Tag Archives: Germany

Hitting the electric race track with Atmel MCUs

Written by Stuart Cording

Motorsport: the smell of fuel and oil, permanently in the air; highly-tuned, multi-cylinder engines radiating heat; and the incessant drone and whine, earsplitting at times, as cars come tearing around the track.

None of which you will experience at a race where municHMotorsport e.v. is competing with the PWe4.13, its latest high-performance, all-electric Formula Student Car. The team, comprised of students from the Fachhochschule München, Germany, has many successes behind them and grand plans for the upcoming season which kicks-off summer 2014. The vehicle has an impressive array of specifications, including: acceleration 0-100km/h of <4 seconds; top speed of 110km/h; single-piece monocoque body; and two 60kW electric motors.

The team competes in “Formula Student Germany” which defines the rules and provides the infrastructure for the racing events. Other countries have similar organizations allowing teams to compete all across the world. Electric vehicles have been included as a category for the last four years, perhaps reflecting not only the raised level of interest in “green technologies” but also the maturity and low price-of-entry for the technology needed to build an all-electric racing vehicle.

Racing against one-another is considered too dangerous for self-built vehicles and amateur drivers selected from the available teams. Thus, the competition focuses on areas such as vehicle acceleration, maneuverability and endurance. In 2012 the team suffered a bitter blow in the 22km (13.6 miles) endurance test as the vehicle rolled to a halt just 100m (330 feet) from the finish line. In 2013, however, they bounced back delivering a first place in the Spanish competition in Barcelona. The season ended with the team ranked number 5 worldwide in the electric vehicles category.


Atmel has provided the Control/Electrical System department with ATmega32M1 automotive microcontrollers to support them in their efforts this year. The MCU was selected to fulfill two applications in the vehicle. One MCU sits snugly in the carbon-fiber steering wheel, where control switches and LEDs provide the driver interface, controlled by the on-chip CAN interface. Meanwhile, the second MCU functions as an aggregator for many of the analogue sensors built into the vehicle. Information, such as wheel rotation and tire temperature, are collected and forwarded to one of the vehicle’s four CAN networks.


Like any racing team, telemetry data during testing and racing is essential for the team to understand how and where to improve the vehicle.

Talking to Maximilian Werner (Sponsoring) and Christian Schenk (Teamleader Control & Electrical Systems), the two described the project as a never ending search toward the perfect solution. As this year’s vehicle sits on the starting grid, a new group of students will join the team and the graduates will leave, meaning that valuable knowledge and know-how will have to be passed on if the team is to remain successful.

bordnetz gesamt_sml

The team is also made up of cross-discipline students, with electronics and mechanical engineers focusing mainly on design and construction and business studies students undertaking marketing, sponsoring and cost analysis roles.

As I leave the electronics development team behind, we cast an eye over what the mechanical design group is doing.


The smell of glue and epoxy wafts over me as students fill moulds with carbon-fiber matting, sand surfaces to perfection and let finished parts cure. Six crushed nose cones hang on the wall. Maximilian explains that they are proof positive that the car is not only fast, but safe – the result of the mandatory crash testing required before participating.


From left to right: Maximilian Werner (Sponsoring); Andreas Welzmiller (Team Leader High-Voltage System); Tanja Elischer (Media/PR); Fabian Sengl (Braking Lights/TSAL); Manfred Brandstetter (Energy Recuperation); Christian Schenk (Team Leader Control & Electrical Systems)

I am left feeling amazed at the immense focus, drive and passion of a group of people, determined to do their best and deliver at every event. We wish them all the best for the coming season and hope they are first to cross the finish line at every event.

UK invests big in the IoT

The UK government will reportedly spend an extra £45m on developing Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The pledge, made by British Prime Minister David Cameron, more than doubles the amount of IoT-related funds currently available to UK tech firms.

“I see the internet of things as a huge transformative development,” British Prime Minister David Cameron recently told CeBIT attendees in Germany in a statement quoted by the BBC. “[It is] a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs [and] tackling climate change.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the IoT is essentially a combination of multiple market segments, tens of thousands of OEMs and hundreds of thousands of products.

