Atmel’s SAM4L at the Colorado School of Mines

Analog aficionado and Linear Systems marketing maven Tim McCune saw some of our cool ARM Cortex M4-based SAM4L-EK demo kits at the last Analog Aficionados party. Turns out his son Clark just entered the Colorado School of Mines and Tim thought his son could learn a lot from the kit. This is the same kit that Atmel is featuring in its 2014 Tech on Tour training, where we drive a giant 18-wheeler truck onto your campus or company and then do training or product demos.

Atmel-Tech-on-Tour-Trailer

The Atmel Tech on Tour mobile trailer is available to drive to your location and conduct training for employees or students.

So I wangle a couple kits from Atmel events director Donna Castillo and sent them off to Clark. In addition to the ARM Cortex M4-based SAM4-EK, the training bundle had an AT86RF233 Xplained Pro wireless board and an 10-pin XPRO adapter PCB. This allows the SAM4 Xplained pro to take the RF board.

Tim reported the kits were a big hit:

“The kits arrived last Friday, before the three-day weekend, which was a great morale-booster for Clark. He was stuck there with not much to do, most of his friends were at home or skiing. Figuring out how to fire up the kits and start working in C was pretty fun. And when his classmates started drifting back he had the coolest new toys on the hall.”

Clark-McCune_Colorado-School-of-Mines_Atmel-SAM4

Clark McCune and pal fires up the Atmel SAM4-EK at the Colorado School of Mines.

 

Clark-McCune_Colorado-School-of-Mines_Atmel-SAM4_close

Here Clark McCune has both SAM4-EK kits at the ready, with the one hooked to the computer also sporting the AT86RF233 wireless board that comes with the Tech on Tour training.

SAM4L-EK_for-clark

Here are the kits I sent Clark McCune. The Tech on Tour training will get you up to speed on ARM Cortex M4 programming as well as wireless connectivity.

SAM4L-EK_unboxed

The SAM4L-EK has a board and a ton of cables including the micro-USB ones you will need to power the board.

SAM4L-EK_displays

Both displays have a protective film over them, so be sure to peel them off to get the best appearance.

SAM4L-EK_slider

Right out of the box the board is programmed to read the slider on the bottom right side. The number “104” changes in proportion to your finger posing. Note the smaller power consumption display above the main one. The L in SAM4L stands for low power, so Atmel includes a power monitor right on the board.

SAM4L-EK_jumpers

We also include the jumpers, just set off to the side, so you don’t have to hunt any down from your old Windows 95 add-in cards.

SAM4L-EK_with-RF

Here is the SAM4L set up with the AT86RF233 Xplained Pro wireless board and an 10-pin XPRO adapter PCB. I hope Clark had them in the right way because I just copied what he had in his picture.

SAM4L-EK_full-power

Here is a close-up of the power monitor display. With the programs running full-bore, you can see the board is using 1.92 mA, but the firmware is nice enough to tell you it is using 159μA/MHz.

SAM4L-EK_backup-power

Press pushbutton PB0 and the board kicks into standby, where the PCB only draws 66μA. Sorry for the shaky camera, the display is sharp as a tack.

SAM4L-EK_into-backup-power

Speaking of shaky camera work, I tried to press the PB0 pushbutton and snap a pic at the same time, so you can see the little display on the SAM4L-EL work like a tiny oscilloscope, showing the power consumption dropping from 2mA to 69μA.

SAM4L-EK_outof-backup-power

And finally, another shaky camera shot of the SAM4L-EK returning to full power mode.

What is really cool about the little power monitor is that it does show transient events, like when the code services an interrupt and returns to low-power mode. Oh, I forgot to show the back of the PCB, here is a shot:

SAM4L-EK_backside

The back of the SAM4L-EK has more chips, I assume to run the debugger and such. Note the nice clear rubber feet to keep the pins from scratching your desk.

This is such a well-done kit, and if you want to get on the ARM bandwagon, it is a perfect way to learn. Better yet, with the RF board it gets you familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT) applications the whole world is hungering for. So check out the Tech on Tour training and feel free to badger you local Atmel rep or FAE to bring the ToT mobile trailer to your school or company.

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