Tag Archives: bluetooth low energy

A multi-protocol SoC for ultra low-power wireless applications

The nRF52840 SoC of Nordic Semiconductor is based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F CPU running at 64 MHz with flash and RAM integrated on chip. Ultra low-power wireless applications can use this advanced multi-protocol SoC with different communication protocols.  The 2.4 GHz transceiver supports Bluetooth low energy (Bluetooth 5), 802.15.4, ANT and proprietary protocols. The transceiver also supports high resolution RSSI measurement and automated processes to reduce CPU load. Moreover, EasyDMA for direct data memory access and packet assembly provides full support for hardware (figure 1). The device maintains the compatibility with existing products such as nRF52, nRF51 and nRF24 series.

ultra low-power wireless applications
Figure 1: Block diagram of the nRF52840 SoC

Bluetooth 5 and SoC

Bluetooth 5 (500kbs e 125kbs) is the latest version of the well-known wireless technology. It increases the range of four times and the throughput of eight times, making this technology much more suitable for ultra low-power wireless applications such as wearable, Smart Home and more generally for Internet-related applications (IoT, IIoT). The ultra low power consumption of the Bluetooth 5 protocol facilitates high performance, advertising extension and modulation schemes.

nRF52840 SoC uses power management resources to maximize job processes and achieve an optimal energy efficiency. The power supply ranges between 1.7V and 5.5V ensures a wide choice of batteries. In addition, SoC can also work with USB direct power supply without external regulators. Especially relevant, all devices have automatic clock management with adaptive features to maintain minimal power consumption.

Features:

  • multi-protocol SoC
  • 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F Processor
  • 1.7v to 5.5v operation
  • 1MB flash + 256kB RAM
  • Bluetooth 5 support for long range and high throughput
  • 802.15.4 radio support
  • On-chip NFC
  • PPI –Programmable Peripheral Interconnect
  • Automated power management system with automatic power management of each peripheral
  • Configurable I/O mapping for analog and digital I/O
  • 48 x GPIO
  • 1 x QSPI
  • 4 x Master/Slave SPI
  • 2 x Two-wire interface (I²C)
  • I²S interface
  • 2 x UART
  • 4 x PWM
  • USB 2.0 controller
  • ARM TrustZone CryptoCell-310 Cryptographic and security module
  • AES 128-bit ECB/CCM/AAR hardware accelerator
  • Digital microphone interface (PDM)
  • Quadrature decoder
  • 12-bit ADC
  • Low power comparator
  • On-chip 50Ω balun
  • On-air compatible with nRF52, nRF51 and nRF24 Series

Development kit

The NRF52840-PDK is a versatile development kit based on nRF52840 SoC for the development of projects by using Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT, 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz protocols. Moreover, It is also hardware-compatible with the Arduino Uno R3 standard, allowing to use third-party compatible shields. Adding an NFC antenna, the kit enables the NFC tag feature (figure 2 and 3).

ultra low-power wireless applications
Figure 2: NRF52840-PDK development kit

 

ultra low-power wireless applications
Figure 3: block diagram of the NRF52840-PDK development kit

 

Tyre pressure monitoring system using Bluetooth Low Energy

A tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) aims to monitor air pressure on various automotive systems. The most common TPMS sensors mainly use sub-GHz radio standards to transfer information to the vehicle’s computer. There are two different types: direct (dTPMS) and indirect (iTPMS). The use of bluetooth low energy (BLE) connectivity makes it possible offering a high performance. All information will be displayed in real-time by simple user interface with low power consumption. With low power consumption, applications can run on a small battery for many years. As result, it’s actually extremely positive when talking about M2M communication and automotive systems.

TPMS helps to avoid the tyre wear and improves road safety.  Due to the advantages of a longer battery life and connectivity, DA14585 is suitable for IoT applications in various industries. The figure 1 show a typical block diagram for a TPMS system.

block diagram of TMPS general system
Figure 1: block diagram of a TPMS. The block of transmission (transmit data) can implement the bluetooth low energy protocol.

