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Signed, sealed, delivered

The concept of a ‘one stop shop’ is being extended through the reference design. By Philip Ling.

The value of a reference design, of any shape and size, isn't only appreciated by the large semiconductor manufacturers. More commonly, distributors are being turned on to the idea, particularly those designs that draw on the strengths of many of their principals.

For instance, Future Electronics has produced a reference design for a wireless transmitter and receiver, providing remote temperature sensing. It was designed in its North American engineering resource centre, with input from five of its suppliers including Microchip (for microcontrollers); Philips (uhf receiver); Lumex (display); ITT Industries (switches), and Raltron (SAW filters and crystals).

Colin Weaving, technical solutions manager for Future, described the design as a demonstrator and development board for the rf market, particularly those working in the popular ISM band. At the heart of the transmitter is Microchip's rfPIC12C509AF which integrates a uhf transmitter operating between 310 and 480MHz.

From a hardware point of view, the design is complete but, because it is a demonstrator, only around 30% of the software is supplied. This leaves lots of room for differentiation, of course, and Future provides all the source code, hardware schematics and bill of materials (with full vendor details). Gerber files are available although, because it is a demonstrator,
Weaving feels these are less relevant. He said: "It has more components than strictly necessary, given that it is a development tool. However a full worked up design could use a subset." That isn't to say it isn't a true reference design said Weaving. "It's 100% complete and working, it has been fully tested and we believe it would pass the relevant approvals tests."

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Graham Pitcher

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