How to Choose a Bluetooth Smart / Low Energy Development Kit

Bluegiga BLE112 module

I started my investigation into bluetooth low energy (BLE) development kits and came across quite a few different choices. The different options can be broken down into two categories: Chip-on-Board and turnkey module.

Chip-on-Board (also called System on Chip or SoC) are the bare-bones microchips manufactured by companies that specialize in integrated circuits. The nRF8001 by Nordic Semiconductor and the CC2540 by Texas Instruments are examples of such components.

The format of these chips are usually in a very unfriendly quad flat no-lead (QFN) package, which are small and very difficult to work with, since the pins are located underneath the chip, making them hard to solder.

CC2540 QNF

A real live Texas Instruments CC2540 QNF next to a CR2032 3V battery. See how tiny it is? You could probably swallow it by mistake, if you weren't careful.

There’s a great guide and instructional video available from curious inventor if you want to see how to solder these things.

Even if you manage to solder one of these onto a circuitboard, you’ve still gotta add a few more components, such as a 32Khz and 32Mhz crystal, as well as an antenna, capacitors, resistors and a custom metal RF shield.  Bear in mind you’ll also need to get your bluetooth module certified by FCC, IC, ETSI, etc, which will end up being quite expensive (around $40k)

So the Chip-on-Board solution requires a lot of effort just to get a basic bluetooth module to connect your microcontroller to.

Thankfully there’s another option for those who just want to get up and running as quickly as possible: the turnkey module (sometimes simply called a bluetooth module).  The Bluegiga BLE112 and  BR-LE4.0-S2A from Blueradios are examples of these, both of which are built around the CC2540 from Texas Instruments.  These bluetooth modules are essentially a TI CC2540 with an antenna, crystal, RF shield and other components already wired together on a circuit board.  They also use their own proprietary software, allowing you to program them without purchasing an expensive compiler, such as IAR Embedded Workstation.




Turnkey Modules

Bluegiga BLE112

Bluegiga BLE112

Evaluation Kit DKBLE112 $510 AUD
Module BLE112 $30 AUD
Controller Texas Instruments CC2540
Mode Single mode

The BLE112 from Bluegiga is a single mode module based upon the CC2540 by Texas Instruments.

Bluegiga has two different development kit options, a more expensive development starter kit (BLE112-STK) which sells for $594 AUD (mouser) or $440 USD (semiconductor store) and a lower priced evaluation kit (DKBLE112) which contains an evaluation board, 2 bluetooth modules and a bluetooth dongle.  The evaluation board has various sensors, including a potentiometer, accelerometer and an LCD screen to prototype your applications.  The kit can be purchased in Australia from Glyn for $349 AUD until December 23rd 2011, at which point the price will be raised to $510 AUD.  You can also purchase individual modules for $30 AUD from Glyn.

The BLE112 modules are available with three different antenna types:

  1. integrated antenna (BLE112-A)
  2. U. FL connector (BLE112-E)
  3. 50 ohm RF pin (BLE112-N)

Fractus COMPACT REACH XTEND™ FR05-S1-N-0-102 ceramic chip antenna

The integrated antenna is a very small ceramic chip antenna, soldered directly to the BLE112 module PCB. The Fractus® Compact Reach Xtend FR05-S1-N-0-102 is an example of such a chip antenna, and is actually the one recommended for use with the CC2540 by Application Note AN048 from Texas Instruments.

This is ideal if you don’t want to deal with selecting an antenna yourself and want to keep your end product as small as possible, but be aware that it won’t be as efficient as larger detachable dipole antennas.

Pulse W1030 Omnidirectional Dipole Antenna with 50 ohm RF pin connector

U.FL connector

The U. FL connector and 50 ohm RF pin N-connector are both RF coaxial connectors for interfacing with a detachable antenna.  Use this option if you’re concerned about antenna efficiency and want to get the best range possible, and don’t care as much about the large size.


If you decide to use a detachable antenna, Bluegiga requires that you to use one of their qualified antenna types, which are available from this datasheet, and listed in the following table:

Mfr. Part Num Measure d Gain (dBi) Specific d Gain (dBi) Measure Total Efficiency (%) Price (USD)
Pulse W1030 1 2 70-80 $3.78
Linx ANT-2.4-CW-CT-SMA 1.3 2 77 $6.85
EAD EA-79A 0.4 2 60
Antenova B4844/B6090 1.4 2 76-82 $30.80
Litecon CAR-ATR-187-001 0.8 2 60-70

I’m not completely sure why you would choose the starter kit (BLE112-STK) over the evaluation kit (DKBLE112), since the eval kit is cheaper and comes with a prototype board.  I’ll try sending Bluegiga an email this week to find out the differences between the two options.

Update: (Monday, December 5th, 2011)

I received the following response from Bluegiga when asking them about the differences between the BLE112-STK and the DKBLE112:

Please, just consider the DKBLE112 which comes with a very nice evaluation board among others.

There seems to be two different ways of interfacing with these modules. The first is through the “BGAPI binary protocol” to be used for application with a separate host (microcontroller).  The second method is through “BGScript scripting language” which will allow you to program the embedded 8051 microcontroller.  I’m not sure if IAR Embedded Workstation will be required for either of these options.

Bluegiga had the following to say regarding the different methods of interfacing with their modules:

With our Bluetooth low energy modules the communication with a host happens using a simple binary protocol (BGAPI) carrying commands, responses and events over many possible interfaces, like UART, USB, SPI, I2C You do not have to implement the binary protocol from scratch, as we offer a documented library of ANSI-C functions (BGLib) implementing the protocol.

In our modules we do not use the TI stack but our very own stack spanning all levels of the stack from bottom up. In this way we can provide among others a better stack as a whole, simpler development tools for the average user, and the possibility for better customization in particular custom projects. We also have in the roadmap to provide our stack as object code to allow in-module advanced C programming using the IAR compiler.

Applications can be run within the module itself (without the need of an external controller) using our BGScript option, that is, you can use any text editor to write a script which is a basic-like, event-based, very simple proprietary language where commands and events are similar to the functions from the BGLib. Our own compiler will take care of preparing the firmware image taking into account the database and hardware configuration (as xml files) and the script (as text file) if any.



BlueRadios BR-LE4.0-S2A Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy Single and Dual Mode Modules

BlueRadios BR-LE4.0-S2A

Single Mode Evaluation Kit BR-EVAL-LE4.0-S2A $199 USD
Dual Mode Evaluation Kit BR-EVAL-LE4.0-D2A $249 USD
Single Mode Module BR-LE4.0-S2A $49 USD
Dual Mode Module BR-LE4.0-D2A $59 USD
Controller Texas Instruments CC2540
Mode Single/Dual mode

Blueradios is another company that provides turnkey bluetooth low energy modules.  The difference between the Bluegiga options is that Blueradios has dual mode modules, which will allow it to communicate to both standard bluetooth BR/EDR (also known as Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate) and low energy devices. Blueradios also sells direct from their website, while Bluegiga uses resellers, such as Glynstore in Australia.

They’ve got an evaluation kit (BR-EVAL-LE4.0-S2A) available for $199 direct from Blueradios.  The evaluation kit includes a bluetooth module on a development board and a BLE USB dongle to attach to your computer.  You can also buy these items separately at $149 for the dev board and $119 for the dongle, so it makes more sense to purchase them as the evaluation kit.

According to the this post on the Texas Instruments tech forum, there will be 4 options available to write applications for the BlueRadios modules: (ATLE.e and ATLE.ez are not yet available but will be released soon.)

  •  ATLE.s (Serial) – The module is controlled through the UART using an AT command set. This requires an external processor, which customers may already be familiar with and may not require an expensive compiler.
  •  ATLE.e (Embedded) – BlueRadios provides a library that is built on top of the TI stack, allowing customers to build custom applications. This requires the IAR compiler but will provide a simplified programming experience compared to the TI Stack.
  •  ATLE.ez (Easy Embedded) – BlueRadios provides a library that can be used with a free compiler, allowing customers to build custom applications at no extra cost. The programming experience is even more simplified than ATLE.e, allowing the user to execute AT commands as if they were running on an external microcontroller, but still allowing direct access to the CC2540 peripherals. ATLE.ez will be RAM limited compared to the ATLE.e option.
  • TI BLE-STACK – Customers can use the TI stack with IAR.

Of major interest to me are the Bluetooth 4 single mode low energy sensors that Blueradios has just recently announced.  In particular, they’ve got a $149 USD programmable universal sensor called the BR-BUTTON-S2A SensorBug, which is a small bluetooth low energy module with a 3-Axis accelerometer (±2g/±4g/±8g), light sensor, temperature sensor, and a 3 volt CR2032 coin holder on the back.  According to the Sensorbug PDF, you can “custom build options to populate only required features to reduce overall cost”, which in my mind means that you can ask them to create one of these modules with only an accelerometer, for example, if that’s the only sensor your application requires access to.  I’ve sent an email to them for clarification, I’ll post the response when I receive it.

BR-BUTTON-S2A SensorBug

Update: (Monday, December 5th, 2011)

I received a response from BlueRadios regarding the SensorBug, here’s what they had to say:

The SensorBug is a product that includes built in firmware that does what we designed it for. You connect to it and it sends out all the sensor data 1/sec.  If you already have a TI CC2540 dev kit and your custom firmware running on the CC2540 then you can flash over our code with your own firmware since you already have the required tools and knowledge to do this using the TI CCDebuger with the programming pads already on the SensorBug.
Once you flash over our code there is no way to recover our firmware since you will erase our boot loader.

