Decaf Series Overview

Last Update: May 25, 2023 @ 09:53
When your laboratory, workshop or environmental process management project requires sensor and controls, USB devices are usually the simplest way to handle this. The Decaf Series of USB devices provides a wide range of capabilities, and come in two general types: with an LCD and some I/O, and as a sensor and control I/O device, or IOC. See the table below for comparison.

This table provides information on the features implemented in PiXCL Firmware for each Decaf Board.
All Decaf boards use STMicroelectronics STM32F based ARM MCUs that have varying peripheral and memory sizes based on part number.

Decaf BoardLCD Display FormatDigital InputsDigital OutputsAnalog InputsSPI ChannelsMCU, Clock Frequency, Flash, RAM
Decaf IOC-M-2None88 + 2 Control21STM32F103C8T, 72 MHz, 64 kB, 20kB
Decaf IOC-2xeNone16168STM32F103VET, 72 MHz, 512 kB, 64 kB
Decaf IOC-235480 x 3208842STM32F103VET, 72 MHz, 512 kB, 64 kB
Decaf IOC-350800 x 480888STM32F103ZGT. 72MHz, 1024 kB, 96 kB
Decaf IOC-370800 x 480888STM32F103ZGT, 72MHz, 1024 kB, 96 kB
Decaf IOC-280Z-4320x24088 + 2 Control41STM32F407ZET, 168 MHz, 512 kB, 192 kB


Decaf boards and the PiXCL software are designed to greatly simplify the integration of sensor and control I/O and user interaction in your environmental or process monitoring projects.


Typical block diagram showing hosts and various Decaf boards.

For example, a Windows host PC can have multiple Decaf USB devices connected locally, each with sensors or controls connected, with an app being the main user interaction and data processing point. A Decaf board with its own LCD can provide local control and user interaction as needed, while reporting events and data to the host app.

All Decaf boards include a Real Time Clock (RTC) that can be set and queried by your apps. Data events can be time stamped if needed. LCD boards have a battery backup for the RTC. If required, an app can set the RTC date-time on all connected boards.

Similarly, a networked Decaf NHC-5a Android node can have multiple Decaf boards connected, and perform data management and compression if needed, before that data is sent to a processing center or app on another PC or server.

The same applies in general to Decaf boards connected to a Raspberry Pi.

PiXCL ISC Software

The PiXCL Code Studio runs in Windows 10 (32 and 64 bit), and provides the easy-to-learn app development tool where all Decaf board users will start. PiXCL ISC is a high level interpreted language that is largely self-documenting and can be used to create very capable desktop apps that include imaging and video operations. It also includes a comprehensive set of commands (around 100) that support all the Decaf LCD and IOC boards for sensor inputs, control outputs and user interaction on the LCD models.

Decaf board command support functions are implemented in a separate DLL that can be called from C++ or C# projects. The Decaf SDK may be available Q2 2023. 

We have been developing the libraries and support documentation to use Decaf boards directly on linux systems. Initially this will be for the Raspberry Pi, including sample code to create desktop apps. We expect availability by Q2 2020.

Decaf boards come ready to run with all necessary firmware already loaded, and appear to the host system as a USB Human Interface Device (HID), and uses the standard HID driver for the target operating system.

So… no searching for unsupported drivers.

Decaf firmware (current v22.1) can be expected to evolve as we add more or different functionality, and if necessary, fix any bugs that might be identified. We provide a set of utilities available from the Support Pages (UserID and Password is required) to simplify the update process.

This means … no requirement to send the board back for upgrades. New firmware binaries are downloaded from the Support Pages. Installation typically takes less than 5 minutes. No extra hardware (JTAG or ST-Link) is required.

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