Now that we have discussed the LPC5500 series at a high level and investigated some of the cool features, it is time to roll up our sleeves work on some real hardware. In this next series of articles, I want to step through a simple hardware design using the LPC55S69. We are going to step a bit beyond the application notes and going through a simple design using Altium Designer to implement a simple project.
Many new projects start with development boards (such as the LPC55S69-EVK) to evaluate a platform and to take a 1st cut at some of the software development work. Getting to a form-factor compliant state quickly can just as important as the firmware efforts. Getting a design into a manufacturable form is a very important step in the development process. With new hardware, I like to address all of my “known unknowns” early in the process so I almost always make my own test PCBs right away. The LPC5500 series devices are offered in some easy to use QFP100 and QFP64 packages. Designers also have the option of a very small VFBGA98 package option. Many engineers flinch when you mention BGA, let alone a “fine pitch” BGA. I hope to show you that it is not be bad as you may think and one can even route this chip on 2 layers.
Figure 1. The LPC55S69 VFBGA98 Package. QFP100 comparison on the bottom.
The LPC55S69 is offered at an attractive price but packs a ton of functionality and processing power into a very small form-factor that uses little energy in both the active and sleep cases. Having all of this processing horsepower in a small form-factor can open new opportunities. Let’s see what we can get done with this new MCU.
The “Mini-Monkey” Board
In this series of “how to” articles, I want to step through a design with the LPC55S69 in the VFBGA and *actually build something*. The scope of this design will be limited to some basic design elements of bringing up a LPC55S69 while offering some interesting IO for visualizing signal processing with the PowerQuad hardware. Several years ago, I posted some projects on the NXP community using the Kinetis FRDM platform. One of the projects showcased some simple DSP processing on an incoming audio signal.
The “Monkey Listen” project used an NXP K20D50 FRDM board with a custom “shield” that included a microphone and a simple OLED display. For this effort I wanted to do something similar except using the LPC55S69 in the VFBGA98 package with some beefed-up visualization capabilities. There is so much more horsepower in the LPC55S69 and we now have the potential to do neat applications such as real time feature detection in an audio signal, etc. Also given the copious amounts of RAM in the in the LPC55S69, also wanted to step up the game a bit in the display. The small VFPGA98 package presents with an opportunity to package quite a bit in a small space. So much has happened since the K20D50 hit the street!
I recently found some absolutely gorgeous IPS displays with a 240x240 pixel resolution from buydisplay.com. They are only a few dollars and have a simple SPI interface. I wired a display to the an LPC55S69-EVK for a quick demonstration:
Figure 2: The LPC55S69EVK driving the 240x240 Pixel 1.54” IPS display.
It was difficult for me to capture how beautiful this little 1.54” display is with my camera. You must see it to believe it! Given the price I figured I would get a boxful to experiment with for this design project!
Figure 3: 240x240 Pixel 1.54” IPS display from buydisplay.com
The overarching design concept with the “mini-monkey” is to fit a circuit under the 1.54” display that uses LPC55S69 with some interesting IO:
- USB interface
- LIPO Battery and Charger circuitry
- Digital MEMs microphone
- SWD debugging
- Access to the on-chip ADC
I want to pack some neat features beneath the screen that can do everything the “Monkey Listen” project can, just better. With access to the PowerQuad, the sky is the limit on what kinds of audio processing that can be implemented. The plan is to see how much we can fill up underneath the display to make an interesting development platform. I started a project in Altium designer and put together a concept view of the new “Mini-Monkey” board to communicate some of the design intent:
Figure 4: The “Mini-Monkey” Concept PCB based upon the LPC55S69 in the VFBGA98 package
While this is not the final product, I wanted to give you an idea of where I was going. The “Mini-Monkey” will be a compact form fact board that can be used for some future articles on how to make use of the LPC5500 series PowerQuad feature. There will be some extra IO made available to enable some cool new projects to showcase the awesome capabilities of the LPC55S69. Got some ideas for the "Mini-Monkey"? Leave a comment below!
In the next article we will be looking at the schematic capture phase and how we can use NXP’s MCUXpresso SDK to help automate some of the work required in Altium Designer. I will be showing some of the basic elements to getting an LPC55S69 design up and running from scratch. We will then look at designing with the VFBGA98 package and get some boards built. I hope I now have you interested so stay tuned. In the meantime, checkout this application note on using the VFBGA package on a 2-layer board: