Open-Source Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

Nordic Semiconductor recently announced the availability on Kickstarter of a Nordic nRF52832 SoC-based Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacon intended for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. You can program the Puck.js wirelessly from a website using a graphical editor or JavaScript instead of C or C++, which are traditionally used by Bluetooth low energy beacon developers.NS_PUCK Nordic

The open-source Puck.js supports both the iBeacon and Eddystone beacon formats and comes with firmware updates for the upcoming Bluetooth v5.0 specification. The circular 35-mm Puck.js has a silicone rubber cover and plastic base. Powered from a CR2032 coin cell battery, the Puck.js includes a magnetometer (digital compass), user-assignable tactile button, and four LEDs (red, green, blue, and infrared).

The Puck.js features an nRF52832 SoC, which means it benefits from a powerful ARM Cortex-M4F processor, 64-MHz clock speed, 64 KB of RAM, 512 KB of flash memory, built-in NFC, over-the-air firmware updates, a 12-bit ADC, timers, an SPI, a temperature sensor, and more.

Source: Nordic Semiconductor

Low-Power BLE Sensor Node for IoT Applications

Microchip Technology recently released a demonstration platform for the lowest-power Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensor node. The platform features an ultra-low-power BTLC1000-certified module, a SMART SAM L21 Cortex-M0+ MCU, Bosch sensor technology, and a complete software solution. The BLE demonstration platform includes source code, hardware design files, a user guide, and Android application source code.Microchip BLE Demo Platform

Features, benefits, and specs:

  • An integrated BTLC1000-MR110CA BLE module, delivering at least 30% more power savings compared to existing solutions.
  • An ultra-tiny 2.2 mm × 2.1 mm Wafer Level Chipscale Package (WLCP).
  • A SAM L21 that achieves a ULPBench score of 185, with power consumption down to 35 µA/MHz in active mode and 200 nA in sleep mode.
  • Bosch six-axis motion (BHI160) and environment (BME280) sensors that can be used for a wide variety of sensing applications.

The Ultra-Low-Power Connected Demonstrator Platform costs $39.

Source: Microchip Technology

Low-Power 12 DOF Bluetooth Smart Sensor Development Platform

Dialog Semiconductor now offers a small, low-power 12 Degrees-of-Freedom (DOF) wireless smart sensor development kit for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as wearables, virtual reality, 3-D indoor mapping, and navigation. The DA14583 SmartBond Bluetooth Smart SoC is combined with Bosch Sensortec’s gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and environmental sensors. A 16 mm × 15 mm PCB is supplied as a dongle in a plastic housing. Current consumption is only 1.3 mA (typical) when streaming sensor data; it’s less than 110 µA in advertising mode and under 11 µA in power-save mode.Dialog DS025

The complementary software development kit (SDK) includes Dialog’s SmartFusion smart sensor library for data acquisition, auto-calibration, and sensor data fusion. It runs on the DA14583’s embedded Cortex M0 processor. The DA14583 has an ARM Cortex-M0 baseband processor with an integrated ultra-low power Bluetooth Smart radio. The development kit includes the following Bosch sensors: a BMI160 six-axis inertial measurement unit, a BMM150 three-axis geomagnetic field sensor, and a BME280 integrated environmental unit, which measures pressure, temperature, and humidity.

Source: Dialog Semiconductor

Hexoskin Smart Shirt Integreates Cypress EZ-BLE PRoC Module

Hexoskin recently chose Cypress Semiconductor’s Bluetooth Smart-based EZ-BLE PRoC module for use in its Hexoskin Smart biometric-tracking shirts. Hexoskin Smart shirts feature sensors that track cardiac, respiratory, and activity data. The EZ-BLE PRoC module collects this data and pushes it to a mobile device for analysis via the free Hexoskin app or other fitness app. The module’s low power consumption more than doubles the Hexoskin’s battery life. The compact (10 mm × 10 mm × 1.8 mm) EZ-BLE PRoC module complies with wireless regulatory standards in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Korea.Cypress EZ-BLE PRoC Module

The BLE Pioneer Development Kit gives you easy access to the Cypress Bluetooth Low Energy devices. It includes a USB Bluetooth Low Energy dongle that pairs with the CySmart master emulation tool, converting a designer’s Windows PC into a Bluetooth Low Energy debug environment. The EZ-BLE PRoC module can be quickly and easily evaluated with the EZ-BLE PRoC Module Evaluation Board, which plugs into the BLE Pioneer Development Kit ( $49).

