Tag Archives: Thread

A nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit For Bluetooth 5 Applications

Bluetooth Low Energy and the Internet of things is believed to be the perfect matchmaking. Even though Bluetooth doesn’t necessary gives devices the ability to connect to the Internet they still have so much capacity. The Bluetooth Low Energy enabled solutions will increase the functionality of IoT Systems, by creating a reliable framework and efficient connectivity for the devices. Devices can use BLE to connect to each other thereby improving reliability, increasing range, mitigate security risk, reduce cost, and most importantly improve battery life.

The launch of the Bluetooth 5, which promise so much more are beginning to see some adoption in the open hardware industry, and a good example is the Particle Xenon using the Nordic nRF52840 SOC. The Nordic nRF52840 SoC is designed around an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU and comes with a 1 MB flash with cache and a 256kB of RAM.

The Makediary nRF52840 board
The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Board

Nordic recently announced that the nRF52840 now supports concurrent Thread and Bluetooth 5 wireless connectivity eliminating the previous requirement of disconnecting from one of the networks before connecting to the other. So, the potential from this announcement is enormous.

Recognising the possibility of Bluetooth 5 in addition to Thread connectivity, the teams at Makerdiary has launched a new development kit for the nRF52840 SoC called the nRF52840-MDK IoT Development Kit

The Makediary nRF52840 MDK IoT Development Kit is a kit that will allow developers to explore Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth MeshThreadIEEE 802.15.4ANT and 2.4GHz proprietary wireless applications using the nRF52840 SoC. The kit comes integrated with the DAPLink debugger which provides a USB drag-and-drop programming, USB Virtual COM port and CMSIS-DAP interface.

The kit supports quite some software frameworks such as the  nRF5 SDK, nRF5 SDK for Mesh, OpenThread, ZigBee 3.0, Mbed OS 5, Zephyr, Mynewt, Web Bluetooth, iBeacon, Eddystone, and others. It works with the standard Nordic Software Development Tool-chain using GCC, Keil and IAR.

One significant take note of the board is the USB type C port available, a rare port used for hardware boards. The development board put up a ton of features like an ultra-low power 64-Mb QSPI FLASH memory, programmable user button, RGB LED, up to 24 GPIOs, antenna selection for custom applications.

Below are some of the device specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F WiSoC with 1 MB FLASH and 256 kB RAM, Arm TrustZone Cryptocell 310 security subsystem
  • External Storage – 64-Mbit QSPI flash
  • Wireless Connectivity (on-chip)
    • Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth Mesh
    • Thread, IEEE 802.15.4
    • ANT, 2.4GHz proprietary
    • On-chip NFC-A tag
    • An on-board 2.4G chip antenna
    • u.FL connector selectable for an external antenna
  • Programming / Debugging with DAPLink
    • MSC – drag-n-drop programming flash memory
    • CDC – virtual com port for log, trace and terminal emulation
    • HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
    • WEBUSB HID – CMSIS-DAP compliant debug channel
  • USB – 1x USB type C port for power and programming
  • Expansion – 2x 18-pin breadboard-friendly headers with 24 GPIOs,   I2C, QSPI, UART, 6x analog input pins, SWD/JTAG, and power signals (VIN, GND, 3.3V, 5V)
  • Misc – Boot/Reset Button, User button and user RGB LED
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB type C connector; 3.3V regulator with 1A peak current output; VBUS & VIN Power-Path Management
  • Dimensions – 50mm x 23mm x 13mm with headers

Although the development board is an open source board and the design files are already available on Github, it is advisable you purchase the board to support them. Makerdiary nRF52840-MDK can be purchased for $42.90 on Seeed Studio, or directly on Makerdiary’s online store.

Mesh Networking Module Supports ZigBee and Thread

Silicon Labs, an energy-friendly solution provider, produced a new family of Wireless Gecko modules for mesh networking applications and supporting ZigBee and Thread software.

Mesh network is a network topology which each node relays data for the network. All mesh nodes cooperate in the distribution of data in the network. It is used by wide range of applications such as home automation, smart metering, connected lighting, security systems, and IoT applications.

Silicon Labs MGM111 Module
Silicon Labs MGM111 Module

Based on the Silicon Labs EFR32™ Mighty Gecko SoC, MGM111 module is a fully-integrated, pre-certified module, accelerates time-to-market and saves months of engineering effort and development costs. It combines an energy-efficient, multi-protocol wireless SoC with a proven RF/antenna design and industry leading wireless software stacks.

The module consists of ARM Cortex®-M4 controller with up to 40 MHz clock speed, 2.4 GHz transceiver, 256 kB of programmable flash, and 32 kB RAM SRAM. It consumes only 9.8mA while in receive mode and 8.2mA at 0dBm when in transmit mode, with a transmit power of up to 10dBm.

“Our customers rely on our deep understanding of mesh technology and RF certification. They also appreciate that we offer the tools and stacks they need to simplify the development process, as well as an upgrade path that safeguards their IoT products from being stranded on older technologies and standards.” -Skip Ashton, VP of IoT software at Silicon Labs.

Thread is an IPv6-based mesh networking protocol designed as a reliable, low-power, secure, and scalable networking solution for connecting Things to the IoT. As a founding board member of the Thread Group, Silicon Labs helps accelerate time to market with proven mesh networking hardware and software solutions.

ZigBee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios.

The MGM111 module datasheet with its full specifications list are reachable here.