A successfully funded project on Kickstarter, now in it’s final week, is focusing on bringing Bluetooth 4.0 development to the masses. We’ve covered BT4 kits before including the Bluegiga BLE112 Bluetooth® 4.0 single mode Development Kit but Rowdy Robot, the team behind the projects Smart Beacon electronics, is promising a Bluetooth 4.0 device that uses the BLE112-A module with all of the pins exposed for easy development including the debugger pins. This makes it easy to quickly prototype your project and program your own firmware profiles that can be flashed onto their device.
To make things easy for you, if you don’t already have your own TI CC-Debugger, they are providing two development kits. The first runs about $95 and includes the TI debugger unit and one beacon. This really is all you would need to be able to program and flash the device. However, for developers wanting to dive even deeper, they are offering a kit for $155 that includes the TI debugger, a ‘limited edition’ device, one of BlueGiga’s BLED112 USB dongles, and some parts to integrate your own board to their provided data pins. These add-on boards or modules as they call them could be anything from sensors, displays or haptic feedback electronics.
If you already own the TI CC-Debugger, then all you need is the $32 Smart Beacon to get started. The Rowdy Robot team has mentioned that they will begin manufacturing the minute they have funds in their hand and that these beacons should be ready to ship by late July to developers interested in getting a head start coming up with brilliant ways to expand their beacons functionality.
Although they have not released any detailed specifications it would appear that they are simply exposing all 21 of the configurable pins provided by the BLE112-A module. Rowdy Robot will be shipping their beacons with BlueGiga’s EULA to allow for the open development using the BlueGiga SDK which includes BGScript and their single mode BLE stack API. To get a better idea of how you can utilize the BlueGiga module on their board, here’s the link to the BLE112 datasheet.
The cool thing about the tod beacons, we are working on support for them in our initial release of LabStrip Mobile!
If your unfamiliar with the BLE112-A module, here are the essential specs:
Bluetooth 4.0, single mode compliant
- Supports master and slave modes
- 4+ simultaneous connection in master mode
Integrated Bluetooth low energy stack
- GAP, GATT, L2CAP, SMP
- Bluetooth low energy profiles
Flexible and simple in-module development:
BG Profile Toolkit™, BG Script™ or C language
- TX power: +4 dBm to -23dBm
- RX sensitivity: -87dBm to -93dBm
Ultra low current consumption
- Transmit: 27mA (0 dBm)
- Sleep mode 3: 0.4uA
Programmable 8051 processor for embedding full
Bluetooth end product, CE, FCC and IC qualified
Bluetooth Low Energy Features
Bluetooth 4.0 single mode compliant radio
Master and slave mode support
L2CAP, GAP, ATT and GATT support
Advertising, broadcasting, connections
Bluetooth low energy radio
Integrated antenna, U.FL connector or RF pin
- 8 KB RAM
- 128 KB flash
1-2 x UART
1-2 x SPI
USB 2.0 device
3 x PWM
3 x timer
Integrated battery monitor and temperature sensor
GPIO and AIO
Transmit : 27mA (0 dBm)
Sleep (timer active): 1.5uA
Sleep (wake-up pin): 0.4uA
Operating voltage: 2.0-3.6V
What really attracts me to this project is the price point and that the tod Development Kit is a is a blank canvas. Other development kits include sensors and extras that are great and allow me to evaluate firmware for controlling those additions if my project uses them. However, kits with those included sensors and add on modules do not allow me to truly prototype my own electronics.
The tod Development Kit is a solid foundation that allows me to add the sensors and electronics I am building my project around quickly and easily thanks to the three 2×5 headers. Being able to jump right into Bluetooth 4.0 firmware development at a fraction of the cost of any alternative is where the tod Development kit excels. With the tod Smart Beacon costing only a few dollars more than a single BLE112A chip, this is a very affordable way to connect your project to the web using Bluetooth 4 or to get started developing your own Bluetooth 4 solution.
The Kickstarter Project hit it’s funding goal with 13 days left and as of today is almost 150% funded with 3 days to go until the project closes on June 3rd. There are several options for getting the tod Development Kit including a Supported Developer reward where the Rowdy Robot team will help you work out your own solution with Skype and Email support with their hardware and software engineers. The team has indicated that they will be launching a Development Community where for hardware and software developers can access spec sheets, white papers and interact with others to create, expand and hack the tod Smart Beacon.
While they will most likely offer a retail solution down the road, it usually takes time for these projects to fulfill their commitments to backers so don’t wait to get yours. I’ve spoken with the Rowdy Robot team and they are very enthusiastic about what the Kickstarter Crowd has helped them accomplish and to move into the next phase as the project comes to a close. With the first step being a launch of the official website at http://todhq.com and the release of the Development Community at http://opentod.org ahead of their initial product shipments.
For more information and to Pre-Order your tod Development Kit visit the project page today.