Source: Cypress Semiconductor

Client Profile: LS Research

Since 1980, companies spanning a wide range of industries have trusted LSR to help develop solutions that exceed their customers’ expectations. LSR provides an unmatched suite of both embedded wireless products and integrated services that improve speed to market and return on your development investment.SaBLE-x-Ruler-V2-275x275

LSR’s SaBLE-x Bluetooth Smart module, based on TI’s new SimpleLink CC2640 MCU, offers industry-leading RF and power performance along with LSR’s renowned support and developer tools.

LSR’s TiWi-C-W is a stand-alone WLAN (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) module that simplifies and accelerates the work of adding Wi-Fi connectivity to your products. The TiWi-C-W module is also a cloud agent for LSR’s end-to-end IoT platform, TiWiConnect.

LSR’s all-new SaBLE-x Bluetooth Smart module, based on TI’s new SimpleLink CC2640 MCU, offers industry-leading RF and power performance along with LSR’s renowned developer support and broad country certifications. The SaBLE-x can be utilized in either stand-alone mode or with an external host, and the SaBLE Tool Suite provides developers with intuitive tools that accelerates development time in integrating BLE into your products.

Win a FREE Development Kit for the SaBLE-x Bluetooth Smart module! Register to win and ONE Circuit Cellar reader will receive LSR’s SaBLE-x Development Kit ($199 value). Go to:

AIR Module Enabled by Broadcom’s WICED Smart Bluetooth Technology

Anaren’s Wireless Group announced the release of its first AIR for Wiced Smart Bluetooth module and Atmosphere on-line developer platform as part of a strategic engagement with Broadcom Corp. This new relationship advances the goal of both companies to support designers, innovators, and end-equipment manufacturers looking for intuitive, easy-to-use developer tools, like Atmosphere, that will simplify the challenge of going wireless and speed up their time to market.AnarenDevKit

In beta trials of its new module and Atmosphere tool, customers were able to get their product “proof of concept” running in 90 minutes or less. The small, low-cost module comes pre-certified to global standards and includes comprehensive technical support to the mass market group of customers.

The Anaren’s Bluetooth Smart Development Kit’s (A20737A-MSDK1) features and advantages include:

  • Broadcom’s BCM20737 SoC
  • A20737A AIR for WICED module
  • Pre-certified to FCC/IC and ETSI compliant
  • Low power consumption
  • Works in conjunction with Anaren’s online Atmosphere development tool.
  • Generates and loads embedded code on the Multi-Sensor Development Board and creates an app that can be loaded onto a Bluetooth Smart mobile device

Source: Anaren

CY8CKIT-042-BLE Bluetooth Low Energy Pioneer Kit

At just $49, Cypress Semiconductor’s CY8CKIT-042-BLE Bluetooth Low Energy Pioneer Kit is an affordable tool for creating BLE applications with a PSoC 4 and PRoC BLE devices. The kit supports system-level designs using the PSoC Creator IDE. It is compatible with Arduino shields hardware.IMG_20150106_080852956_HDR

The kit comprises:

  • BLE Pioneer Baseboard preloaded with CY8CKIT-142 PSoC 4 BLE module
  • CY5671 PRoC BLE Module
  • CY5670 – CySmart USB Dongle (BLE Dongle)
  • A quick start guide
  • USB Standard A-to-Mini-B cable
  • Four jumper wires (4 inches) and two proximity sensor wires (5 inches)
  • A coin cell (3-V CR2032)

Source:  Cypress Semiconductor

WiLink 8 Range of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Modules

Texas Instruments has announced the WiLink 8 combo connectivity modules to support Wi-Fi in the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands. The new highly integrated module family offers high throughput and extended industrial temperature range with integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The modules complement TI’s PurePath Wireless audio ICs and TI’s SimpleLink Wireless Network Processors.WiLink8TexasInstruments

WiLink 8 modules are well-suited for power-optimized designs for home and building automation, smart energy applications, wearables, and a variety of other IoT applications. The WiLink 8 modules and software are compatible and preintegrated with many processors, including TI’s Sitara processors.

The WiLink8 family offers 2.4 and 5 GHz versions that are pin-to-pin compatible. With integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the WiLink 8 modules could be used for a variety of applications.


  • An extended temperature range of –40° to 85°C required for industrial applications
  • 5-GHz modules for high-performance solutions
  • Smart energy and home gateways, which offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee coexistence, can manage multiple devices through Wi-Fi multi-channel multi-role (MCMR) capabilities
  • 1.4× the range and up to 100 Mbps throughput with TI’s WiLink 8 maximal ratio combining (MRC) and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology
  • Optimization for low-power applications with low idle connect current consumption
  • Audio streaming for home entertainment applications with both Wi-Fi and dual-mode Bluetooth/Bluetooth low energy

The WiLink 8 modules complement several TI platforms to deliver system solutions for manufacturers including WiLink 8 module-based evaluation boards (2.4 GHz-WL1835MODCOM8 and 5 GHz -WL1837MODCOM8) that are compatible with the AM335x EVM and AM437x EVM. Additionally, the WiLink 8 modules, which offer Bluetooth and Bluetooth low energy dual-mode technology, are compatible with TI’s Bluetooth portfolio that allows developers to create a complete end-to-end application.

WiLink 8 evaluation boards (WL1835MODCOM8 and WL1837MODCOM8) are currently available. WiLink 8 modules production units will be available in Q1 2015 through TI authorized distributors starting at $9.99 in 1,000-unit volumes.

FCC/CE/IC-Certified Bluetooth SMART Beacons

EM Microelectronic’s EMBC01 Bluetooth beacon recently achieved FCC certification for operation within the US, as well as IC certification in Canada and CE certification for operation in the European Union. You can use the compact EMBC01 beacon anywhere iBeacon and Bluetooth Smart v4.0 technologies are implemented.

Source: EM Microelectronic

Source: EM Microelectronic

EMBC01 features, specs, and capabilities:

  • Consumes less than 25 µA average current in a typical application
  • Operates up to 12 months from a single CR2032 battery
  • Includes ultra-low-power EM6819 microprocessor
  • Contains a built-in mode switch
  • Includes an integrated red and green LEDs for status feedback
  • Includes a miniature antenna
  • Detects beacons 75 m away by an iPhone 5S at the 0-dBm output power setting
  • Detects beacons up to 120 m at maximum output power
  • Includes optimized circuit architecture that protects against over-the-air attacks
  • Ships preprogrammed with a Renata CR2032 battery and an IP-64-certified, weatherproof plastic enclosure

The EMBC01, the EMBC01 Development Kit, and accessories are currently available. Contact EM Microelectronic for pricing.

Source: EM Microelectronic



Cypress Enters Bluetooth Low Energy Market

Cypress Semiconductor announced at Electronica 2014 two integrated, single-chip Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solutions for low-power, sensor-based Internet of Things (IoT) systems: the PSoC 4 and PRoC.

Cypress BLE Pioneer Kit

Cypress BLE Pioneer Kit

According to Cypress, the PSoC 4 BLE delivers “unprecedented ease-of-use and integration in a customizable solution for IoT applications, home automation, healthcare equipment, sports and fitness monitors, and other wearable smart devices.” The PRoC (programmable radio-on-chip) is “intended for wireless Human Interface Devices (HIDs), remote controls, and applications that require wireless connectivity.”

Cypress also announced BLE development kits and reference designs.

  • CY8CKIT-042-BLE Development Kit: The kit includes a USB BLE dongle that “pairs with the CySmart master emulation tool, converting a designer’s Windows PC into a Bluetooth LE debug environment.”
  • CY5672 PRoC BLE Remote Control Reference Design Kit: The remote control has a trackpad to detect two- and one-finger gestures and includes a built-in microphone.
  • CY5682 PRoC BLE Touch Mouse Reference Design Kit: The touch mouse reference design includes buttons that map to common user interface shortcuts for Windows 8.

According to Cypress, the PSoC 4 BLE and PRoC BLE solutions are currently sampling in 68-ball CSP and 56-pin QFN packages.  Production is expected in December 2014.

Source: Cypress Semiconductor

Embedded Bluetooth Modules for the Internet of Things

ASIX Electronics Corp. has launched five AXB series embedded Bluetooth modules, the AXB031/AXB033 for Internet of Things applications and the AXB051/AXB052/AXB081 for wireless audio applications. You can connect the AXB modules to any MCU with UART interface, or you can operate it as a standalone unit without an MCU.ASIX-BT_Modules

The Bluetooth 4.0 AXB031 and AXB033 modules are well suited for wearable applications, such as medical sensors and activity monitors, as well as commercial/industrial automation and smart home applications.

