Grape Power from Ti

Here at the show, we ended up next to Texas Instruments and I spent some time talking with Adrian, their Product Marketing Engineer for the MSP430 ultra low-power MCU. He brought over one of his demo boards which has to be just about the coolest thing I've seen at the show.

MPS430 grape power 002sm

Plenty of things need low power and there are lots of little 8-bit processors that use flea power, but his MSP430 is a 16-bit processor that runs so efficiently that he's powering it with three grapes. He stuck copper and zinc electrodes into grapes - I think they're seedless - and is running it as a clock (as in tells time type clock).

In the picture, here, it's setting next to a Beagleboard powered by it's uncle, the OMAP3530. We built this particular Beagleboard, but we didn't build the grape clock. Pretty clever stuff.

Duane Benson
I wonder if the grapes still taste okay after all the electrons switch sides like that...

H1N1 in Microcode

Booth 909 003

It's opening day here at the Embedded Systems Conference, Boston, 2009. For those of you that stop by our booth, we have a number of things to offer:

You can learn about our pcb assembly services, you can enter to win up to $2000.00 in assembly labor with us and you can spread the swine flu if you've got it. Well, hopefully not that last one. We're keeping our handy-dandy bottle of hand sanitizer close by. It's 62% ethyl alcohol and maybe 38% generic goo and bubbles. I'm hoping that will do the trick. We smeared it all over our ethernet cables to keep the viruses out of our computers and beagleboards. My laptop is using wireless, so I should probably sploit a bunch on it too.

We'll be giving away the assembly labor to one person that registers each day. (two total prizes and we'll notify the winners after the show).

Duane Benson
Stop by and say hi. Or walk by and start to cry.


At the ESC Show

From the ESC show floor...

Booth 909 (Small)

Actually, set up is done already. It went pretty quick this year which makes me question my sanity in choosing to leave Portland late Sunday night on the overnight flight. Still, I'm paranoid that if I did get here at 4:00, I'd hit a traffic a jam, the booth parts would be lost in the warehouse void and my hotel room would have been given to someone else.

Duane Benson
Now I need sleep...

ESC Booth 909

Hi all - especially all of you in the Northeast. Just a reminder that we're in booth 909 at the Embedded Systems Conference next week. Stop by and see the workmanship on the Beagleboards that we built and chat about what we can do to help you with your prototype and short-run production needs. We'll also have a representative from our Design Engineering Group on hand in case you need design help.

Enter to win one of our daily contests - each day we're giving away Up to $2000.00 in assembly labor. All you have to do is stop by our booth and let us zap your card. As long as you don't have a mini Faraday cage around it, that should enter you into the contest. We'll notify the winners by email and announce them here on the blog after I get back to the West Coast.

BB we built powered on cropped I'm not a Linux expert - my embedded programming is pretty much limited to 8-bit micro programming - so we don't have anything cool running on the Beagleboard we built. I did manage to get a distro up and running but all it will do is just show you that it works. I'm using the Angstrom image that the Beagleboard folks have for download. I had purchased an already set up SD card with Angstrom on it, but I messed up the boot parameters or something trying to get WiFi working and couldn't make that SD card boot anymore. I thought it would be cool to show the Screaming Circuits website on the Beagleboard, but I gave up on WiFi after that. The hardware works. That's what counts. Right?

We'll also have one to hand around and look at so you can examine our package on package and .4mm pitch BGA workmanship up close and personal.

See you all (well, some of you) there on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Duane Benson
Can someone bring me a Brat from Jacob Wirth?
My dad says they're really good and I won't have a chance to go there

ESC Show is Near

The Embedded Systems Conference is almost here again. We'll be in booth 909 next Tuesday and ESC_Boston 08 Wednesday. Drop by and say "hi." See what we're up to and enter to try and win our contest. You can also take a look at the Beagleboards we've built and talk about how we might be able to help you out with your prototypes or small-lot production runs. 

And, just what is that contest, you might ask? Why, it's a chance to win up to $2,000 in assembly labor from us. At the end of each day of the show, we'll pick someone at random from our lead file and award them the prize. All you have to do is stop by our booth and have us scan your card. Then, if you are chosen to be the winner, you can use that $2,000 of assembly labor to have us build some stuff for you this year.

We'll also have someone in our booth this year to talk about our engineering design services. We've been introducing engineering design services, such as layout, under the Screaming Circuits brand this year. Our parent company, Milwaukee Electronics Companies, has been offering custom design services for many years and will have a representative in the booth to chat with any of you that might need some help with your design load.

The clock is ticking. We'll see you at the show!

Duane Benson

Beavers and Ducks at ESC last week

Up in Oregon, we have our rivalry between the OSU Beavers and the U of O Ducks. Everybody's got some kind of rivalry and most of the times you exhibit at a trade show, you'll end up with some competition around. This one takes it to the extreme though. Microchip and Atmel are of course as rival as rivals get. In the microcontroller community, the M vs A discussion is full of passion and absolutes. It's like AMD vs. Intel or Mac vs. PC.

At this year's ESC show last week, the two companies are right across the aisle from eachESC 0409 MicroAt 002 (Medium) other and ESC 0409 MicroAt 001 (Medium) seemed to be having some "fun" with it. Atmel has a poster quoting the Microchip CEO complimenting Atmel. Microchip has a big poster quoting a survey the shows declining favor for Atmel. Goofy.

Personally, I suspect that they both make great products, but it would help if there was actually some way to tell which is best for what without getting into a pseudo religious argument. I've asked that questions before of folks that use one or the other, but I haven't ever run across anyone that uses both and can give me a fair and un-biased overview of where the strengths and weaknesses are of either company's parts. Anyone that uses both want to chime in with some plain and dry toast, I mean plain and dry thoughts?

ESC 0409 MicroAt 003 (Medium)

Duane Benson
Two chips, no salsa

Sore Feet at ESC

I finally got a little time to walk part of the show. The only thing that caught my eye so far is the FreeScale air hockey robot. Supposedly, no one has managed to get a puck in past the robot. They didn't say if the robot has managed any goals thought. That would be a lot more impressive.

Pretty cool, none the less.

Duane Benson

ESC Rolling, Rolling

We're up and running here at ESC in San Jose. I haven't had a chance to walk the floor yet to see if there's anything interesting. We've been too busy. If you're around, stop in and say "hi". We'll give you a show discount code and a cool pen.

ESC 0409 004 (Medium) 

Duane Benson

ESC SV in Four Days

Esc_logo09_sm Hi all, (especially those on the West Coast). Just a reminder, we'll be at ESC next week. Stop by our booth to hear about our new service offering and get a show special discount code. It's at the McEnery convention center in San Jose.

And, while you're there, also have a chat with our partners from Sunstone Circuits. They'll be in our booth demonstrating the newest version of PCB123 schematic and layout CAD with libraries from NXP.

We are in booth 235. It's not the best location, but it's just behind the ESC Theater so at least it should be easy to find.

The show hours are:

  • Tuesday: Noon – 8:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 11:30am to 7:00pm
  • Thursday: 11:30am to 4:00pm

Here's a floor map showing where we are:

Floor map ESC SV09

Embedded Systems Conference details

I've got a few more details on the show - and a discount code. Enter SATI2 when you register to recieve 50% off of your ticket price. The exhibit hall-only pass is still free. Check details and register at the ESC site.

Find us in booth 235. Check out the show floor map here. We're toward the back, right behind the ESC Theatre. When you enter the hall, turn left and go past Microchip and Atmel, then turn right. You'll find us on the left, just past the theater.

ESC SV 09Ask us about our new service offering that will help embedded entraprenuers get to market faster and easier.

Drop in and see us and our friends from Sunstone Circuits. It's March 31 - April 2 at the McHenery Convention Center in beautiful downtown San Jose.

Duane Benson
San Jose - I'ver heard the "fun" never stops.