RS Components today announced the launch of a new family of ‘DesignSpark Synergy’ boards. The boards are part of its ongoing collaboration with ARM for advanced mbed microcontroller module-based embedded development, with the first three members in the new DesignSpark Synergy family being the AnimatronicLab, the AudioCODEC and the DisplayBoard.

Engineers can pre-register their interest at, with the full range of boards being stocked and available on RS websites during Q2 2012.

Embedded system developers can simply plug their mbed microcontroller module into these ready-made application-specific breakout boards and take full advantage of the interface features available via the NXP LPC1768 Cortex-M3 mbed microcontroller module, providing easy access to peripherals such as I2S, USB and Ethernet. The board hardware designs are also available in DesignSpark PCB, at, which is fast becoming the preferred choice of PCB design software for the open-source community. Embedded developers can take the existing Synergy breakout board designs, modify, add and remove sections and re-publish their designs for the DesignSpark community.

“The DesignSpark Synergy boards represent a key milestone in the creation of an innovative mbed microcontroller based hardware prototyping ecosystem,” said Mark Cundle, Technical Marketing Manager, RS Components. “This new family enables embedded engineers to use DesignSpark PCB and quickly develop and prototype their designs in a myriad of exciting applications.”

Particularly useful for experimenting with Animatronics applications, the AnimatronicLab board opens up the mbed module to a whole range of functions by allowing quick and easy access to its features via the I2S, I2C, SPI, Ethernet and USB pin headers. Primarily aimed at rapid prototyping, its feature set makes this a highly functional platform for a wide variety of applications. The inclusion of convenient test points for probes, oscilloscopes and even protocol analysers brings a new dimension of visibility in the lab environment. The on-board half bridge driver allows the easy control of stepper motors, actuators or even LEDs. The board also allows engineers to plug in the AudioCODEC board for high-quality audio via I2S. Based on the highly popular TLV320AIC23B audio codec from Texas Instruments, the AudioCODEC board allows audio playback and recording at a range of resolutions and sample rates. Together the boards allow experimentation with movement, light and audio all on the same platform.

Using a separately plugged in mbed microcontroller module, the DisplayBoard provides users with a wide range of experimentation options. Offering an array of six large seven-segment display modules and associated drivers, the board’s flexible design means it can display a wide range of data types. The board is ideal for displaying clocks, timers and counters, either stand-alone or via a network.

All the necessary source code and software drivers for the three DesignSpark Synergy boards are available via the mbed Cookbook at, which offers user-contributed libraries and further development resources. Example applications programs for all the boards are also available.

RS will be previewing its DesignSpark Synergy boards at Embedded World, Nuremburg, Germany from 28 February to 1 March 2012. To see them in action and be in with a chance of winning one, visit the RS stand in Hall 1, Stand 156.

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