Focus on Wireless

Featured articles from Digi-Key Electronics

Wireless technology is now a very important part of the overall electronics scene. There is an enormous variety of wireless technologies from the familiar Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to the more specific standards like LoRa, SigFox, Zigbee and many more. Each wireless standard has its place within the wireless ecosystem and there are modules and different platforms for them. Find out more about these technologies and how you can use them in the Digi-Key Focus on Wireless.

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Laird RM024 RAMP (Range Amplified Multipoint) Modules

Laird Technologies RAMP ISM modules are designed to provide robust wireless communications for applications requiring a wireless transport for serial data. The RM024 RAMP ISM module is based on Laird Technologies' LT2510 core technology, enhanced with a new RF front-end for improved sleep, improved link budget, and a switchable antenna output. The RM024 is available in two versions: one with 125 mW maximum conducted output power which is approved for North American and similar markets, and one with 50 mW maximum conducted output power which is approved for European and similar markets. Read more . . .

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Comparison of RF and Bluetooth

many of the decisions made at the beginning of a project have a huge impact on the final product. Designers have many choices when it comes to wireless connectivity in applications ranging from human interface devices (HIDs) to remote sensors for the Internet of things (IoT). One of the more fundamental decisions that need to be made, and one that many designers still wrestle with, is whether to go with a standards based RF interface such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or ZigBee, or a proprietary RF physical layer (PHY) design and protocol. Read more . . . .

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IoT Prototype Development Using Readily Available Single Board Designs

The Internet of Things, and specifically the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is responsible for not only creating a transformative effect across many business sectors, but also for bringing about a fundamental shift in the way embedded IIoT solution development is approached. Many engineers faced with such projects have opted to select a commercially available single board computer (SBC) as the basis of the design. While this method can yield fast results, it can also take the developer down a path that makes it difficult to easily take the resulting design into high volume production. When selecting a prototyping platform it is important to carefully review the MCU that a design is based around, and the plethora of support components to see if they can be purchased separately and incorporated into a new design from scratch.

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Build a Low-Cost Industrial Controller with the Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi can fulfil many requirements including providing controllers for use in harsh environment, bur soemtimes the components can be difficult to source from small suppliers. Few small shop industrial operations require the combination of harsh operating environments, high I/O capacity, and complex functionality requirements for which programmable logic controllers (PLCs) were originally intended. While scaled down versions of PLCs are available, designers now also have the option to choose from an array of low-cost open-source hardware and software solutions for effective industrial monitoring and control. Read more . . . .

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Use Gateways to Overcome Low-Power Wireless LAN-to-IoT Bridging Challenges

Many low-power wireless interfaces and protocols such as Bluetooth low energy, ZigBee, Thread, and others are popular for smart home and smart industry sensor mesh applications. However, as developers are finding out, these RF protocols were designed before the Internet of Things (IoT) became a reality, and as such typically lack interoperability with Internet protocols (IPs) IPv4 and IPv6 making it challenging to connect designs to the IoT for smart sensing, automation, and control. Read more about how to overcome LAN to IoT bridging challenges.

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Ultra-Low Power Management for IoT Devices

The IoT is already estimated to be generating 100s of zettabytes (trillion gigabytes) of data per year, and this figure is only increasing. The amount of data the average household contributes to this figure is expected to increase fivefold by 2020. Creating data doesn’t require much compute power as data can be captured, digitised, and stored using the simplest of sensor hubs. Read more . . . .

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Bringing the IIoT to Life

The Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT is rapidly becoming a reality. It is widely recognised that the Industrial Internet of Things promises to bring about a transformative effect across many traditional industries. Not only will it uncover processes that are inefficient, plants in need of maintenance, and help management improve asset utilisation, but it also promises to make possible a raft of new business services. Read more . . .

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Update Firmware in the Field Using a Microcontroller’s DFU Mode

Firmware and software updates are a fact of life and enable small or even large issues to be corrected when equipment is in the field. In fact nearly every embedded system needs the ability to have its firmware updated in the field to add new features or fix bugs. However, firmware field updates can be challenging as a developer must either program their own boot-loader or procure a boot-loader from a third-party component supplier. Read more about firmware updating . . .

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Design Robust Systems for the Industrial IoT

The Internet of Things, IoT and Industrial IoT, IIoT share common objectives for translating streams of sensor data to useful information. For developers, however, significant differences lie in basic requirements including power, connectivity, and design reliability and robustness. These are key to the design. Find out how to design for the IIoT . . . .

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Add Firmware Security to an IoT Design with a Single Chip

In an increasingly security aware IoT landscape, IoT developers face seemingly conflicting demands for rapid development and tighter security for all phases of the application lifecycle. While many emerging solutions come with mechanisms for encryption, IoT designs need to be able to address a wider range of security threats. . . read more.

