Electronics News

Building Services with BLE Beacons – Solinor

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Fri, 2017-04-28 11:47


Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons are small, typically battery powered, devices that periodically broadcast an identifier to their surroundings. They are an inexpensive way to make applications aware of their surroundings.
With beacons no user action is required for an application to obtain the proximity information. When a smartphone enters the range of a beacon, it can automatically provide information.

BLE beacons transmit packets of data (callef advertisements) that contain the identity of the beacon for example once every second. In the receiving application it is possible to define a scan interval (how often a bluetooth receiver is turned on) and a scan window (how long the bluetooth receiver stays turned on). 

Typically you want to make sure that advertising frequency is set such that there will be at least one advertisement for each scan window.

When a new beacon is observed during a scan, we can say that we have entered its range. 


Security issues: Typical beacons are just one-way transmitters that broadcast their identifiers. This means that it is quite easy for a malicious person to replicate the signal. The common solution for this problem is to rotate the identifier of the beacon periodically in a secure way - Eddystone based beacon platform address this issue.

Categories: Electronics News

Zinc Battery Breakthrough Could Mean Safer, Lighter Cars and Smartphones – IEEE Spectrum

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Thu, 2017-04-27 17:03


Rechargeable zinc-based batteries could not only store as much energy as lithium-ion batteries but also be safer, cheaper, smaller and lighter, new research finds. The results suggest zinc batteries could find use in mild hybrids (microhybrids), electric vehicles, electric bicycles, and eventually perhaps smartphones and power grid storage.

The researchers are now aggressively testing these batteries and exploring scaling up this technology. “We feel we can have a battery ready for the market by the end of 2019,” says Michael Burz, CEO of energy technology firm EnZinc

Categories: Electronics News

Finland’s depression

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Thu, 2017-04-27 05:44


Finland has lost a quarter of its industry since 2008 even though it is the poster-child of EMU competitiveness Finland tops the EU in the World Economic Forum’s index of global competitiveness. It comes 1st in the entire world for primary schools, higher education and training, innovation, property rights, intellectual property protection, its legal framework and reliability, anti-monopoly policies, university R&D links, availability of latest technologies, as well as scientists and engineers. The country has obviously been hit by a series of asymmetric shocks.
Categories: Electronics News

The main differences between internet privacy in the US and the EU

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Thu, 2017-04-27 01:59


European privacy regulations are generally more consumer-focused than U.S. rules.

“Who is the focus of these laws? Is it about protecting us, and giving us all the information we need and allowing us to make informed choices?”

 “Or is it about allowing Comcast to keep up with Google and Facebook when it comes to business models that rely on your personal data?”

Categories: Electronics News

Cyber risks for Industrial environments continue to increase

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Thu, 2017-04-27 00:00


Industrial control systems (ICS) are a privileged target of different categories of threat actors.

Researchers observed a significant increase of brute force attacks on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

In December, IBM warned of the availability of a penetration testing framework named smod that was used in many attacks in the wild. 

Organization in any industry can get cyber-attacks against their ICS system and need to adoptvnecessary countermeasures.

According to Kaspersky, every month, an average of 20.1% of industrial computers is targeted by malware.

Categories: Electronics News

Mongoose OS Now Part of Hackster Apps – Hackster’s Blog

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Wed, 2017-04-26 16:05


An open source IoT operating system that looks interesting.

Mongoose OS is an open source operating system for the IoT.
With Mongoose OS, setup is fairly straightforward and takes just few minutes. Prototyping can be done in JavaScript, and you can use real microcontrollers for your projects (such as ESP8266, ESP32 or TI CC3200), not the ‘minicomputers boards’ like Raspberry Pi or Galileo.

  • You can code in JavaScript (or you can still do it in C, if this is your first choice).
  • It has built-in support for any public or private MQTT server (IoT Cloud).
  • Supports TCP, UDP, HTTP, Websocket, MQTT, CoAP, DNS, mDNS-SD, and SNTP protocols.


