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Ethernet ready module


#1

Hi,

I wanted to suggest a new “Ethernet ready” module.
The main goal would be to have the smallest possible form factor .NET Micro module that includes everything to connect to Ethernet with the lowest possible price. Including the RJ45 connector or not would have to be determined based on design and cost analysis.
Something simple with basically the MCU, memory and power supply/management. What other features and which signal pins would be made available depends on the available board space.

I’m aware that there is support now to plug third party Ethernet modules to existing .NET micro modules or even USBizi chipsets but that requires integration at board design, causes issues in production and increases the required area/volume of the end product.

Such a module would be a “direct replacement” (with a lot of advantages for people switching to .NET micro) for competitor devices such as Tibbo modules, Lantronix XPort , FLYPORT and others.

On a second round having a similar module but WiFi ready would be awesome, but lets take one step at a time! :slight_smile:


#2

What would you consider as a low price and form factor?


#3

The smallest possible form factor means that the module should be as small as possible considering the constrains of the component size used and the overall circuit design. Tibbo has a module that fits on the back of a RJ45 connector. XPort looks like an “extended” RJ45 connector. Not sure if its possible to squeeze a complete .NET micro module in such a small area, but one is allowed to dream right? :slight_smile:
The way I understand it is that I believe such a degree of miniaturization is not required at all, but keeping it as small as possible should be a concern.

As for price: somewhere in the price range of the mentioned competitor modules would be OK.


#4

Maybe i should have asked, how many IO pins etc


#5

Watch out, Justin is looking for a new project !

My 5c (seeing how we got rid of 1c and 2c pieces years ago) is use the processor from cerb40 (F405) and the ENC28J and aim to squeeze it into a space under 5cmx5cm (so you can get your DFRobot friends to make them in batches of 20).


#6

Seems since i have been away from home they have even killed off the NZ 5c!
So i will have to go with my 10c worth…


#7

I agree, the IoT is still relatively new and this is our chance to have NETMF take part in this thing… by having a small board with RJ45 integrated around $10 would guarantee our NETMF penetration in this IoT world… and definitely give the competition a run for their money…

as for IOs I would guess few analogue IOs and one or two digital would suffice… enough to do sensor reading and relay triggering…


#8

Dude, it’s worth like, half a shekel, so it’s no loss !


#9

Unless we find a NETMF sugar daddy that wont happen…


#10

@ Brett - :clap:


#11

Did anyone say “loss leading” ?


#12

one is allowed to dream right? :slight_smile:

ok maybe $20 would be reasonable… no?


#13

As for IOs other interfaces I would say that the following would be a nice starting point:

  • enough GPIOs to show Ethernet activity and a couple more for driving a few LEDs or relays
  • 1 UART
  • 1 I2C
  • 1 SPI
  • 1 GPIO for 1Wire port
  • 1 or 2 ADC

This would make the module suitable to interface with a bunch of sensors and other devices and also perform some control functions.


#14

Why not wifi?


#15

@ Gus - as I wrote on my original post: that would be awesome!
My concern is with the power consumption. If for example this is to be used as wireless standalone sensor, can the module run for a decent period of time from say, a 3.6V lithium battery?

Also there are some industrial use cases in which WiFi is not an option.

Summarizing: I can se uses for both versions. :slight_smile:


#16

But if you want to use Ethernet then you are not using battery power so why when using WiFi you want to use battery? Generally speaking, WiFi is not designed to save power, but designed for speed and coverage.


#17

Gus, you are correct!
Jay Jay mentioning IoT got me thinking on other possible devices, such as standalone sensors.
When I wrote that part about WiFi and the power issues I was thinking about that particular scenario. Of course that for powered devices those considerations don’t apply.
Apologies for any confusion this may have caused…

With that said, having “Ethernet ready” and a “WiFi ready” complete modules makes perfect sense to me.
The differentiation here would be the cost. I believe that you are able to design an Ethernet module much cheaper than a WiFi one. And for price sensitive devices and markets that is not a minor issue!


#18

The STM32F405 at Mouser is about, depending on version, $11/each for qty 100.
The GHI ECN module is $19/each, with likely a discount on volume (not necessarily using that module, but just a cost est. for the various parts - crystal, ENC chip, Ethernet, etc).

That alone would be at approx $20. You still need the rest of the BOM and mechanized assembly.

Perhaps at larger (5 or 10 1000s maybe) volumes you could come down enough to sell at that price.

Another option (not as inherently IoT) would be to use a lower cost RF transceiver that would transmit to a base station.


#19

I thought to add to this “minimun requirements” list USB too as this could be of use to build a remote USB access for some device that requires it.