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The Sub-1GHz BoosterPack for 2013/2014


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So as I understand it, the only Sub-1GHz boosterpack available right now is Anaren's AIR CC110L which seems to get a bit of attention (one of the TI'ers used it for a DIY project presented at the Maker Faire back in May, right?).  But there are more sophisticated options out there, including TI's new CC1200 and @@jpnorair has mentioned some other chipsets.  So a refresh on the technology using some of the newer chipsets is in order.

 

I'm copying from another thread where this inspiration came:

 

 

spirilis, on 12 Sept 2013 - 7:47 PM, said:snapback.png

I'd totally love to do something like this at some point, although not sure I'll get to it this year.  QFN soldering is still new territory for me (though with OSHstencils and my reflow skillet, probably doable) and I am a green noob at RF PCB design  :smile: .... although I do have that SA430!  Has to count for something right?

(@@jpnorair 's reply)

I can supply a basic design pretty quickly, the sort of thing that goes to SMA connector. Doing an integrated antenna isn't *really* a big deal in this form factor, but I'm pretty busy with my real work now. I certainly don't have time at the moment to deal with logistics of manufacturing and distribution. If we want to stick with TI, then the CC1200 might be an interesting choice. If we don't care, then ST SPIRIT1 and Semtech SX1276 are both interesting options. Another possibility is to use a CC430, and have it work optionally as a network processor or optionally as direct SPI pass-through to the CC1101 core.

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SmartRF compatibility is not so trivial.  The 5529 has a ton of RAM and Flash, though.  I would recommend, instead, to support a build for the LP side of things that has the SRF firmware.  If someone

If the community has some idea what chip they would prefer, just let me know. A vote? or an edict is fine too: if 43oh is getting direct support from TI, then it should probably be a TI chip. I've not

No, there is an unlicensed band from 420-450 MHz in USA.  The most common FCC spec here is Part 15.231.  There are some tricky MAC requirements, though, which Anaren couldn't be bothered with.   Any

If the community has some idea what chip they would prefer, just let me know. A vote? or an edict is fine too: if 43oh is getting direct support from TI, then it should probably be a TI chip. I've not used or supported the CC1200, but as long as TI has a reference design, I won't need to design any new analog circuits. That is a plus, because I'd prefer to do the design at home on a lazy sunday.

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What frequencies are you thinking of supporting 433/868/915 MHz?

 

The current panStamp only supports 868/915.  When I asked about 433 for the CC430 panStamp I got the following reply 

 

 

The final PCB has not been designed yet but now the idea is to replace the RF balum and filter made with discretes by a Johanson chip. Doing this we could save space and also work on different frequencies by assembling the correct Johanson part whilst keeping the same PCB layout.

 

One option would be to create a simple BoosterPack that just connects a panStamp to the Launchpad.  This way you don't have to worry about the RF design.  The developer of panStamp seems to be very open to feature input from potential users.

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What frequencies are you thinking of supporting 433/868/915 MHz?

 

The current panStamp only supports 868/915.  When I asked about 433 for the CC430 panStamp I got the following reply 

 

One option would be to create a simple Booster Pack that just connects a panStamp to the Launchpad.  This way you don't have to worry about the RF design.  The developer of panStamp seems to be very open to feature input from potential users.

My intention here is to add functionality to the TI LaunchPad ecosystem above and beyond what's already available (Existing Anaren AIR CC110L BoosterPack adds CC110x capabilities, albeit not as sophisticated as CC430 & CC1101 but similar performance I believe?); meaning the newer, higher range chipsets like CC1200 and SPIRIT1 et al.  The PanStamp idea is a good idea but I think what makes more sense is a PanStamp-BoosterPack adapter, since it has its own MCU it'll then let you add BoosterPacks to the PanStamp.

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That's why I asked about frequencies.  Anaren BoosterPacks don't support 433Mhz.

Ah right, good point.  Forgot Anaren only lists 433MHz in EU (not sure why?).  I think prioritizing 433MHz is important; @@jpnorair had some chart on his twitter showing the noise in 433 vs. 915 that was telling.

 

But being able to change the balun/etc and build alternate frequencies will be important too.

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As I understand it the A1101 is offered in 433Mhz versions but not the BoosterPack due to FCC regulations.

 

I agree that moving up to the CC12XX would be best but don't know if/when Anaren will release one.

 

Lowest price I see for A1101R04C is $12.50 with LGA footprint.  panStamp is $18.55 with DIP footprint.

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As I understand it the A1101 is offered in 433Mhz versions but not the BoosterPack due to FCC regulations.

 

I agree that moving up to the CC12XX would be best but don't know if/when Anaren will release one.

 

Lowest price I see for A1101R04C is $12.50 with LGA footprint.  panStamp is $18.55 with DIP footprint.

 

Ah, strange.  How do other 433MHz solutions get around that?  Or are you supposed to obtain a special license to use that band?

 

I guess the main reason to stick with Anaren or other pre-built solution is: https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/398

 

Come to think of it, a lot of pre-built boosterpacks probably fall under the category of requiring certification... heh

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And all the cheap ebay wireless stuff out of China which should be but is almost never certified.

Yeah...

 

Sounds like you need an amateur radio license to legally play in 433MHz (and be cognizant that you are not pissing off other users)- http://www.avrfreaks.net/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=printview&t=29777

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I'm thinking we fall under this "The FCC allows a hobbyist to build up to five devices of a single design for personal use with no testing whatsoever." from the Sparkfun link you provided.  Assuming the end user/hobbyist does some of the final assembly.  It seems best to stay in the ISM bands but not required.  433Mhz is ISM but not in the US http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISM_band

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I'm thinking we fall under this "The FCC allows a hobbyist to build up to five devices of a single design for personal use with no testing whatsoever." from the Sparkfun link you provided.  Assuming the end user/hobbyist does some of the final assembly.

 

Guess this is one of those grey areas we have to decide how far we want to walk into.  I was thinking of rolling a board with the chipset based on an antenna footprint design from @@jpnorair if necessary, but I don't think it's worth selling in pieces since those QFN chips are a tad tricky to solder by hand.  The idea I had in mind was doing hand assembly with stencils and reflow skillet (or maybe commissioning Elecrow to assemble them) and selling those boards without headers or the SMA antenna, but I'm not sure what "some of the final assembly" really entails.

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