Energy-harvesting evaluation kit features wireless linked modules powered by sunlight and temperature differences

February 14, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
Arrow Electronics has developed an energy-harvesting evaluation kit together with Italian technology consultant company @m2el that enables users to transmit and receive data via modules powered by solar energy and temperature differences. Called ‘The Drop’ the kit showcases components from Atmel Corporation and Linear Technology which were selected for their low-power consumption and suitability for harvesting applications.

The Drop kit contains two energy-harvesting boards: a solar board (SBN) and a Peltier board (PBN). Both are equipped with a 2.4 GHz radio (802.15.4 ZigBee ready) for wireless data transmission that allows them to act as network nodes. A third wireless-enabled node (UBN) can be connected to a Windows-based PC via USB, where the data collected and sent by the two harvesting boards can then be displayed.

The boards are built around Linear’s LTC3109 auto-polarity ultralow step-up converter and the LTC3105 400 mA step-up DC/DC converter with Maximum Power Point Control. Atmel devices used include the high-performance, low-power 32-bit Atmel AVR AT32UC3B0256 RISC-based microcontroller, the low-power, high-performance 8/16-bit AVR ATXMEGA128A3 microcontroller and the low-power 2.4 GHz Atmel AT86RF230 transceiver, designed for IEEE802.15.4, ZigBee, RF4CE, SP100, WirelessHART and ISM applications.  

In addition to the three network nodes, the kit includes a solar panel, a Peltier cell, three RF antennas and a mini USB cable.

The kit enables users to set up their own energy-harvesting evaluation system. They can also create their own designs based on the kit using the original schematics, Gerber files and firmware, all of which may be downloaded from the website.

Visitors to the Embedded World trade show in Nuremberg (28 February to 1 March) will have the opportunity to see this evaluation kit at Arrow’s booth 4A-206.

The Drop energy-harvesting evaluation kit can be purchased from Arrow for 199 Euros.

The Drop Radio Kit Console software, which includes a demonstration application and USB driver, can be downloaded from or