Wireless Systems Design

On The Wireless Front

The Easy-Radio ER900FHTRS intelligent radio transceiver incorporates Easy-Radio technology to provide a high-performance, simple-to-use radio device. This device can bidirectionally transfer serial data over a range of up to 500 m line of sight. It is intended for use in U.S. markets on the 900-MHz frequency band. Using "Frequency Hopping" techniques, it permits greater power outputs—allowable under FCC regulations—than similar fixed-frequency devices. These techniques also provide greater security from "eavesdropping" over fixed-frequency operation.

The Easy-Radio ER900FHTRS Transceiver is a complete subsystem. It combines a high-performance, very-low-power RF transceiver, a microcontroller, and a voltage regulator. The microcontroller programs the functions of the RF transceiver, controls the frequency-hopping algorithm, and provides the interface to the host system via a serial input/output. It also contains programmable EEPROM memory, which holds configuration data for the various transceiver-operating modes. In addition, the microcontroller relieves the host from the intensive demands of searching for signals within the noise. It recovers the received and transmitting data in a suitable format. A received-signal-strength-indicator (RSSI) output can be optionally used to measure received signal levels. The module connects to a 50-Ohm antenna, such as a whip, helical, or printed-circuit-board (PCB) loop.

The transceiver operates from a 3.6-V supply. It is physically pin compatible with other standard devices. The serial input and output simplify the interface to host systems. Plus, the embedded software reduces design and development time significantly.

Features include frequency hopping to meet U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements; 120-mW transmit RF power output; high-sensitivity receiver (typically −100 dBm); and serial input and output for transparent data transmission. It also boasts low power consumption (<18 mA receive and150 mA transmit) and industry-standard dual-in-line (DIL) style.

Applications for this device include handheld terminals; environmental sense and control; vehicle-to-base-station data transfer; and remote data acquisition. It also would be well suited for electronic point-of-sale equipment, wireless gaming machines, and industrial controls.

The Easy-Radio ER900FHTRS intelligent radio transceiver is priced at under $30 in OEM quantities. For more information, go to www.easyradiousa.com.

Milpitas, California
Recently, Linear Technology Corp. introduced the LTC1980. This switching-regulator battery charger combines both battery charging and system power-supply functions into a small, 24-lead SSOP. The LTC1980 operates from a regulated or unregulated input supply voltage. It can be put above or below the battery voltage by automatically performing step-up or step-down DC/DC conversion. The versatile LTC1980 is a standalone single- and dual-cell Li-Ion battery charger. Yet it also charges NiCd, NiMH, and lead-acid batteries.

A power path function is integrated into the LTC1980. This function supports simultaneous battery charging and system voltage regulation from an input source, such as a wall adapter. Examples of applications for this simple and compact design include industrial handheld computers, memory backup boards, RAID systems, servers, uninterrupted power supplies, medical equipment, and charging cradles.

Using a current-mode flyback topology, the LTC1980 achieves high efficiency, superior transient response, and design simplicity. It shares the discrete components for both the battery charger and the DC/DC converter. As a result, it minimizes size and cost relative to dual-controller solutions. In addition, the Optional Burst Mode operation and power-down mode allow power density, efficiency, and output ripple to be tailored to the specific application. The integrated circuit (IC) incorporates automatic battery recharging and shorted-cell detection technology. C/10 and wall-plug detect outputs also are provided.

Pricing starts at $3.75 each in 1000-piece quantities. For more details on the LTC1980, please visit the company's Web site at www.linear-tech.com.

The newly released XE5620 from Xecom is a complete, 56-kbps modem that is available in an inexpensive, miniature surface-mount package. This hybrid PLCC (HyPLCC) package meets definite customer needs: small size, low cost, and surface-mount assembly. Priced at under $40 in volume, the XE5620 is useful for remote-monitoring applications in industrial and commercial settings. The modem controller, ROM, analog front end, NVRAM, and telephone-line-interface (or data-access-arrangement) circuitry are all integrated into this one miniature device.

The XE5620 is built into a 20-pin HyPLCC package. This package was first introduced with Xecom's XE2420 earlier this year. Aside from fitting a complete modem into a 68-pin PLCC footprint, it boasts a size of just 1 in.2 and 0.290 in. thick. The XE5620 brings high-speed capability to the smallest line of complete modems. It operates on 3.3-V power. This low-voltage operation allows the XE5620 to consume just 300 mW of power during active data transfer.

The XE5620 features control and configuration via industry-standard AT commands. The complete, internal data-access-arrangement (DAA) circuitry includes ring detect, loop current holding circuit, and hook switch. The XE5620 sports UL60950 recognition and user-transferable FCC Part 68 Registration. Data transfer is available at rates from 300 bps to 56,000 bps using the V.90, V.34bis, V.32, V.22bis, V.22, V.23, V.21, Bell 202, Bell 212 A, and Bell 103 protocols. The XE5620 also includes V.42 error correction and V.42bis data compression. These protocols can double or triple the error-free data transfer rate.

