Midweek Maker Update for May 20th 2020
Welcome to your weekly dose of news from across the maker and embedded world. This week saw the release of Nvidia's new mini PC the Jetson Xavier NX, the debut of a novel new microcontroller in the PD Micro, and the ongoing shortage of Nintendo Switch consoles among others.
Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX Dev Kits Now Available
Nvidia is back with another small form factor machine for working with video, graphics, and artificial intelligence (AI). The Jetson Xavier NX development kit follows on from the popular Jetson Nano board with a similar system-on-a-module (SoM) and baseboard layout. It's a pretty substantial upgrade, however, as it features a 384-core Volta GPU featuring 48 Tensor Cores combined with a 6-core NVIDIA Carmel ARM®v8.2 64-bit CPU.
Alongside a vast array of video encoding and decoding options, the system is capable of up to 21 tera-operations per second (TOPS), making it the perfect small form factor device for heavy AI and video tasks.
Pine64 Taking Pre-orders for PineTab Linux Tablet
Pine64 is busier than ever. With the Pinebook Pro and PinePhone shipping any day now, they have announced that pre-orders for the PineTab Linux tablet will be available from the end of May.
In an extensive blog post on the Pine64 site, the team outlines the roadmap for the coming months, along with a slew of updates for PinePhone and Pinebook Pro.
Given the recent work put in by embedded developer Danct12 allowing for multiple Linux operating systems on the PinePhone, Linux based smart devices seem like increasingly compelling alternatives to those running Android and iOS.
NXP Release Three New Bluetooth Modules
NXP Semiconductors has announced the availability of three new microcontrollers (MCUs) for wireless communication. The KW39/38/37 add to the family of KW3x MCUs, adding expanded Bluetooth advertising channels, and Bluetooth 5.0 long-range capabilities.
These MCUs are aimed primarily at the automotive industry, as the KW38+ integrates FlexCAN, a technology designed to work with existing vehicle CAN buses. The tech will likely also see use in smart entryways and building management. Quick design iterations are possible via the FRDM-KW38, a "Freedom Development Kit" breakout board available from NXP for working with the new MCUs.
The KW39/38/37 is available from Mouser among others at various prices, depending on the model and purchase volume.
Nintendo Switch Hit by Covid-19 Shortages
The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, combined with a lot of people spending way more time at home recently, has led to an unprecedented surge in purchases of the Nintendo Switch. The fact that it's nearly impossible to find them on sale anywhere is due to more than just a swell in demand. It points to a much larger issue.
Nintendo, like almost all companies working in hardware manufacture currently, is feeling the effects of the global pandemic. Delays in component and PCB production have led to fewer completed Switch units, and disruptions in global logistics chains have further compounded the dwindling stock. It looks likely you won't be able to get a Switch any time this year.
Alongside large companies like Nintendo, smaller manufacturers are facing similar issues. H-Pi (sellers of the world's smallest midi synthesizer designed by embedded hardware wizard Mixtela) have had to postpone all shipments to the US until further notice.
Callout for Participants for Virtually Maker Faire
Maker Faire USA is looking for participants in the first "Virtually Maker Faire" event. The 24-hour event takes place on May 23rd, 2020, on the Make: Projects website.
"Across the world, makers have responded to shortages of medical supplies and equipment with agile designs, adaptive distributed manufacturing, and community organizing. Virtually Maker Faire will be a stage to share the projects and learn from the people behind this extraordinary civic response."
If you want to exhibit, give a workshop, demonstrate your process, or give a presentation about what's happening in your local Maker community, you can apply to take part through the Maker Faire website.
PD Micro Entering Funding Soon
Anyone who has worked with microcontrollers will be familiar with the sometimes awkward juggle between sensitive GPIO pins, USB power limitations, and working with multiple external power supplies. The PD Micro looks to change that. It uses a USB Type-C connector, which provides multiple hardware power options, all controllable through software.
The project is the creation of designer Ryan MA, who will soon launch a funding campaign for the board on Crowd Supply. A pin layout that matches the Arduino Pro Micro along with a library designed specifically for managing power via code put this project high on our watch list!
Sign up to receive updates on the campaign on the PD Micro page on Crowd Supply.
What else caught your eye this week? Have we missed anything important? Let us know in the comments below. For now, have a creative week, and take care!
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