New and Notable Product Design 28062

July 18, 2005

4 Min Read
New and Notable Product Design

Engineers are embedding microcontrollers (MCUs) of all sizes into unusual and everyday products. Many of these applications are portable, so very low power consumption is among the MCU's critical design features.

Computer-Controlled Telescope

Meade Instruments Corp. Autostar Computer Controller ( Simply connecting the Autostar to the telescope's HBX port and performing a quick telescope alignment provides fully automatic celestial object location and tracking. Freescale Semiconductor 8-bit MCUs are part of the computing power in the Autostar computer controller. The hand controller display allows easy access and viewing of database objects. Power management modes from Freescale HCS08G MCUs include 20 nA powerdown at 2V and optional auto wake-up with internal timer and internal oscillator typically 700 nA at 2V. For more information on Freescale Semiconductor's HCS08G family go to

Watch and speedometer

Sonic Instruments Radar Speed System (RSS) ( The RSS watch and speedometer use radar to provide speed and distance information to skiers, joggers, and cyclists. Sonic Instruments engineers chose Texas Instrument's (TI's) 16-bit MSP430F412 MCU for its ultra-low power consumption and other available functions. The watch can run for two years before requiring new batteries thanks to the real time clock standby current of 0.9 µA. Ultra-low power consumption modes include Active Mode (200 µA at 1 MHz, 2.2V), Standby Mode (0.7 µA), and Off Mode (0.1 µA for RAM retention). For more information on TI's MSP430F412 MCU go to

Solar-Powered Remotely Controlled Aircraft

AC Propulsion SoLong UAV ( The SoLong unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has a speed range of 25 to 60 mph and control and telemetry range of 8,000m. To keep the minimum power for level flight to 82W, power management was a critical concern for every aspect of the craft including the power consumption of the MCUs. Microchip Technology's PIC18LF452 controls the UAV's autopilot. The 8-bit MCU's low power consumption modes include less than 1.6 mA typical at 5V, 4 MHz, less than 25 µA typical at 3V, 32 kHz, and less than 0.2 µA typical standby current. For more information on Microchip's PIC18F452 go to

Leakage and Overflow Monitor

AquaOne Technologies Incorporated H2ORB ( The H2ORB system remotely monitors for water leakage or overflow in water control appliances such as toilets to reduce waste and prevent damage. Sensing a problem, the system sends an alert or automatically shuts off the water supply. The H2ORB main unit uses TI's 16-bit MSP430F413 MCU. The MCU has a standby power requirement of only 0.7 µA and can wake up from sleep mode to its highest processing speed in 6 µsec. Engineers estimate that the wireless control unit will operate for over five years from a standard battery. For more information on TI's MSP430F413 MCU go to

Industrial Controller

Allen-Bradley Series B Pico Controllers ( Getting a text message from an industrial process is now possible with the Pico GFX remote mounting CPU. Equipped with faster processor speeds and an expanded memory, other members in the Pico Series B controllers significantly upstage the previous Series A units. The 32-bit MCU improvements provide twice the number of function blocks and three times the ladder logic capacity to support those applications that require up to 128 lines of ladder logic. In addition to a DeviceNet communications module, the controllers have improved display functionality and additional power supply options. PicoSoft 6.0 software simplifies programming the units.

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