According to the company’s release, ASIX offers “developers a full-featured Bluetooth Smart stacks and application development environment to make it easy to add Bluetooth Smart to embedded system. In addition, ASIX also provides a dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0 audio module, AXB081, and two Bluetooth 3.0 audio modules, AXB051/AXB052, for the fast-growing wireless audio applications, such as wireless stereo speakers, headphones, home theater, automotive hands-free, and MirrorLink car player applications.”

Source: ASIX

Bluetooth Haptic Kit

Texas Instruments recently introduced an innovative wireless haptic development kit. The DRV2605EVM-BT haptic Bluetooth kit comprises a 32-mm square PCB containing a DRV2605 haptic driver chip that controls an eccentric rotating mass motor (ERM) and a linear resonant actuator (LRA) to produce vibrations. The DRV2605 has an integrated library with more than 100 effects licensed from Immersion Corp.

Texas Instruments DRV2605EVM-BT haptic Bluetooth kit

Texas Instruments DRV2605EVM-BT haptic Bluetooth kit

You can use a circle of LEDs to display visual alerts. The board might be useful to speed up development times when designing and testing haptic effects in applications such as: watches, fitness trackers, wearables, portable medical equipment, touch screens, displays, and other devices requiring tactile feedback.

A SimpleLink Bluetooth low-energy CC2541 wireless microcontroller communicates with a free iOS app running on an iPhone or iPad. The app allows you to play predefined library waveforms, create new waveform sequences, and assign waveform sequences to in-app notifications. The app can also be used to quickly configure the DRV2605’s internal register settings: select between an ERM or LRA actuator, set the rated and overdrive voltages, configure and run autocalibration, send direct I2C commands, as well as set up the board to respond to a GPIO trigger.

The DRV2605EVM-BT haptic Bluetooth kit costs $99.

Source: Texas Instruments

New PIC32 Bluetooth Starter Kit

Microchip Technology recently announced the new PIC32 Bluetooth Starter Kit, which is intended for low-cost applications such as a Bluetooth thermostat, wireless diagnostic tools, and Bluetooth GPS receivers. According to Microchip, the kit includes “a PIC32 microcontroller, HCI-based Bluetooth radio, Cree high-output multi-color LED, three standard single-color LEDs, an analog three-axis accelerometer, analog temperature sensor, and five push buttons for user-defined inputs.”

PIC32 Bluetooth Starter Kit (Source: Microchip Technology)

PIC32 Bluetooth Starter Kit (Source: Microchip Technology)

PICkit On Board (PKOB) eliminates the need for an external debugger/programmer, USB connectivity, and GPIOs for rapid development of Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP), USB and general-purpose applications.  The starter kit also features a plug-in interface for an audio CODEC daughter card. The kit’s PIC32MX270F256D microcontroller operates at 83 DMIPS with 256-KB flash memory and 64-KB RAM.

The PIC32 Bluetooth Starter Kit is supported by Microchip’s free MPLAB X IDE and MPLAB Harmony Integrated Software Framework.  Additionally, the free Quick Start Package is available with an Android application development environment. It also includes a free SDK with the application source code and binary for Microchip’s Bluetooth SPP library.  Both are optimized for the on-board PIC32 MCU and are available for free at


The PIC32 Bluetooth Starter Kit costs $79.99.

RN4020 Bluetooth Smart Module

Microchip Technology recently announced its first Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy module, the RN4020, which carries both worldwide regulatory certifications and is Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) certified. The integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) stack and on-board support for the common SIG low-energy profiles speeds time to market while ensuring Bluetooth compatibility, eliminating expensive certification costs and reducing development risks. The module comes preloaded with the Microchip Low-energy Data Profile (MLDP), which enables designers to easily stream any type of data across the BTLE link. MicrochipRN4020

The RN4020 is a stack-on-board module, so it can connect to any microcontroller with a UART interface, including hundreds of PIC MCUs, or it can operate standalone without an MCU for basic data collection and communication, such as a beacon or sensor. Standalone operation is facilitated by Microchip’s unique no-compile scripting, which allows module configuration via a simple ASCII command interface—no tools or compiling are required.

The RN4020 Bluetooth Low Energy Module is available for $6.78 each in 1,000-unit quantities.