The XE5620 complete hybrid PLCC modem is now available for under $40 each in 10,000-piece volumes. For further company and product information, visit the company's Web site at www.xecom.com.

Zilog, Inc. is now shipping the extended-temperature versions of its Z8 Encore! family of Flash microcontrollers. These devices, which feature between 16 and 64 KB of Flash and 2 or 4 KB of linear-register SRAM, are rated to operate between −40° and +105°C.

These devices target any vertical application that operates within a wide temperature range and demands high performance and outstanding reliability. Potential applications include building-access controls; residential and commercial remote-entry systems; security systems; industrial irrigation and consumer sprinkler controls; keyless-entry systems for automobiles; and navigational equipment for automobiles.

The Z8 Encore! family of 8-b microcontrollers enables embedded-systems designers to quickly develop new, highly differentiated designs. At the same time, they should be able to reduce the total system cost and enhance performance.

The new devices are completely identical to the recently announced Z8 Encore! Devices. They are just rated for an extended temperature range. Like the rest of the family, the new devices feature ZiLOG's high-performance, register-to-register-based architecture and a fast eZ8 CPU 20-MHz core. That core maintains backward compatibility with the company's popular Z8 microcontrollers.

All of the devices in the Z8 Encore! family use the same core architecture and peripheral interfaces. This ensures seamless migration across different devices, as application requirements change on subsequent projects. Current customers can quickly and easily migrate their existing code without expensive modification or any investment in new development tools.

The extensive suite of on-chip peripherals includes a direct-memory-access (DMA) controller; 12-channel, 10-b A/D; serial peripheral interface (SPI); I2C; and two 9-b UART ports with integrated Infrared Data Association (IrDA)-compliant encoder/decoders. The family also offers four 16-b counter timers—each with capture and PWM capability—and a single-pin, on-chip debugger.

The ZiLOG Z8 Encore! Development Kit includes an ANSI-C compiler and C source-level debugger; the Windows version of ZiLOG Developer Studio (ZDSII); a full-featured evaluation board; a sample Flash device; and an RS-232-to-ZDB cable. The development kit also contains a 9-VDC universal power supply, a target module interface board, and ZiLOG Xtools. This intuitive, production-quality suite of tools was designed to reduce total system-development time. For a limited time, the company is offering its Z8 Encore! Development Kit for only $49.95. (The book price is $199.00).

Z8 Encore! devices are available in space-saving, low-profile quad-flat-pack (LQFP) and plastic-leaded-chip-carrier (PLCC) packages. The devices are available in production quantities immediately. The extended-temperature devices will be competitively priced. For example, the Z8F1601AN020EC, which features 16 KB of Flash memory in a 44-pin LQFP, will initially sell for $3.64 each in quantities of 1000. To learn more, go to www.zilog.com.

Maxim Integrated Products has introduced the MAX1572. It is the first 800-mA, pulse-width-modulated (PWM), step-down converter capable of delivering low-output voltages. It includes a built-in, 170-ms DC-DC reset output and preset outputs for 0.75 to 2.5 V. These outputs are stepped in 50-mV increments. With its small size and minimal external part count, this converter is ideal for smart-phone and personal-digital-assistant (PDA) applications.

The MAX1572 operates at a high of 2 MHz. It provides precision line and load regulation for the latest CPU and DSP cores. In addition, it uses a low-profile, 2.2-microhenries inductor and tiny ceramic capacitors. It has an input range of 2.6 to 5.5 V for use with a single lithium-ion battery. Other features include voltage positioning for excellent load transients and analog soft-start with zero in-rush current. To maximize battery life for handheld equipment, the quiescent current is only 48 microamps. It drops to 0.1 microamp in logic-controlled shutdown.

The MAX1572 comes in a space-saving, 12-pin QFN package. It is screened for the extended industrial temperature range −40°C to +85°C. Prices for the converter start at $1.95 (1000-up, FOB USA). An evaluation kit also is available. Visit www.maxim-ic.com for more details.

Concord Camera Corp. has selected National Semiconductor's embedded Bluetooth wireless-networking technology for its new Concord Eye-Q Go Wireless digital camera.

This 2-megapixel digital camera flaunts a 4x digital zoom, intuitive user interface, and sophisticated flash controls for easy, accurate picture taking. It will be packaged with a Bluetooth adapter, which will allow consumers to communicate with their existing personal computers. (Some of these PCs may not have Bluetooth capability.) The Concord Eye-Q Go Wireless is expected to be available in retail stores in the third calendar quarter of this year.

To offer wireless-networking capabilities, the camera uses the CP3BH19SB. This Bluetooth wireless-personal-area-network (WPAN) module is based on National's CP3000 family of connectivity processors. It includes the hardware, software, development tools, and technical support that are needed to simplify and reduce the design and qualification cycle of connected embedded applications.

The module integrates both National's LMX5251 2.4-GHz radio interface and its CP3BT13 Bluetooth connectivity processor. The result is the implementation of a fully embedded Bluetooth stack with a customer's application code. The module also allows easy access from user-developed application code to Bluetooth functionality through a well-defined application programming interface (API). With this API, a designer can program the host protocol stack and dedicated profiles into the on-chip Flash program memory. Any need for a separate host/system controller is thereby eliminated, saving cost, board space, and power.