We already have the SensorBug sending all the sensor data to the iPhone 4s smart app so you either have to buy what we have or do your own design from the ground up using either our module or build your product around the TI CC2540 processor.

[as for a custom built SensorBug], unless you are planning to purchasing at least 1000 units we can’t guess at pricing based on features you may or not need at this time.

So it seems you can only get the custom built SensorBug option if you order more than 1000 units.



Alpwise Bluetooth low energy module ALPW-BLEM001

Alpwise ALPW-BLEM001

Dev Kit ALPW-BLEDVK002
Evaluation Kit ALPW-BLEKEY001
Controller EM Microelectronic EM9301
Host Controller (MCU) Silicon Labs C8051F930
Mode Single mode

Unlike the Bluegiga BLE112 and BlueRadios BR-LE4.0-S2A, which are both based on the TI CC2540, the Alpwise ALPW-BLEM001 module is using the EM Microelectronic EM9301.  Since the EM9301 controller lacks an onboard MCU, Alpwise has included the Silicon Labs C8051F930 microcontroller.  I’m unable to find pricing for the evaluation or dev kit, and there doesn’t seem to be much documentation on the Alpwise site either.





Amber Wireless AMB2620 BLE Module

Single Mode Module AMB2620 Module w/ integrated ceramic antenna
AMB2620-1 Module w/ antenna pad
AMB2620-2 Module w/ U.FL antenna connector
Pricing 1 to 99 pcs 19.30€ ($23.82 AUD)
100 to 499 pcs 15.40€ ($19.00 AUD)
500 to 999 pcs 13.80€ ($17 AUD)
1,000 pcs 12.30€ ($15.18 AUD)
Mode Single mode
Controller Texas Instruments CC2540

The AMB2620 is yet another turnkey module based around the TI CC2540, this time from German based Amber Wireless. There isn’t much information available regarding the AMB2620, other than the datasheet, since the module is still in development. Amber Wireless expect it to be available sometime in Q2 2012.



System On Chip Modules

Nordic Semiconductor NRF8001

nRF8001 Dev Kit

Dev Kit NRF8001-DK $99
nRFgo Development Kit NRF6700 $399
Single Mode Chip NRF8001-R2Q32-R $2.20 USD (semiconductor) $6.16 (mouser)
Samples? No
Mode Single Mode

The nRF8001 requires an external application microcontroller for it to operate.  It uses a simple serial interface (ACI) to communicate with external MCUs.

As far as I can tell, the nRF8001-DK requires the nRFgo development kit, putting the total at $500, making it one of the more expensive dev kit options.

Nordic has just put out the following video demonstrating the use of Heart Rate monitor, Proximity, and temperature sensors with the iPhone 4S.  I’m curious to see if they’ll be providing access to the iOS source code like Texas Instruments has.




Texas Instruments CC2540

TI CC2540

Texas Instruments CC2540F256 and a CR2032 coin cell battery

Dev Kit CC2540DK  $299
Mini Dev Kit CC2540DK-MINI $99
Eval Module CC2540EMK $99
Single Mode Chips CC2540F256 (256 KB flash) $8.78 USD (mouser) $6.15 USD (digikey)
CC2540F128 (128 KB flash) $6.08 USD (mouser) $5.85 USD (digikey)
Samples? Yes
Mode Single Mode

The CC2540 is at the heart of both the Blueradios and Bluegiga turnkey modules, and features an embedded 8051 microcontroller, allowing you to control it without an external MCU.

The major downside to the CC2540 is that you need to use IAR Embedded Workbench to program the 8051 MCU, at a price of $4k AUD per single license. For a single developer or hobbyist, the extremely high price is a deal breaker. You can still use an external MCU with the CC2540 and a much cheaper or open source compiler, but if you’re going for the smallest bill of materials (BoM), you’ll want to write your code for the on board 8051 MCU.

On the plus side, TI has a very good forum with knowledgeable employees and users.

I recently picked up the CC2540DK-MINI, since it was one of the cheapest dev kits at $99 (including FedEx express shipping to Australia!) and I was really impressed by their recent video displaying the CC2540 keyfob interacting with the iPhone 4S. So far it’s been very useful for the prototyping stage, however, I’ll probably end up getting one of the Bluegiga modules when I’m ready to work on the end product.

So what are the differences between the CC2540DK and the CC2540DK-MINI you ask? The CC2540DK contains two SmartRF05 Evaluation Boards and two CC2540 Evaluation Modules (CC2540EM).  The Evaluation Module contains the smallest number of components that the the CC2540 requires to operate, and can be used as a standalone device by connecting it to a power source using something like the Battery Board for System-on-Chips (SOC-BB), or it can be connected directly to the SmartRF05 board.

The SmartRF05 board is the the motherboard in several development kits for Low Power RF devices from Texas Instruments and comes with a wide range of user interfaces such as 3×16 character serial LCD, LEDs, potentiometer, joystick, buttons and breakout pins.

The CC2540DK-MINI on the other hand, is a much smaller dev kit, with fewer user interface components on the keyfob (it only has LEDs, buzzer, buttons and an accelerometer), but it contains everything you need to start developing BLE applications.  Unless you have a very specific need for the SmartRF05 boards and additional interfaces provided by it, I would suggest going with the CC2540-MINI.

A note about the samples: they’re not very useful on their own, since they come in a very small QFN package that you’d need to solder onto a breakout board or PCB with an antenna in order to use it.

More info on TI bluetooth low energy solutions can be found here

Some notes in regards to limitations with TI’s CC2540 and multiple devices:

A quick refresher on GAP versus GATT in case you didn’t know: Any BLE device that can connect is either a GAP central role or a GAP peripheral role device. The GAP spec allows a central device to connect to multiple peripherals at once, while a peripheral device can only connect to one central device at a time. In our current implementation of the BLE stack, a central device can only connect to one peripheral device at a time. If you try to establish a second connection while one is already established, you will get an error. We plan to have central support for connections to multiple peripheral devices in a future release.

Some more TI CC2540 Porn. This is how it's packaged, in a film strip that comes on a reel, which can be loaded into a "pick and place" machine to automatically solder the chip onto a board.




EM Microelectronic EM9301

Mode Single Mode

I haven’t been able to find out much information about the EM9301 other than from the sparse details on the EM Microelectronic website, and I don’t see a listing for it on Digikey or Mouser. It looks like EM has decided to go the same way as the NRF8001 from Nordic Semiconductor and not include an onboard microcontroller unit. According to their fact sheet, the EM9301 comes in at least two configurations, one with a CD-DC up converter to allow using batteries as small as 0.8V, and one without a DC-DC converter. It’s got only 25 pins compared to the 40 pins on the TI CC2540, since it lacks an onboard MCU.

The EM9301 is the chip featured on the Bluetooth low energy module ALPW-BLEM001 from Alpwise Wireless Solutions, discussed above.



Cambridge Silicon Radio CSR8000 platform and CSR µEnergy

DK-CSR1000-10048-3A µEnergy™ eval kit

Dev Kit DK-CSR1000-10048-3A-ND $1000
Single Mode Chips CSR1000 $3.20 USD (digikey)
CSR1001 $3.58 USD (digikey)
Dual Mode Chips CSR8311
CSR8510
CSR8810/CSR8811
Mode Single Mode/Dual Mode

CSR seems to be leading the way in terms of sheer variety of BLE chip options.  They’ve got two different single mode chips, the CSR1000 a QFN 32 lead package with 12 I/O lines, and the CSR1001, a QFN 56 lead chip with 32 I/O lines. The CSR1001  is being marketed as “the only Bluetooth Smart accessory chip to provide a full single chip solution for advanced keyboards and remotes” since it has 32 I/O lines (the TI CC2540 only has 21 I/O lines).

CSR also has four different dual mode chips, the CSR8311 with a special form factor for automotive applications, the CSR8510 with USB 2.0 support for tablets/pc applications and the CSR8810/CSR8811 with IEEE 802.11 coexistence for mobile phones and media players.

As far as documentation is concerned, I couldn’t find any.  On the product information page for their CSR µEnergy line of BLE chips, it has a link with the following message:

Subject to approval, a datasheet can be made available for this product via CSR Support.

So I tried clicking the link and it brought me to a page about Environmental Compliance!?  I then tried registering an account in order to “gain access to some of the secured areas of the site”, in hopes of retrieving a datasheet or some more technical information regarding the CSR1000/CSR1001 chips.  It instructed me to contact the local sales representative to  have my information added to their customer email list, which I’ve done so.

The product information page mentions “CSR’s µEnergy platform provides everything required to create a Bluetooth low energy product with RF, baseband, microcontroller, qualified Bluetooth v4.0 stack, and customer application running on a single chip.” so I believe the CSR1000 and CSR1001 have an embedded microcontroller unit, but without the datasheets, I have no idea what the specifics are.

I’ve gotta say that I’m quite surprised at how difficult it is to obtain technical information from CSR compared to Texas Instruments.  I mean, seriously, I have to submit a request and receive approval just to download a datasheet?  You might have great products, but how can any small developer seriously consider CSR as an option if it’s this difficult to access technical documents.  Perhaps this is because CSR is marketed more towards large corporations, rather than hobbyists or small development teams.

I recently received a response from my local CSR sales representative, and it looks like I have to sign a non disclosure agreement in order to gain access to any of CSR’s documentation, so unfortunately I won’t be able to write about any of their hardware.

