In the last issue we’ve taken a look at two of Würth’s excellent boards designed for the Feather ecosystem – the MagIC3 FeatherWing and the Sensor FeatherWing. Both of these offer great features and ease-of-use for a low price. In our tests, both units delivered exemplary results and demonstrated the flexibility of the format.
Today we’re taking a look at two more Würth boards which were generously provided by the manufacturer – in different form actors, but both based on their own Calypso WiFi module.
The Calypso module itself is a shielded subunit with castellated connectors intended to be used as a complete WiFi subsystem for embedded devices. At the heart of the Calypso lies a networked MCU containing a 802.11 NWP and an ARM M4 core. Additional timing and RF external antenna-driving circuitry is also located under the shield. What truly sets it apart, though, is the ProWare firmware which controls the entire TCP/IP stack and network connectivity.
Calypso’s main goal is completely delegating all connectivity processing from the main MCU or application processor onto its own subsystem, thus freeing up system resources. Compared to most other options which communicate using wide parallel connections and require the main controller to constantly maintain the connection using SDK routines, Calypso uses a simple UART connection and AT commands. This is akin to the way Würth’s sensors handle data – offering pre-processed digital data streams instead of raw values which require additional software calculations and conversion.
Second in the series of Würth’s add-ons for the Feather ecosystem is the Sensor FeatherWing – featuring four of Würth’s own sensors on-board – those being the WSEN-PADS absolute pressure sensor, the WSEN-ITDS 3-axis accelerometer, the WSEN-TIDS temperature sensor and the WSEN-HIDS humidity sensor.
All of these are connected via an I2C bus to the main Feather board. There’s also support for two SparkFun QWIIC devices and two WE-Sensor devices, thanks to the four connectors (one of each is pre-mounted, and two more are supplied).
As with all FeatherWings, this board is compatible with a wide range of microcontrollers. We successfully tested it with M0, M4 and ESP32-based systems – and it worked flawlessly.
There are two separate interface libraries that can be used with this FeatherWing – the platform.io Arduino-like library and the classic Arduino library. We’ve tried both of these, and they are both excellent and offer all the main features of these sensors.
The platform.io library worked perfectly – and we managed to run all the examples without any hiccups whatsoever. The Arduino library (well, in reality, it’s four separate libraries that Würth has provided) doesn’t offer support for reading more than one sensor at a time/per sketch – so we decided to tinker a little and fix this.
Namely, certain methods were defined multiple times in separate library instances, so we’ve unified the four libraries into one to take care of this – while preserving all the examples in a new folder architecture. If using multiple stock libraries is required, it can be achieved by including the header file under a namespace. This process didn’t take too much time, though, so we don’t consider it a huge deal.
Feather is Adafruit’s system of development boards, available in a wide range of MCUs and peripheral options. FeatherWings are what they call the add-on “shield” type boards that stack above or below the main board to extend its capabilities.
Wurth Elektronik created four of these add-on boards to showcase some of their industrial-grade technologies in an approachable, easy-to-use factor. Today, we’re looking at the first of these – the MagI3C FeatherWing.
Normally, Feather boards are powered by either a USB connection or with a battery (there’s on-board charging circuitry, too). There’s also the option of supplying 5V directly to the GPIO header. While this is more versatility in the power department than most competitors, it’s still a far cry from being industry-ready.
This is where the MagI3C FeatherWing comes in. Powered by the namesake MagI3C modules, it offers a stable output voltage in a wide variety of input scenarios.
Digging a bit deeper into the inner workings of the module, we see some interesting chips populating the circuit. Firstly, the MagI3C FDSM (a fixed output voltage step-down regulator) takes any input voltage between 6 V and 36 V and brings it down to 5 V. An additional VDMM (variable output voltage step-down regulator) brings those 5 V further down to a pre-set 3.3 V. This second chip can be enabled or disabled via an on-board switch, and is meant for FeatherWings that require 3.3V power. The power is delivered to the MagI3C board via a no-screw terminal, which accepts wires of various thickness. There’s also a USB connector on the side, allowing for power delivery through a standard microUSB cable.
LED lighting has become the industry standard, both for commercial and personal use due to its rapidly declining manufacturing costs and high energy efficiency. The long service life of these lamps and the low maintenance they require also made them a favourite between businesses.
Today, we’ve got our hands on the ‘LED it grow’ kit by Würth Elektronik. The kit focuses on Würth’s new horticulture range of visible-light LEDs, and contains the LEDs mounted on heat-spreading panels, as well as the power supply unit based on MagI3C buck regulators (the power supply features 4 channels, with one Magi3C chip per channel).
Our kit has been donated to us by Würth Elektrik, free of charge, for which we are thankful. This did not cause any bias in this review. We will be handing down the kit to a local educational institution for further lab work and tests, as well as for supporting the young and aspiring engineers.
The kit comes packed in an attractive box, with the installation steps printed on the lid, and all components laid out cleanly. After minimal assembly (quite literally – it’s down to a dozen screws and ten cables total), the entire kit comes together and is ready to use with the included power supply. The kit also comes with a simple, but effective heatsink that can be attached to the back of the metal LED carrying plate.
The kit comes with two main sets of LEDs that cannot be used simultaneously. The first, and arguably, the less important one is the set of two plates of RGBW LEDs, with 4 diodes each (one red, one green, one blue and one white LED per plate). These two can be daisy-chained and then controlled via the iOS app.