Energy Micro EFM32 low-power development kit giveaway

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 in contest by Ian

A few weeks ago we posted Pedantite and Viswesr’s reviews of the Energy Micro Gecko development board. It uses Energy Micro’s own EFM line of low-power ARM Cortex M3 microcontrollers. Low power is the emphasis, and the development boards show the current consumed by each line of code.

This week we have three EMF32 dev-boards to give away:

Leave a comment on this post with a project idea, and one of the boards could be yours on Thursday.

Special thanks to Viswesr for arranging this giveaway with Energy Micro.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 at 11:00 am and is filed under contest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

85 Responses to “Energy Micro EFM32 low-power development kit giveaway”

  1. pr0cj0n says:

    Low Power and high Reliable sensor node system for monitoring rock slides phenomena. It was my master thesis object and I would like to develop it further. The idea is to use GPS and ZigBee to create star-type network responsible for detecting danger.

  2. medeneś says:

    I’m going to use EFM32 ICs in my next project: KNX/EIB nodes for my home’s intelligent network. Only one thing is scaring me: ICs availability

  3. greeegs says:

    I’d use it as a basis for an advanced multimeter. I’m sick of forgetting to turn off my old SOAR multimeter and having to buy new 9v cells. Having a device always on would aid in debugging and also reduce my contribution to landfill (ever so slightly).

  4. Sayan says:

    Make a better lion tracker. An EFM32 based device will offer the greater functionality and the possibility of using solar recharged battery for indefinitely long battery life.
    The current version requires the lion/ animal to be tranquilized up to twice a year to change the batteries. This is expensive and often traumatic for the animals.
    Open Source Lion Tracker

  5. Kurt says:

    I wanna make a curve tracer / huntron. Someone broke
    Ours @ work.

  6. Shobhit says:

    I have a relatively simple idea. Agriculture being a primary industry and a necessity in India, it requires water for irrigation. My water would be a smart irrigation scheduler. The power required for the operation would be derived off solar panels. Several sensors will be placed throughout the farm which will measure the moisture content of the soil and switch on water pumps if the land is 80% dry. To conserve ground water, the water pumps will be kept off when there is abundant rain. The option to switch on the pump will be via a sms based service which the farmer can remotely operate.

  7. JoesGarage says:

    I just need to learn this stuff. Out of work engineer, looking to change careers, gotta learn embedded systems. I know hands on just about every piece of test gear that has an “HP” logo. remember them? not the printers. Looking for donations. + teaching my kids @ the same time – so we all learn. Beg, Beg, Beg,….

  8. arhi says:

    The dev kit would be ideal for a “good DMM with LC and ESR meter, that uses multiple frequencies to calculate proper LC & ESR values, can have freq meter, some FFT …” then it could maybe be ported to hand held device running on starter kit

  9. Francois says:

    A low power wireless mesh networking sensor node project based on ARM Cortex M3 processors for custom protocol development. I’ve been looking at the EFM32 processors for a while now. These low, low power processors will reduce power usage quite a bit. Energy harvesting techniques will also be tested and implemented on the sensor nodes to be able to run them almost indefinitely. This kit is the perfect place to start and will then be used later as part of a base station for data gathering and forwarding. All while keeping the power usage as low as possible. Also, with the ability to profile each line of code for current usage, the protocol can be developed from the ground up to be as low power as possible.

    The added benefit of the J-Link debugger will also be handy in this and future projects.

  10. Benjamin Fiset-Deschenes says:

    I just bought a new house. I have to take down all of the basement and start from scratch! While I’m at it, I’m planning to integrate a system that will detect the presence of a person and ajust the lighting and heating depending on the time of the day. I want to make the whole basement as energy efficient as possible. The whole thing will work automatically but I plan on installing a control panel and create a web server to display some info and manually adjust settings. I need something with a lot of I/O and somewhat fast enough to run the web server smoothly.