Conclusions

With such a bewildering number of different BLE options available, and more being released on a regular basis, making a decision about which vendor to use is a difficult choice.  As a small developer, my main criteria for choosing a BLE vendor is based on which one provides the most documentation and support.  Like I mentioned in the CSR discussion above, I can’t consider using a product if the technical documentation is not easily and readily available.  In my opinion, Texas Instruments was by far the best manufacturer in regards to the amount of documentation available, and how easy it was to obtain.  They’re extremely open when it comes to providing detailed information about their products, and you can find an absolute wealth of technical materials for the CC2540.  Here’s a summary of what I liked about the solutions from Texas Instruments:

The only complaint I have about the TI CC2540 is that they don’t provide a BLE stack library compatible with an open source compiler such as SDCC, which means that you have no choice but to use the very expensive IAR Embedded Workbench to program the onboard 8051 MCU. Other turnkey module solutions such as the Bluegiga BLE112 and BlueRadios BR-EVAL-LE4.0-S2A are in the process of developing their own libraries to be used with open source compilers, but apparently they’re a few months from this being available, with a chance that it might not even be possible.  BlueRadios and Bluegiga do, however, have a proprietary scripting language that allows you to program the 8051 on the CC2540 without IAR, although it’s not nearly as powerful as writing native C code.

If you’re a hobbyist, unfortunately the only real option  you have for programming the CC2540 is to use the 30 day evaluation copy of IAR.  The kickstart edition with the 4KB code limit apparently won’t work because the TI BLE stack is larger than 4KB.

Other than this relatively large obstacle, the CC2540DK-MINI is a very good starting point for developing BLE applications.  The next choice to make after deciding which SoC vendor you’re going to use is figuring out whether to use a turnkey module in your final design, or create a custom PCB yourself.   Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, designing your own PCB for the CC2540 is quite challenging if you don’t have any hardware or PCB fabrication experience, and your device will need to be certified by the FCC which is very expensive.  The turnkey modules already have FCC certification, so for hobbyists I think this is the best option.

In terms of which turnkey module to get, I decided to go with the BLE112 from Bluegiga since it had more documentation than any of the other modules.  In order to actually make use of the module and program it using IAR, you’ll still need to figure out some way of interfacing it with your computer.  Usually this is done with a “breakout board” which takes a small component and “breaks out” the pins to connections on a larger PCB which can be interfaced with a breadboard.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find such a breakout board, so I’m trying to design one myself.  This will certainly be the topic for a future blog post, so stay tuned!

107 thoughts on “How to Choose a Bluetooth Smart / Low Energy Development Kit

  1. First of all, Kudos for your blog! I see your very motivated and hope you finish this project. It’s a nice recap you have here, really a time saver, if only I have read this before… I am starting with BLE as well and found all things you posted.

    I have been working with the CC2540 Mini Dev Kit and the BLE112 Starter Kit, being my favorite the latter, although I didn’t buy it… It’s unexplainable expensive for what it is included. I was asking myself the same question as you: Why in hell the BLE112 Dev Kit is cheaper than the Starter Kit? hope Bluegiga answered you. Also, IDK if you noticed that buying all the BLE112 Starter Kit parts separately costs you around $170 USD (2 BLE112 $26.66 each, 2 BLED112 $32.00 each, 1 CC debugger from TI $50)… yeah, WTF!. I have found the same things as you on my quest for a BLE radio, except from one dual-mode USB dongle from a Taiwanese company that didn’t provide any documentation (CC&C).

    As a user I can tell you that if you’re looking for high-level, fast and simple app development then Bluegiga is the way to go, they don’t provide a lot of documentation or examples like Texas Instruments, but the platform is very simple and you don’t have to get additional software platforms like the IAR Embedded Workbench. Now that if you’re looking for a lower level programming (like L2CAP commands, HCI, etc.) then TI fits better. Since the BLE112 is basically a CC2540 with oscillators and antenna I think that (with the right configuration) the TI utilities should work, but haven’t tried. I have decided to order a BLE112 Dev Kit and some BLE112 modules to test the maximum connected devices capabilities, it says in the documentation that the maximum number of simultaneous connections is 4+ but according to support folks it will be upgraded to 20 in the near future. This is also a key element you should consider for your design, TI CC2540 only allowed 2 devices (peer-to-peer) but after approximately a year it was upgraded and now allows max 3 devices in the piconet !! and it’ll be upgraded ‘soon’… I think Nordic Semiconductors’ solution only allows peer-to-peer communication, although the standard says BLE supports “unlimited” connections, so it’s still a problem at this stage.

    So what have you decided? I hope you keep posting your experiences and feel free to ask me anything, maybe I can contribute too with the support for all the BLE lost souls out there.

    • First of all, Kudos for your blog! I see your very motivated and hope you finish this project. It’s a nice recap you have here, really a time saver, if only I have read this before… I am starting with BLE as well and found all things you posted.

      thanks for the kind words, you have the distinction of being the first commenter! Hopefully we can provide a useful resource which will help others in their quest for Bluetooth Smart information!

      I have been working with the CC2540 Mini Dev Kit and the BLE112 Starter Kit, being my favorite the latter, although I didn’t buy it… It’s unexplainable expensive for what it is included. I was asking myself the same question as you: Why in hell the BLE112 Dev Kit is cheaper than the Starter Kit? hope Bluegiga answered you.

      I haven’t spoken to Bluegiga about this yet, but I’ll be sure to post my findings as soon as I do.

      Also, IDK if you noticed that buying all the BLE112 Starter Kit parts separately costs you around $170 USD (2 BLE112 $26.66 each, 2 BLED112 $32.00 each, 1 CC debugger from TI $50)… yeah, WTF!. I have found the same things as you on my quest for a BLE radio, except from one dual-mode USB dongle from a Taiwanese company that didn’t provide any documentation (CC&C).

      Yes, it is really strange how you can put together the components of the BLE112-STK for so much less than they charge for the complete package. You said you have the BLE112-STK, is there nothing else that’s included with it to justify the extra expense? I have a hard time understanding why anyone would buy the pre-packaged starter kit when you can put it together yourself so much cheaper.

      I also notice that the BLE112-STK is no longer listed at the local Australian distributor (glynstore) so maybe they’ve decided to focus on the DKBLE112 development kit rather than the starter kit.

      As a user I can tell you that if you’re looking for high-level, fast and simple app development then Bluegiga is the way to go, they don’t provide a lot of documentation or examples like Texas Instruments, but the platform is very simple and you don’t have to get additional software platforms like the IAR Embedded Workbench.

      I’m curious – what made you decide on the Bluegiga module as opposed to the offerings from BlueRadios? I’m still trying to decide between the two, although the Sensorbug from BlueRadios is making me lean more towards BlueRadios. What do you use to program the Bluegiga module?

      Also, why did you buy the CC2540 Mini Dev Kit? It seems as though the CC2540 dev kit is primarily for people who want to design a PCB and make things as small as possible.

      Now that if you’re looking for a lower level programming (like L2CAP commands, HCI, etc.) then TI fits better. Since the BLE112 is basically a CC2540 with oscillators and antenna I think that (with the right configuration) the TI utilities should work, but haven’t tried.

      I’m not sure yet if I need lower level programming. My first goal is to simply read output from an accelerometer and pass it to another Bluetooth 4 device (ideally an iPhone 4S). Size is, however, a concern to me, so I have a feeling that I may go the way of TI CC2540 eventually, but I’ll start off with a turnkey module until I get a better understanding.

      I have decided to order a BLE112 Dev Kit and some BLE112 modules to test the maximum connected devices capabilities, it says in the documentation that the maximum number of simultaneous connections is 4+ but according to support folks it will be upgraded to 20 in the near future. This is also a key element you should consider for your design, TI CC2540 only allowed 2 devices (peer-to-peer) but after approximately a year it was upgraded and now allows max 3 devices in the piconet !! and it’ll be upgraded ‘soon’… I think Nordic Semiconductors’ solution only allows peer-to-peer communication, although the standard says BLE supports “unlimited” connections, so it’s still a problem at this stage.

      So even though the CC2540 lists only 3 allowed devices, Bluegiga have somehow managed to support 4+, with 20 in the future? Interesting

      So what have you decided? I hope you keep posting your experiences and feel free to ask me anything, maybe I can contribute too with the support for all the BLE lost souls out there.

      I’m still deciding between the Bluegiga solution and the one from BlueRadios. Unfortunately work has been busy lately, so I haven’t had too much time to spend researching this week. I’m still waiting on a response from BlueRadios from an email I sent them last week, which should help me make a decision. I’ll definitely update the blog with new information as soon as I decide which development kit to purchase.

      Thanks a lot for your comments, I look forward to hearing more about your experiences, and I think others would benefit as well, especially considering that you’re further along in the process than I am!

      • Hi, sorry for the late response. I have been busy at work too!

        Yes, it is really strange how you can put together the components of the BLE112-STK for so much less than they charge for the complete package. You said you have the BLE112-STK, is there nothing else that’s included with it to justify the extra expense? I have a hard time understanding why anyone would buy the pre-packaged starter kit when you can put it together yourself so much cheaper.

        Nope, nothing extra is included. You can find the documentation, datasheets, guides, etc. on the Bluegiga website. Maybe the email support? I don’t think so, because you suscribe to the techforum, they “check” your account and within few hours they grant you access and send you an email for provide you support.

        I’m curious – what made you decide on the Bluegiga module as opposed to the offerings from BlueRadios? I’m still trying to decide between the two, although the Sensorbug from BlueRadios is making me lean more towards BlueRadios. What do you use to program the Bluegiga module?

