Author Topic: RFDuino alternatives  (Read 23600 times)

camillo777

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RFDuino alternatives
« on: March 05, 2014, 03:30:42 AM »
Hi, due to the lack of support by now for RFDuino of the RFDuino stuff and no news on new features, I was asking if there is a good alternative to RFDuino but with the same features:

1) built-in low power battery options with power level reporting and long life;
2) built-in connectivity and easy connection to existing devices (PC, Phones); BLE4 would be a plus but not a necessity by now;
3) soldering none or limited;
4) Arduino compatibility;
5) Small size;

I already know about JeeNode, Moteino, Microduino, but I think they do not have all these features packed in.

Thank you!

Best regards,
Camillo


Timmmm

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2014, 03:02:06 AM »
No. RFduino is the best option. The only BLE chips I am aware of are the CCxxxx chips from TI and the nRF51 chips from Nordic used in the RFduino. The TI chips require the purchase of a $3k compiler.

If you're concerned about the lack of support then it's probably worth buying the $100 nRF51822 dev kit which gets you access to the real SDK and all of the chip's features.

tolson

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2014, 08:17:11 AM »
Along those lines is also Nordics nRF51822-mKIT board which is similar to their evaluation kit, but uses MBED
programmer instead of the segger and sells for around $60.00 USD.

nRF51822-mKIT
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 08:20:56 AM by tolson »

Timmmm

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2014, 01:23:35 PM »
Ah yeah I forgot about that. Looks nearly identical to the eval board (I guess they reused the design?). Also worth noting that the mbed APIs are much better designed and written than Arduino's.

mtnscott

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2014, 12:55:59 PM »
tolsen,

Does the kit include the BLE stack SDK and source so you can port your arduino app over to the native nRF51822?
It may be worth the $60 just to determine how difficult it is to write apps for this platform.

I know the RFduino folks gave us into on how to throw the RFduino into the native Nordic mode, but not sure if it is a one-time program, or if you can reprogram over and over again like you can with Arduino.

Thanks!

mkay

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2014, 06:25:22 PM »
Hi mtnscott, if you switch to the Nordic SDK and delete the bootloader, you can still program the part over and over using the Nordic tools

tolson

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2014, 07:25:45 PM »
Hi mtnscott,

Using the mKIT you will be tossing out what you know about arduino and using MBED compiler concepts instead. Supposedly we will have access to the S110 library and the MBED specific loader environment. I'm waiting to see. I just got an email stating that my mKIT is finally in the mail. In theory, we should be able to tap the SWD to the RFDuino and turn it into a RFDmbed.

It would be real nice if RFdigital got a similiar deal with Nordic such that anyone who buys RFduino could access the Nordic S110 files too. RFduino should be considered a develop platform for the Nordic chip IMHO.


mtnscott

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2014, 06:35:44 PM »
Wow, I guess I forgot to get notified when this thread is added to...   Sorry for the long delay, I ordered the nRF51822 DK and realized after it arrived that two of the boards it comes with are useless unless I also have the RFgo kit.  That is another chunk of change and both mouser and digikey show it 3-weeks leadtime.  So .. I guess it does not matter as what I needed was the Segger jtag and access to the Nordic sdk.  I am just starting to install the SW and will let you know what I learn. 

First I guess I need to locate a JLINK 9-pin cortex-m adapter.  The one that somes with the kit is not easily broken out into pins that I can use with the RFduino.  I need a cable to connect to the 9 pin cortex-m plug and break into individual wires.  Anyone know where I can find one?


Timmmm

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2014, 07:35:38 AM »
Yes you can buy Cortex 10 pin cable adapters from a variety of places, e.g. here: http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?products_id=4650

However I just cut the ribbon cable and soldered the appropriate wires to pin sockets. Adafruit sell replacement cables for a few dollars if you don't want to risk your only cable.

This page is probably also useful: http://www.support.code-red-tech.com/CodeRedWiki/HardwareDebugConnections

Egg_Man

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2014, 05:06:43 PM »
So can you program the chip with the Dev Kit alone? Or is the RFGo kit really required?
$100 for the dev kit + $400 for the RFGo is a substantial investment.

It seems to me that the RFDuino is a good way to get started using the Nordic chip.
And if there is a need to start production, it's time to get a custom PCB layout.


gotnull

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2014, 05:13:07 PM »
And if there is a need to start production, it's time to get a custom PCB layout.

Using RFDuino parts? I've always wondered what would be involved in getting custom PCB's created for mass production.

1) BLE module
2) ARM/AVR compatible
3) Antennae
4) etc, etc.

Egg_Man

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2014, 04:07:20 PM »
hey gotnull,

I'm not sure when it would be worth the effort to make a custom PCB. For me it's not.

I think using RFDigital's PCB as a daughter board could work great for a lot of applications.
And I imagine they have discounts for larger orders.

There are PCBs on ebay for the same nordic chip, but idk about their quality.

sallad

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2014, 02:35:38 AM »
RFduino is a pretty nice piece of hardware, but it's lacking in pin count. FWIW, I thought I'd post about two nRF51822-based RFduino alternatives I've found. I'd like to encourage everyone who hasn't switched to using the Nordic toolchain to do so. You get so much more power and flexibility, and don't have to use the god-awful Arduino IDE.

First, a nice dev board. This board has four buttons and four LEDs, that can be connected to any pin. There's also a built-in FTDI chip whose TX/RX can be connected to any pins. There's a Cortex Debug (9-pin) connector directly on board. The only gotcha with this board is that the GND pins are not actually connected to ground until you solder three jumpers.
http://www.dhgate.com/product/nrf51822-module-wt-ble-v01-devb-bluetooth/195511953.html

For a smaller footprint, there's this board which is just slightly larger than an RFduino. http://www.aliexpress.com/item/nRF51822-module-Bluetooth-4-0-module/1656431266.html
The double-row pinout is slightly frustrating, but it can be made to work with a breadboard pretty easily by offsetting one of the rows.

There are many other nRF51822-based modules and boards, but not that many with 0.1" pin spacing.

edorphy

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2014, 08:58:26 AM »
Due to the lack of custom GATT implementations, this product is very limited. Is there any plan to add custom gatt services and characteristics?

BlueGiga makes a new product that is very appealing, can be controlled by a host MCU of your choice via serial.
https://www.bluegiga.com/en-US/products/bluetooth-4.0-modules/ble121lr-bluetooth--smart-long/

RFDuino was a great first to market iOS solution, but I think we all hope new core bluetooth low energy concepts will be exposed through API to your supporting customers.

lsnyman

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Re: RFDuino alternatives
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2014, 02:33:26 PM »
I think it depends on your own requirements and capabilities. The nice thing about using something like RFduino is that libraries and code can easily be converted which save a lot of time. If you're an advanced software guru it probably doesn't mean much to you but for most that is very useful.
RFduino have been very good so far in assisting with library and code conversions. Hopefully they will continue working on enhancements to the BLE profiles. I have found the support from other vendors to be very lacking.
For the pin count, it is lacking but using by being smart you can get around some of it, using I2C devices as mentioned before. I was using a single channel ADC for a sensor and by switching to a 4-channel ADC, I effectively gained another 3 input pins.
For now, RFduino is working for me, I wish the module price was a little lower for medium volumes.