In the famous novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the author, Roald Dahl, popularized the idea of the golden ticket. The bright yellow pass grants access to the wonders and secrets of the candy manufacturing plant owned by Willy Wonka. And while we won’t go as far as to say that the LDO Sample Kit by ST and Future Electronics is the golden ticket to the magical kingdom of embedded systems, the bundle made of 18 LDOs brings engineers behind the curtains of specs sheet and databases. The kit helps them explore the diversity and unique abilities of power devices while cultivating relationships with Future and ST. Hence, we aimed to make the LDO Sample kit as meaningful and accessible as possible. As a result, ST will produce a first limited set of 500 co-branded units, available for free after sending an application to Future.
LDO Sample Kit by ST and Future: Meet the Actors
New trends in IoT mean that LDOs get a lot more attention than they used to. Indeed, when designing a smartwatch where every bit of current and voltage savings count, a low quiescent current can make the difference between a popular or failed project. Similarly, wearables are getting smaller as fashion turns rings and pendants into smart devices. Engineers must thus deal with far greater space restrictions, making package sizes a critical specification. Additionally, the rise of smart city and smart homes created a need for more precise power regulations. Governments want to create sustainable infrastructures that can work with little maintenance. Hence, LDOs that can prolong battery life are more essential than ever. Moreover, as appliances get smarter, modules that listen to voice commands or that interact with a mobile application all rely on LDOs to regulate power to the microcontroller and other devices.
Too often, engineers understand why LDOs are important, but managers or decision-makers underestimate their impact. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness may negatively affect developments in tangible ways. Indeed, convincing a department to source and qualify a different part number isn’t always easy. Neither is explaining why a device is superior to another. For instance, the TSU111 can help a design reach 25 years on a single battery. Yet, a simple data sheet may not move the person approving the bill of materials. The LDO Sample Kit is thus an object lesson that can help demonstrate the impact of low dropout regulators to those less familiar. As a result, while many in the industry suffer from component shortages, ST and Future made their LDO sample kit as accessible as possible.
Discover ST Products
Another challenge that many designers face stems from the difficulty of experimenting with different devices. While all engineers know the importance of benchmarks, testing various part numbers can get cumbersome. Just acquiring a wide range of LDOs can be tricky. Hence, ST and Future selected regulators to help engineers find the best compromise between the various package sizes, quiescent currents, dropout voltages, or noise levels through their power supply rejection ratio. For instance, the LD39130S showcases a tiny DFN6 package (1.2 mm x 1.3 mm) and a low quiescent current of 1 µA in green mode. On the other hand, the LD59100 offers an ultra-low dropout of 200 mV (typically at 1 A) and a very high PSRR of 80 dB at 100 Hz. Ultimately, the LDO Sample Kit allows developers to experiment with a broad range of products and perform benchmarks that would have been much harder to setup otherwise.
Discover a Supplier
Another challenge comes from the difficulties of networking with manufacturers and suppliers. Attending workshops or tradeshows is not always possible, especially when dealing with a global pandemic. Additionally, smaller organizations may feel overshadowed by more prominent corporations. Hence, the LDO Sample Kit solves this by becoming a gateway to Future and ST. The fact that the kit is free means that the initiative is open to everyone. Additionally, the need to request the kit through Future opens a direct communication channel. Engineers that may not have contacts with a supplier now have an opportunity to build their network, ask questions, and plan their project. Finally, we are only 500 units at first to keep this intimate approach manageable. Hence, this is not a typical development board but a solution to the isolation that some engineers may experience.
LDO Sample Kit by ST and Future: Experience the Workflow
After teams experiment with the LDO Sample Kit, they may decide to explore the ST catalog, which may be overwhelming. Finding a specific part number isn’t always evident in the hundreds of models available. Hence, the next step for engineers is to learn more about ST’s LDOs and how Future can help source part numbers. The LDO Sample Kit features a QR code that leads to ST-VREG-FINDER (or ST Voltage Regulator Finder). The mobile application for iOS and Android is the fastest way to find a part number meeting precise specifications.
Once designers know what will work best in their design, the software will vastly hasten their research process. The LDO Sample Kit even includes a quick reference guide to assist teams further. Similarly, Future will also guide companies as they move toward finalizing their designs. As the world struggles with chip shortages, working closely with a supplier can make a world of difference. It can mean leaving the Chocolate Factory with a bright smile on one’s face.