        Nice question, well the main thing was the documentation. I didn’t find any documentation on the BlueRadios Modules (no datasheets, no guides, nothing) maybe they send it with the module or once you buy it, I don’t know. On the other hand you can find all the documentation you need from the Bluegiga website, and also the executables to program the modules. Basically if you want to make “on module” applications you program on basic XML (BGScript) and if you want to make an app with a separate host (microprocessor, CPU, mobile) you program on ANSI C (BGLib) and communicate with the host via serial interface. Here’s the link to the Bluegiga documentation:

        http://www.bluegiga.com/ble112?downloads#1.0

        Also, why did you buy the CC2540 Mini Dev Kit? It seems as though the CC2540 dev kit is primarily for people who want to design a PCB and make things as small as possible.

        I bought the CC2540 Mini Dev Kit, again, for the documentation, and for the Keyfob! I think it’s fantastic for prototyping, it saves you all the PCB work IF you want to prototype (you know, I/O ports, integrated accelerometer, temperature sensor, serial interfaces, voltage regulators and supply). I’m at a prototype stage right now so I don’t need to make things as small as possible, but later I’ll start with the PCB design, can’t scape from that.

        So even though the CC2540 lists only 3 allowed devices, Bluegiga have somehow managed to support 4+, with 20 in the future? Interesting

        Yes, kind of strange but it’s interesting. Actually I don’t have more than 4 Bluegiga modules so I can’t tell what the 4+ stands for… 6 or 7? I don’t know.

        Thanks a lot for your comments, I look forward to hearing more about your experiences, and I think others would benefit as well, especially considering that you’re further along in the process than I am!

        No problem, thanks to you for opening and supporting this space, hopefully more “Bluetooth Smart” enthusiasts will join and create a strong supporting community.

      • Nope, nothing extra is included. You can find the documentation, datasheets, guides, etc. on the Bluegiga website. Maybe the email support? I don’t think so, because you suscribe to the techforum, they “check” your account and within few hours they grant you access and send you an email for provide you support.

        I recently received a response from Bluegiga regarding the differences between the BLE112-STK and the DKBLE112, and they said the following:

        “Please, just consider the DKBLE112 which comes with a very nice evaluation board among others.”

        So it looks like the BLE112-STK has been replaced by the less expensive DKBLE112 dev kit.

        I bought the CC2540 Mini Dev Kit, again, for the documentation, and for the Keyfob! I think it’s fantastic for prototyping, it saves you all the PCB work IF you want to prototype (you know, I/O ports, integrated accelerometer, temperature sensor, serial interfaces, voltage regulators and supply). I’m at a prototype stage right now so I don’t need to make things as small as possible, but later I’ll start with the PCB design, can’t scape from that.

        I decided to buy the CC2540 dev kit as well, since it’s a very good price, and it includes the CC Debugger, which can be used to flash other modules, such as the Blueradios BR-BUTTON-S2A SensorBug. I’m going to post another blog entry regarding my experiences so far, and some of the troubles I’ve had getting it set up, mostly due to out of date information on the TI wiki.

        I have another question for you regarding the BLE112 modules – how have you been programming them? I’m assuming you’re using the CC Debugger from the CC2540 Mini Dev kit, but how are you interfacing it with the BLE112 module? Have you created your own breakout board? Also, have you ordered the DKBLE112 kit?

        Hope your prototyping is going well!

  2. Hi togehter,

    i read your posts above and my english is not as good as yours. But what i also can say is that your both information are really a time saver for me two.

    I also actually try to find a way for connecting a sensor via Bluetooth Smart to e.g. an iphone 4S. And i also found the Bluegiga Dev Kit and after reading your info’s i looked at the page of Blueradios. But compared to you i’m at the beginning of all of that. The first idea from mine was to start with buying the DKBLE112 and try. In Germany i can buy it for 297 Euro + Tax.

    But after i read the things about Blueradios and the difference to Bluegiga “…Blueradios has dual mode modules…” i’m a little confused, because i don’t know if that mode is an important feature (especially in combination with an iphone 4S) or not.

    Did anybody of you now buy one of the evaluation boards ? What about the response from Blueradios and/or Bluegiga ?

    • But after i read the things about Blueradios and the difference to Bluegiga “…Blueradios has dual mode modules…” i’m a little confused, because i don’t know if that mode is an important feature (especially in combination with an iphone 4S) or not.

      Hi there, glad you found the blog post useful. You only need a dual mode Bluetooth module if you plan on supporting classic Bluetooth (for older iPhones for example) as well as Bluetooth Low Energy, or if you need the ability to send large amounts of data. If your application is simply a sensor or some device that sends small amounts of information, and you don’t need it to be backwards compatible with classic Bluetooth, then stick with a single mode module. Remember as well that Apple doesn’t require Made for iOS (MFi) certification or the use of an authentication chip for Bluetooth Low Energy peripherals, but they still require it for classic Bluetooth.

      Did anybody of you now buy one of the evaluation boards ? What about the response from Blueradios and/or Bluegiga ?

      I don’t know anyone who’s bought the DKBLE112 evaluation board, but I plan on buying one from Bluegiga myself. My decision has been based on the fact that the Bluegiga website has a useful support section with downloads and technical documentation, while I wasn’t able to find much on the Blueradios website.

      Good luck with your development, and please let us know what evaluation kit you end up using!

      Hallo, freut mich, dass du diesen Blog gefunden hast. Das einzige was du brauchst ist ein duales Mode Bluetooth Modul wenn du klassisches Bluetooth unterstützen kannst (für ältere IPhones zum Beispiel) und ein Bluetooth Low Energy, oder wenn du die Möglichkeit brauchst grössere Datenmengen zu versenden.Wenn deine Anwendung einfach nur ein Sensor oder eine Einheit ist, die geringe Datenmengen versendet, und es nicht mit klassischem Bluetooth kompatibel sein muss, dann bleib bei einem einzelnen Mode Modul. Denke auch daran, dass Apple das “Made for iOS (MFi)” Zertifikat oder den Gebrauch eine Authentifizierungschips für Bluetooth Low Energy Peripheriegeräte nicht benötigt, dennoch für klassisches Bluetooth.

      Ich kenne niemanden der das DKLBE112 “evaluation board” gekauft hat, aber ich denke daran mir eines bei Bluegiga zu beschaffen. Meine Entscheidung basiert darauf, dass die Bluegiga Webseite einen sehr gute Bereich mit Downloads und technischer Dokumentation besitzt, während ich auf der Blueradios Webseite nicht viel finden konnte.

      Viel Erfolge mit deiner Entwicklung und lass uns wissen welches “evaluation kit” du letztendlich benutzt hast!

      • Thank you for your remarks.

        Actually i only want to be compatible with e.g. iphone 4 S and Bluetooth Smart. So i can use a single mode module, thank you.

        Interesting what you say about Apple MFi. If i understand you right, for hardware created with Bluetooth Smart i do NOT need to be certified by MFi ? – I’m sorry. Of course, i need to read the details at Apple to understand the certification process. But again, for the hardware i do NOT need that certificate !? – What about the App ? – I think for App i need a certificate liek that, right ?

      • Interesting what you say about Apple MFi. If i understand you right, for hardware created with Bluetooth Smart i do NOT need to be certified by MFi ? – I’m sorry. Of course, i need to read the details at Apple to understand the certification process. But again, for the hardware i do NOT need that certificate !? – What about the App ? – I think for App i need a certificate liek that, right ?

        That’s correct, you don’t need MFi certification for Bluetooth Smart devices. According to Brian Tucker, Senior Software Engineering Manager iOS Bluetooth Technologies Apple and Bluetooth SIG Board of directors member:

        “Bluetooth Low Energy is not part of our MFi accessory program. A third party application can interact with a BTLE accessory via a new framework found in iOS 5 and OX X 10.7.2, called Core Bluetooth

        You can also read my blog post iPhone 4S says goodbye to MFi for Bluetooth Smart Devices for more information.

  3. Hi Adam,

    I’m interested in getting a development kit to use BLE with a smartphone (as of now, I think only the iPhone 4S and the Motorola Droid RAZR can do it). You seem pretty knowledgeable in this area so you might be able to answer a few questions I have:

    1. I want to use the development kit to simulate either a heart rate monitor or a temperature monitor (as it’s pretty much impossible to buy either of these as end products yet). Which kit would you recommend? I think I saw that TI had sample applications to do just that.

    2. Which smartphone would be better to test with? I know that BLE isn’t officially supported by Android yet, so Motorola kind of hacked together a few APIs and implemented the heart rate profile (but not the thermometer profile?). I’ve got absolutely no idea whether the iPhone natively supports either of those profiles.

    Any thoughts at all would be much appreciated.
    Cheers, Tim

    • 1. I want to use the development kit to simulate either a heart rate monitor or a temperature monitor (as it’s pretty much impossible to buy either of these as end products yet). Which kit would you recommend? I think I saw that TI had sample applications to do just that.

      Hi Tim, so far I’ve only had (limited) experience with the TI CC2540DK-MINI kit, but I can definitely recommend it. They’ve got a very knowledgeable and active discussion forum, as well as lots of technical documentation and some very good source code examples, including a working iPhone 4S application. In the current BLE-CC2540-1.1a stack release, they’ve got sample code for BloodPressure, HeartRate, Thermometer, EmulatedKeyboard and others.

      2. Which smartphone would be better to test with? I know that BLE isn’t officially supported by Android yet, so Motorola kind of hacked together a few APIs and implemented the heart rate profile (but not the thermometer profile?). I’ve got absolutely no idea whether the iPhone natively supports either of those profiles.

      Again, I’ve only had experience with the iPhone 4S, but so far, it’s been great for prototyping with with the TI CC2540DK-MINI kit. I’m definitely biased, since I’ve developed Cocoa applications in the past, so I feel more comfortable using OS X development tools. However, Apple recently released sample code for implementing a Heart Rate Monitor using the CoreBluetooth API, so it may be of interest to you. Also, from what I’ve read, the RAZR needs to be running Ice Cream Sandwich to support BLE, and this is apparently not going to happen for a few more months.

