Looking for radio modules as an alternative to NRF24L01+

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Hi everyone,

 

as stated in the title, I need an alternative to the well known 2.4GHz modules. I intend to build a few wireless sensors an deploy them around the house. I tried it with the NRF24L01+ modules and it works more or less.

But the range is not so amazing even though I already use the modules with the PA and LNA. 

 

So I thought I just take a sub 1 GHz module. The problem is that I did not find find anything that's cheap, easy to configure and includes package management. Basically I'm looking for a NRF24L01+ at 433 MHz.

I live in Switzerland, so 868 and 915 MHz are no options. At least I think so.

 

So does anyone know about anything that suits my needs? Any help is greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance

-Patrick

"Some people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75." -Benjamin Franklin

 

What is life's greatest illusion?"  "Innocence, my brother." -Skyrim

 

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pawi,

 

Its been awhile since I even looked at radio stuff. There is Hoperf (google it). It uses I think a silicon labs chip and will do 868,915, and 433. HopeRF has modules with the chip and I think 2mm surface mount. Also jeelabs and moteino websites sell modules with the hoperf on it. They are actually development boards with avr+hoperf. Jeelabs is in Europe and that web site has a lot of info on home sensor stuff. Early on it was pretty much that. He also has arduino libraries for hoperf modules that has been used by many. Fairly sure there is C code around too. But at least to me it is easy to port arduino code. You may have to look into the jeelabs archives for the wireless stuff, but it is there. And a lot of it. You could literally spend an entire weekend going through that site.

 

eric2800

 

Edit to say you could possibly look into bluetooth LE but I don't think it was around in the time frame the jeelabs guy was doing his stuff. And honestly after dealing with it personally, I would probably use the radio modules. 

Last Edited: Thu. Nov 3, 2016 - 11:03 PM
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I have used the NRF24L01 module and found that it works pretty well at close range. I believe that many of its problems can be addressed by software, packet checking and the like. I use a checksum for each packet and resend till its right. Lately, I have been using the Digi XBEE 900HP, and they are excellent, although somewhat expensive. I get line of sight performance of over a mile. The data rates on the modules I am using is only 9.6KB, so you can't stream audio or anything like that, but I use them to send control data between devices and they work flawlessly. Also, the Digimesh networking is fascinating because you can structure the modules to work with each other to reach modules you can't send directly to. BTY, Digi has been very easy to work with and has provided good tech support.

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pawi777 wrote:
... I need an alternative to the well known 2.4GHz modules.
A not well known 2.4GHz module :

RF Digital

Product Categories

RFDP8 RF Modules

http://www.rfdigital.com/product-category/rfdp8-rf-modules/index.html

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Are you familar with Jeenode / Jeelabs ?

He is a Dutch guy who has built his own wireless network with lots of sensor nodes and he has also done some testing with different RF boards, mainly from HopeRF.

He also sells kits / components and other shops also sell his boards. As far as I know he has sold several thousands of boards.
 

I've built some nodes around some nRF24L01+ boards but I never liked them. Apart from sw / hw issues they seem to be influenced a lot by the 30+ wifi routers around my "house".

Reliability of these can often be improved by soldering an decoupling cap directly over the connector's GND Vcc pads.

433MHz is supposed to give better penetration through walls.

I recently bought some RFM69W modules but haven't used them yet. I chose these because of built-in encryption.

CC1101 / HC11 might be interesting. Lots of boards from Ali seem to have a "extra" ST microcontroller on them and can be handled as a serial device. Or reprogram the uC and have a very compact module.

 

ESP8266 is a popular chip. It is an arm uC (200+MHz?) with built-in wifi. Out of the factory they usually communicate via a serial port (AT commands etc) but there is a pretty big hacker community around them to reprogram the ARM uC. These are amazingly affordable for the horsepower. You can also buy complete mains "smart plugs" with these modules from about EUR12 from Ali. Main disadavantage is the power consumption. These are not for batteries.

 

But since you already have the nRF24 modules, have you ever considered to put a wired backbone in your house with a router node on each floor?

Long, long ago when I started with uC's I soon decided that I had too few RS232 ports on my pc, so I made a RS232 <--> RS485 converter. Then it expanded to 15 to 20 nodes babbling along on a twisted pair ethernet cable. Later I added a nRF24L01+ remote control and a bridge node to translate between copper and air.

 

CC1101

https://www.aliexpress.com/whole...

HC11

https://www.aliexpress.com/whole...

Jeenode

https://duckduckgo.com/html?q=je...

