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Problem Solver | Cypress Semiconductor

Nov 20, 2017

Cypress Takes Over @ Maker Faire Shenzhen

If there is one thing we've learned from the Maker community, it’s that Makers are creating and innovating across the entire globe. After our fun adventures at Maker Faire Seattle, we eagerly packed up our PSoC© projects and one-of-a-kind maker demos to head to one of China’s major tech hubs for Maker Faire Shenzhen.

Makers gathered at our booth to see live demos of our PSoC technology and learn how PSoC Makers from all over the world are using our solutions to design all sorts of creative, innovative and game-changing microcontroller-based devices. From a heart rate monitor to a smart lock, we showcased how PSoC is solving design problems for the next generation of devices. 
 

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Our PSoC 4-powered heart rate monitor showcased how PSoC technology provides a highly-integrated and flexible MCU with an Analog Front End (AFE), ideal for developing customized wearable and portable healthcare applications. To design your own heart rate monitor with PSoC, check out this overview. The smart lock showcased how PSoC provides a full toolkit to implement system controls, a touch buttons user interface, wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity and fingerprint sensing – all the key features you need to design any secure, smart device.
 

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Another popular demo at our booth was our recently announced Arrow + PSoC 6 Chip Titanium Board. This board features a technology ecosystem that enables developers to create products using Wi-Fi, BLE, cellular and LPWAN technologies, while also taking advantage of Cypress’ low-power edge computing capabilities. Titanium provides developers with advanced sensing capabilities with Bosch Sensortec's integrated environmental sensor, making it easy to build smart devices that can measure gas, humidity, temperature, and pressure.

We were also excited to once again display the popular ETCH-A-SKETCH, Oscilloscope demos from Maker Faire Seattle. As you may remember, Juan Esteban Paz, the creator of the ETCH-A-SKETCH, used our PSoC 4 Pioneer Kit to enable makers to program automatic doodles on the device. 
 

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We also demoed how our CY8CKIT-059 can be used to program an Oscilloscope. You can find a full tutorial on the project here
 

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Thank you to all the Makers who stopped by our booth at Maker Faire Shenzhen. As always, our team had a blast showcasing the problems PSoC solves and learning about the innovative projects Makers from all over the world are developing. If you missed us at this show, be sure to check out our events calendar to see where we’ll be next. See you soon, Problem Solvers! 

Oct 26, 2017

Cypress Maker of the Month: Sree Harsha Angara

At Cypress®, we are all about solving our customers’ problems with our state-of-the-art solutions. We love problems because we are passionate about solutions. The Maker of the Month series recognizes unique projects created by the maker community and their design problems that were solved using Cypress technology. For more information about Cypress’ maker community involvement, check out the rest of our Maker of the Month series and our efforts to empower up-and-coming engineers via the Cypress University Alliance (CUA).


Read the Q&A with Cypress’ Maker of the Month for October 2017, Sree Harsha Angara.
 

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Please provide some background about yourself and your work at Cypress.

I work as an applications engineer on the Cypress PSoC© MCU team. My work involves a mix of solving customer issues, helping architect new solutions using the flexibility of our PSoC technology, and doing full designs for customers with unique problems.

Earlier this year, you worked with Clive (Max) Maxfield of EE Times to develop a PSoC 5 based spatial mic setup. Can you tell us about that project?

Max and I have stayed in touch over the past couple of years through a couple of hobby projects I did in the past and published on EE Times. He pinged me for his new project called the Bodacious Brain project, an intriguing concept with a bunch of LEDs hooked up together to react somewhat like neurons in a brain.  We were kicking ideas around and thought about having it react to sound, which made me curious. I put together a simple LED ring/spatial mic setup to make PSoC detect which direction the sound was coming from and act as a trigger to the relevant neuron LED.  
 

How did you help bring the project to life?