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Comparing Low Power Wireless Technologies (Part 3)

This is the third article in the series dealing with selecting the right communications technology for IOT devices. The demands of low-power wireless continue to increase and the industry is responding. For example, the special interest groups, alliances, and forums that look after the various wireless technologies are now evolving their technologies to make them more applicable to the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT). . . . read more

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Comparing Low Power Wireless Technologies (Part 2)

Engineers have many choices when it comes to low-power wireless technologies. It can be a difficult choice to select the right technology. There are RF-based technologies such as Bluetooth low energy, ANT, ZigBee, RF4CE, NFC and Nike+, plus infrared options championed by the Infrared Data Association (IrDA). This article is the second in a three-part series that considers popular wireless technologies’ technical foundations, and relative strengths. . . . read more

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Select and Apply the Right Low-Power Microcontroller for the IoT

Applications for use with the Internet of Things, IoT have some special requirements. Energy consumption is critical for battery-powered, connected devices to maximise the time between battery changes, or even allow devices to be run off ambient energy sources. While many embedded systems developers are well versed in optimising code, conserving energy for Internet of things devices requires a more comprehensive approach. . . . read more . . .

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Develop Real-Time Microcontroller-Based Applications Quickly Using MicroPython

Real-time embedded systems are becoming extremely complex, requiring an in-depth understanding not only of intricate 32-bit micro-controllers, as well as sensors, algorithms, Internet protocols, and widely varying end-user applications. With shorter development cycles and more features, development teams need to find ways to both accelerate design while being able to port their code to new products: an integrated and flexible development platform is needed. One of the options that is gaining significant traction is MicroPython. . . . read more.

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Wireless Modules Operating in the Sub-GHz Bands Offer a Simpler Route to Market for Sensor Networks

Wireless offers an ideal format for transmitting data from one location to another. There are several frequency bands that can be adopted: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, but are these the best bands for your application, but there are several sub 1 GHz bands that are available and these provide the best option for some applications . . . . read more.

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Selecting the Right FCC/CE Compliant Wireless Module

Using wireless modules is a very good way to proceed when developing a wireless system - it saves considerable time and effort in developing the wireless system and also obtaining the relevant certifications. However a little preparation is needed to select the right wireless module for your application. When designing electronic projects or products, they often require the ability to communicate with some other device. The data that needs to be transmitted can be virtually anything from weather information, medical data or operational control commands. Capable of being achieved either with or without wires, there is a wide selection of communication standards that can be leveraged to incorporate this intercommunication. Distance can be a limiting factor since it is not always possible to easily connect a number of devices together over larger distances. In this case, connecting devices by physical wires can result in an expensive and complicated installation. Wireless communication, however, offers a much more flexible solution that can reduce development costs and simplify installation. . . . read more

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Use a Ready-Made LTE Cat M1 Modem to Simplify Low-Power Wide Area IoT Connectivity

4G LTE Category M1, CatM 1 devices are ideal for many low power IoT devices. Developers of wide area IoT applications such as mobile health monitoring, remote sensing, and smart cities have a connectivity problem: Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi lack the range required, while traditional cellular radios are too costly, power hungry, and complex. To address this, another connectivity option has emerged, LTE Cat M1 cellular. Along with it have come easy-to-use, certified solutions that greatly reduce the complexity and cost of cellular connectivity, while accelerating time to market for wide area, low-power, low-cost, long-range IoT designs.

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Sensing on a Zero Power Budget

Many IoT sensors and other nodes spend most of their time in an idle state. They may only be required to to take measurements at infrequent intervals, send the resulting small quantity of data back to a collector. In this way they are able to spend most of their time in a sleep state conserving their battery power. Some smart sensors can be powered by a small battery, and operate for several years without recharging or replacement. Discover more about operating in this mode . . .

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Use a Cellular Module to Connect a Maker Project to the IoT

The sue of wireless connectivity is becoming more widespread. Makers and professional engineers alike are increasingly turning to wireless connectivity to enhance the functionality of their projects and connect them to the Internet of Things (IoT). The single board computers (SBCs) that such projects use often integrate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but for longer range, cellular interfaces are a good alternative. Read more . . .

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Build the Devastator Robot and Learn About Sensors, MCUs, Software, and Motor Control While Having Fun

Robots are great fun to build and use. Building a multifunction robot from a kit is a great way to get started as a Maker, as it provides an opportunity to learn about many related fields: micro-controllers, sensors, motors, software development, and more. Plus, there’s a large selection of robot kits, add-ons, and online help for beginners and experienced Makers alike. Read more . . .

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Comparing Low-Power Wireless Technologies

When developing a product that will include wireless connectivity, it is necessary to consider which technology is best to use. There is a wide variety of different standards that can be chosen, so it is necessary to consider which one will be best for any given application. This article gives key insights into the different technologies, comparing the different attributes to help make the right decision.

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