  11. hli says:

    When we bought our house 4 years ago, we found some compost piles in the garden. Since then I’m struggling to keep them going – the piles either don’t work at all (in the summer) or they smile like rotten fish (typically in the autumn).
    I know the need to be in a certain range for temperature and humidity – but I cannot measure that easily. So now enter the EFM32. They would allow me to build a solar-powered, multi-channel, temperature and humidity data logger.
    I would collect these data each hour or so, store it to an EEPROM and display it (on request, each week or so) on the LCD. SInce the EFM is low-power, and the peripherals can work rather autonomously, a small solar cell and a small LiPo battery should keep this thing alive for several years without intervention. Keep green!

  12. Rohit de Sa says:

    I’m designing a ‘Doc-in-a-box’ which is essentially a portable tool for EMTs. It will include:
    -heart rate and rhythm monitoring
    -a defibrillator
    -blood glucose level metering
    -blood alcohol level measuring
    -voice guidance walk-through capability so that a novice can use it is the situations so demands
    -temperature measurement
    -ultrasound (still researching about this, though)

    Would love to have something powerful to work with.

  13. kiran says:

    I will probably use it to learn the new Energy micro chips and development platform.

  14. kuhltwo says:

    I have a niece in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsey. I would love to develop tools for her to use to make her life easier. She wants to study engineering. This would be useful in 2 ways, one to help her learn and as a monitoring tool for her life assistant.

  15. Stephen Hill says:

    Compact wireless solar powered weather station. I’ve been wanting to get round to doing this project for a while now. Feature for the weather station would include:
    – Sensors (Temperature, Humidity, Wind speed and direction, UV, Rain collector, Pressure)
    – Compact solar panel, with backup lithium battery and charging circuit
    – Internal data logging to SD Card and external data logging over 802.11
    – Contained within a water proof enclosure.

    The main goal of the project would be to make the weather station as compact as possible so that I can attack it to the roof of my house without taking up too much space.

  16. zogzog says:

    I think the EFM32 with the LCD would make a great DSO, an the little one could be used as an energy monitoring device.

  17. David says:

    Subsurface stream water level monitoring and logging system. (Ecologically friendly hydrological data collection) Particularly for studying subsurface stream behaviour in caves here in Kentucky. (Especially caves connected to the Mammoth Cave system. This cave system has >300 miles of passages and 5 different underground rivers and their many feeder streams. ) This type of instrument has to be packed in several miles underground through tight passages and set up for unattended operation lasting many months. There is no sunlight available for solar powering the logger and data must be hand collected on return trips since low power radio does not penetrate rock very well.

  18. G.Ray says:

    I’m looking into a home and perimeter montoring control system. Monitoring multiple zones on the property and all access points in the home. Data log activity, control lights, and possibly locks to gates and various doors. Many diffrent possibilities.

  19. Neil Wilson says:

    Part of a battery operated morning chorus bird song detector to correlate brightness, time of day, ambient temperature, pressure, volume etc incorporating a low power RF base station connection for remote logging.

  20. Zeta says:

    a friend is conducting research on ecological ways to control pests on crops without the use of pesticides and asked me to developd a device to monitor several variables. Since this kit already includes a light sensor and because its flexible adding new sensors would be no problem. Also since this is a low power device it would be perfect for an application that requires to be non intrucive and to stay powered all day long for a long time, with just a battery and small photovoltaic cell.

  21. Cristian says:

    Would be great use it as an environmental datalogger, using temperature sensors, humidity sensors and presure sensors and a ZigBee module to transmit. The power source could be a small solar panel.

  22. orb7 says:

    I built with this kit a new low cost car parking assitant with distance sensors and cam.

  23. Deusa says:

    I would use the board EFM32 Gecko development kit to build a power monitoring system for my home. The board would monitor the power from different outlets in real time. Coupled with some analog circuits this could serve as a basis for a glorified power data logging station.

  24. Stephen says:

    I have an idea for an inventory stock taker for the refrigerator.

    Items can be entered into the system using a barcode reader, and classification (such as food, drink, etc) of the item chosen by a scroll menu. Upon first entry of the barcode, the system will store the profile into a local database (on non-volatile memory). This will eliminate the need to choose the class of item when scanned in the future.

    An accelerometer or a simple switch to detect the opening and closing of the door which will prompt the user to rescan the barcode to indicate removal of the item. Perishable food such as milk can be marked with a special flag which the system will monitor and remind the user to consume the food before it turning bad.