I used NeoPixel LED strips from Adafruit which have a convenient LED ring and six attached analog mics under them. I interfaced them to the CY8CKIT-050 kit, a PSoC 5LP based development kit.

Driving NeoPixels is typically processor intensive, but thanks to the Universal Digital Blocks (UDBs) of PSoC, and an existing library (props to Mark Hastings, from CY’s MCU Applications team), it was fairly easy to get them going.

We know you are also working on a project that features Cypress’ CY4343W Wi-Fi and BT/BLE combo SoC. Can you tell us more about that?

This project started off as a pet-peeve of mine – figuring out if some rooms in my house are really colder during certain times of the day. I’m aggregating data from PSoC 4 BLE nodes to a CY4343W chip. Essentially this is a BLE to Wi-Fi bridge, which can capture data from a PSoC 4 sensing the temperature and push it into the cloud.

Although the idea was simple, there are many ways to go about this and so the WICED platform helped smooth through many pains in setting up a MQTT service so I could easily push/pull data to my local laptop.

How has Cypress’ technology helped execute your projects, and what are the benefits you’ve seen with using these technologies?

The Cypress PSoC platform is the first embedded platform I have used extensively and have become accustomed to its flexibility and ease of use. For making quick prototypes, there is no other platform I can think of which comes close to the speed and flexibility. The WICED platform is something I have just begun to scratch the surface of, but the ease-of-use to set up complex tasks like HTTPS servers, MQTT protocols etc. is also very well done. 

What is your favorite part about working at Cypress?

Solving customer problems using unique Cypress technology. Working with a great team of fellow engineers is a very close second place.

Are you working on other projects that use Cypress’ technology?

I am currently working on writing fan controller firmware for PSoC 5 in server applications. Other projects I’ve done in the past with PSoC include:

For questions or more information, you can reach out to Sree Harsha Angara at the following platforms:

Thanks again to Sree Harsha Angara for participating in our Maker of the Month program. If you would like to be considered for our next Maker of the Month profile, please email us and share a brief description of what project(s) you have made using Cypress’ technology.

Aug 31, 2017

Cypress' Maker of the Month: Mike Hord 

At Cypress®, we are all about solving our customers’ problems with our state-of-the-art solutions. We love problems because we are passionate about solutions. The Maker of the Month series recognizes unique projects created by the maker community and their design problems that were solved using Cypress technology. For more information about Cypress’ maker community involvement, check out the rest of our Maker of the Month series and our efforts to empower up-and-coming engineers via the Cypress University Alliance (CUA).


Read the Q&A with Cypress’ Featured Maker of the Month for August 2017, Mike Hord. Mike is a development engineer at SparkFun Electronics, an online retail store for makers!
 

Can you please provide some background about yourself and the company you work for?

My name is Michael Hord, and for the past six years I've been a development engineer at SparkFun Electronics. I got my bachelor's degree in computer engineering from North Dakota State University in Fargo. I spent several years working as a research associate at Iowa State University, then worked for five years as an electrical engineer at Cyberoptics Corporation in Minneapolis.

I chose to work at SparkFun because the opportunity to engage with the Maker community was too good to pass up. SparkFun's primary mission is to empower Makers through educational material and products that can't be found elsewhere, and I found that to be very compelling. At the time I started with SparkFun I was very active in the local Maker community, having been a founding member and the first president of the first hackerspace to open in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.

How did you first become familiar with Cypress?

My first exposure to Cypress was actually quite some time ago, via a PSoC™ 1 development contest in Circuit Cellar magazine. At the time, I felt that the PSoC architecture had some serious potential but after working with it for a little while I decided there was a potential for it to be even better. Years passed and SparkFun was approached about selling the original FreeSoC and FreeSoC Mini boards, which use the PSoC 5 LP line of processors. I spent a little time playing with them and realized that they had reached the full potential I'd expected in the PSoC 1, and ever since then I've been a big advocate of the PSoC processors.

