Honeywell Rolls Out HMC5883 3-Axis Compass Chip for Handheld Devices

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) announced a three-axis digital compass circuit that enables directional pointing and location features in consumer electronics including handheld devices, gaming, and personal navigation systems. The Honeywell HMC5883 chip-scale three-axis compass integrated circuit delivers up to 1 degree heading accuracy from a small 3 x 3 x 0.9 mm surface-mounted chip. The HMC5883 includes a built-in offset cancellation circuit and auto calibration software that simplify the calibration process, eliminating the need to calibrate by swinging a mobile phone in a “figure eight” pattern as with other sensor technologies. In addition, patented set/reset straps that demagnetize, or degauss sensors for each measurement make the HMC5883 immune to most large magnetic disturbances, reducing the need to recalibrate.

The HMC5883 offers the highest resolution available in a chip scale package and maintains heading accuracy in reduced magnetic field environments such as buildings and automobiles, or at high earth latitudes where the declination angle of the earth’s field is difficult to sense with Hall type sensors. The HMC5883 includes three-axis Anisotropic Magnetoresistive (AMR) sensors, signal conditioning and amplification circuitry, a 12-bit analog-to-digital converter, built-in self test, and an I2C serial bus interface.

The HMC5883 has a selectable dynamic range of up to ±10 gauss, providing maximum resolution to measure earth’s magnetic field of ±0.5 gauss in mobile devices, whose stray magnetic fields are typically less than ±4 gauss, and provides better than 0.05% non-linearity over a typical operating range for precision sensing of the earth’s magnetic field. Superior resolution is maintained over the full dynamic range ensuring accuracy for a broad range of applications under demanding conditions.

“Consumer electronics can now have the accuracy of AMR sensors at the pricing of Hall-effect sensors,” said Keith Nootbaar, Sr. Director Honeywell Microelectronics and Precision Sensors. “Unlike Hall-effect type sensors, our 3-axis sensor accurately measures ultra-low Earth magnetic field strengths, even in higher latitudes such as northern US, Canada, and northern Europe or while in the presence of stray magnetic fields such as in buildings and automobiles. The high dynamic range of Hall type sensors may provide easy board design,” Nootbaar continued “but at the cost of accuracy and resolution that is required for some of the precision apps that are being developed.”

Honeywell’s HMC5883 compass chip leverages on STMicroelectronics’ manufacturing expertise and high volume capacity for LGA packages with more than 600 million motion sensors in the field and excellent acceptance from the Market,” said Benedetto Vigna, Group VP and General Mgr of MEMS, Sensors and High Performance Analog Division.

The HMC5883 is supported by a complete library of software routines for heading, auto calibration and soft iron/hard iron calibration, supporting a variety of popular mobile phone operating systems. The software is common with the recently introduced STMicroelectronics LMS303DLH six-dimensional sensor with integrated 3-axis magnetic sensor and 3-axis accelerometer, providing designers with a low risk way to support multiple integrated and federated platforms.

More information: Honeywell magnetic sensors

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Honeywell’s aerospace business is a leading global provider of integrated avionics, engines, systems and service solutions for aircraft manufacturers, airlines, business and general aviation, military, space and airport operations. Honeywell International is a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell’s shares are traded on the New York, London, and Chicago Stock Exchanges.