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Open-spec board opens up I2C

Nov 28, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1259 views

Excamera’s “I2CDriver” I2C debugging board has a logic-analyzer display, a micro-USB link to a PC, and support for 3x I2C modules. Options include up to 20x I2C sensor and I/O modules and 3x carriers.

Earlier this year, Excamera Labs launched an SPIDriver board for analyzing and testing SPI-connected gizmos. Now it has returned to Crowd Supply to launch a similar I2CDriver board that takes on the more daunting challenge of I2C debugging.

I2CDriver with LEDs (left) and with optional carrier board and 3x I2C modules (empty carrier board at lower right)
(click images to enlarge)

Excamera Labs has surpassed its Crowd Supply goals for three versions of the I2CDriver, all scheduled for shipment on Feb. 5, 2019. The $29 I2CDriver Core model is limited to 3x sets of hookup jumpers. The $61 I2CDriver Expert adds support for 16x I2C modules and 3x module carrier boards. The $79 I2CDriver Gold advances to 20x I2C modules and 4x carriers and gives you a custom USB serial ID.

Like the SPIDriver, the I2CDriver is an open source hardware project licensed under BSD. The 61 x 49mm board is similarly equipped with a Silicon Labs EFM8 controller and an FTDI USB serial chip to connect devices to a PC via a micro-USB connection.

The I2CDriver similarly integrates a color LED logic-analyzer display, but this one is a bit more sophisticated. The display shows all signal lines and offers graphical decoding of I2C traffic. There’s a heatmap display that shows 7-bit I2C addresses and a map of all attached I2C devices that light up and turn off in real time.

I2CDriver traffic decoder (left) and heatmap displays
(click images to enlarge)

The I2CDriver supports I2C transfers at 400KHz and 100KHz and features current and voltage monitoring, color-coded wires, a high-side current meter, and programmable pullup resistors for I2C lines. A 3.3V supply with 5V tolerance powers up your devices.

A desktop GUI is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows PCs, and there are Python-based examples. I2C traffic is captured to the PC where you can use any desktop tool you choose to analyze it. There’s support for text, CSV, and VCD formats.

I2CDriver alone (left) and Gold package with carrier boards on the right and modules on the bottom
(click images to enlarge)

The 18 x 18mm I2C modules available with the Expert and Gold packages feature castellated connectors for power and I2C. The Expert package gives you single EEPROM, 3D compass, analog knob, and IR remote/receiver modules, as well as a pair each of temperature sensor, accelerometer, RTC/calendar, beeper, and two types of LED modules. The Gold package gives you two each of all these modules.

The modules can be connected to headers or can be soldered onto the carrier boards that ship with the higher end packages. Each carrier can hold three modules on a single I2C bus.

Further information

The I2CDriver is available through Jan. 10 starting at $29 on Crowd Supply, with shipments due Feb. 5. Volume discounts are also available. More information may be found at the I2CDriver Crowd Supply page, as well as the Excamera Labs website.


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