One of our favorite projects of yours is the SparkFun FreeSoC video game chair. Can you tell us about the project and what Cypress technology is being used?
 

My video game chair uses a FreeSoC2 development board to implement a joystick and keyboard. I used an old joystick I found at a second-hand store, along with some Actobotics hardware to create the joystick's structure. I laser cut an enclosure for the control panel, using four rotary encoders, a numeric keypad, a four-by-four membrane keypad, some buttons and a linear slide potentiometer.

The FreeSoC2 board is a highly competent development board for the PSoC 5 LP line of processors. It has two PSoC 5 LP chips on it: a target (a CY8C5868LTI-LP039) and a debugger (CY8C5888AXI-LP096). That means fully functional debugging support, unlike Arduino, where you have to rely on print statements.

How did you get the idea for the video game chair?
 

The video game chair was an idea 15+ years in the making. I long enjoyed the X-Wing series of video games, but one of the things I didn't care for was the joysticks used to play them. I found that the displacement of the joystick made control more difficult, and the fact that one has to hold the joystick with one hand while using it with the other greatly limited the number of controls that could be used. I'd always meant to make a force-sensitive zero displacement joystick for the game, but it wasn't until I came across the PSoC 5 LP on the FreeSoC2 that I felt I had the toolset I needed to make it a reality.

How has Cypress’ technology helped execute your projects, and what are the benefits you’ve seen with using these technologies?

"The rich feature set of the PSoC 5 LP is instrumental to the success of the video game chair project. Obviously, USB support is central to the success, and the example projects provided in PSoC Creator™ allowed me to leverage existing work despite being relatively inexperienced with USB peripheral development."

The high-resolution sigma-delta ADC and the built-in amplifiers allowed me to interpret the very small signals from the load cells used to measure the force applied to the joystick. I found a matrix keypad module for the numeric keypad, used the built-in rotary encoder modules and button debouncing features, and used one of the lower resolution ADCs for the potentiometer.

Are you working on other projects that use Cypress’ technology?

I do have another PSoC 5 LP based project that I've been working on – it's a digitally controllable variable current load for testing power supplies. It uses the DACs on the PSoC 5 LP to set the gate drive voltage of a FET while monitoring the supply voltage and current and servicing that drive voltage to maintain a current set point.

For questions or more information, you can reach out to Mike Hord on LinkedIn.

Thanks again to Mike Hord for participating in our Maker of the Month program. If you would like to be considered for our next Maker of the Month profile, please email us and share a brief description of what project(s) you have made using Cypress’ technology.

Jul 25, 2017

Cypress' Maker of the Month: Rochester Institute of Technology's motor Assisted Wheelchair Team

At Cypress®, we are all about solving our customers’ problems with our state-of-the-art solutions. We love problems because we are passionate about solutions. The Maker of the Month series recognizes unique projects created by the maker community and their design problems that were solved using Cypress technology. For more information about Cypress’ maker community involvement, check out the rest of our Maker of the Month series and our efforts to empower up-and-coming engineers via the Cypress University Alliance (CUA).


Read the Q&A with Cypress’ July Makers of the Month, Jonathon Price, Andrew King, Kevin Layer and Eric Hambleton. These four Rochester Institute of Technology students designed a motor-assisted wheelchair with Cypress’ Pioneer Bluetooth Development Kit.

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(From left to right: Kevin Layer, Jonathon Price, Eric Hambleton and Andrew King)

Can you please provide some background about yourselves and your work at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)?

Jonathon Price: I studied mechanical engineering with a business management minor. My extracurricular activities included playing on the men’s varsity soccer team for five years and serving as the vice president for RIT’s Tigers for Tigers, a charity organization preventing tigers from going extinct, and the men’s soccer team representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. 

Andrew King: I studied industrial engineering and participated in additive manufacturing research.

Kevin Layer: I studied mechanical engineering and was a member of the men’s varsity tennis team for three years.

