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Electronic Toolkit Answered

I do some work with the FIRST Robotics kids and it is amazing to see what they are doing.  Big problem though seems to be a general lack of electrical test equipment.  They don't really have the money to buy oscilloscopes, function generators, CAN and I2C analyzers.  

So I got one of the M3 Discovery boards from STmicro and it is really cool.  It has four 5MS A/Ds on it plus a whole host of other features(CAN, I2C, Serial etc.).


o it got me thinking. Why couldn't we turn one of these chips into an "All-In-One" electrical toolkit and keep it cheap($50-$60, BOM ~$20).  It would be fairly easy to turnkey.

I threw together some simple specs, what do people think.
1) Will supply general use drivers so a user can use the app or write their own.
2) Oscilloscope
  a. Two Channel
    i. 2MHZ of Analog Bandwidth per channel
    ii. 10MS/s per channel
    iii. Trigger on rising edge, falling edge, on-command, run-stop actions
    iv. Datalogging for extended time periods at up to 10hz per channel (data stored directly to console),  maybe higher rate will  just have to see
3) Serial – 2 Ports
  a. Multi selectable protocol w/slew control
    i. RS232, RS422, RS485
4) CANBus – 1 port
5) I2C – 1 port
6) SPI  - 1 port
7) 8 Discrete User Selectable
8) Function Generator
  a. Two Channel
     i. 1MS/s small signal change
     ii. 250kS/s full range change
     iii. 0-3.3VDC buffered output 
9) PWM - 4 Channels



6 years ago

So was was able to get everything on the board, BOM cost came within expectations. Was only able to fit one fully selectable serial port but everything else is there. It desperately needs a name. I was thinking EE Toolkit or something similar.

So some other ideas is to have a client for it and have the interface be open and supplied so people can go crazy with it.

Board Rev-.jpg

6 years ago

Tall order for such a small price. So much so it can't be done (for now). Even the cheapest and most basic scopes fall in your praposed price range.


Reply 6 years ago

Typically the costs on a USB Scope is driven by the A/D and analog front end. But costs have absolutely plummeted in the last 5 years. A 5MS A/D was unheard of and now you can get 4 on a $5 part, with the ability to sync for two 10MS A/D.

Once you have the microcontroller and analog worked out it is a piece of cake to add all the other features(some minor glueware) and then all the effort is in the client and dongle software.