 

Doing magic with a USD 7 Logic Analyser: https://www.avrfreaks.net/comment/2421756#comment-2421756

Bunch of old projects with AVR's: http://www.hoevendesign.com

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Paulvdh wrote:
ESP8266 is a popular chip. It is an arm uC (200+MHz?) with built-in wifi. Out of the factory they usually communicate via a serial port (AT commands etc) but there is a pretty big hacker community around them to reprogram the ARM uC.
Cadence® Tensilica®

Cadence IP

Tensilica Customizable Processors

http://ip.cadence.com/ipportfolio/tensilica-ip/xtensa-customizable

https://github.com/jcmvbkbc/gcc-xtensa 

http://docs.platformio.org/en/stable/platforms/espressif8266.html#packages

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Many thanks for all your responses.

 

So far, the options boil down to a module from hoperf, the cc1101 or the nrf905(or one of the many clones).

The xbee seems to be very good but unfortunately it's too expensive for me.

And any other 2.4GHz solution doesn't really solve my problem(the walls) or then consumes too much power. The sensor nodes run from 3 AA batteries. I should have mentioned that in the first post, sorry.

 

So can anyone make a recommendation based on experience? I'd like not to spend more than 5 $ per radio module and automatic packet handling is a must. 3.3V(or lower) operation is also mandatory. Data rate is not very critical. And of course, the easier it is to program the thing, the better.

 

Thanks again for any advice

-Patrick

"Some people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75." -Benjamin Franklin

 

What is life's greatest illusion?"  "Innocence, my brother." -Skyrim

 

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Paulvdh wrote:
You can also buy complete mains "smart plugs" with these modules from about EUR12 from Ali. Main disadavantage is the power consumption. These are not for batteries.
New from Olimex is an ESP8266 evaluation board that has an off-line AC relay with a LiPo charger; not quite smart plug but that has a box it can fit in.

The Olimex ESP8266 module is at a reasonable price.

www.olimex.com

Olimex

ESP8266-EVB-BAT - Open Source Hardware Board

https://www.olimex.com/Products/IoT/ESP8266-EVB-BAT/open-source-hardware

https://www.olimex.com/Products/IoT/ 

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Check out the esp32thing at sparkfun.com, wifi + ble in one package,   I just picked one up so I do not have experience with it yet!

 

 

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I am certainly not trying to push you to hoperf/jeenodes but...

 

...  2.4GHz solution doesn't really solve my problem(the walls) or then consumes too much power

and

 I'd like not to spend more than 5 $ per radio module and automatic packet handling is a must. 3.3V(or lower) operation is also mandatory. Data rate is not very critical.

all of that strongly points to it. Now if it wasn't for jeelabs code and history it would be a little more complex to code. The newer nodes and the hoperf module on it (which I think you will probably buy based on price) have automatic packet handling. And the jeelabs code was built with battery power in mind. He actually has a lot of articles about that aspect in archives. The only thing is porting from arduino to straight c which is not hard. And it is very likely there is a library floating around on the internet that is based on it and in C. 

 

eric2800

Last Edited: Sat. Nov 5, 2016 - 08:00 PM
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How about Si443x? Awesome chips and you can get them very cheap.

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HopeRF uses chips like the Si443x, I think. I don't know what the latest models use. The OP wanted "modules", but if he is OK with the bare chip and getting his own components then I would say something from Silicon Labs family. Seems from a quick look possibly RFM69 contains Si443x.

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VisualGDB Tutorials
Developing Projects for ESP32 Devices with Visual Studio

November 22, 2016

http://visualgdb.com/tutorials/esp32/

This tutorial shows how to develop projects for the Espressif ESP32 chip using Visual Studio, VisualGDB and the new ESP-IDF framework.

We will show how to build, program and debug a basic ESP32 program over JTAG on the Sparkfun ESP32 Thing board.

...

http://visualgdb.com/w/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/board640.jpg

An alternate way :

PlatformIO

Development Platforms

Espressif 32

http://platformio.org/platforms/espressif32

 

Edit : PlatformIO

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

Last Edited: Wed. Dec 28, 2016 - 03:22 PM
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Olimex on Wordpress

ESP32-EVB in stock!

29 May 2017

https://olimex.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/esp32-evb-in-stock/

...

This is great board for IoT as has access to many interfaces: Ethernet, CAN, BLE, WIFI. The relays can switch power appliances. With the IR remote control you can control any device with IR like TVs, VCRs, Air conditioners, Sound amplifires, CATV etc.

