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Thread: USB-C for Teensy

  1. #1
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    USB-C for Teensy

    What do you think about the following add-on board for Teensy:

    2 USB-C with full feature, so can be connected in daisy-chain for every feature, including, power, Thunderbolt, HDMI, etc.
    2 USB3.0 ports, one for connecting to the Teensy and one spare, so can use an I2S bridge (mentioned in the other post), or simply connect some peripheral, or the Teensy host

    The hub is a multi-host, so every participant can be host, configurable by Teensy via GPIO in either automatic (if supported by OS) or auto-hardlocked (one host compliant mode).
    The multi-host is important in order to have the daisy-chain feature, where host can be either side.

    So Teensy could as well control a peripheral connected to USB-C or the spare USB3.0, which would then obviously make this port to USB2.0

    All on a tiny board.

    The questions are now:

    Would you buy this as a ready-made add-on?
    Would you prefer a Teensy with the USB-C feature built in?

    What would you like to invest to gain that feature?

    This is to determine whether I make a series of boards to sell, of maybe propose the design to PJRC for making a compact Teensy with the USB-C feature built-in (actually very easy to add to the existing boards).

    It's already designed and working in an other project and need only be adopted to Teensy, so it is almost here if you want it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    One thing that might be interesting in the board is to be able to set USB C-PD (power distribution levels). Sparkfun has a board, but it is kind of pricey at $24 just for the USB C-PD support (IMHO). If combined with a full board with other things, the price issue might not be as big of a deal:


    Obviously if you do this, you need a level shifter for the Teensy. But you may want to have some pins to allow hooking up various motors and servos. I could imagine saying, I want to control a motor running at 9v, and have the Teensy control pin(s) level shifted up to 9v at a speed to allow PWM signals to control the motor.

    In addition to motors, I believe there are 12v LED strings similar to WS2812B/neopixels that people use.

    I'm not sure the Teensy is fast enough to consume or generate a raw HDMI video stream for larger screens, unless you plug in something like the Gamedunio Dazzler (or provide similar functionality):


    I wonder if the Teensy audio library could be convinced to put out a HDMI audio stream (or consume such a stream).

    One obvious thing (to me) that would be useful is to have a bunch of USB C and USB 3.0 A slots, and have the Teensy be able to enable/disable each of these ports, so that it could turn on/off remote things.

    IIRC, USB C includes the option for ethernet. It may or may not make sense for a board variant to have the 6 pins for Teensy 4.1 ethernet support.

    Take a look at the Sparkfun Micromod setup for thoughts on a future design:


    It may be a new market to make a board that uses Micromod connectors. Paul has said that a Micromod Teensy is likely on the way, and some have been teasing looking at the Teensy 1.54 beta releases to see what pins will be available.

    In a lot of projects, I need to be able to do things via battery. I suspect the normal lipo battery chargers might not work for a board like this. I would tend to use one of the recent USB batteries that can provide USB C-PD support. I don't know USB internals, but I could imagine wanting a setup where you might want to charge the battery if the unit is connected to a wall socket, without having to rewire things.

    But perhaps others need different batteries, and perhaps have a 18650 (or multiple 18650's) battery and charger.

    In terms of investing, I dunno, it depends on what I'm interested in at the moment, and what the specific features offered are.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the comment.
    As written, the power feature is on board already, so it can distribute power from USB-C to USB-C and also power the other two USB3 ports as well, as provide power from an attached battery, within the limit is is 5V2A only. Did not mention the latter explicitly, as it will not be able to power a laptop from a LiPo cell.

    Target is a transparent and lossless daisy-chain feature with branching out two USB3 ports,so if the board is connected, the full functionality of the USB-C can be handed over to other peripherals chained, be it a monitor, an ethernet, a mass storage, PCIe interface, power supply, whatsoever.
    It is a very simplistic design with a special hub-controller that allows such features.
    An HDMI or other high speed interface to Teensy is not intended, as it will anyway be too sophisticated and ressource-heavy for the Teensy4.x
    As far as I have the specs, ethernet is not a common feature on the USB-C. Such interace is usually made with a USB-to-ethernet controller, but I may be wrong here, as USB-C is constantly developing and my project is on since a year already.

    Basically, as described, the board is a very compact and convenient USB-C to USB interface tailored for the Teensy, with some "non-blocking" daisy chain features, so the Teensy does not consume one of the few precious USB-C ports found on modern laptop/tablet.