Eric Hambleton: I studied electrical engineering and was commissioned as an officer into the U.S. Air Force through ROTC, while participating as a captain of the RIT track and field team for five years.

Tell us about your motor-assisted wheelchair and what Cypress technology is being used in the project.
 

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A motor-assisted wheelchair provides a user the benefits of an electric wheelchair, such as the ability to traverse inclined pathways or move at economically quick paces without losing his or her breath, while retaining the wheelchair's ability to move through doors or other corridors.

The goal of this project is to analyze and modify the current prototype by identifying opportunities to make the additional device lighter, more compact, easier to operate, and more energy and cost efficient. The expected result is a functioning prototype capable of meeting all customer requirements which can then be marketed to companies and have a competitive advantage in the market.

A manual wheelchair can leave someone out of breath if they're trying to move at pedestrian paces. Additionally, inclines may introduce a hazard if the user is incapable of physically pushing their chair up a hill on their own and begin to roll backwards out of control.

A motor-assisted wheelchair would assist the user with both of these everyday tasks. Furthermore, the transition for someone between a manual wheelchair and an electric wheelchair can be both expensive and lead to unpleasant side effects. As a transitional device, it would delay the effects of upper-body muscle atrophy as well as provide a cost-effective alternative.

The Cypress technologies we utilized come from the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Pioneer kit. We interfaced a slide potentiometer to an Analog to Digital Converter (ADC). Input from the kits included Cypress’ PRoC ™ microcontroller, which we used to control the speed of the motor. We took that signal and sent it to the kit’s PSoC® 4 microcontroller via a BLE connection. The PSoC controller then output a Pulse Width Modulator (PWM) control signal to vary the speed of the motor.

How did you get the idea for the motor-assisted wheelchair?

The idea for the motor-assisted wheelchair was first given to us from the previous multi-disciplinary team working on the project. Using components from their original proof of concept prototype, we started anew and began brainstorming ideas for possible solutions that were smaller, lighter and had better performance.
 

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How did Cypress’ technology help execute your projects, and what are the benefits you’ve seen with using these technologies?

The technology was easy-to-use without a lot of coding experience. Eric was the only one who came onto the project having ever worked with microcontrollers before, so we were initially overwhelmed with the technology to choose for a wireless point-to-point implementation. Our project’s guide handed us the BLE Pioneer Development Kit, and after experimenting with some examples from the 100 Projects in 100 Days blog published by Cypress, we became much more confident that we’d accomplish the project with the PRoC and PSoC 4 controllers. The design environment in PSoC Creator™ was easy to learn compared to other microcontroller environments we toyed around with. The API generation definitely minimized the learning-curve necessary for completing our project in a relatively short period of time.

What are your plans for when you graduate?

Jonathon Price: After graduation, I plan to backpack around Europe for a month prior to starting at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems facility in Syracuse, New York as a systems engineer. 

Andrew King: I am hoping to continue my career in the additive manufacturing industry.

Kevin Layer: I am working in the refrigeration and HVAC field for CannonDesign in Grand Island, New York.

Eric Hambleton: I am back in New Hampshire working at a solar power installation company as a design engineer until I get called to active duty.

Any other comments you want to add?

We really appreciate Cypress selecting our project as Cypress’ Maker of the Month. It is an honor for our team and project to be featured and to bring the Rochester Institute of Technology recognition.

For questions or more information, you can reach out to the students via email.

Thanks again to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Motor-Assisted Wheelchair Team for participating in our Maker of the Month program. If you would like to be considered for our next Maker of the Month profile, please email us and share a brief description of what project(s) you have made using Cypress’ technology.

May 30, 2017

Cypress' Maker of the Month: Sensing the World Contest Winner, Abdullah Sadiq

At Cypress®, we are all about solving our customers’ problems with our state-of-the-art solutions. We love problems because we are passionate about solutions. The Maker of the Month series recognizes unique projects created by the maker community and their design problems that were solved using Cypress technology. For more information about Cypress’ maker community involvement, check out the rest of our Maker of the Month series and our efforts to empower up-and-coming engineers via the Cypress University Alliance (CUA).