“It is seen by many as the next wave of dramatic market growth for semiconductors. If you look at the different estimates made by market analysts, the IoT market will be worth trillions of dollars to a variety of industries from the consumer to financial, industrial, white goods and other market segments,” Dr. Reza Kazerounian, Senior VP and GM of the Microcontroller Business Unit at Atmel, recently told EEWeb.

“Companies that provide cloud-based services, service providers and semiconductor companies will also benefit from this market. The number of small or new companies that are showcasing connective devices has increased – there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. These nodes will have characteristics such as low-power embedded processing, a human-machine interface and connectivity.”

Interested in learning more about the IoT? You can check out previous Bits & Pieces articles on the subject here.

A billion IoT dreams with Sigfox and Atmel

French startup Sigfox recently showcased its Atmel-powered global cellular connectivity solution for the Internet of Things (IoT) at the Atmel booth during Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.


According to company rep Jacques Husser, Sigfox-ready devices connect to the Internet without any geographically dependent connectivity costs or location-specific network configuration. The worldwide connectivity solution is managed through the Sigfox Network Operator partnership program, effectively linking local ecosystems to the global network. 

That is why, says Husser, the phrase “one network, a billion dreams” has become the company’s slogan.

Indeed, SIGFOX utilizes UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) radio technology to connect devices to its global network. The use of UNB is key to providing a scalable, high-capacity network, with very low energy consumption, while maintaining a simple and easy to rollout star-based cell infrastructure.

 The network operates in the globally available ISM bands (license-free frequency bands) and co-exists in these frequencies with other radio technologies – without any risk of collisions or capacity problems.

Sigfox currently uses the most popular European ISM band on 868MHz (as defined by ETSI and CEPT), along with 902MHz in the USA (as defined by the FCC), depending on specific regional regulations.

Sigfox secures communications in a number of ways, including anti-replay, message scrambling and sequencing. Perhaps most importantly, only the device vendors understand the actual data exchanged between the device and the IT systems. Simply put, Sigfox acts as a transport channel, pushing the data towards the customer’s IT system.

Interested in learning more about Sigfox? You can check out the official company website here.

Video: ARM interviews Atmel’s Jacko Wilbrink

Earlier today, the ARM crew interviewed Atmel exec Jacko Wilbrink on the sidelines of Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Wilbrink discussed Atmel’s popular ARM-based SAMA5D3 microprocessor, confirming that the MPU has been a “tremendous success for Atmel.”

Wilbrink also said Atmel will continue to offer scalable ARM-based MPUs, with an eye on introducing more dual-core implementations in the future. 

Last, but certainly not least, Wilbrink showcased Newark’s (element14) new $79 Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design.

The board, which is powered by Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU, is packed with a rich set of ready-to-use connectivity and storage peripherals, along with Arduino shield-compatible expansion headers for easy customization. In addition, the platform is a perfect target for headless Android projects, while a Linux distribution and software package facilitates rapid software development.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the SAMA5D3 series is ideal for wearable computing and mobile applications where low power and a small footprint are critical. Key SAMA5D3 Xplained features include:

  • Fully documented and readily available Cortex-A5 based MPU solution
  • Rich set of peripherals, specifically on connectivity
  • USB power (no need for power adaptor)
  • Flexibility – Arduino-compatible connectors, enabling the user to leverage the extensive Arduino shields ecosystem
  • Open Source hardware – All design files available; easy to reuse in customer projects
Software package with drivers and examples for bare metal developers
  • Qt developers kit and Linux distribution free of charge

The new SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – priced at $79 – is slated to ship in mid-March 2014 from Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in APAC. You can pre-register for the board here.

Day 2: Atmel @ Embedded World

Day 2 of Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany has drawn to a successful close. Our jam-packed booth hosted numerous journalists, analysts and industry insiders throughout an exciting day.

Atmel’s booth was also the site of several technical sessions, including embedded Internet technologies, web services and cloud computing, intelligent lighting control networks and ultra-low power system design.

