Freescale has been very successful with its Tower prototyping system. It is even being deployed in platforms like robots like Freescale's MechBot (see A Towering MechBot) and C-Link Systems' Forager (see Forager Robot Has Tower Inside ). Most of Freescale's new devices show up with a board that fits into a Tower stack (see MCU Exhibits Tower Power). Now Freescale is highlighting its MEMS technology with the Sensor Pak Auto Module (Fig. 1) that targets automotive sensors.
Sensor Pak Auto Module has its own 8-bit Freescale S08QE microcontroller but the sensors can be utilized by other processor modules in a Tower stack. It handles the capacitive touch button/slider on the side of the board. A USB interface provides debug support for th S08QE
The sensor module has a number of sensors on-board including an ambient light/proximity sensor, a temperature/humidity sensor, plus an infrared receiver. Jumpers provide configuration and connectivity options. There are four socket sets for smaller plug-in sensors.
Half a dozen plug-in boards (Fig. 2) were released along with the Sensor Pak Auto Module using existing Freescale MEMS chips. These boards include the TWRPI-PSI5V1.3 communications board, TWRPI-MMA6800 medium g accelerometer, TWRPI-MMA6900 low g accelerometer, TWRMOD-MMA5000 X- and Z-axis inertial sensors, TWRMOD-MMA2600 intertial sensor, and TWRPI-DSI2.5 DSI communication protocol. Modules fit into specific sockets and some prevent the use of other boards because of size and position of each board. The modules can also be used on custom prototype boards.
Many automotive designs already incorporate the range of sensors available on this platform but the Sensor Pak Auto Module can also be used for new designs. Likewise, these products are applicable to many industrial and consumer applications that work in rugged environments.
The system and sensors are supported by Freescale's toolset, CodeWarrior. Freescale's website contains a number of application notes and software related to these MEMS sensors. Sample applications include access to registers (Fig. 3) and scope-style displays (Fig. 4). The Sensor Pak Auto Module comes with a Quick Start Guide. Pricing starts at $149.