  4. Hi

    I found this blog entry while looking for BLE module with the same motivation than you (easier to start with, not to deal with PCB design antenna etc). But looking deeply into such module and particularly the Bluegiga one which was sounding as a good solution, I am disapointed by the programming capability: either you use an external processor (but shame to not use the included one and to increase BOM, size etc), or you use the BGScript but it is really a limited langage (there is even no FOR/WHILE loop!)… There is no possibility to program directly the included 8051 processor easily with the Bluegiga module…at least the process is not described.
    For what concern IAR, yes the expensive price is limiting but there is 30 days demo (and in TI forum they recommend to play with computer clock…) and a free version limited to 4kbytes of code (which could be enough for simple application?)

    • Hi Pascal, last time I spoke to a Bluegiga representative, they mentioned “We also have in the roadmap to provide our stack as object code to allow in-module advanced C programming using the IAR compiler.” They didn’t provide any time frame for when this will be available. Perhaps I’ll try sending them another message to see if they can give me a definite date.

      In regards to the limited versions of IAR, I don’t believe you can use the kickstart version, since the TI BLE stack is larger than 4k, so I assume the Bluegiga stack would be larger than 4k as well.

      I’ve recently ordered a few BLE112 modules which should be arriving next week, so I’ll try to update the blog after I have some time to play around with them.

      • I got a reply from tech support of Bluegiga:

        Unfortunatley at the moment the C-programming is not supported yet and and BGscript is the only way to program BLE112.

        We have this feature on road-map, but it’s likely to be implemented only during Q2/2012.

        I will take a look on interfacing with an external processor cause the adding value of the module is really interesting (certifications etc)

      • Thanks for posting your response from Bluegiga, that’s very useful information for the rest of us. I’ve just posted a similar question to the BlueRadios representative on the TI forums, so we can determine if it’s possible to write C code for the 8051 MCU on the CC2540 in the BlueRadios modules.

      • The BlueRadios rep responded to my question and said the following:

        yes, you can use the TI BLE Stack to develop c-code applications with the IAR compiler

        I was a little confused by your response from Bluegiga regarding the inability to use C-programming, since if it can be done with the BlueRadios modules, surely the Bluegiga modules must be capable as well. I sent Bluegiga a message last week asking them for some clarification:

        Myself:
        I thought your BLE112 was sort of like a breakout for the CC2540 with the required capacitors, antenna, crystals, etc. I was under the impression that I would be able to write custom C code and flash it to the BLE112 using IAR with the CC Debugger.

        Bluegiga representative:
        If you use the TI stack of course you can develop your own applications. We do not use this stack so I am not able to give you much information about it.

        If and when we make available C object code for our BLE stack we will attempt to make it so you can use an open source compiler. But this is not for sure going to happen.

        So it seems that you can use IAR to write custom C code with the TI BLE stack on the Bluegiga BLE112 modules. The misunderstanding regarding the supposed inability to write C code comes from the fact that Bluegiga is currently trying to create a library to allow you to write C code using an open source compiler, without requiring IAR. Apparently, they’re still a few months away from this becoming a reality, so at the moment, you can definitely write code using IAR as if you were interfacing directly with the CC2540, similar in function to the TI keyfob from the CC2540DK-MINI, but you can’t use an open source compiler, such as SDCC (Small Device C Compiler).

      • (seems WordPress is lost with reply of reply of reply ;) )

        “So it seems that you can use IAR to write custom C code with the TI BLE stack on the Bluegiga BLE112 modules. ”
        Ok but where can we take this stack, put it in IAR and how to connect IAR with the module? Is that easy?

      • Ok but where can we take this stack, put it in IAR and how to connect IAR with the module? Is that easy?

        The easiest (albeit most expensive) way of programming the BLE112 is to buy the DKBLE112 kit and interface it with your computer. The cheaper, but much more difficult way is to design a custom printed circuit board and solder the BLE112 to it, like this guy has. Notice the header pins he’s included which will interface with the ribbon cable and CC Debugger from the Texas Instruments CC2540DK-MINI.

        Once you’ve got the PCB connected to the CC Debugger, you just load up one of the sample applications from Texas Instruments in IAR and use the download and debug command in IAR to flash it to the BLE112 module. You’ll have to modify the sample application to work with your custom PCB, since you won’t have many of the features that the TI keyfob has, such as LEDs or a buzzer, for example. This is currently what I’m investigating, since it’s much easier to design a custom PCB for the BLE112 than for the TI CC2540 chip. I’m planning on documenting the entire process once I’m able to actually produce a BLE112 PCB.

      • some few more info I got:
        The dev kit cost 500€
        The module is not certified yet
        Development possibilities are as unclear as for the other modules…. I am quite surprised that no one is proposing a clear and real method to develop in C into the MCU of the module.

  5. only 2 mobile phones yet ?
    hardly to believe, specially as the chips are around for almost a year now..
    as far as I know, in the second quarter are more mobile manufacturer supporting BLE ..

    that makes the decision really difficult, to go for a BLE or classic bluetooth solution.

    I am also in the moment looking for the right development kit.. thanks for your blog.. I was not aware that I had to certify my BLE end product with all the FCC, CE, ..

    just to be clear.. the bluegiga module and the blueradios module .. both are already certified and if use them in my endproduct, I immediately can sell them on the market ?

    • only 2 mobile phones yet ?
      hardly to believe, specially as the chips are around for almost a year now..
      as far as I know, in the second quarter are more mobile manufacturer supporting BLE ..

      that makes the decision really difficult, to go for a BLE or classic bluetooth solution.

      Yeah, it’s surprising that it’s taken the mobile industry so long to come out with BLE devices. I understand why Apple might take their time, since they’ve never been ones to succumb to market pressure, and can introduce products at their own pace, but you’d think the other companies would be churning out phones with BLE as fast as they can, to get a leg up on the competition. It was interesting that Apple was actually the first company to come out with a BLE enabled phone, and are really paving the way in the BLE industry.

      In regards to the decision between BLE or classic bluetooth, I think it really depends on the technical requirements of the application. If you need to send large amounts of data, say for file transfer or an audio application, or you need to support older hardware, then you don’t really have much of a choice but to use classic Bluetooth. If you need to send or receive small amounts of discrete data, and need long battery life, then BLE is the way to go.

      Also bear in mind that if you want to support iPhones, you can create a BLE device without any Apple certifications or extra hardware, but if you want to support classic Bluetooth, you’d need to apply for the Made for iOS program, and use an Apple authentication chip.

      The other thing to consider is if you haven’t started any development whatsoever, it’d probably take you at least a few weeks or months to come up with a prototype, and by that time there’s sure to be many more smart phones on the market that support BLE.

      just to be clear.. the bluegiga module and the blueradios module .. both are already certified and if use them in my endproduct, I immediately can sell them on the market ?

      The Bluegiga BLE112 modules have CE and FCC certifications, you can find all the relevant test report, safety investigation reports, certificates and grants on their Techforum once you’ve registered. As for the BlueRadios modules, according to their website, they have FCC and CE certifications, but I can’t find the documents on their site.

      I believe you still need to get your BLE device qualified by the Bluetooth SIG before you can sell it. Their site says the following:

      “Bluetooth Qualification, the Bluetooth SIG certification process, is required for any product using Bluetooth wireless technology and is a necessary pre-condition of the intellectual property license for Bluetooth wireless technology. Qualification is also necessary in order to apply the Bluetooth trademark to a product.”

      You can read more about the qualification process here.

  6. Hi,
    I am a little bit confused about the bluegiga BLE112..
    can someone explain me (a newbie) what this differences mean ?

    Product Codes
    BLE11-A: BLE112, integrated antenna
    BLE11-E: BLE112, U.FL connector
    BLE11-N: BLE112, 50ohm RF pin

    thanks

    • Hi there, I’ve updated the blog post to discuss the differences between these models. Most likely, you’ll want the BLE112-A with integrated antenna.

  7. Seems pretty hard to find someone with BlueGiga devices in stock these days. Digi-Key claims new stock arriving late February, we’ll see!

    Panasonic seems to have a line of devices that are dual-mode, using another CC26xx part, the PAN1316/PAN1326 (without/with antenna). These seem to be intended to be paired with an accompanying bluetooth stack running in an applications processor. It continues to be difficult to get more detailed specifications; perhaps everyone implements some standard HCI interface, but it feels like there’s more to it than that.

    I’m attempting to prototype a proof-of-concept and ideally a device based on the CC2560 with the ability to embed the application on the SoC is very attractive. Not sure how far I can get with a bluegiga solution, but I think they leave open the possibility of driving it with an external processor if required.

    Thanks for the great info on this blog, please keep it up! It’s been very helpful and I hope to be following your progress.

  8. Hi,
    I am new to BLE technology. I have a very basic question.
    If I have a laptop (Linux OS) with classic bluetooth, can I make it BLE with Stack up gradation and with no hardware changes ?

    • No, it’s not possible for classic Bluetooth to support Bluetooth Low Energy without specific hardware support in your chipset. There are considerable differences in the PHY and Link layer between the two technologies, amongst other things.

  9. Hello Adam, as others say, great post, real time saver (though I came to after having researched 80% of its content myself).

    With such a bewildering number of different BLE options available

    Cannot agree, contrary, I find it hilarious that 4 years after the introduction, there’s no real selection of BLE modules available. The guys apparently wait when Chinese shanzai’s will help them (with pricing too), amen.