 We’re excited to feature Abdullah Sadiq, Cypress’ “ Sensing the World ” contest winner for the Europe Middle East & Africa region and our Maker of the Month for May 2017. For the contest, which Cypress hosted in partnership with Hackster and Mouser, Abdullah created a Smart Home Controller to showcase how Cypress’ PSoC® Analog Coprocessor Pioneer Kit could be used to create a versatile smart home device.  
 

Smart Home
 

Can you please provide some background about yourself and how you first became familiar with Cypress?

My name is Abdullah Sadiq and I’m a student who will start my undergraduate studies this year. From a young age I was interested in electronics and was amazed by how hooking up wires to a battery and a bulb in a specific way could turn on a light, and if you used a motor it could spin. It was this interest and the limitless resources available on the internet that got me further into electronics. I have built many circuits on breadboards and custom-built printed circuit boards (PCBs).

It was through Hackster.io that I learned about Cypress and the Sensing the World contest.

Tell us about your Smart Home Controller and what Cypress technology is being used in the project.

I had previously made a smart home controller, but wasn’t satisfied with the result. The controller could turn on and off devices such as light bulbs and air conditioners, via Bluetooth (a custom Android app), GSM and Wi-Fi (MediaTek Cloud Sandbox). However, it connected the devices to a microcontroller (MediaTek’s LinkIt ONE) using relays and used not-so-accurate sensors.

When I saw the Sensing the World contest and the PSoC Analog Co-Processor Kit, which had on-board analog sensors, I thought I would recreate the Smart Home Controller. The current version uses Cypress’ PSoC Analog Co-Processor (which senses and sends analog sensor data), the LinkIt ONE (which receives and processes the data, and sends it to the cloud) and SeeedStudio’s Grove Starter Kit (to provide plug and play modules for easy modification). The smart home controller allows you to connect literally any smart home device, such as Philips Hue lights, the Nest Thermostat and Garageio, to name a few. This is done using Blynk and IFTTT.

Both of the projects can be found on my profile page on the Hackster webiste.
 

 

How did you get the idea for the Smart Home Controller?

There is an increasing number of IoT connected devices that lack an interface where you can get actual environment variables of a particular place. For example, if you’re outside your house, let’s say in your office, how could you view the temperature in your house which has the Nest Thermostat installed? Sure, you could open the app and check the temperature, but it becomes tiring when you have to do this for every smart device. I got the idea for a unified interface to display environmental variables that are necessary for the smart home, and I thought of using PSoC to measure analog sensor values and Blynk to make the data accessible to a user.

Were there any challenges or difficulties that you encountered while you were developing the Smart Home Controller?

As with every project, there were some difficulties to go through.

My first challenge was getting used to PSoC. This has to be done using the PSoC Creator IDE, a wonderful piece of software with great documentation. You can right click on any component and get detailed documentation for it. However, it took me a while to get accustomed to using it.

The second was to get the Grove LCD working with PSoC plugged in the LinkIt ONE as a shield.

How did Cypress’ technology help execute your projects, and what are the benefits you’ve seen with using these technologies?

Cypress’ technology certainly helps.

As I said before, the PSoC Creator IDE is a really wonderful tool, and Cypress has really done a lot of work in developing it. 

It does look complicated when you open it for the first time, but once you read through the documentation and instructions it becomes easier to navigate.

I was particularly impressed by the code editor which is much better and user-friendly than the Arduino IDE. In addition, Cypress products are generally low-cost, making them good for students.

For questions or more information, you can reach out to Abdullah Sadiq via the following platforms:

Thanks again to Abdullah Sadiq for participating in our Maker of the Month program. If you would like to be considered for our next Maker of the Month profile, please email us and share a brief description of what project(s) you have made using Cypress’ technology.

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