[Via Microchip Technology]

July Issue Offers Data-Gathering Designs and More

The concept of the wireless body-area network (WBAN), a network of wireless wearable computing devices, holds great promise in health-care applications.

Such a network could integrate implanted or wearable sensors that provide continuous mobile health (mHealth) monitoring of a person’s most important “vitals”—from calorie intake to step count, insulin to oxygen levels, and heart rate to blood pressure. It could also provide real-time updates to medical records through the Internet and alert rescue or health-care workers to emergencies such as heart failures or seizures.

Data Gathering DesignsConceivably, the WBAN would need some sort of controller, a wearable computational “hub” that would track the data being collected by all the sensors, limit and authorize access to that information, and securely transmit it to other devices or medical providers.

Circuit Cellar’s July issue (now available online for membership download or single-issue purchase)  features an essay by Clemson University researcher Vivian Genaro Motti, who discusses her participation in the federally funded Amulet project.

Amulet’s Clemson and Dartmouth College research team is prototyping pieces of “computational jewelry” that can serve as a body-area network’s mHealth hub while being discreetly worn as a bracelet or pendant. Motti’s essay elaborates on Amulet’s hardware and software architecture.

Motti isn’t the only one aware of the keen interest in WBANs and mHealth. In an interview in the July issue, Shiyan Hu, a professor whose expertise includes very-large-scale integration (VLSI), says that many of his students are exploring “portable or wearable electronics targeting health-care applications.”

This bracelet-style Amulet developer prototype has an easily accessible board.

This bracelet-style Amulet developer prototype has an easily accessible board.

Today’s mHealth market is evident in the variety of health and fitness apps available for your smartphone. But the most sophisticated mHealth technologies are not yet accessible to embedded electronics enthusiasts. (However, Amulet has created a developer prototype with an easily accessible board for tests.)

But market demand tends to increase access to new technologies. A BCC Research report predicts the mHealth market, which hit $1.5 billion in 2012, will increase to $21.5 billion by 2018. Evolving smartphones, better wireless coverage, and demands for remote patient monitoring are fueling the growth. So you can anticipate more designers and developers will be exploring this area of wearable electronics.

In addition to giving you a glimpse of technology on the horizon, the July issue provides our staple of interesting projects and DIY tips you can adapt at your own workbench. For example, this issue includes articles about microcontroller-based strobe photography; a thermal monitoring system using ANT+ wireless technology; a home solar-power setup; and reconfiguring and serial backpacking to enhance LCD user interfaces.

We’re also improving on an “old” idea. Some readers may recall contributor Tom Struzik’s 2010 article about his design for a Bluetooth audio adapter for his car (“Wireless Data Exchange: Build a 2,700-lb. Bluetooth Headset,” Circuit Cellar 240).

In the July issue, Struzik writes about how he solved one problem with his design: how to implement a power supply to keep the phone and the Bluetooth adapter charged.

“To run both, I needed a clean, quiet, 5-V USB-compatible power supply,” Struzik says. “It needed to be capable of providing almost 2 A of peak current, most of which would be used for the smartphone. In addition, having an in-car, high-current USB power supply would be good for charging other devices (e.g., an iPhone or iPad).”

Struzik’s July article describes how he built a 5-V/2-A automotive isolated switching power supply. The first step was using a SPICE program to model the power supply before constructing and testing an actual circuit. Struzik provides something extra with his article: a video tutorial explaining how to use Linear Technology’s LTspice simulator program for switching design. It may help you design your own circuit.

This is Tom Struzik's initial test circuit board, post hacking. A Zener diode is shown in the upper right, a multi-turn trimmer for feedback resistor is in the center, a snubber capacitor and “stacked” surface-mount design (SMD) resistors are on the center left, USB D+/D– voltage adjust trimmers are on top center, and a “test point” is shown in the far lower left. If you’re looking for the 5-V low dropout (LDO) regulator, it’s on the underside of the board in this design.

This is Tom Struzik’s initial test circuit board, post hacking. A Zener diode is shown in the upper right, a multi-turn trimmer for feedback resistor is in the center, a snubber capacitor and “stacked” surface-mount design (SMD) resistors are on the center left, USB D+/D– voltage adjust trimmers are on top center, and a “test point” is shown in the far lower left. If you’re looking for the 5-V low dropout (LDO) regulator, it’s on the underside of the board in this design.