    As CSR, they’re just a small company. The pioneers of classic Bluetooth, they lost the marketing battle to Broadcom (whose crappy chips stick out from 90% of new devices I come by nowadays). So, they just sit and grudge over their “intellectual property”. Can’t blame them, really. But being the pioneer, their technology is well known (figure, bluez in Linux has extra internals support not for someone else’s chips but CSR’s). Also, as time goes by, leaks appear, for example I just luv content and wording of this document – proves my points above. It just keep talking “you hack new modules the same way as you hacked older”. So, a) CSR’s technology is already well known; b) they value customer’s investment in their technology. They just don’t think of you or me as their customers, which is pity of them.

    TI? Or yeah, they’re the leaders. Their chips are pricier than others’, but yep, there’s full value to it. Also, no matter how much hundreds of cents a chip costs, a module will cost $25. Or $50. Until shanzais intervene – those guys can fulfil any promises of some technology costing less $10, so you can buy it in dozens, like wireless sensors want to be bought. As for IAR stuff and lack of SDCC support, I guess TI just wants to spur the innovation – they want someone to write object file converter from IAR to SDCC, or maybe they just want their BLE stack disassembled and all arbitrary restrictions removed.

    • Hai Paul,

      Compared to your research, I would say that I am a bit of a starter.

      Would you be able to suggest of any chip that supports dual mode and stands next to cc2450 in terms of price, library and support?

  10. Hi Guys.

    A real good blog that has been very informative.

    Forgive me if my question is slightly off blog!

    Being professionally involved with electronics and software I am keeping up to date with your technical comments. My main question\problem\decision is what version of bluetooth standard\BLE to design for? I’m looking at some home automation devices to control from a smart phone and want the greatest compatibility possible – I’m guessing that this forces me away from BLE… possibly for a number of years.

    Would anyone agree or disagree with this.

    Thank you and please keep this blog going – an excellent reference…

    • Hi Gary, thanks for the kind words. In order to maintain maximum compatibility, you could use a dual mode module which combines classic Bluetooth as well as Bluetooth Low Energy, this way you can provide support for BLE devices as they become more widespread, and your customers can take advantage of the lower energy requirements of BLE if they have a supported BLE device. You should also be aware that if you want to support iOS devices with classic bluetooth, you’ll either have to use something like the Roving Networks RN-41-APL Bluetooth APL modules which natively support iAP (iPod Accessory Protocol), or you’ll need to apply for the Apple Made for iOS developer program, which can be very expensive. Bluetooth Low Energy doesn’t have this requirement – it can be used with Apple iOS devices without any authentication hardware or software. Best of luck!

      • Hi Adam, thanks for reply. Yes, I received only Friday the rn-42 in the ‘BlueSmirf’ configuration and intend to test with a small PIC processor and my smart phone app. which has been prototyped on an Android device. I am new to Bluetooth development and so wasn’t aware of the APL version which seems to provide an easier route to Apple compatibility. It’s good to hear you mention this device (well the rn-41 anyway) as confirmation that maybe I wasn’t miles off. I think I will press on to a fully working development with my current setup and then look at where you are re. the TI CC2540 and its code development (i.e. will we still be effectively locked to IAR).

        A quick related question. The flash PIC’s can self write giving me the opportunity to be able to potentially flash the device fimware over bluetooth with updated code obtained by the user when receiving an app. upgrade. Having read a good amount of the CC2540 docs I have not yet determined if this can also self write to its flash program memory.

        Keep up the good work…

      • A quick related question. The flash PIC’s can self write giving me the opportunity to be able to potentially flash the device fimware over bluetooth with updated code obtained by the user when receiving an app. upgrade. Having read a good amount of the CC2540 docs I have not yet determined if this can also self write to its flash program memory.

        Hi Gary, I think it’s possible to bootload over the air, if I’ve understood your question correctly. You can find more information about it in the following post.

  11. Pingback: Atomslagstyrken » Trying to get hold of a Bluetooth LE module

  12. Adam, as several have said before, thanks for all of the great research and commentary you have provided on the dev kits. This blog has provided me a ton of information, and for someone who is not very technical it has been a tremendous help!

    I have a question that I hope is a simple one. I’m looking at the Bluegiga dev kit to help me with a side research project I am interested in. As I mentioned I’m not very technical, at least not in this area of expertise, so I’m looking for the simplest way for me to get a POC up and running for a relatively straightforward application. For the POC I’m planning on having 2 modules and 2 dongles. My goal is to have the dongles on the PC’s be able to read the unique MAC address of the modules with no user intervention required or complex pairing. At this point that’s all I care about, reading the MAC address of the module (peripheral), but it has to be a completely open pairing process.

    Do you think the Bluegiga DKBLE112 and BG Script language will allow me to prove this simple exchange of data with the “open” pairing requirement? The modules and dongles will have never been paired before and have no prior knowledge of each other. I basically want the module to broadcast or become discoverable every couple of seconds, and have the dongles on the PC read and store the modules unique MAC address in a text file for later use. Somehow I would want the PC dongle to only read/store the MAC addresses of modules that are identified with my application, uniquely distinguishing them from any other random BLE devices that may be broadcasting that are of no interest to me. Again, there can be no user intervention at any point. Hopefully that is clear as it is not easy for me to describe :) Does the Bluegiga kit seem like a reasonable fit for me to try and test this out? There documentation seems to be decent, and while I am not super technical I’m hoping I can figure out the BG Script part to fulfill my simple requirement.

    • Hi Brad, thanks for the kind words. I’ve just taken a look through the Bluetooth 4.0 Single Mode Stack API Documentation v1.2 from the Bluegiga support area, and on page 141 it talks about “Address Get” which responds with the Bluetooth address of the local device. I’m not sure if this is the IEEE MAC address, but it looks promising. Also, you can put the devices in broadcast mode, which will cause them to broadcast whatever data you want, without going through the process of pairing. This is useful, for example, if you wanted to make some type of sensor for use in a shopping mall to broadcast the direction of the closest exit, without needing to pair with observers. So although I haven’t spent much time with the BLE112 modules myself, (despite having them sitting on my desk collecting dust!), I think BGScript will be capable of demonstrating your proof of concept, since simply broadcasting information is a pretty standard use of BLE.

      If it turns out that BGScript isn’t powerful enough for your future needs, you can always interface an external microcontroller to the BLE112 to enable a much richer set of instructions, or you could shell out the money for the IAR Embedded Workbench and use it to program the 8051 microprocessor in the TI CC2540 which is what the BLE112 is built around.

      Good luck with your project, and be sure to send an update when you’ve made some progress!

      • Thanks Adam. I’ve just ordered my DKBLE112 kit and am anxious to get started!

  13. Hi Brad,
    This post is very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
    I am working on a remote based on the Nordic chip. I am looking to incorporate a buzzer in it for a beep sound. The components I found in the market are Piezo and electromagnetic type. While the piezo is too big (diameter 9mm) for my product, the electromagnetic consumes too much energy. Do you have any tip as for what component I can use?
    Thanks,
    Ariel

    • Hi Ariel,

      I have just downloaded the Application Notes from Insight sip (BLE_AN120102R1.pdf ) and it seems that their module have all the necessary radio frequency elements and the antenna. The digital inputs/outputs of their module are the same digital inputs/outputs of the Nordic chip. So it probably means that you just need to develop your digital application. An additional advantage is that their module does not have any µcontroller. So we can use the one we want. For more information about the connections with a µcontroller the best is to directly contact Nordic.

      Rgds,

      JM

  14. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for really interesting blog. It seems that you have a good sense of these modules, and I hope that you are the one who can answer my question.

    I’m working on battery powered device which has to communicate with cell phones and has Renesas RX210 as the host controller. This is my first Bluetooth project, and I naively thought that Bluetooth turnkey modules are something like wireless UARTs. That is, if I use one of them, I can use them out-of-the-box and need not to bother with their programming. Originally I intended to use the PAN132x module, but, when I discovered that I have to install MP430 MCU to implement full Bluetooth stack and additionally to program this MCU, I was very disappointed. Now I am planning to use Bluegiga’s BLE112, which seems much easier to handle.

    So, the question.

    Can BLE112 be used out-of-the-box, without any additional programming? I mean, is there some pre-installed software that allows you just to use the module as “wireless UART”, or you have anyway to program it? I’m guessing that programming is necessary anyway, since BLE112 has two ports which can be programmed as UARTs, but, maybe, you already have some experience with this module and can share it.

    Thanks for your attention and nice blog!

  15. Wow, is all I can say about your site, I have been researching BLE development kits for the past two weeks and I must say I am glad I stumbled onto your blog.

    I am hardware engineer and not a software guy.

    I am looking to create a test device which will simply close a relay based on two criteria.

    First the BLE will be paired with an IPhone or droid, secondly when the phone receives a text message (any text message) or a phone call I would like it to close the relay, that’s all it needs to do. Personally I would like to have two relays on my BLE, but will settle for one to start.

    I currently use 3.3V relays so I believe the Bluegiga GPIO will be tolerant using a pullup resistor on the VDC line.

    My first question would be which dev kit would be better suited for my needs?

    My second and biggest question as I am not a software person is, do I need to create an app on the phone or is there already the protocols which would sends information to a bluetooth device such as the earpieces which already exists today, that I can use?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Adam,

    Thanks for the very helpful research & discussion. I have a TI CC2540 Mini Dev Kit. It’s pretty nice, but I have the same concerns about cost as others. Also, I need HID support, which is included in the TI Bluetooth Low Energy v1.2 stack release, along with a nice sample project. Last contact I had with Bluegiga, they indicated that they have no plans to support HID. While the cost of $4K cost of the IAR software is high, that pales in comparison to CE/FCC certifications.