Bluetooth low energy for automotive industry

Connectivity, Intelligence and energy saving are the main features for the new generation of IoT devices. Luckily, SmartBond can achieve all these features. Especially relevant is one of the series, DA14585 SoC. It offers all benefits, such as, full support of all bluetooth standards, including version 5. Moreover, it is suitable  for many applications, as remote controls, proximity tags, headlights, connected medical devices, smart home and smart automotive (Figure 2). The figure 2 shown the block diagram of DA14585, where is visualized the ARM M0 core and other peripherals.

block diagramm of DA14585 for bluetooth low energy applications
Figure 2: block diagramm of DA14585

With 96 kB of RAM and retention capability, DA14585 offers a wider memory than its predecessor in order to fully utilize standard features. Moreover, it also includes an integrated microphone interface for low-cost voice support. DA1485 supports a wide range of power supply voltages from 0.9 to 3.6 V. This range offers a wider choice of energy sources with a great design performance.

As a result, DA14585 represents the ideal solution to add bluetooth low energy technology to various applications. It supports Data Packet Length Extension, Link Layer Privacy v1.2, Secure Connections, Bluetooth Low Power Mesh and Efficient Connectable Advertising. Dialog Semiconductor has started contacting with the automotive industry for the construction of first TPMS devices with BLE. The goal is to manage the entire measurement process with the addition of sensors for measuring temperature and pressure. All powered by a simple battery.

The initial adoption of BLE technology for TPMS is a great opportunity for the automotive market and for new TPMS devices. As a result, the advent of BLE connectivity in automotive systems will open many connectivity scenarios for the smart automotive market.

Next-generation Bluetooth Low Energy SoC from ST

Graham Prophet @ eedesignnewseurope.com introduces BlueNRG-2, the latest BLE solution from ST. He writes:
Introducing its latest-generation Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) System-on-Chip, ST Microelectronics highlights low power, small size, and high performance to enable widespread deployment of energy-conscious, space-constrained applications with BLE connectivity. The device provides state-of-the-art security and is Bluetooth 5.0-certified
Next-generation Bluetooth Low Energy SoC from ST – [Link]

Bluey, BLE Development Board Supports NFC

Development boards are assistant tools that help engineers and enthusiasts to become familiarized with hardware development. They simplify the process of controlling and programming hardware, such as microcontrollers and microprocessors.

Electronut Labs, an embedded systems consulting company, had produced its new BLE development board “Bluey” with a set of useful sensors and NFC support.

Bluey is an open source board that features the Nordic nRF52832 SoC which supports BLE and other proprietary wireless protocols. Bluey has built-in sensors that include temperature, humidity, ambient light and accelerometer sensors. Also, it supports NFC and comes with a built-in NFC PCB antenna.

The nRF52832 SoC is a powerful, ultra-low power multiprotocol SoC suited for Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT and 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless applications. It is built around a 32-bit ARM Cortex™-M4F CPU with 512kB + 64kB RAM.

Bluey Specifications:

  • Nordic nRF52832 QFAA BLE SoC (512k Flash / 64k RAM)
  • TI HDC1010 Temperature/Humidity sensor
  • APDS-9300-020 ambient light sensor
  • ST Micro LSM6DS3 accelerometer
  • CREE RGB LED
  • CP2104 USB interface
  • 2 push buttons
  • Coin cell holder
  • Micro SD slot
  • 2.4 GHz PCB antenna
  • NFC PCB antenna

Bluey can be programmed using the Nordic nRF5 SDK. You can upload the code with an external programmer such as the Nordic nRF52-DK, or the Black Magic Probe firmware on STM32F103 breakout. But, within the built-in OTA (over the air) bootloader, you can upload the code directly using a PC or a phone.

The sensors on the board require a minimum of 2.7 volts to function properly, and the maximum power is 6 volts. Bluey’s design offers three different ways to power it, all of them have a polarity protection:

  1. Using the 5V micro USB connector (which also gives you the option to print debug messages via UART).
  2. The + / – power supply pins which can take regular 2.54 mm header pins, a JST connector for a 3.7 V LiPo battery, or a 3.5 mm terminal block.
  3. A CR2032 coin cell for low power applications.

You can use Bluey for a wide range of projects. The BLE part is ideal for IoT projects, or if you want to control something with your phone. The nRF52832 SoC has a powerful ARM Cortex-M4F CPU, so you can use this board for general purpose microcontroller projects as well.

Bluey is available for $29 for international customers from Tindie store. Indian customers can purchase it from Instamojo store. There are also discounts for bulk purchases. For more information about the board visit its github repository, where you will find a full guide to start and a bunch of demo projects.