that they made the wire connections with nice plastic screw tighteners. These little screws keep the LED wires from slipping out of the connector that I spent years (not really, a more like few seconds) trying to get in place. They hold the LEDs very secure considering that they are plastic. I was surprised at how well the connections held the wires, especially since I’m not the most careful person I know. You don’t even want to know what my lab looks like. Imagine Tokyo after Godzilla eat a ton of bean burritos. That’s how bad my lab is organized so stuff gets tangled up all the time.

  The Infineon RGB shield was able to survive my lab, my hands, my dog and my endless curiosity. This is a cool add on board for Arduino projects. One thing I wanted to really hack was not using LEDs but hooking up other low power devices and using the boards signaling capabilities. If I can pulse, blink, orbit LED lights, what is keeping me from using the same technique to control an IR light or radio signal for a mini radar device? Nothing, you just your imagination. That is the best part of hacking, you build whatever you want.

Anonymous

Top Comments

  • Hey Bob! Really sorry to bother you with this, but how can I submit my review like you did? I can't find the link to submit a roadtest review.

    Can you help me out?

  • It doesn't even take an amp to kill a person.  A quick web search says 100-200 mA can kill a person.  It only takes 20 mA to loose muscle control.

     

    http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrT6V24WlpVJhoAUhwnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByb2lvbXVuBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--/RV…

  • Bob

    While I appreciate making sense to the average person, we need to be careful not to give the wrong impression ... it is a fine line.

     

    I also test to fail

    I wonder what would fail.

    Yes testing to failure within the specs is fine, but massive over-voltage is not really testing the device, just which component handles the stress.

     

    Taking a device rated at 5 volts and pushing it up to 70 volts is a testament to how well the board was designed

    That is simply testing the components, and why would you design it for nominal 18v but put 100v components in in case someone wants to go well beyond the limit.

    However the amount of time it was left at 70v does make the difference.

     

    Mark

  • Mark, you are right about the battery issue but most people tend to think of regular draw batteries that supply a constant rate of voltage such as 1.5 volt batteries. I try and write to what the average person knows. With microcomputers, we are used to using a couple AA batteries to run them. It makes for an easier mental image to think of lithium ion or nickle cadmium batteries that allow for a stead flow of voltage over a long period then a quick discharge.

     

    I also test to fail. That is why I bumped up the voltage and reduced the amps. I wasn't using household current and it was a very controlled experiment. That is why I knew exactly the amount of time the voltage was applied. Taking a device rated at 5 volts and pushing it up to 70 volts is a testament to how well the board was designed. It was pretty cool discharge to witness, though. You ought to see what I've done to other products in the past. The smell has never left my lab. I still have the burn marks on my table. 

     

    As a hacker, it is my job to take products and make new things out of them. I test and conceive of new ideas for regular products. That was how the cell phone and even the telephone was invented. Thanks for the clarification on the car battery amps. I haven't played with a car battery in a while. I was looking for a quick reference. This board is very cool. You ought to pick on up and play with it. I'll bet you'd have some fun with it.

     

    Bob   

  • Bob

    Nice experiment ... not sure I'd be applying voltages greater than the design and the capacitor rating.

     

    A couple of minor corrections

    Your car battery doesn’t put out 30 Amps.

    You are right, it is capable of at least 10x that amount, and even more into a short circuit...

     

    Unlike a battery, the capacitor discharges the built up electrical current in one big burst, like a flash bulb

    Batteries can discharge very high currents as well.

    The capacitor can discharge currents much higher that the supply can handle, but it doesn't have to.

    I tend to use the dripping tap (low current supply) filling a bucket (capacitor) where you can take a large volume from the bucket.

    There is a tradeoff that the average current still needs to be equal to the supply (...you can't get something for nothing...) so large volume but less frequently.

     

    I can't see the voltage rating for C4, but it has a 39v Zener across it.

     

    I'm not sure I'd be applying anything greater than the max of 40v

     

    I like the imaginative uses for the board ... it shows how versatile it can be.

    Mark

  • DC Motor Control Shield with XMC1202 for Arduino

    Reviewed by Bob Monroe

    Anyone who has spent time with a microcomputer knows the importance of electrical power. The DC Motor Control Shield with XMC1202 for Arduino is a power controller for servos, motors, robotic actuators and other items that need activation via a big boast of power. This shield was designed to control large motors up to 30A, yeah, 30A’s, as in thirty amps. In case you aren’t phased by that number, all it takes is 1 amp to kill you. Your car battery doesn’t put out 30 Amps.

    So, let’s look carefully at this fire engine red board. It is designed for the Arduino Uno or the Infineon XMC1100 board. Both are programmable using the Arduino library. The DC controller board has its own logic controller built into it to alleviate some of the computing power of the main board. The typical output for this board is between 6 and 40 volt. I found that I could push that output up to almost 70 volts by keeping the amps down. There wasn’t too much smoke when I ran that test.

    I like to push things to their limit. My goal was to try and hit 110 volts but I also need to be a responsible tester. My 70 volt test was at 1.5As for .38 seconds. The board held up well. The discharge was beautiful to witness as the DC arched to the closest metal object I had. So there went my screwdriver flying across the lab. I wear googles for safety and from flying objects.

    There is a massive capacitor sitting on the top of the board. If you’ve never played with a capacitor, it’s like a battery because it stores up electrical power. Unlike a battery, the capacitor discharges the built up electrical current in one big burst, like a flash bulb. When the capacitor is built into a system like this DC controller, the board is able to take low voltage and convert it to much larger current. It’s like a transformer but it builds up power instead of reducing power.

    I could get into a lot of trouble with this board. It was designed to run two DC motors or one large motor. I like big motors. Let’s remember that a servo is a motor that operates in several directions. For you Arduino robotics folks, this is the board you need if you want to pick up or move some serious weight. If you hook it up to an actuator, which I did, you have a wonderful torque to power ratio. What this means is that you can get a nice steady feed of juice to fully and repeatedly move that actuator, motor or servo.

    With the kind of power provided by this DC Motor Control shield, you could pick up a vehicle. Think I’m kidding? A hydraulic actuator running on 12 volts at 10 amps can produce 1 ton of torque. Your car doesn’t weight that much if you are picking up one end. Carefully consider the implications of this level of power coming from a 5 volt powered device. Yeah, now think about other things you can do with this much juice coming from such a small board. If you haven’t seen Ironman, take a closer look at his suit and see how he uses his power to juice up his exoskeleton.

    Granted, you would need several of these boards to operate a full suit but it is quite possible. Halloween could be really fun this year if you run out and buy a couple of these from Element 14. The board has overtemp, overvoltage protection and the usual assortment of heat sensors and self-protection methods for guys like me. When the board detects a fault it just shuts off instead of other boards that will keep accepting power until they fry themselves. I’ve fried way too many boards in my lifetime. This one held up to my punishment very well.  

    There are plenty of neat things you can use this board for. You could use it to slew a camera mount, operate a deathbot with a chainsaw for an arm, turn on your sprinkler system, move a conveyor belt, power a laser to put holes in walls, and other lovely projects.

    Element 14 has this board as part of the kit. Programming is fairly simple, or as simple as Arduino lets it be. The idea is to think about other things you can use these boards for. We call this hacking. It is also called inventing. Grab a couple of these boards and build your own power suit. Then pick some cars up and move them around like toys.