Microchip Launches Utility-Band Power-Line Soft-Modem Development Kit

Microchip AC164145

6 kbps Software Modem Enables Low-Cost Communication and Control in Utility Power Meter, In-Home Energy Monitoring and Control, and Smart-Grid Applications

Microchip Technology Inc., a leading provider of microcontroller, analog and Flash-IP solutions, today announced a Power-Line Modem (PLM) PICtail Plus Daughter Board Development Kit (part # AC164145) that is compliant with the utility frequency band and enables products to communicate using the same wiring that provides power, creating an instant network at a low system and deployment cost. The kit provides communication over power lines using a Binary Phase Shift Keying modulation scheme, with the onboard modem using the CELENEC A utility frequency baseband of 72 kHz, for communication at a rate of 6 kilobits per second (kbps). Additionally, the modem hardware is universal power-line compatible, and can operate on 110V or 220V electrical systems. The soft modem is based upon the scalable dsPIC33F Digital Signal Controller (DSC) architecture and interfaces with Microchip’s Explorer 16 Development Board. It is supported with royalty-free schematics, demo code and software in source-code format, all of which is available for download.

Power-Line Modem (PLM) PICtail Plus Daughter Board AC164145

The trend toward power-line communication is growing in response to increasing market demands for connected products. Applications for power-line communication include utility power meters, in-home energy monitoring and control, and smart-grid applications. Following the launch of its consumer-band PLM PICtail Plus Daughter Board Development Kit earlier this year, the utility-band PLM PICtail Plus Daughter Board Development Kit comes with two nodes, providing point-to-point communication out of the box, meaning customers can have the daughter board running a selection of demos in a matter of minutes. The BPSK scheme provides a robust modulation method that performs well in noisy environments, and the data rate can be selected in software. Additionally, having a large portfolio of dsPIC33F DSCs to choose from allows the customer to select a device that matches the requirements of their application, and that optimizes performance and cost.

“Microchip is expanding its presence in communications and connectivity by offering its second low-cost power line carrier solution,” said Sumit Mitra, vice president of Microchip’s High-Performance Microcontroller Division. “As demand for new utility meters and infrastructure continue to grow, we will support our customers’ needs by offering this Utility A-band design based upon our popular PICtail Plus and Explorer 16 development systems.”

Pricing & Availability

The PLM PICtail Plus Daughter Board Development Kit (part # AC164145, $225.00) includes two daughter boards and two sets of high-voltage adapter cables. It comes with royalty-free schematics, demo code and software in source-code format, and is supported by the free MPLAB IDE.


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