Inspired by the old adage that seeing is believing, Siemens Components has pioneered a new development board specifically designed to showcase its wireless modules to potential customers. A prototype demonstrated at the Techno Expo at Vodaworld in October 2003 using Siemens' TC45 module - a wireless module that is capable of storing and executing a Java application and which does not require an external microcontroller. The result, says Siemens, was a tremendous response to the TC45 by the local market.
The principal purpose of the board is for demonstration, allowing a module to be inserted and various applications to be run off it. This enables customers to visualise exactly what new Siemens technology can offer them. The module's various outputs can easily be accessed via standard connectors to allow for developmental integration with a customer's product application. The board is currently being sold with sufficient application notes and supplementary documentation for ease of use by small development houses and the like.
The development board offers connectivity options for either the TC35i/MC35i modules via a ribbon cable connector, or the MC388/MC45/TC45 range via a board-to-board connector. The latter family is also conveniently mounted on the development board by a specially-designed clip. This clip, incidentally, was designed and manufactured in South Africa, and more than 100 000 have also been exported.
The board itself has power supply options from either an external 10-14 V d.c. supply, or via an included on-board rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Siemens' wireless modules have the capability of controlling the charging of this battery via a few external components on-board that form a charging circuit which can be switched in or out of use. The necessary SIM card holder is also provided, as is an industry standard SMA antenna connector.
The primary serial port from any module is brought out as a DB-9 female COM port connector, and as a dual row of pins (IDC) for either TTL (5 V) or CMOS (3,3 V) external connectivity. The MC388/MC45/TC45 range of modules offer a second physical serial port, and this is brought out on a second DB-9 connector. These modules also offer a digital audio interface (DAI), over and above the existing two analog audio interfaces - one is powered for hands-free operation, and the other unpowered for 'walk-and-talk' type headsets. These two audio channels are presented via RJ11 connectors.
For the TC45, where the second serial port and/or the DAI can be reconfigured in Java, the general purpose digital I/Os are also presented for external connectivity, either by a dual row connector bank, or a row of screw-in terminals. Each of these lines has activity LEDs, as well as a pull-down resistor bank.
While the board is not intended to be incorporated as an integral part of any further design application circuit, Siemens says that it well meets the needs of any developer wanting quick access to all the connectivity and electrical features of its current range of modules. A complete kit including the development board, all necessary connecting accessories for the various module types, as well as a power supply, antenna, serial cable and audio handset are included. Together with one's choice of module, the kit is said to be well-priced for the enthusiast, as well as for developers of industrial devices.
The idea for the board came after Siemens Southern Africa requested something similar from head office in Germany, but was presented with a complex and highly expensive product. The new board is produced and comprehensively supported in South Africa at a fraction of this cost.
For more information contact Conan Jones, Siemens Components, +27 (0)11 652 2707, firstname.lastname@example.org
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