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ubirch #1 r0.3

Today our new bridge-board ubirch #1 r0.3 has arrived. It’s one of the most fascinating pieces of hardware if have held in my hands so far – even more if you consider the early roots of this where we combined an Atmel 328p with an adafruit fona module to transfer some sensor-data in our finding europe with lights project.

The board is meant to help our clients to bridge the gap between their physical devices and the internet – adding the highest level of security with public key encryption and everywhere connectivity based on our m2m GSM module.

But let’s talk about the board itself. It’s tiny – almost exactly as wide as an iPhone 6s with a height or roughly 3cm. It fits nicely in my hand.

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It comes with an NxP Kinetis K82 as application processsor – an awesome new part of the Kinetis family with a lot of processing power (Cortex M4 with up to 150Mhz) and a cryptographic acceleration unit that makes ECC and RSA calculations roughly 100x faster compared to software based calculations. Encryption and signing of messages (and even key generation) can be done extremely fast and therefore energy consumption is not an issue anymore – these devices can run ages on batteries if you want (of course it has a couple of low-power modes as well). The next computing unit on this beauty is dedicated to to the GSM network – the tiny M66 from Quectel replaces the SIM800 that we used before. A perfect solution to do m2m data on a 2G connection. Combined with special anynet SIM-Cards this guy can get online almost everywhere. And he adds Bluetooth 3.0 to the board.

The third one is a TI sub 1 Ghz RF-processor (CC430) – a well established unit that allows for local networking with sensors on ISM bands.

Of course the board has a charging circuitry as well and can be run on either battery or power from USB (including the GSM part!). A MicroSD holder and a Sim-Card holder are adding necessary bits to the design as well. And – it even has a sensor built in! As we are trying to collect as much weather data as possible with our devices we decided to put an environmental sensor (BME280) on every board we produce – therefore this board can act as a weather-station right away (measuring humidity, temperature and barometric pressure).

And the coolest thing comes to your mind when you look at the shape: We started with Grove-Connectors to attach sensors to our board. The next iteration brought a standard GPIO Pin-Connector. But all this is gone – instead this board has the shape of a standard SO-DIMM module like many of us know it from the old days when we tried to put more memory into our computers. This gives us a tremendous amount of connectors (up to 200) to the outside and – similarly to the Raspberry compute module – a very straight way to integrate this bridge module into hardware designs from our clients. You just snap it in and your device is online!

Name of author

Name: Stephan Noller

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