  25. I really just want to review the board and (all) it’s peripherals, make a demonstration project to post on my blog.

  26. Mike says:

    I’m looking at a data center environmental monitor with notifications, web interface, etc.

  27. Mike says:

    Portable solar powered weather stations that would record light intensity, wind speed, humidity, temperature, and rainfall. The data would then be stored to either SD, or fram to be collected after a certain period of time. These could be deposited in remote locations and used to create a map of the weather patterns, and collect wind speed data, which could then be used for finding suitable locations for micro wind generators. Because it would be placed in remote locations and be operating off solar power, low power consumption would be key, as it may need to operate for extended periods of time on purely battery power.

  28. Jonathan says:

    My implementation of the EFM32 would be in conjunction with an embedded 802.11 wireless controller. This unit would allow me the convenience of several wireless usb nodes. This concept is the foundation of an interactive digital system that can act as a ‘game master’ of sorts for many live action combat sports (airsoft, paintball, et cetra..). This system can intelligently track the status of several key game objectives and provide useful audio feedback in much the same way that many modern first person shooter video games behave.

  29. Arup says:

    1. Power supply:
    Possibly a board that runs on fruit. We all know fruits especially orange has acidic electrolytic which makes small power of 1.08V through copper and zinc hooks. The current is very low, but if 10-12 hooks are plugged, enough power would be produced to run this low power MCU unit.
    2. Use of digital I/O:
    To run LCD(the COG one that is energy efficient). To show status and various information through low power 0603 LED. And obviously inputs from micro switches.
    3. Special I/O:
    Interface with huge size EEPROM, USB CDC device.

    Project: My energy efficient alarm clock idea, that has been buried due to problems faced with msp.

  30. Arthur Benemann says:

    I’m developing an weather buoy, and this would be a great platform to work on since it will work on solar energy we are trying to keep it low power. But it still should be full of features.

  31. That looks like a good kit to build your own thermostat. A nice display, maybe solder on a few more buttons, but the board could probably let you build the smartest thermostat on the block.

  32. Joe says:

    My research involves optimizing microprocessors for low power operation. This would be the perfect vehicle for doing that. With this we would be able to show how simple real-time optimizations can save power for sensor and healthcare applications.

  33. povik says:

    Processing unit in SDR for some radioastronomy stuff! (Yeah, i don’t like PCs there.)

  34. XTL says:

    I would test FreeRTOS most likely, for starters. Then it would probably become a part of a measurement/testing system.

  35. Michail says:

    Disable BOD and run it through ultra-low voltages at some low-speed clock under cryogenic temperatures to see how far we can go overspec in terms of power consumption :-)

  36. Hunter Scott says:

    This would be great for a project I’m about to start: a portable spectrum analyzer. The low power of this thing is perfect for conserving battery life, yet it’s still powerful enough to do the math. Plus both dev boards even have a built in screen for displaying wave information and plotting stuff like the Fourier transform.

  37. Kelvin says:

    I have wanted to built a home security system. With the colour LCD, I can hook it up to a serial camera and show/take snapshot of what is happening outside the door. Use the some of the I/Os to hook up to sensor to detect if door/windows has been opened when the system has been armed.

  38. Kevin says:

    The EFM32 Gecko Development Kit would work beautifully with my colleagues huge salt water aquarium. Together we have been designing an automated system to monitor and control tank janitors, water circulation, calcium, nitrate, phosphate, pH & alkalinity, water changes and the solar system that we designed specifically to run the lights, heaters, pumps etc…
    I believe this board would do a brilliant job of managing this and hope to have opportunity to work with it.

  39. You may be familiar with my hack of adding a Lego arm to the Spy Video Trakr:

    I will use the EFM32 to add the Striker II USB Laser Guided Missile Launcher to the Trakr. Imagine that. A Trakr with frickin’ laser beams…and missiles!

  40. Andrew says:

    Portable JTAG programmer. It would be nice to use some onboard flash/SD card to be able to store images for programming other micros/FPGAs without having to be connected to the computer.

  41. Dan says:

    This could really kick-start a project I’m trying to get going of powering an MCU, not with fruit, but with what I would call ambient energy, or small scale energy harvesting devices such as PV cells, thermoelectric generators and, if I can get my hands on any, nanogenerators. The hope would be to peer into the viability of powering handheld devices(cell phones, tablets etc.) by such means, thus sequestering the Li-ion battery to cold, dark places…

  42. Pedantite says:

    I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with the one I got. These comments give me some great inspiration for ideas though :).

  43. werejag says:

    would like to build a picmirco emulation for sega naomi arcade

  44. Dave Mills says:

    That looks like it would be ideal for a very low power VHF beacon project I’m planning. There are several energy sources available, but you need to intelligently switch between them for best results. This device seems to have the processing power to decide what source to use as well as control the beacon logic.

  45. Udi says:

    For a long time I was looking at building an Open Source universal remote.
    The idea is to have a crowd-sourced IR database, and an open platform for creating an using it.
    It would have both IR as well as an nRF24L01+ for communicating with a BoxeeBox.

    The nRF24L01+ will also be used for a low power RF to IR repeater (for sending IR commands to equipment in closed cabinets.

    This processor seems to be ideal:

    powerful enough – ARM architecture for easy C programming, fast enough to run an embedded interpreter (LUA perhaps) for complex equipment control scripts (think of Pronto remotes)

    low power – longer time between charges, or it can use a smaller battery.

  46. rudi says:

    a datalogger for environmental data, that can be worn, and downloads the data to the internet to do micro-climate forecasting based on data of may such loggers

  47. flokos says:

    I would use it to make an online tool where people can put their code and hit submit button.
    Then the page would send the code to the pc running the http server that is connected with above mentioned devboard ,then programm the devboard with the code and measure the consumption on every line of code, find the lines with the greater consumption and save them in a table ,then find the overall consumption .Also users will be able to choose a preferable consumption and the programm will highlight the lines of code that need to be changed to reach the preferable consumption or if the code fullfills the requirments the programm will confirm it and will show message about it .
    Thats brainstorming of one of my ideas .

  48. Here where I live, there are two rivers which floods the surrounding areas. I think I could use this board to monitor the river level and send an alert through SMS when the river level reach an dangerous level.

  49. lahcen says:

    I will use the EFM32 Gecko development kit for a LEGO sorting device, using image processing application to process the image taked by a webcam or RGB sensor. A DC motor controls the cylinder portion of the device to take one Lego block at a time to be sorted. The sorting section consists of stepper motor with a slide to select the right box were the lego blok must go. the Lego blocks are sorted by color and size with this device.


  50. ed says:

    I’d like to use the LCD version for a telescope controller. However, many other submissions seemed both more worthy on both the basis of Utilitarianism(the philosophy) eg kuhltwo’s request and usefulness eg flood monitoring. May the best submissions win!

  51. JTR says:

    I have some dust floating around in my room. It gets into my lungs and I sneeze snot all over my keyboard. One of these could sit in my junk box and collect that dust for me. Might even add five minutes to my life.

  52. Joe says:

    I just scored a small weather station for cheap – unfortunately update rate is a little slow. I would love to use one of these to increase sampling on the sensors on the station and send data to a terminal inside my house. I would consider embedding the starter kit with the station. I would likely use the Dev kit to receive and display the data.

  53. Noel says:

    This looks like a nice dev board. Since this is a low power device, I think it would nice if I power it with solar modules. I have a few more of solar modules and this could be a great charge controller. I hate storing batteries and then after a few months, it’s voltage becomes so low that it doesn’t work with my charger anymore. This looks perfect as a solar battery charger controller.

    If I have one of these, I will first create tutorials on how to use it from the simple blinky let to interfacing with LCD, SPI devices…etc, and then use it to control individual charging of a huge row of AA batteries.

    The controller should monitor each AA cell individually and implement a deltaV/ deltaT monitoring loop to precisely control the charging of each cell.

    In this way, I can just leave it beside the window and let it continuously trickle charge all my batteries.

