ATSAMB11 Sticky thread with tips/hints

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I have created a kind of sticky thread with a lot of my lessons learned with the SAMB11 (MR210CA module)

 

https://community.atmel.com/projects/samb11

 

 

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Thanks! Seems to be just as bad as it seems by trying to find and read the lacking documentation.

You seem to get a lot of problems with ULP. How important it is to use ULP? You say you get to 110-130 uA with it. What is the power consumption without ULP? How much of that power consumption is from MR210CA module? What does it actually do without ULP? No sleeping at all?

I haven't yet bought any BLE devices and I'm trying to figure out what to use. I don't know much about BLE and have troubles understanding how B11 works and what is the difference between it and a BTLC1000 + host. Would the latter make things easier? Are the problems caused by using the same processor or would BluSDK have the same problems in the host? Can you use any host, say e.g. Xmega?

What part of the software is running in BTLC1000, what in the cortex on that, what in B11 cortex (just one cortex there I guess) and what in the host? If you have a separate host, can you just output the settings and data to BTLC1000 or B11 and then do what you want while it is communicating BLE data over air? Is there a difference between BTLC1000 and B11, if you have a separate host. Is BTLC1000 also slow to start or is it only B11 due to SPI Flash?

If you have a separate host, what is the 6-wire communication that seems to be the default?

Any documentation to get answers to my novice questions? I just heard that using BLE with Cypress module was "very easy". Doesn't really seem to be the case with Atmel. But I have the Atmel tools and the marketed power consumption is attempting for my usage, so I would like to give it a change.

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Without ULP (everything else the same) I get 1.5mA while waiting for an event. That's higher than the 800~900uA from the datasheets. Haven't figured out why yet. I do switch to LP 3.5Mhz clock before waiting for the event (and back to 26mhz when received.

 

At first I thought the SAMB11 was the BTLC1000 + flash memory (as the BTLC1000 datasheet mentions it can be used as standalone mcu with spi flash), but it seems there's an additional Cortex M0 core, as it has more GPIO's than the BTLC1000 offers.

 

I chose the B11 over NRF52 solution for 2 reasons

* Atmel studio, free development environment (Keil is really expensive I think and not as user friendly as Visual Studio)

* I use the MR210CA module for easy in integration (Nrf52 only has 3rd party modules)

 

If I had to make the choice again I probably would have bought Keil and Rigado NRF52 modules ;), but as I'm almost production ready with B11 I'll stick with it. Ofcourse the NRF52 has its own share of possible issues so it might be a case of 'greener grass on the other side of the fence'.

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What do you mean by "1.5mA while waiting for an event"? Is the cortex running on idle then and ULP is the only way to get to uA range? So you can't put the processor to sleep between the BLE transmissions unless you are using ULP?

 

There must be other free SDK options than Atmel. Why was these two your options? How long it took to get B11 "almost production ready"?

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I am just starting a project and was planning on using the MR210CA.  So far I am not impressed with the documentation nor Atmel Studio for that matter.  My product is very simple (BLE w/single i2c connected sensor) and I was hoping to just use the MR210CA or the Rigado NRF52 module with no other uC.  Not sure I want to risk fitting into the free version of Keil though.

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jmaja1 wrote:

What do you mean by "1.5mA while waiting for an event"? Is the cortex running on idle then and ULP is the only way to get to uA range? So you can't put the processor to sleep between the BLE transmissions unless you are using ULP?

 

There must be other free SDK options than Atmel. Why was these two your options? How long it took to get B11 "almost production ready"?

 

Without ULP you could get 800uA, but as I'm using it on a board (with RN2483/GPS/CANBUS/I2C Expander etc.etc.) I have about 200uA sleep current from other components. Also do not forget a simple pullup/down at 10K could cost you 33uA. Even the ESR of capacitors could net you enough loss at these ranges.

 

I was looking at NRF52 (using Rigado board), but likes the ATSAMB11 on paper, and the fact Atmel had the MR210CA module with general availability.