In addition, we showcased a plethora of demos, including a lighting system with secure communication and cryptographic information exchange, capacitive sensing with dual functionality per button, car access systems, embedded microprocessors based on the ARM Cortex core, a battery-powered drill and anti-cloning protection.

Stay tuned for more Atmel Embedded World 2014 updates!

We’ll be back tomorrow for Day 3 of Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany.































Atmel announces Embedded World lineup

Next week, Atmel will be launching a number of new products to drive smart, connected devices in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) at Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Some of the new products, along with interactive demos, will be showcased at the official Atmel booth located in Hall 4A / #4A-220 and include:

Solutions in Embedded Processing

Solutions in Connectivity

  • World’s first highly integrated, ultra-low power Wi-Fi IoT module powered by Atmel’s Cortex M0+ MCUs.
  • Atmel’s SAMR21, a new family of Cortex M0+ based ultra-low power wireless microcontrollers targeting ZigBee and 6LoWPAN.
  • A new series of automotive LIN (local interconnect networking) SBC (system basis chip) solutions to better connect in-vehicle systems.

Solutions in Software and Tools

Atmel will also be launching the new Studio 6.2 integrated development platform (in beta), which features a new debug probe with advanced debugging to accelerate time-to-market. In addition, Atmel is slated to showcase various demos in the embedded processing, connectivity and software/tools segments, including:

  • Capacitive touch capability with Atmel’s QTouch technologies – Highlights various home appliances to demonstrate conductive immunity and moisture tolerance, along with an Xplained Pro board and capacitive touch extension board.
  • New ARM MCU solutions – A SAM4E data logger with signal processing based on Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs and a SAM D20 global positioning system tracker based on Atmel’s ARM Cortex-M0+ MCUs.
  • SAM A5 MPU applications – A new SAMA5D3 Xplained board, a low-cost ARM Cortex A5 processor kit, a smart thermostat, a home automation and smart fridge demo with a 7” capacitive touch panel.

Other notable demos include Ivee Sleek Wi-Fi, a voice-activated assistance for the home that helps manage and control connected devices without hands; a finger print, voice-search, secure Bluetooth / USB drive that displays passwords; a tiny automatic camera and app that boasts a searchable and shareable photographic memory and a 5mm x 5mm Cortex-A5 System on Module card. 

A polyphase smart e-metering board based on a dual ARM Cortex-M4 core system-on-chip with an integrated metrology AFE will also be on display in the booth.

For Connectivity


Atmel’s Wi-Fi connectivity solutions – A Turtle Beach i60 headset and Roku 3 box used on a Vizio M-Series flat panel on display.
  • Upcoming ultra-low power IoT module – Integrates the company’s Wi-Fi technology with a Cortex M0+ core. We will be showcasing the latest Xplained PRO Starter demo kit using this soon-to-be-announced Wi-Fi IoT module.

The new SAMR21 family of wireless MCUs (supported by the new SAMR21 Xplained PRO evaluation kits) – Ideal as a platform for evaluating and developing the SAMR21 wireless MCUs.
  • ZigBee and open-source 6LoWPAN solutions with cloud services.

For Software and Tools

Along with the new Atmel Studio 6.2 and Atmel-ICE, we will be demoing our latest integrated development platform and advanced debug probe. We will also be highlighting a new SAMA5D3 Xplained cost-effective kit based on the ARM Cortex-A5 processor MPU, as well as the new Xplained Mini ultra-low cost evaluation kit with an Atmel 8-bit AVR, low pin-count MCU for less than USD $10. 

In addition, we plan on hosting several Arduino board demonstrations based on Atmel MCUs for our Maker community. And, by popular demand, Atmel will also be showcasing its advanced AvantCar demo, a next-generation automotive center console concept with curved touchscreens that illustrates the combined use of Atmel’s XSense, maXTouch, QTouch, and 8-bit AVR MCU technologies.

Meanwhile, Atmel’s low-power MCU Expert Bob Martin is scheduled to present “Differentiating and Optimizing for Static and Active Microcontroller Modes” during the hands-on workshop: “Applying Optimizing Techniques for Ultra-low Power Microcontrollers” (Class 07) on Wednesday, February 26. In this 9:00 am – 5:00 pm CET day-long session, Martin will be presenting at 9:15 am CET. Last, but certainly not least, Atmel will be announcing winners from its AVR Hero Design contest at the show.