  54. Ed says:

    Low power Solar lighting: I am working on an advanced solar lighting system which will be able to gather energy from small solar cells, store it into a variety of battery types, and most of all, will monitor the quantity of available energy available in order to maximize lighting time. The idea being to create compact systems that both preserve battery life for a long time – a common issue with simple solar light designs – , while providing the best possible lighting duration with the quantity of energy available. A dev board like the Gecko development kit would make it possible to test the design thoroughly and ensure energy is used as best as possible without endangering the battery.

  55. JM says:

    I always wanted to experiment with ARM. I would try using one of these dev boards as a controller upgrade for my reprap 3D printer. They look to have more power than the AVR in the stock reprap controller.

  56. I am a student and want to work with some ARM stuff. Furthermore, fining alternative and ecological methods for powering this board would be fun… Also could be good for portable music based projects (instrument based projects and the like) which could benefit from the low energy consumption (last longer and have less impact). Along similar lines, this could be really interesting for attaching input devices around a room and having this guy monitor those inputs and force the room to respond in some manner.

  57. Adam says:

    Low power portable GPS tracker/data logger for people or animals.

  58. Ryszard Milewicz says:

    Remote weather station powered by harvested wind energy, connected to home unit by wireless link. It can measure wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, pressure etc. Home unit will display and store information on weather conditions and make it available on Ethernet.

  59. Addidis says:

    How about a logic probe. with a nice graphing lcd screen.

  60. Mike says:

    Being low-powered it would be ideal to run battery-powered outdoors to automate my Halloween display for next year. I have several servo and sensor driven items that would be a much better display if they were centrally coordinated instead of all the separate sensors tripping hap-haphazardly.

  61. Stefan Adrian says:

    I would like to an efficient heating system for houses . The basic idea is to have a sensor in every room that will communicate with the development kit. After this the best decision will be made dependig on several criteria.Energy Micro EFM32 will have to decide in what room the heating must continue and in each not. If in a room the heating system is off the board must tell the pump to go slower , not to create a big pressure in the system. All of this processes must be monitored at every step.

  62. Michael Schulze says:

    I recently moved to Guangzhou, and the air quality is a expected for a manufacturing hub, not that great. A wireless air quality monitor would at least let me know HOW MUCH pollutants I am inhaling.

  63. Najmul says:

    I would use this board for low power energy measurement & automatic upload to sites such as pachube. This will also do a lot of home automation like sprinkler control, home security & access control.
    A super cap or small lithium battery will make it work in case of power failure or an attempt at forced power cut for unauthorised access.
    Will send alerts on SMS, email or phone call for security breach or be accessible from web for status & control.

  64. andrew says:

    Use it as part of home energy & environment monitoring. Use ad remote display for wireless sensor nodes.

  65. sky says:

    since this is low power development kit, projects should be portable and battery powered. i would add a barometric pressure, temp and humidity sensors. these would make it a very intuitive outdoor weather data will display graphs and and raw data from the sensors. add a gps module , then you can easily map your route and waypoints.

  66. leprud says:

    As they are low powered, micro one is just asking to be sensor hub/data converter in my FPV plane.
    Current arduino is out of resources, and my stm2f103 board is bulky and energy consumpting!
    More over, as it uses very low power, it can be excellent rescue beacon

  67. Rob says:

    You could use this as the central node for a smart home, domotica system

  68. Ben says:

    I’d love to use one of those as the main controller of a home-automation network with several master and slave modules, connected with 868MHz wireless modules and maybe powerline communication.

  69. Eric says:

    This would be great for my smart car project. I have a 2001 VW Golf modified to run on Bio Diesel. I would love to use this to do everything from monitoring/averaging fuel consumption, tire pressure, break temp, fluid temps, maybe tie it into the odb2 port and get some engine readings, and probably do something cool regarding the starter (maybe a pin entry or rfid verification) or throw a remote starter on it so it can warm up the fuel, so it is thin enough to be injected into the engine, before I leave the house in the morning (Chicago winters are brutally cold). Looks like this will handle everything I can throw at it.