The CP3000 processors include a variety of embedded peripherals, such as USB, CAN, USART, SPI, Access.bus, and advanced audio interfaces. Also on-chip is a fully embedded Bluetooth interface. This interface includes baseband processing, a host protocol stack, and dedicated profiles.

The module, as well as other members of the CP3000 family, also can be used in other applications. Examples include hands-free automobile entertainment systems, universal headsets, and digital multimedia speakers. For more information, please visit www.national.com.

The Spartan-3 FPGAs from Xilinx, Inc. are built on 90-nm process technology and 300-mm wafers. According to a recent announcement from the company, they offer a lower-cost solution than competing field-programmable-gate-array (FPGA) conversions using application-specific integrated-circuit (ASIC) technology. The FPGAs range from 50,000 to 5,000,000 system gates. Their pricing starts at under $3.50 (based on volume pricing for 250,000 units in 2004).

Clearly, the Spartan-3 family is working to address customer demand for low-cost solutions while offering the benefits of programmability. In addition, its goal is to eliminate the expense of the conversion or requalification that is associated with FPGA-to-ASIC conversions. With price points that are lower than many popular ASIC-based products, Spartan-3 FPGAs vow to deliver the lowest cost without the non-recurring-engineering (NRE) charges and engineering effort that are associated with conversions. Given their low price points and high functionality, Spartan-3 FPGAs are being used for full volume production. They allow reprogrammability from the lab all the way through to product deployment in the field.

"Xilinx is delivering what our customers have been asking for: a low-cost programmable solution with full reprogrammability at prices competitive with ASICs, effectively eliminating the need for hard and risky FPGA-to-ASIC conversions," said Babak Hedayati, Senior Director of Product Solutions Marketing and Partnerships at Xilinx.

The company claims to be the only FPGA vendor shipping products on 90-nm or 300-mm technology with over a year lead on competitors. In response to strong customer demand for Spartan-3 solutions, it also has enhanced the smallest member of the family: the XC3S50 device. That space-efficient device now includes block random-access memory (RAM), embedded multipliers, and a digital clock manager (DCM) like the other Spartan-3 family members.

Spartan-3 FPGAs offer an unprecedented density range for Spartan-class devices ranging from 50,000 to 5,000,000 system gates. The devices are optimized to deliver maximum I/Os on their reduced-size die through a dual ring of staggered I/O pads. As an innovative approach to traditional process-technology challenges, staggered-pad technology results in the highest I/Os and gates per dollar. Spartan-3 is thus well suited for I/O and gate-limited designs.

The Spartan-3 devices offer embedded DSP capability with high-performance DSP applications. They provide up to 330 billion multiply and accumulates (MACs) per second. With up to 104 embedded 18-b multipliers and distributed RAM elements, designers even have the flexibility to optimize their designs.

Spartan-3 devices support 23 leading parallel I/O standards—both single-ended and differential signaling—with pre-engineered, fully compliant cores. Among these cores are PCI 32/33 and PCI 64/33, as well as other popular parallel connectivity cores for telecommunications and networking.

The new Spartan-3 family consists of eight devices that offers designers a robust, affordable, flexible alternative to traditional custom ASIC designs. First customer shipments of the new Spartan-3 family began in March of this year. The entire family will be available in volume production in early 2004 from distributors worldwide or from Xilinx directly. To find out more, please visit the company Web site at www.xilinx.com/spartan.

South Portland, Maine
Hailing from Fairchild Semiconductor International is the MicroPak 8. This eight-terminal, chip-scale leadless package accommodates 1-, 2-, and 3-b logic and switch functions. According to the company, the TinyLogic MicroPak 8 package offers 60% space savings over leaded US8 packages while maintaining 0.5-mm terminal pitch. By taking advantage of this size reduction, designers should be able to incorporate product improvements or implement new designs. In doing so, they can utilize existing component-mounting processes. The MicroPak 8 devices claim to be ideal for use in PDAs, cell phones, digital cameras, notebooks, and similar applications.

The large, 0.2-×-0.3-mm land-grid-array (LGA) contact pads assure strong joint integrity. This integrity is essential for reliable operation under excessive keyboard pressure and overtemperature conditions. Offered now in MicroPak 8 is the UHS high-performance, low-voltage logic family. It includes triple buffers, dual three-state buffers, dual gates, flip flops, and dual analog and bus switches. Later this year, new high-performance 1-, 2, and 3-b Ultra Low Power (ULP) and ULP-A logic functions will be offered in MicroPak 8.

The introduction of MicroPak further expands Fairchild's package offering, which includes MOSFET BGA and FLMP packaging. The MicroPak 8-packaged UHS Dual Buffer with 3-STATE Output is priced at $0.27 each in volumes of 10,000. It is available now. To find out more, go to www.fairchildsemi.com/micropak.

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