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Tiny USB bridge board helps tame I2C traffic

Dec 5, 2019 — by Eric Brown 417 views

Excamera has gone to Crowd Supply to launch a tiny, open source “I2CMini” USB-to-I2C bridge board for controlling and monitoring I2C traffic. The $17 device has a Qwiic connector, a 4-pin header, and a micro-USB port.

A year ago, Excamera Labs launched a $29 I2CDriver I2C debugging board. Now the company has returned to Crowd Supply to pitch a simpler, $17 I2CMini USB-to-I2C bridge device that is similarly designed to plug into a Linux, Mac, or Windows computer via a micro-USB port.

(click images to enlarge)

Like the larger I2CDriver, the open-spec 18 x 18mm board can both drive and monitor an I2C bus. It similarly features a 4-pin (0.1-inch) header that supports direct soldering for connecting to peripherals. There’s also a Sparkfun Qwiic-compatible connector for hooking up I2C-linked Qwiic modules without soldering.


The I2CMini ships with the same open source software as the I2CDriver, including a GUI, command line interface, and Python examples. Thanks to its compatibility with the I2CDriver, “you can develop on the I2CDriver and deploy on the I2CMini,” says Excamera. “Calibrating devices like accelerometers, magnetometers, and gyroscopes is much easier when done directly on the PC.” Excamera notes that the device is “particularly well-suited for applications like IoT and drones, cleanly separating your SBC from the I2C bus.”
The micro-USB port is linked to a standard FTDI USB serial chip, “so no special drivers need to be installed,” says Excamera. There’s also a 3.3V power supply for I2C peripherals. Like the I2CDriver, there are programmable pullup resistors for dual I2C lines, which support sustained transfers at 400kHz and 100kHz.
The earlier I2CDriver board has a logic-analyzer display. It also supports up to three I2C modules.

I2CMini Expert package
(click image to enlarge)

In addition to the $17 I2CMini Core package, which includes a Qwicc cable, there’s a $43 I2CMini Expert bundle that has 3x I2CMini boards with cables, as well as 6x I2C modules and 2x carrier boards. The 18 x 18mm I2C modules include an accelerometer, 3D compass, temp sensor, potentiometer, a color LED, and a 2-digit, 7-segment display.
The $63 Gold package also has three I2CMini boards but offers 20 I2C modules and 4x carriers. A $135 Ten package gives you 10x I2CMini boards with cables.
Further information
The I2CMini is available on Crowd Supply through Jan. 16, 2020, starting at $17 with free shipping to the U.S. and $12 worldwide. More information may be found on the I2CMini Crowd Supply page and more may eventually appear on the Excamera Labs website


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