PCB Component Categorization

As i mentioned we decided to detect 0603 and 0805 case style Elements, and classify detected elements as Resistors or Capacitors. This was pretty hard, because you have to imagine, that if you are only looking onto a black and white image, some 0603 resistors can not be differenced from pads of unequipped parts. After hours of hard work the results can be shown:


For that shown whole PCB we got very good results:

correct positives: 109 (out of 123)
false positives:      18
false negatives:    14
positive detection rate: 88,62%
precision:                             85,83%

Here a short comparison of the classification preformance to other Boards, where the results are not as good, but its still very impressive how good that works:


Microcontrollers choosen!

We decided to use some Microchip Controllers, because of the excellent Sample Service and the fact, that the Controllers are really cheap and available at the distributors like Farnell or RS-components. So for our Application we will take a closer look on following types:

  • PIC24F32KA304 for extreme low Power Applications (Deep Sleep down to 20nA)
  • PIC18F97J60 for Ethernet Applications (Integrated MAC 10Base-T)
  • MRF89XA as RF Transmitter
There is also a low cost RF Transmitter Module with PCB Antenna provided by Microchip, so we will take this Module for first tests.
For outdoor standalone Operation i was considering that this very cheap (3.29€) Solar Module with 4V and 35mA provides enough Power to operate the RF Transmitter Module. Everythings fine up to here so lets give it a try. The new IDE called MPLabX provided by Microchip is based on Netbeans IDE so I’m really taut if the free Microchip IDE + free Compilers can satisfy me.


The idea of distributed mcu’s

After finishing with the TUG Racing Team i wanted to try something different. My friend and I had the Idea to do some lightning and temperature measurements in our rooms or only switching on/off any device. Sure with an embedded microcontroller system its possible to switch and measure everything, assuming you have your hardware well designed.

But, if you are using microcontrollers you’ll often use some low layered interfaces to communicate with your device: e.g. you will have some buttons or an rs232 interface with a terminal on your pc.

Maybe you can go a step further and use TCP/IP communication but you will need an UI on your PC/Smartphone you are using. So thats the main point i was struggling the last years. The User changes his device for communication with the microcontroller system several times a day, using different Operating Systems.

Imagine you have a already proven Interface you can use for communication. With HTML and http its possible to use a Interface everyone is familiar, your Browser.

The Idea behind Distributed Microcontroller Systems (DMS)  is to have one microcontroller system, lets call it base station, in your home network, and several low power subsystems connecting wireless with a low cost RF Module to the base station. If you have a end device with the capability of having a browser you’re all in. The Idea is to have control over every subsystem only by connecting your browser to the main station. The low power Subsystems will be designed to operate in extremly low power mode so that battery or powering with a solarpanel is possible.

I’ll try to provide some more details or a block diagramm to show further details.

X-by-Wire 2012 – fully functional

Sure, it was about time to finish the X-by-Wire Box, but due to hard stress this term it was not possible to do it earlier.

Anyway the X-by-Wire Box is although this year again the first standalone selfmade unit, which is fully functional and prepared to be build into our car. I hope we get all remaining important features fixed for the first tests next week.

on the Testbench

As it can be seen on this photo the necessary feature addon Board is already in use!

Innovative Electronic Design – pushing the limits