Arrow announces availability of the SmarTool NFC reference design board

Arrow Electronics has announced the EMEA availability of SmarTool NFC, a reference design board created to help customers develop hardware and software that uses NFC (Near Field Communication) technology for applications such as access control, payment systems and contactless data exchange. The board was developed jointly by Arrow’s European engineering team and NXP Semiconductors, a major supplier of NFC devices.

“NFC standards, which have achieved widespread adoption in smartphones and passenger transit payment systems, are now being designed into a wide range of other applications. In developing SmarTool NFC, our aim is to speed the development of these new systems by providing a simple and effective path to NFC deployment,” commented David Spragg, VP Semiconductor Engineering, Arrow EMEA.

Arrow`s and NXP`s cooperation on SmarTool NFC is the first step in a new phase in which Arrow and NXP are aiming to spread the use of NFC into the many areas where close proximity identification systems can be of benefit.

The SmarTool NFC main board includes an NXP PN532 transceiver for contactless communication; an NXP LPC11U37 microcontroller that supports full speed USB 2.0; a step down DC-DC converter; ultra low jitter clock; and an LCD. The microcontroller is based around a 50MHz ARM Cortex-M0 core and features 128KB Flash memory and 12KB RAM.

The reference design is supplied with a set of ready-made application software that demonstrates the implementation of NFC technology in usage scenarios including access control and micropayment. Under access control the system interacts with mobile phone or an NFC tag and registers the presence of an enabled device. In the micropayment scenario the system simulates a vending machine and allows the loading of money and the dispensing of products. The software is compatible with devices using NXP MIFARE smartcard ICs including Classic, Ultralight and DESFire.

An additional application is supplied to assist antenna calibration. It provides an alternative to measuring parameters in situations where users do not have access to specialist analyzers in their labs. Using this method, a frequency generator feeds the antenna with a sweep around the desired resonance frequency. At the same time the microcontroller generates an analogue signal proportional to the frequency being output. By connecting two scope probes to the ramp generated by the microcontroller and to the antenna, and setting the scope to XY mode, the user can see the resonance frequency profile of the antenna. This will then aid the tuning process.


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