    Any comments regarding an ideal module for HID development would be most appreciated. What pre-certified module would easily run TI sample project built via IAR. I’m hoping for a little support from the supplier, versus buying a Chinese module with iffy certs and support.

    Again thanks for hosting this!

  17. Hi,

    Have you looked at the Insight SiP Bluetooth Low Energy module? I think it is the smallest one at moment. I will try to get more information about it.

    I will go to the Startup weekend at Trondheim in Norway. They said that we can development our Bluetooth Smart application in a few minutes by using the Nordic nRF8002 development kits. I definitely want to check this.

    Thanks,

    JM

    • Thanks for the heads up David. I actually bought one of those Breakout boards from Jeff about a month or two ago and have been meaning to blog about it, but haven’t had a chance.

  18. Adam,

    I have had the Bluegiga BLE112 evaluation board and have an interesting problem

    # using the I/O buttons I can use bitwise ANDING (&) to see which I/O pin was pressed.
    I have an example below which works:

    # working bitwise code, however this is through Bluegiga’s event handler.
    event hardware_io_port_status(timestamp, port, irq, state)
    if irq & 0 = 0 then # Which button was pressed between Pin 0 & pin 1.
    do something # Button P0_0 was pushed
    else
    do something else # Button P0_1 was pushed

    However if I try using bitwise operations to do ORing, it causes the part of code to be ignored, I have pasted segments of the code which fails below:

    # an example which fails for reasons which are beyond me.
    ntype = $80
    ntype = ntype | $4 # I have a one byte field I want bits 2, and 7 high
    if ntype = $84 then # verify I (or’ed) correctly
    call hardware_io_port_write(1,$7,$1) # set the display to command mode
    call hardware_spi_transfer(0,1,”\xc0″) # Change display cursor pos
    call hardware_io_port_write(1,$7,$3) # set the display to data mode
    call hardware_spi_transfer(0,16,” Success “)
    # Write “Success” to the display
    end if

    In the above code if I just make ntype = $84 instead of (or’ing) it works fine.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  19. I was wondering ’bout the IAR Embedded Workbench, does this mean that without this software you won’t be able to program it at all?

    • You won’t be able to write custom software for the onboard 8051 MCU on the CC2540/2541 without IAR Embedded Workbench. You’ll only be able to program it with precompiled hex files using BTool. If you use a turnkey module such as a BLE112, you’ll be able to use their proprietary API to develop software, but it’s not as powerful as writing code directly using IAR. An alternative is to use another microcontroller and interface that with the CC2540, which means you can program it using whatever development environment is supported by that particular microcontroller.

      • Does that mean I can develop a firmware using a proprietary stack (like BGscript from BlueGiga) and then flash it to a cc2540 in a different circuit (IE not one in a BLE112 module)

      • That’s a good question. Since the BLE112 is just a CC2540 with a shield, balun, antenna and capacitors, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use BGScript on a CC2540 by itself.

  20. In addition to my previous question. How much can you actually develop using BTool? I’m having issues about pitching to my boss the idea of paying for a IAR license.

  21. I tried Bluegiga and Blueradio LE modules. 2 out 10 Blueradio modules died on me after 3-4 months of use. Did you guy had similar problem?

    • I’ve had no problems with my Bluegiga BLE112 modules. Maybe just a bad batch from Blueradios, have you contacted them and found out if they’ll allow you to return them?

      • An alternative is to use Alpwise BLE development kit, ALPW-BLEDVK002, with module ALWP-BLEM002. BLE Module is based on BLE Radio from EM Microelectronic and 80c51 from Silicon Labs.
        Development kit is delivered with BLE SDK for 80c51, and SW + USB BLE Key to run the BLE stack and applications on PC.
        Engineers can then develop their applications for the embedded side running on the module, and test applications on PC.

  22. Hey Adam, thank you very much for this awesome detailed comparison! Although I seem to be a little late, this comes in really handy for me as I am too a total newbe on the hardware side.
    I have a little project in mind where I would like to build a small BLE dongle that can be found and identified by my iPhone – I do not need the possibility of connecting the devices. Therefore, the final doesn’t any additional sensors, merely the RSSI, the unique ID of the dongle and and if possible one ID (-adjustment/-attachment) to be able to quickly identify if it is one of my bluetooth modules and not somebody else’s would be great.
    After some research I believe that also for me the BLE112-A will be the right module, simply because its documentation is supposed to be very good. With only the DKBLE112 I guess I should be able to create a prototype that can be identified with a BLE scanner on my phone, do you agree?
    Later on however, I’d like to directly attach the module to a battery, without development board. You were mentioning that you are planning to design your own PCB for the module and referred to this website: http://www.mkroll.mobi/?p=261
    This seems to be exactly the device I would like to build (including the pcb), although I am aiming at another functionality than The engineer does. Did you already get the chance to gather some useful sources of documentation or help or even design your own board?
    Any help or tips on these issues would be highly appreciated!!

    I hope you get along with your project!

    Thank you very much,
    Mark

  23. Adam, have you gotten the BLEDK yet? I recently got one and can’t for the life of me figure out how to compile the code. There’s no compiler on the Bluegiga site and the binaries they provide have, all but one, no GUI whatsoever. And the one that does is just a controller for the usb dongle.

    • Hey Moises, I’ve got a BLE112, but haven’t really done anything with it yet, been mostly working with the CC2540 Keyfob. Are you talking about trying to flash it with BGScript, or do you want to write native code for the onboard CC2540? I’ll try to take a look at the BLE112 this weekend and see if I can figure out how to program it.

    • Hello Moises, I’ve got a couple of DKBLE112 kits. I can write BGscript that compiles into a binary that I can flash on the evaluation board using TI’s SmartRF flash programmer. There’s not much documentation at BlueGiga, but I found this helpful:
      http://www.javimontero.com/blog/2012/04/conexion-dkble112-con-pc/
      (Put that through Google translate, it will get you there)

      You can look at all the examples in the ble/example/ directory, they should all compile. Start off with the evkit_display app that displays the usual “Hello World”. If you follow the build instructions on the site above, it should produce an “out.hex” file that you can burn on the BLE112 on the evaluation board through TI’s SmartRF flash programmer. The LCD screen should display “Hello World”.

      As for C code, I got both the applications in the ble/src/ directory working. Try the scan_example application first.

      To build these apps, I have MinGW (I guess Cygwin should also work) on Windows, with the TDM GCC compiler suite (here : http://tdm-gcc.tdragon.net/ ). If you just run a “make” in the scan_example directory it should build scan_example.exe.

      I connected the BT USB dongle to my PC, had the drivers installed from the ble/windrv directory and it showed up as COM4. The scan example allows you to scan for other BLE devices. I powered on my two evaluation boards running the stock (temperature display) application, and ran the scan_example application on my PC as follows:
      ./scan_example.exe COM4

      The app on the PC scanned my two EVM’s and gave me this:
      #connected -> disconnect
      #Not connected -> Scan
      00:01:02:03:04:06 50
      00:01:02:03:04:06 50
      00:01:02:03:04:05 52
      00:01:02:03:04:05 52

      I hope this helps.

      • Indeed, good info. I has actually managed to flash the examples yesterday. Then I tried making writing my own hello world app and that was a different ordeal. Haven’t found much info regarding those other files like hardware.XML but I’ll have a look today. I had a hard time with their script so I contacted a BG rep a he told me you couldn’t develop using IAR, I find that odd since after all you flash the .hex file using TI’s sw…
        Did I read it right BTW? Can you develop using C?
        Have you been able to find non-dk devices with the USB dongle? An iPhone for instance?

      • Hello Moises, I could only write C code that runs on a PC that’s connected to one of their BLE dongles (I run it from the command line on Windows / MinGW, it connects to the BLE dongle and does its stuff), but haven’t been able to write C code that builds into a hex file that I can burn directly on the chip. I’m sure it’s possible to build C code on IAR for the BLE112 target since they use an 8051 inside, and it’s all sitting in a TI CC2540, but without the appropriate libraries it’s going to be difficult or impossible for us at the moment. BlueGiga’s rep couldn’t help me with this either.

        Their bgbuild.exe application is obviously doing all this magic for us, and converting your BGScript into a CC2540 hex executable.

        I’ll move this to the forum as Adam suggested, but let us know if any of you figure out how to build C code using IAR or something else, that will run on your BLE112.

      • RS, I’m guessing you leave in Spain, me too, if there was a way to get in touch with you faster I’d appreciate it (email, IM, anything) since I’m having trouble and I am a newb at this and you seem to be slightly ahead of me on this. If not well, have you been able to develop BGScript applications on your own? I’m trying bgbuild but getting some issues regarding the bleapi.xml file.

  24. Hello Adam and others, have any of you successfully managed to get a star network running with any of the BLE modules above? I’m trying to get a simple star network running with BlueGiga’s BLE112 dev kit. According to the spec, it should support both star and point-to-point topologies.

    However, there’s nothing in the example code or C source that helps, nor can I find enough information in the documents. I’ve been exchanging mails with their rep but we haven’t got far on this.

    Since the BLE112 is based on the TI CC2540, can it handle a star network at all? There’s a post on the TI forum where a TI employee says “The CC2540 can be slave or master, but right now it cannot have more than one connection open at once in the master role.”
    Here :
    http://e2e.ti.com/support/low_power_rf/f/538/t/88642.aspx

    However, since the BLE112 uses a different BT stack, would this still hold? Lots of questions but not enough answers yet from BlueGiga. Thanks in advance for any pointers.

