Development of a Measurement Automation Module based on a Cortex M4 MCU

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Kovács Viktor
Department of Automation and Applied Informatics

One of the main tasks of the Silicon Laboratories’ Power over Ethernet group working in Hungary is the revision of the integrated circuits before mass production. The aim of the following thesis is to design a microcontroller based circuit able to automate the measurements of the IC-s. A universal design was a basic expectation, because a module like this could be useful in the tasks of other divisions of the company too. Thus the matter in hand is not only a device able to serve a specific job, but a universal module with as much inputs and ouputs as possible. By that many communication interfaces become available, and their function is determined either by the firmware or the user commands sent during operation.

My design is based on an ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller, 39 of its general purpose I/O-s are accessible on the module. With the right configuration these can be used for I2C, SPI, UART communication, analog-digital and digital-analog conversion or to generate pulse-width modulated signals. The module communicates through USB as a virtual COM port: it can be controlled using any terminal emulator program by sending SCPI commands, which are very common among measurement devices.

The thesis follows the steps of the design of an embedded system: selection of parts, schematic and printed circuit board design, building and test of the prototypes, and the development of the firmware implementing the basic functions.


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