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Olimex on Wordpress

ESP32-GATEWAY OSHW IoT board with BLE, WIFI, Ethernet is now in stock

21 Jun 2017

https://olimex.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/esp32-gateway-oshw-iot-board-with-ble-wifi-ethernet-is-now-in-stock/

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Adafruit has some Feather (Arduino compatible) boards with built-in LoRa radio chips. LoRa is notable for its high sensitivity that MIGHT give better performance through walls and such. At low data rates.

 

RadioHead library works with them, and that means add-on error management, optional node addressing, and optional mesh networking. Impressive!

 

Jim

 

https://www.adafruit.com/feather

 

Jim Wagner Oregon Research Electronics, Consulting Div. Tangent, OR, USA http://www.orelectronics.net

Last Edited: Thu. Jun 22, 2017 - 06:49 AM
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I have been using XBEE modules in sizeable quantities for the past few months.  The 2.4Ghz units work well in the house and also to a few outside sensors.  The plus being that each module can act as a repeater of sorts when configured as such, but right out of the box I have been rather pleased with their performance.

 

I am currently using their 900Mhz modules and I am getting up to a mile range open air with a baud rate set at 9600.  Half mile at 115k reliably.

 

Nice thing about the XBEEs is that you can simply swap modules for one another as they all have the same pinouts...when I was ready to jump from the 2.4Ghz to the 900Mhz all I had to do was configure the new modules and drop them in place...no rework needed.

 

All of this comes at a price though...PRICE.  Each Module is about $17.00usd for the ones I am using

JIm

I would rather attempt something great and fail, than attempt nothing and succeed - Fortune Cookie

 

"The critical shortage here is not stuff, but time." - Johan Ekdahl

 

"Step N is required before you can do step N+1!" - ka7ehk

 

"If you want a career with a known path - become an undertaker. Dead people don't sue!" - Kartman

"Why is there a "Highway to Hell" and only a "Stairway to Heaven"? A prediction of the expected traffic load?"  - Lee "theusch"

 

Speak sweetly. It makes your words easier to digest when at a later date you have to eat them ;-)  - Source Unknown

Please Read: Code-of-Conduct

Atmel Studio6.2/AS7, DipTrace, Quartus, MPLAB, RSLogix user

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ka7ehk wrote:
LoRa is notable for its high sensitivity that MIGHT give better performance through walls and such. At low data rates.

Electronic Design

Electronic Design

LoRa Rolls Into Philly

The LoRa Alliance rolled into Philadelphia to highlight LoRa’s wide area networking support

by William Wong

Jun 20, 2017

http://www.electronicdesign.com/embedded-revolution/lora-rolls-philly

...

The higher receive sensitivity allows for long-range operation, as well as better operation through barriers such as walls, but at the expense of throughput.

...

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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jgmdesign wrote:
All of this comes at a price though...PRICE.  Each Module is about $17.00usd for the ones I am using
Some of the LoRa modules are about that price.

The HopeRF LoRa module is less expensive but does not appear to have the LoRa stack in it.

 

http://www.microchip.com/design-centers/wireless-connectivity/embedded-wireless/lora-technology

https://www.lairdtech.com/products/rm1xx-lora-modules

http://www.mouser.com/new/lairdtechnologies/laird-rm1-modules/

http://www.hoperf.com/rf%5Ftransceiver/lora/

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/rf-solutions/RFM95W-915S2/RFM95W-915S2-ND/6564923

RadioHead

RadioHead Packet Radio library for embedded microprocessors

http://www.airspayce.com/mikem/arduino/RadioHead/

...

 

Drivers

The following Drivers are provided:

...

RH_RF95 Works with Semtech SX1276/77/78/79, Modtronix inAir4 and inAir9, and HopeRF RFM95/96/97/98 and other similar LoRa capable radios. Supports Long Range (LoRa) with spread spectrum frequency hopping, large payloads etc.

...

 

1.75 2017-06-22 Fixed broken compiler issues with RH_RF95::frequencyError() reported by Steve Rogerson.
Testing with the very excellent Rocket Scream boards equipped with RF95 TCXO modules. The temperature controlled oscillator stabilises the chip enough to be able to use even the slowest protocol Bw125Cr48Sf4096. Caution, the TCXO model radios are not low power when in sleep (consuming about ~600 uA, reported by Phang Moh Lim).
Added support for EBYTE E32-TTL-1W and family serial radio transceivers. These RF95 LoRa based radios can deliver reliable messages at up to 7km measured.

http://modtronix.com/products-modules-wireless-915mhz/ 

EBYTE

Chengdu Ebyte Electronic Technology

E32-TTL-1W

http://www.cdebyte.com/en/product-view-news.aspx?id=108

https://cdebyte.aliexpress.com/store/2077046

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller