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QCard™ - a tiny low cost single board computer for data acquisition and instrument control

tiny single board computer for data acquisition and instrument control

A Tiny Yet Versatile Embedded Computer

The QCard™ packs a programmable computer, up to 1 megabyte of memory, communications, analog and digital I/O, and an expansion I/O bus on a tiny low-cost board. This 2" x 2.5" single board computer is perfect for space-constrained applications and dramatically cuts the cost of data acquisition and control. It is ideal for machine automation, industrial control, robotics, handheld data acquisition, and portable scientific instruments.

The I/O-rich QCard hosts a 16 MHz Motorola 68HC11F1 microprocessor, 512K Flash and 128K RAM (expandable to 512K), and 512 bytes of EEPROM. On-board I/O includes 8 digital I/O lines with counter/timer capabilities, 8 analog inputs, a fast synchronous SPI serial interface, and dual RS232/485 serial ports. An optional real-time clock tracks the calendar and time of day and battery-backs the 128K RAM.

The QCard is easily programmable in C, Forth or Assembly using any PC. Embedded programming tools include an interactive debugger, a multitasking executive, and comprehensive device-driver libraries.

To communicate with the QCard via USB, order a USB to RS232 adapter and cable (see QCC-USB option below).

Turn your instrument into an embedded web server

Use Mosaic's EtherSmart Wildcard, a 2x2.5" modular board to web-enable your QCard. The Ethersmart Wildcard enables communications between your instrument and other computers or peripherals via a Local Area Network (LAN) using the standard packet-based Ethernet signaling protocol. Simply plug a standard Ethernet cable into the RJ-45 jack on the Wildcard, and your instrument can communicate with other computers on a Local Area Network (LAN). Want to go wireless? Use the WiFi Wildcard which implements a wireless interface via a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) using the standard 802.11b/g packet-based protocol. Your application program can send emails to alert other computers on the network when significant events occur. You can even "browse into" your instrument using any standard web browser running on an online PC to monitor the status of your instrument.

Expandable I/O

Convenient connectors allow for simple mechanical integration. Like all of Mosaic's embedded controllers with low cost A/D D/A, the QCard can directly host I/O expansion modules called the Wildcards™ that you can mix and match depending on your application. Up to four easy-to-use Wildcards can stack onto the 24 pin Wildcard connector on the QCard. A convenient Docking Panel™ - a 4"x 2.5" module includes an efficient switching power regulator and expands the Wildcard bus to host up to 8 Wildcards. For space constrained applications, cosnsider a Slim PowerDock. Measuring just 2" x 2.5", it hosts a high-efficiency 1 amp 5 volt switching power supply, dual DB9 serial connectors, I/O connectors, a power jack, a power switch, and hosts up to 4 Wildcards.

Wildcards implement a wide variety of user interface, communications, embedded data acquisition and control capabilities. Available Wildcards include GPS tracking, Ethernet and WiFi communications, Keypad/Display module, octal 12-bit D/A and 16-bit A/D converters, a 24-bit resolution analog data acquisition subsystem, compact flash card mass memory interface, fast buffered RS232/485 dual UART, high voltage/high current isolated I/O, and AC or DC solid state relays. You can select the Wildcards that meet your needs to configure a cost-effective customized controller for your application.

Fast time to market

For a quick and easy start, to rapidly prototype using the QCard, order a QCard Starter Kit
(Part No. QCSK), which includes a QCard (p/n QCC-RB) with 128K RAM, 512K Flash, and a real time clock; a 4" x2.5" version of the PowerDock (p/n PDW) to provide mechanical and electronic platform for your QCard and for up to eight Wildcards; a 9 pin serial cable, an 8VDC wall-mount power supply and documentation

Block Diagram

block diagram of the QCard, the single board computer for data acquisition and instrument control



  • 16 MHz Motorola MC68HC11F1 microcontroller, 1 MB address space.

Onboard Memory

  • 512K Flash
  • 128K RAM (or optional 512K RAM)
  • 320 bytes of EEPROM
  • Optional battery backup of 128K RAM

Real-Time Clock

  • Optional battery-backed real-time clock


  • 21 interrupts support the 68HC11's on-chip I/O


  • RS232 or RS485 hardware UART at up to 19.2 Kbaud
  • RS232 software UART at up to 4800 baud
  • Fast synchronous serial peripheral interface (SPI) at up to 2 megabaud


  • 5 VDC at 150 mA

Timer Controlled Input and Output

  • 8 bitwise programmable I/O (2 used for the secondary serial port), including 3 or 4 input captures, 4 or 5 output compares, and a pulse accumulator

8-bit Analog to Digital Conversion

  • 8 input channels, up to 100 kHz sampling rate
  • May be used as digital inputs

Runtime Security

  • A watchdog timer and clock monitor


  • 24-pin 0.1" pitch dual row Wildcard bus connector
  • 24-pin 0.1" pitch dual row field bus connector
  • 10-pin 0.1" pitch dual row serial connector
  • 7-pin 2mm pitch single row power connector

I/O Expansion

  • QCard directly hosts 4 Wildcards; with PowerDock, hosts up to 8 Wildcards
  • Wildcards provide additional I/O for:
    • 4 x 20 character display and 5 x 4 keypad
    • 16- or 24-bit resolution A/D
    • 12-bit D/A
    • Isolated AC or DC solid state relays
    • 64 or 128 Mbyte Compact Flash
    • Logic level, high voltage, and high current digital I/O
    • Fully buffered dual RS232, RS422 or RS485 up to 56Kbaud
QCard Controller Digital and Analog I/O Summary
Signal Group # Signals Configurable as Committed Uncommitted Digital I/O
CPU Port A 8 Bitwise I/O 2[2nd Serial Port] 6
CPU Port E 8 Digital or Analog Input 8[8-bit A/D] 0
Totals 16   10 6


  • Process Control
  • Robotics
  • Instrument Control
  • Laboratory Automation
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Product Upgrades
  • Data Logging
  • Smart Front Ends
  • Temperature Control
  • Solenoid Control
  • Valve Control
  • Signal Processing
  • Communications
Ordering Information
Part Number Product

QCard Controller

Includes 128K RAM and 512K Flash


Options: (add price to the standard product)


512K RAM replaces 128K RAM (cannot be battery-backed)

-RB Real-time clock and battery backup for 128K RAM (does not back up 512K RAM)


USB2.0 to RS232 adapter and 10 pin dual DB9F QCard communications cable


QCard Starter Kit

Includes a QCard (p/n QCC-RB) with 128K RAM, 512K Flash, and a real time clock; a 4" x2.5" version of the PowerDock (p/n PDW) to provide mechanical and electronic platform for your QCard and for up to eight Wildcards; a 9 pin serial cable, an 8VDC wall-mount power supply and documentation (Limit of 1 Starter Kit per Customer at this low price).


QCard Starter Kit with a USB adapter

Includes a QCard (p/n QCC-RB-USB) with 128K RAM, 512K Flash, and a real time clock; a 4" x2.5" version of the PowerDock (p/n PDW), a 9 pin serial cable, a USB2.0 to RS232 adapter and a 10 pin dual DB9 communications cable, an 8VDC wall-mount power supply and documentation.

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