Categories: Electronics News

2D Materials Go Ferromagnetic, Creating a New Scientific Field – IEEE Spectrum

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Wed, 2017-04-26 15:34


Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have successfully demonstrated that two-dimensional (2D) layered crystals held together by van der Waal forces—these include graphene and molybdenum disulfide—can exhibit intrinsic ferromagnetism. 
The discovery could have a profound impact for applications including magnetic sensors and the developing use of spintronics for encoding information.

In general, electronics and optics are turning to 2D materials because they are more suitable for tiny devices.

“potential applications such as nanoscale memories, magnetic sensors, transparent magnets, magneto-optic modulators,” 

Categories: Electronics News

An engineer’s guide to picking a startup | TechCrunch

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Wed, 2017-04-26 09:12


Complexity is your enemy

Most great companies are built on solving a big problem with an (after the fact) obvious new viewpoint.

Market is your friend

  • When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins.
  • When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins.
  • When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.

Startups are hard and you have to make difficult decisions with limited data. You have to raise money from investors. You want a CEO who can help VCs see the vision.
All startups die when they run out of customers.

All startups die when they run out of engineers.

Vision & Mission

Almost every analysis of the startup journey shows that risk adjusted, you are better of keeping that BigCo job.

People overestimate what you can do in a year and they underestimate what you can do in a decade, unless you’re (Apple CEO) Steve Jobs.

Categories: Electronics News

What It Would Really Take to Run the World off of Renewable Energy

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Tue, 2017-04-25 14:34


With electric power establishing itself even further into our modern society, generating it is becoming an even more complex issue. As we seek to find a sustainable power source, we are naturally drawn to the thought of renewable energy. However, the question remains, what would it really take to run the world completely off of renewable energy?

Researchers from Stanford and UC Davis engaged in an analysis of current renewable energy technology few years ago to examine what would be needed to run the world off of sustainable energy.


Their plan calls for using wind, water and solar energy to generate power, with wind and solar power contributing 90 percent of the needed energy.
The researchers approached the conversion with the goal that by 2030, all new energy generation would come from wind, water and solar, and by 2050, all pre-existing energy production would be converted as well.

One of the biggest hurdles with wind and solar energy is that both can be highly variable.
“One of the most promising methods of insuring that supply matches demand is using long-distance transmission to connect widely dispersed sites,” said Delucchi.

Use the off-hours excess electricity to produce hydrogen for the industrial and transportation sectors.

Categories: Electronics News

Invasion of the Hardware Snatchers: Cloned Electronics Pollute the Market – IEEE Spectrum

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Tue, 2017-04-25 02:35


Unlike counterfeit electronics of the past, modern clones are very sophisticated.
 The counterfeiters make their own components, boards, and systems from scratch and then package them into superficially similar products. The clones may be less reliable than the genuine product, having never undergone rigorous testing. But they may also host unwanted or even malicious software, firmware, or hardware—and the buyer may not know the difference.

Cloning spans all levels of electronics. 

Nobody really knows the true scale of electronics cloning.

So who exactly are the cloners? They could be just a couple of guys in a garage or a big state-funded organization, or something in between. State-sponsored cloning is thought to be common. 

To fabricate the fake, the cloner typically turns to an independent manufacturing facility, which may be similar to or even the same as that used to make the genuine product. 

Categories: Electronics News

Struggling towards 5G | EDN

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Mon, 2017-04-24 15:07


 5G is developing so fast it’s hard to get a handle on it, whether you’re responsible for building 5G systems or writing about them.

Part of the problem is that 5G is not one proposed standard, it’s a growing set of them. 

Every new proposal of this sort complicates the ability of standards bodies to keep up. The original timeline was to have a specification ratified by 2020, but the schedule for final ratification is now in question.

Meanwhile, several wireless network operators are hurrying the market. Telcos in South Korea and Japan want to demonstrate 5G networks during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. 

Categories: Electronics News

New password guidelines say everything we thought about passwords is wrong

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Mon, 2017-04-24 00:38


There is a draft of new guidelines for password management from NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology). There is a number of very progressive changes they proposed.

Although NIST’s rules are not mandatory for nongovernmental organizations, they usually have a huge influence as many corporate security professionals.

