Tiny Headers for Reliable Debug

Here we go again… Once again I’ve been given yet another board with randomly placed test points instead of a nice neat, reliable header to connect via my MiniSimplicity cable. So I’m spending an hour on my microscope soldering thin little wires to the tiny little test points to be able to flash and then debug the firmware on a new ZG23 based product. Once I’m done soldering, I’m left with a very fragile board which is unreliable at best and at worst will result in even less hair on my thinning head. My post from 2019 described using a zero cost header for a reliable connection, but it seems not everyone is reading my blog!

On the flip side, a different customer sent me their board with a Tag-Connect Edge-Connect that I had not seen before but is absolutely brilliant. The Edge-Connect uses the EDGE of your PCB for the test points. Barely 1mm wide and about 20mm long it is possible to include this debug connector on virtually any PCB. There is a locking pin to hold the cable secure while the spring loaded tabs press into the castellated notches to ensure solid contact.

Close up of the locking pin and castellated notches

There are several sizes of the Edge-Connect but the recommended one is the 10-pin EC10-IDC-050 which matches the MiniSimplicity header on the WSTK DevKit board. Note that the the 6pin cable in the photo above is NOT the one I would recommend but it was the only one in stock at the time and it worked fine for debugging but doesn’t have the UART or PTI pins.

Tag-Connect has many other types of debug headers/cables of various configurations to hold the cable to the PCB securely. The original Tag-Connect cables have plastic clips that snap into fairly large thru-holes in your PCB. While this is a reliable connection, the thru-holes eat up a lot of PCB real estate. The next evolution was to use a small retaining clip under the PCB that grips onto the metal alignment pins. The photo below shows the PCB pads are not much bigger than an 0805 footprint and only requires three small thru-holes.

Note the smallest header is about the same as an 0805 in lower left corner

The lowest cost approach is to simply add a 10-pin header footprint on your PCB that matches the pinout of the MiniSimplicity header. See section 5.1.1 of Application Node AN958 for the pinout of the 10-pin MiniSimplicity header. You don’t need to solder the header onto the PCB except when debugging. Thus the header can be under a battery or some relatively inaccessible location as when you are debugging in the lab the PCB is usually not installed in the product enclosure.

Please use ANY of these standard connectors on your next project. Without a solid connection between your computer and the chip you will find yourself chasing ghosts and losing hair.

Z-Wave Super Long Range Reaches to the Moon

Silicon Labs and the Z-Wave Alliance proudly announce the latest Z-Wave technology advance that extends wireless RF range all the way to moon – Z-Wave Super Long Range (ZWSLR). With a yet to be proven range of 420,042 kilometers, the new ZWSLR can reach all the way to the moon eliminating the need for repeaters in any IoT network.

Supreme Leader of the Z-Wave Alliance, Mitch Klein said “customers have been asking for a really long range solution, and Z-Wave Super Long Range delivers! I mean come on people, we’re talking to the MOON and back!”. Not like ZWSLR is the Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything but hey, at least to vogons haven’t destroyed the moon yet!

Interoperability and certification are assured as Z-Wave’s commitment to product longevity continues with this latest advance in radio technology. Z-Wave Super Long Range remains backwards compatible and fully interoperable with all Z-Wave devices which have been manufactured over the last two decades. The Z-Wave Certification Test Tool has been enhanced and fully supports the new standard. New developers kits include lead lined smocks for increased protection from the high transmit power of ZWSLR.

ZWSLR is not intended for wearables as side effects of may include, but are not limited to symptoms of skin redness, swelling, blistering and flaying. These side effects prevent use of ZWSLR within 4.2 centimeters of human skin due to the high radio transmit power of 1.21 jigawatts. A side benefit of ZWSLR is that any insects within a radius of 42 meters are instantly incinerated anytime the IoT device transmits. ZWSLR is perfect for you pool house or patio and keeps those pesky mosquitoes at bay. Simply install a few nodes around the perimeter and sweep up the ashes every few days.

Nuclear Battery Required

Nuclear Battery

The high current needed for ZWSLR requires advanced battery technology but we got you covered there. To meet the high current demands we are working with an undisclosed battery supplier (yeah – you know who we’re talking about – starts with a T…) who claim to have an advanced Nuclear Battery perfect for ZWSLR. The battery relies on a recently isolated radioactive element called Elononium T242 which has a half-life of a few decades. The new battery chemistry easily provides the multiple amps of 42 volts needed to power the new ZWSLR ICs from Silicon Labs. A single cell will provide over 10 years of power to reach the moon and back. Disposal of the battery requires a nuclear decommissioning certificate from regional governments but that’s a few decades away so no problems.

Available Now

Z-Wave Super Long Range is available NOW via Simplicity Studio 5. Existing developers kits for the Z-Wave 800 series are fully backwards compatible with the new ZWSLR. Get started developing today with ZWSLR and see who you can talk to on the moon!

Disclaimer: Please note the DATE this was posted – nothing described here is true. Let me be very clear – “I always tell a lie“. Z-Wave’s original frequencies all have fractions of .42 in them (the original US frequency is 908.42MHz). The original developers were huge fans of Douglas Adams “Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” and the number 42 is sprinkled all thru the standard and the code.