  70. Andrew says:

    I’m currently developing a platform for a 6LoWPAN sensor network around an STM32 as part of my master’s thesis. This seems like an interesting alternative for developing additional battery and solar-powered modules for my network. I’d be curious to know how they compare to my current solution.
    These would later be used around my house and to control various devices at our robotics club

  71. lololololo says:

    oscilloscope-like device (of course the performance will greatly depend on used ADC)

  72. Mike says:

    Now that would definitely move me away from the standard 2×16 display. I’m definitely looking at ways to improve our system interface from a bouncing bar across the bottom to possibly a line graph style display. Even the capability to turn the system into a field test bench, to reduce the requirements for our technicians to carry an o-scope into mines etc. with a built in configuration it would be possible to display real-time data gleaned from the system and also integrate an analysis circuit for the tech’s to plug in and get fast results. Without having to lug an O-Scope around that doesn’t have the ability to analyze the data quickly to assist in troubleshooting.

  73. Chad says:

    I work with co-workers on the other side of the country. The Gecko development kit would be awesome for building a telepresence robot. I’ve been wanting to build one for a long time.
    The Gecko would help me solve some problems I’ve run into such as keeping it balanced (it’ll have a tablet PC on top and I don’t want it to fall), keeping the power usage low, locating the charging station, etc… I could use the Gecko to develop very low power code (thanks to the energy measurement screen) that could keep the robot from tipping over (using an accelerometer) as well as aligning the charging station using IR or something similar. I’d communicate back to the tablet using the serial port. Using a network connection on the tablet, I’d send serial commands to the Gecko for controlling the robot, checking battery status, etc…

  74. Avishay says:

    Domestic hot water boiler power optimization system. Although it’s a high power system, the boiler itself is not connected directly to the power source, and all it’s sensor system must run on a battery or super-capacitor.

  75. Jon Jackson says:

    Insteon dual-link home control system (RF and powerline), especially real-time feedback. I’m looking for a low-power dedicated microcontroller to replace a relatively expensive class of products (~$300) of limited functionality to evolve and provide increased control and staus of Insteon-protocol lamp and appliance modules. The real-time status of the Insteon modules across home powerlines has not been developed nor characterized well from the products I see for the home control enthusiast (aka me). While the capability exists in the specs, I have yet to see a good implementation of device status. While X-10 is a noisy protocol frought with errant commands, Insteon is designed to provide more secure and accurate control with low bandwidth 2-way communication.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  76. David says:

    In all honesty, I do not have some grand plan for this dev board. My plan is to tinker with it and use it as a learning platform.

  77. Autonomous solar-powered water heater for a hen coop
    Building a heater for the drinking water for our chickens would be easy.
    But this heater should only heat the water at specific day times and below the freezing-temperature of water, because the whole system is battery powered.
    Furthermore it should monitor the charging of the battery by a solar-cell.

  78. m_m says:

    I’d like it.

    The usual task that I always think about: An Atari 2600 emulator board. Resistor DAC for video.

    Some kind of JIT might be a necessity, but who knows till I start coding proofs of concept.

  79. StacyD says:

    Does not one else see the possibility to use this core and the features on the dev boards to make a FULL Media Center control board that is eco-conscience?

    Personally, I would use this bvoard as the main control hub for my apartment inetgration project. I was going to use a bunch of MSP430’s, but this would be a much better and central csolution to my problem since using a ARM3 would still put a pretty decent power drain on the hub.

    I would have the board mounted in my media center cabinet and having it monitor power usage of the devices as well as turning the devices off when no audio is present or it is during a certain part of the day bor week when someone was not home. It would also be very useful for being a hub for my light control and various power consuming devices (chumby, jellyfish lamp). This would be great because my electric bill on a small 2BR apartment is $150/month and there is no reason for all of this stuff to be on constantly, or at least an automatic sleep mode for these devices would help greatly. Since I am out of town frequently, having control over the internet would be fabulous so that the patterns of use as seen by potential invaders would be similar.

    Think, a Kill-a-watt on steriods for everything and the ability to control in one box. Perfect for predicting costs and use.

  80. Zeta says:

    Really nice board. The LCD screen will prove to be usefull fr many applications. Currently I only work with B/W LCDs.

  81. Sbmeirow says:

    I need a low-power embedded controller to maintain my life support system while I’m frozen in my time machine.

    Ok, sounds crazy, but just as unlikely compared to some of the other posts :-)

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