    About investment:
    Yes, the more people want more boards, the cheaper it would get, that is, one might as well buy more boards than actually needed right now, to promote the project, or a shop might want to order a pack of boards to sell them. A target price tag could be raoundabout 20 to 30 Euros in a range of sub 100 items made, but there is great potential to cut the price per item in half in higher volumes.

    If I see no need of this board, I will not make a Teensy special. As written, the design is there already, but still it would involve the PCB spin and investing from my side, but this is not going to happen if I see it will not be found useful in the Teensy world.

    This USB-C add on could be a first foot in the door for upcoming developments with USB-C and upcoming Teensy.

    Just making a connector breakout or adding a different connector to the Teensy as it is now plus two resistors for basic power draw, is just the same thing as it is now, just an other cable needed. Occupying a USB-C exclusively takes a lot of fun out of the game, especially with devices haveing just one port for it all.

    Ok, a similar functionality could be achieved with one of these 18-in-1 USB-C hubs available everywhere for 20 Euros, but it would involve messy cabling and another black box with more features that rather fail than being needed and still taking away Thunderbolt.

    So that is why I am asking here.

  4. #4
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    PJRC should have a list of all the boards available as an addon to the Teensy. They could resell boards, and take a cut. Quite possibly even distribute those boards to 3rd parties where Teensy is resold. Teensy can become a wholesale distributor of sorts. I have a relatively strong disinterest in advertising and distribution. :-) We could also list all the boards somewhere as a community on a github repo or something. It would be nice at least to see what is out there.

    Deleted User, I see you have some projects you are looking to commercialize. I wish you great luck in finding a viable product to sell.

  5. #5
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    Well, it is less an issue of commercialisation, but more an issue of hobbyist assembly and distributor availability of parts.
    The FBGA is not easy to solder to a a board, as is with the USB-C connectors, that are small, have small contacts, but need proper assembly to last.
    We are talking about very high bus speeds, where even a small imperfection on the signal lines washes out a signal. So there is no use for a PCB maker file other than in a completely controlled process, where even the material of the PCB matters.
    Also, I am not willing to do support to makers who change something in the design and render it non-fuctional.
    And, if others commercialise the project, I'd like to get my share. The same applies to the USB audio interface.

  6. #6
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    PJRC should have a list of all the boards available as an addon to the Teensy.

    We do indeed have that list. On the products page, scroll down to "Products for Teensy From Other Companies" and "DIY Products, Some Assembly Required".

    https://www.pjrc.com/store/

    Admittedly this list hasn't been updated in months. If you know of new products which should be on this list, please let me know. A reply on this thread should be enough.

    Edit: updating the list right now, to add several new products...


    They could resell boards, and take a cut. Quite possibly even distribute those boards to 3rd parties where Teensy is resold. Teensy can become a wholesale distributor of sorts.
    Robin & I are definitely not looking to become a marketplace, neither by stocking 3rd party goods (eg, like "ships from Amazon") nor as sales brokering site. Tindie already has a maker-focused marketplace which has substantial investment from Supplyframe and tie-ins with Hackaday. Crowd Supply combines a marketplace with crowd funding. I'm pretty sure our best efforts at a marketplace would not rival Tindie or Crowd Supply.
    Last edited by PaulStoffregen; 12-10-2020 at 12:51 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulStoffregen View Post
    We do indeed have that list. On the products page, scroll down to "Products for Teensy From Other Companies" and "DIY Products, Some Assembly Required".

    https://www.pjrc.com/store/

    Admittedly this list hasn't been updated in months. If you know of new products which should be on this list, please let me know. A reply on this thread should be enough.
    The SmartLed shield probably should be amplified. There are two SmartLed products.

    The V4 product is for Teensy 3.2, 3.5, and 3.6, and it is available at Sparkfun, Adafruit, and their distributors:


    The V5 product is just coming out. Originally Crowdsupply did the original versions (with mouser doing fufillment), but it is now being rolled out to the resellers (Mouser, Sparkfun, Adafruit, etc.):


    In terms of feather adapter, there are some issues with adapting anything but the Teensy 3.2. I put a list of the compatibility notes here:


    Talldog has a Teensy 4.0 breakout board in addition to the 3.2 and 3.5/3.6 boards:


    The Slim Micro-SD product for Teensy 3.2 has been out of stock for over a year:


    The Arduino Shield and Proto board by Petit Studio at tindie is no longer being offered for sale.

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