    • Hi RS, unfortunately I can’t answer your question either, since I haven’t spent much time working with the BLE112. Maybe post a message on bleforum.com so at least you might be able to get a discussion started, or someone may find your message through google and have a solution, or if you find the answer yourself you can update it so it may help others.

      • Hey RS, I wouldn’t count much on BlueGiga’s support since they clearly told me you could not program the BLE112 with TI’s IAR and I just flashed a couple of TI’s examples and they worked like a charm.

    • No I did not but I did manage to flash my own code and I flashed TIs examples so I would say, contrary to what the BlueGiga rep told me, you should be able to flash IAR compiled hex files into the ble112

  25. Pingback: Small Bluetooth sensor design

    • I haven’t tried the Blue Radio kit, I’ve only played around with the Bluegiga module, but thanks for posting the information. I’m curious if there are any country restrictions on the discount, since the local Australian rep for IAR quoted me $4K when I originally inquired about it, so maybe the discount isn’t quite as much for Aussies.

  26. Hi,
    I’m new to all of this and i have a very simple question. Can you establish just a simple connection between a device and the BLE112 for example? Leaving all other functionality aside, without any extra programming etc. That is, if I were to buy just the module itself, will I be able to just scan for it, connect and disconnect?

    Thanks in advance !

    • I looked through some of the documentation for the BLE112, but was unable to find out what software (if any) comes pre-installed on the module, so I can’t say for certain, although if I had to guess I’d say that it’s not possible to do what you want. As a minimum, you’d need a CC Debugger device to interface your computer with the BLE112 module, which you could then flash with different software to allow you to connect to the device from an iPhone 4S/5 for example.

    • The BLE112 comes pre-loaded with BGDemo that will advertise and allow a connection. It broadcasts RSSI value, UUID and a Generic Access Profile. There isn’t really anything you can do with it though except test an app to see if it will connect, read and write values to the GATT.

      Another option is the tod Smart Beacon, which is extends the BLE112 into an open hardware rapid prototyping tool and proximity sensor.

    • As Don M says, it comes preloaded with the BGDemo, if by any chance you own a Galaxy SIII you can actually download the Bluetooth Smart Scanner app from Google Play, as of now it’s the only way I’ve found to interact with the BLE112 using an Android device. And it only scans the SSID and the broadcast address.

  27. Pingback: Adding Bluetooth to your embedded device » A circular reference

  28. Great post!!
    Can you please just tell me your opinion about Panasonic’s turnkey Bluetooth 4.0 solutions (w/ integrated antenna), namely PAN1326 and PAN1720?
    Are they complete Turnkey solutions as BL112 or BR-LE4.0-S2A? Are they as easy to assemble in a breakboard? Are they compatible with iOS for iPhone4S/iPad3?
    Thank you all for your comments!

  29. I really loved your post. Great Job! We are using the CC2540 for our project, and it’s working very well with iOS devices. I have one question though. I have another project that requires 2-channels of audio streamed over bluetooth. BLE does not support this bandwidth. Do you have any similar turnkey module (or bluetooth module) for legacy 2.X devices that you can recommend? Preferably one that can use MfI for Apple Products. Is this a tall order? Thanks for the great post, and keep up the great work!

  30. Hi,

    Thanks for the post. We are currently evaluating to use Bluetooth 4.0 for our product. We consider bluegiga but size does not fit. We are considering TI solution.

    We would like to build module base on TI. We wanted one module configure as client and one module as master and for the 2 to exchange data. We hope to run some simple application ont he onboard MCU 8051. We were told that the 2 modules cannot be paired directly. The module can pair only with handset or a host computer. Is this true?
    Thankyou

    • Where have you heard that 2 BLE modules cannot be paired directly? The Texas Instruments CC2540 Mini Dev kit includes a keyfob and USB dongle both of which use the CC2540 and can be paired together. The USB dongle is running the HostTestRelease code and connected to a host computer running BTool, which is providing it with the instructions necessary to pair with the keyfob. I see no reason why you can’t flash the USB dongle with different software, removing BTool from the mix, and still have it connect to the keyfob. Having said that, I haven’t actually tested it myself, since I’ve always either connected to a USB dongle or to an iPhone, but I’m pretty sure it would work. After all, interoperability is one of the key features of Bluetooth Low Energy (and Bluetooth in general).

  31. Hey, I know this is a bit of a newb question but I am looking to develop a BLE proximity product. I noticed that nordic semi offers the nRF8002 chip specifically for proximity applications. How does this product differ from the nRF8001 or the competing TI product? I’m assuming the 8002 would be a better bet for me but I’m not actually sure what the differences are.

  32. I have another question as well. In your blog post you mentioned that the BlueGiga device has an advantage in that it already has FCC approval. Do the development kits not have FCC approval already? For example I purchased the 8002 development kit, it includes reference schematics and production files. Could I not just use this reference design, or lightly modify this reference design for my own device production in order to avoid the FCC stuff? Thanks again :)

  33. Hi,
    Thanks for all your posts. You are doing a great job!!
    We are working on interfacing BLE(TI solution- CC2540) in master/slave configuration for our device. We want to go for CC2540EMK (eval module) to begin with development.
    How can I program and debug CC2540EMK with cc-debugger?(do not have SmartRF05 Evaluation Boards). What interfacing circuit is needed?
    Thanks…:)

  34. BLStack might be a option to overcome the IAR Cost Problem with the CC254x Chips.
    It seems they started to use BTStake in a BLE Enviroment with an CC256x + MSP430 Combo (Launchpad + Boster? ) but should be portable to the CC51 with CC2541 Radio for someone who is a little bit mor experienced with BTStack and the CC2541.

    http://code.google.com/p/btstack/wiki/BLE

    BTStack is open source and licence free for hobbists…

  35. Thanks Adam,
    Gr8 detailed post, saved a couple of days of research.
    I agree that cc245x is the choice for board level designing but the compiler cost is a bit of a -ve point for hobbiest market. We have to be sure that we can use it in more than 2-3 projects. My target products have to be lowcost, i.e. under 10$ BOM and yet has to support both 4.0 and 2.1 version. While CC2450/1 is for 4.0 only.

    I dont mind buying the compiler, but i would prefer to be able to make 2.0 compatible applications if I am gona spend 2-3K on protos and compiler.

    Guyz, would you be able to suggest a solution here?

  36. Pingback: BLE112 - Switching to BlueRadios - Suresh's Site

  37. Hello,

    I would like to build a device that requires Bluetooth. I am very new to this, although i have lots of experience with coding and what not. I am trying to build a device that connects to my phone, and when my phone rings i would like a tiny light to go on. This is for a project that i will be carrying out for school. I have read everything this blog has to offer, and I’m still a bit confused as to how everything works. Hopefully someone can give me a few details (not asking for anything lengthy) on parts I will need to carry out this task. Thank you very much

  38. Just a general response, the “BlueRadios” company is very difficult to work with in terms of getting any information on purchasing anything. If you email and ask them, they basically shut you down, and very rudely. I wouldn’t suggest trying to get their devices, due to rude customer service, and parts availability. I think the reason it is difficult to get parts is because “BlueRadios” consists of one guy living in his mom’s basement.

    If you are skilled enough to actually interface with the poorly document device, and work around all the weird problems, then you are probably skilled enough to attach a TI microcontroller to an antenna and use some open source stack SW….

  39. Your blog saved my life since I have no idea about Bluetooth modules. Thanks a lot.

    There is one thing I need to make sure about regarding the BlueGiga module.
    In case I need just to program it to read data from a sensor via I2C protocol and then transmit the data to another module or to a PC. Is the Bluetooth Dongle (BLED122) is enough to program it to do that task or not? Plus, since is it based on TI CC2540 module, is CC2540 MIni kit enough to program the BLE211 module alone without the development kit?

    Regarding the BR-LE4.0-S2A from Blueradios, I e-mailed them 3 weeks ago and they replied to me that they only sell for OEMs..!!!!!

    Regards

  40. I have to amplify the previous comment. When we were designing in a BLE module a while ago we didn’t want to go with BlueRadios because of their awful attitude. They’ve never answered the phone and no one has ever returned a call. Half the time they do not respond to e-mails. We worked with BlueGiga for a while but they never had the functionality that we needed (to create a virtual pipe between two CPU’s on separate boards). At that time BlueRadios was the only module we could find that would do what we wanted without a bunch of extra development time (we’re not hobbyest’s, we’re a 25 year old company just wanting to get products designed and out the door). With BlueRadios demo kit it worked very easily and we thought it would be a slam dunk but once we got to actually implementing it we ran into all kinds of bizzarre bugs and behavior. We couldn’t even buy support from them, they said “We’ll give you support for $150us an hour but we’re busy and can’t get to you for 45 to 60 days” !!! We’ve also experience a high rate of failure with their modules which is surprising.

    • I have to temper some of my previous comments, it turns out that some or most of the bugs / aberrant behavior we experienced was do to noise on the power supply line.

  41. Great blog and very useful. I have purchased the TI CC2541 DK Mini Dev Kit which is great value but using got road blocked trying to use the IAR Kickstart compiler that was limited to 4K.
    The stumbling block is the expensive IAR compiler. If there was a free alternative, then that would solve the major barrier to more people playing with BLE.

  42. We are trying to find a Bluetooth module with A2DP like the csr8311

    Yet we need it pre approved by the FCC. We can’t wait to have it certified. We can wait for the verification process.

    I know there are different models of csr8311. Do you have a suggestion for our product.

    Best,

    Mark A. Tierno
    President, Founder
    App-Tronics
    (888)587-4111 toll free
    (440) 364-0920 cell
    Website: App-Tronics.com
    Email: m.tierno@app-tronics.com
    Skype: app-tronics

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