Gabriella Levine talks OSHW, Arduino and China

Simone Cicero of Open Electronics recently sat down with Gabrielle Levine, the newly appointed president of the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) to discuss a wide range of topics, including the rapid evolution of the open source movement, Arduino boards and China’s key role in the hardware space.

“I believe it is becoming commercially strategic for companies to release open source hardware tools and platforms. Because tech innovation is happening so rapidly, companies have to innovate quickly,” Levine told the publication.

“As the trend of open toolkits and information becomes more mainstream, no longer will patent ownership be the driving force behind success, but success will come from the best technology that is fastest to make it to market. Releasing open source hardware is certainly commercially beneficial in some ways for companies and for consumers.”

According to Levine, OSHW allows consumers to control, modify and personalize various platforms or tools. In turn, this facilitates healthy competition within the market, while accelerating product proliferation via derivatives.

“For example, Arduino has created a market share based upon both Arduinos as well as derivatives. Additionally, open source hardware can contribute to commercial success because it puts so much emphasis on ‘the Brand.’ [Remember], Arduino became known globally due to attribution,” she explained.

“Another example is Sparkfun and Adafruit. These companies seem to survey what sensors the community is using, see what people have made and then decide to produce their own products or sensors based on what they see is popular, or even based upon the designs of some of the community.”

Levine also commented on China’s role in hardware innovation, noting that it boasts fast-paced manufacturing, along with inexpensive tools and materials.

“I believe China is going to be a huge driving force in the open source hardware landscape. There are many similarities between [the local concept of] Shanzhai and the open source hardware community,” she said.

“Both Shanzhai and open source hardware projects borrow information, tools, source code, CAD files and techniques; both improve upon other’s work to accelerate development. What differentiates Shanzhai from open source hardware projects is that it doesn’t build upon the work of others for increased innovation, but it exactly copies and prices it lower.”

Last, but certainly not least, Levine said Germany, Netherlands and Japan are at the forefront of design and innovation. As such, the trio will play a “big role” in making the open source hardware movement more mainstream.

Interested in reading more? 

The full text of the Open Electronics interview with Gabrielle Levine can be accessed here.

Emulating contactless smart cards with the ATxmega192A3

Researchers at Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany recently debuted the Chameleon Mini, a versatile contactless smart card emulator. 

As HackADay’s Adam Fabio notes, contactless smart cards are RFID style devices that also contain a smart card style memory. These cards are often used for payment, replacing mag strip style credit cards.

According to the researchers, Chameleon was designed as a programmable platform to assess security risks in RFID environments, as the device can be used in various attack scenarios.

“The Chameleon is set up to emulate any number of cards using the common 13.56MHz frequency band,” HackADay’s Fabio explained. “Adding a new card is as simple as loading up a new CODEC  and application to the firmware. Currently Chameleon can emulate MIFARE cards using the ISO14443A.”

The open source Chameleon – powered by Atmel’s versatile ATxmega192A3 mcirocontroller (MCU) – was built for around $25. As Fabio points out, the 192 is a perfect fit for the Chameleon, because it is equipped with hardware accelerators for both DES and AES-128.

Additional key project specs include:

  • Hardware support for ASK modulation (both 10% and 100%) to cover almost any card standard available.
  • Hardware support for ASK and BPSK load modulation using a subcarrier.
  • Modular firmware structure faclitates easy expandability of other cards and standards.
  • Support for quick and reliable firmware update via Atmel DFU boot loader (programming hardware is required only once).
  • Can be controlled using a fully documented AT-like command set via CDC using theLUFA USB stack.
  • 1MByte of card memory allows for multiple card emulations to reside on the device simultaneously.
  • Settings can be switched even without a USB connection, simply by pressing a button.
  • Card contents can be easily uploaded and downloaded by means of the command line and X-MODEM. This allows the Chameleon to be interfaced with standard terminal software as well as user written scripts and applications.

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered Chameleon? You can check out the project’s official page here.