Categories: Electronics News

LEGO power functions with Arduino

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-04-23 13:41

LEGO Power Functions is a LEGO electric building system. You have battery boxes to deliver the power, different types of motors to make things move, light, remote control and even connection to a computer. The Power Functions system has 4 wires and uses 9V voltage.

The IR Remote Control sends infrared light messages to the IR Receiver much like a television remote sends a signal to a TV. The Power Functions IR System has 4 channels. On the Power Functions IR Remote Control and IR Receiver you have a channel selector switch.


See LEGO_Power_Functions_RC_v120.pdf for  information on the IR signals used to control LEGO creations: LEGO Power Functions RC Protocol The payload is: 1 toggle bit, 1 escape bit, 2 bits for channel switch, 1 bit for address, 3 bits for mode and 4 bits for various data depending on mode (maximum message length 16 ms). When a button is pressed or released on the transmitter the message is sent. Five exactly matching messages (if no other buttons are pressed or released) are sent.

Controlling LEGO power function system with Arduino:

GitHub – jurriaan/Arduino-PowerFunctions: Lego Power Functions Infrared Control for Arduino is a Arduino Lego Power Functions Library. It allows you to easily generate same IR signal that LEGO power function remote controller sends.

Arduino and LEGO® Power Functions – Hackster.io article describes a project that involves a LEGO Train that was controller by an Arduino.

There is Arduino and LEGO® Power Functions project for controlling a LEGO Train with Arduino and LEGO® Power Functions.

First attempt at driving a train! web page is a good tutorial how to start controlling LEGO trains with Arduino.

Here is some code (base on example from First attempt at driving a train! page) I successfully used to send control signals to LEGO train from Arduino with IR LED (needs legopowerfunctions library to be installed). This with make the train go forward for 5 seconds, stops for 1 seconds, goes backwards for 5 seconds. stops for 1 second and starts all over again:

#include <legopowerfunctions.h>
// IR led on port 13
void setup(){
LEGOPowerFunctions lego(13);

void loop(){
lego.SingleOutput(0, PWM_FWD4, RED, CH2);
lego.SingleOutput(0, PWM_FLT, RED, CH2);
lego.SingleOutput(0, PWM_REV4, RED, CH2);
lego.SingleOutput(0, PWM_FLT, RED, CH2);

The hardware needed is same as described in First attempt at driving a train! page:

Categories: Electronics News

30 Great Quotes From Inventors That Will Definitely Inspire You

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-04-23 10:32


So, you want 30 inspiring quotes from inventors eh? Well, welcome my friend. The ability to look at the world in new and unique ways is the hallmark of a great mind.

Categories: Electronics News

Analyzing the spectrum of corporate innovation from R&D to VC | TechCrunch

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-04-23 00:42


Research and development has been an innovation lifeblood of our economy for nearly 50 years.
Innovation is a hot topic, and it can be confusing. With terms like incubatoraccelerator and corporate venturing frequently mentioned, but rarely defined, the menu of innovation options can be overwhelming.
This article gives overview to those options.

Categories: Electronics News

7 considerations to make when securing your Raspberry Pi

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sun, 2017-04-23 00:34


 This article tries to get you thinking of security at an appropriate level for your Raspberry Pi and IoT projects without scaring you away from playing, experimenting, and innovating. It’s about striking a balance. Don’t let a challenge stop you from trying. Just be aware of the big picture for securing your projects.

Categories: Electronics News

ARM Releases Machine Readable Architecture Specification

Tomi Engdahl's ePanorama blog - Sat, 2017-04-22 15:53


The companies that design processors all provide specifications of their products. These specifications are usually in the form of books or PDF documents. 
It is then up to diligent engineers and academics around the world to read those documents and transcribe the relevant parts into computer languages such as C, C++, Verilog, O’Caml, Coq, Isabelle, … to implement tools that generate, dissect or analyse programs for those processors. This is a very tedious, error-prone process. 

ARM has released version 8.2 of the ARM v8-A processor specification in machine readable form.

The semantics is written in ARM’s ASL Specification Language so it is all executable and has been tested very thoroughly.

If this is for real, what you think you can you do with this?

Categories: Electronics News


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