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Cypress PSoC® 5LP Prototyping Kit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 59 / 60
  • RoadTest: Cypress PSoC® 5LP Prototyping Kit
  • Evaluation Type: Independent Products
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered:
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?:

  • Detailed Review:

    First of all I would like to thank Element 14 and Cypress for selecting me for this roadtest.

    As you can see above my total score for this product is almost 60, I'm really impressed by this powerful and versatile kit . The only reason that I put a 9 for the Demo software - which is not a demo, but a fully functional complete and powerful IDE - is that it only runs in windows. I would rather like to have a Mac version. But anyway, using Windows 7 in a virtual Box environment did the job flawlessly.

     

    My reason for the RoadTest, copied from my application:

     

    PSoC is an ideal platform to built a software defined radio (SDR), without relying on a PC for the SDR processing! Some years ago Simple circuits build one using the PSoC 3 (http://www.simplecircuits.com/SimpleRadios.html). Currently their hardware is'n available anymore. For my Roadtest application I would use the new PSoC 5 to built a SDR design similar to simplecircuits mentioned above.

    But before diving into this I started as usual with the blinking led demo after arrival of the kit.

     

    Some initial tests:

    So after installing PSoC Creator I loaded the blinking led demo, connected the kit downloaded the compiled code and was up and running in a few minutes.
    Then to explore a little bit of the possibilities I added an WaveDAC8, connected the waveband selection to the kill switch of the blinking led demo and had a function generator running with selectable sine or triangle waveform output in just a few more minutes.

    Windows_7__64_bit___Snapshot_1___Running_.png

    Time for serious work:

     

    So now its time for some more serious work, an software designed radio (SDR) receiver for one of the ham bands.

    I soldered header strips to the J1 and J2 headers, and put the kit into a small breadboard. This makes experimenting a lot easier.

    When writing my application I already searched the internet for some information on this subject.

     

    There are some groups/people experimenting with PSoC and SDR, but not much code is publicly available.

    Here are some links:

    1. http://www.cwtd.org/psoc.html
    2. http://home.kpn.nl/rw.engberts01/psoc5.htm
    3. http://ae9rb.com
    4. http://www.simplecircuits.com/SimpleRadios.html

     

    The first links exactly describes what I have in mind, unfortunately it stays with that idea, no more updates since two years. The second one is a very nice one, it is mainly a group of people with clever ideas and a good design, but unfortunately no code yet. The third one uses a PSoC in a na SDR Receiver, but leaves the real SDR decode still to the PC, so it looks like the PSoC is just used as an ordinary microcontroller. Please correct me when I’m wrong. The last one is the one I was looking for, a nice description in ham radio magazine QST, and all code available. It’s based on the PSoC 3. So what I did is I took this code stripped off all unnecessary parts and build a basic SDR radio based on their design.

     

    For the RF front end, I used the popular softrock design. I still had a softrock version 6.0 laying around, with an si560 VFO, controlled by an mbed controller. Details can be found here: http://www.agri-vision.nl/CMS/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50&Itemid=99

     

    Screenshot_24-06-15_20_09.png

     

    The block diagram, slightly modified after simple circuits, with in the red part the softrock. The other blocks are implemented on the PSoC.

     

    QEX_release0_pdf.png

    As follows:

     

    Windows_7__64_bit___Snapshot_1___Running_ 2.png

     

    You see most of the blocks from the block diagram back in the PSoC topdesign, except for the demultiplexer, adder and delay line.

    These functions are implemented in software on the PSoC. An automatic gain control is also implemented in software. When it clips, the blue led will flash. As I said already the majority of the design is copied from simplecircuits.

    The PSoC kit is powered from the softrocks LM78L05 voltage regulator, which seems to be enough. I measured around 30mA power consumption. For audio output I used a small battery powered speaker.

    Here is a picture of part of the so frock schematics with the connections to the PSoC kit:

     

    SoftRock_V6_Info_package_pdf.png

     

    Some pictures of the test setup:
    Screenshot_24-06-15_22_16.png
    Screenshot_24-06-15_22_17.png

    And of course, the proof of the pudding is the listening:

     

     


    Final Remarks:

     

    By adapting the simple circuits design to the PSoC 5 kit I had this software defined radio quite fast up and running. For the future I have a lot of improvements and additions in mind. First of all I will check whether adding an extra ADC and removing the multiplexer will improve the quality. The PSoC 3 used by simplecircuits does not allow two ADCs, but the PSoC 5 does.

    The Si570 control currently done with an mbed will also be implemented in the PSoC, together with the encoders and display.

    I will try to add more modes, and finally try to make a transmitter, using the softrock rxtx 6.2. All parts are already available, the only thing I’m lacking is time.


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