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Alpha 0.2 at work

Alpha 0.2: it works!

Second generation circuit connected with USB The second generation circuit was finished and tested just now. It works as an independent module (battery operated) connecting to any Bluetooth compatible host. It support a couple of USB ports: User port: to connect an external device (i.e. a computer) to the WT12 USB interface. This means to connect a USB peripheral accessing to it via a remote Bluetooth connection. Programming port: the second USB (those connected to the black cable in the image) uses a USB-to-Serial FTDI device. Both the microcontroller and the Bluetooth module can be programmed and configured independently with the same connection. The blue dip switches on the board permits to select the type of connection between the components: As shown in the image below the Bluetooth module is on the bottom-side of the board. The reason is the opposite position of the pinout in the module due to particular breakout socket I have used.

The bottom view of the ciruit showing the WT12 Bluetooth module

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Alpha 0.2 design scheme

Design draft Just the draft of the design scheme for the alpha 0.2 circuit diagram. More details later

Alpha 0.1: When something goes wrong

Alpha 01 test circuit The alpha 0.1 test circuit is only partially working due to a couple of design errors. The first is so obivous that I totally forget! Working with the SMD WT12 module set on the PCB support it is necessary to take in account that the pin numbers are mirrored respect the documentation numbering on the datasheet. Ok, I dont. This macro-problem is to be considered in the next version (coming soon) of the circuit but it was not so difficult to solve it immediately just for testing purposes. I put again the WT12 module on a breadboard connecting correctly the pins to the circuit socket. I saw a strange behavior in the serial connection: all the characters sent from the host (computer) to the interface (WT12 module) was correctly echoed on the terminal without any effect. This problem almost certainly depends by the serial encoder devices. I paid not sufficient attention and my hardware store got me a couple of Max232 compatible devices driven by +5Vcc while the module needs +3.3Vcc serial encoders. Fortunately these components are pin-to-pin compatible. I will receive the new devices in a couple of days. In the meanwhile Actually I tested the serial connection with a standard 9 pin RS232 cable with a commercial serial-to-usb converter but next test I will use a FTDI chip. Soon new updates on this tests.

WT12 vs WT11

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First check of WT12 About a couple of years ago, those guys of Arduino developed a version named Arduino BT (=Bluetooth). It was not simple to find because of the high price. Then there was also some problems managing the connection with the computer; this board was implementing the Bluegiga WT11 module, but unfortunately who developed the board excluded all the great features of the bluetooth module saving only the serial interface. As a matter of fact this Arduino version was working in the same way as the traditional Arduino 2009 with the exception that it was wireless. Starting from this analisys I focused the strategy of the Bluetooth Studio development to reach the opposite result: all the possible features of the bluetooth module (WT12 and WT11 are very similar) should be active and working.

Side A or side B song ?


The general guidelines of the project Bluetooth studio require seems to a pair of essential components: Bluetooth module (formwerly Bluegiga WT12) External microcontroller WT12 module (bluetooth) include a complete programmable structure, with a risc embedded microcontroller itself, a small amount of memory and a flash area for configuration and programming storage. This means that there are two different possibilities to manage the object. We can summarize the question thinking to a vinyl of the old sixties: we love both songs but what is the best? Side A or side B song?

The side A song


Ok, we can start from the external microcontroller. This means that it can be used as the front-end interface to the host for programming and configuring. Some of the information are used by the microcontroller itself, i.e. a Atmel 32, a pic or a small Arm processor. This means too that connecting a host to the device we need a more complex software interface and the connection is with a microcontroller while Bluetooth module is a sort of add-on covering a passive role.

The side B song


Now try to think to the opposite approach. WT12 module can be interfaced with a standard RS232 serial connection with a host for programming. This means that our Bluetooth module became the core element of the device. If it is possible and at the actual date it is not yet verified there is the advantage that we can configure and setup the Bluetooth module features directly from the programmin host: the external microcontroller became optional. We can create a version with a wide set of features (i.e. math libraries and digital complext interfacing capabilities) including a microcontroller or a basic version that has the same circuitry without the external micro. At the actual date, the alpha prototype is oriented to control the device using a serial connected with the Bluetooth module.

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A test build shoot

The starting point


The main enrty point of the project is the choice of the right bluetooth module: the core of all the component (for more information on the general project description please take a look at the Bluetooth Studio page).

The WT12 module soldered on a small board Excluding other components with less features, the choice was between WT11, WT12 and WT32 modules. The decision was to adopt a WT12 module, the cheaper of the family, full bluetooth compliant supporting different bluetooth protocols needed to create our general purpose radio communication module. The prototype development needs a lot of tests and adjustments so is is difficult to manage the module distributed only in a packaging for SMD applications. To solve this problem the module was soldered botttom-top inside the rectangular hole of a small PCB. The result is a handy component that can be inserted in a DIL socket or breadboard.

Bluetooth studio
It is about one month that with the cooperation of qplot.com, bluegiga technologies and other friends the project is started. Today I start to post some updates before the things became too confusing All the projects updates are under the project pages menu: see the posts of bluetooth studio for the history of this project. Later a general page should be added to give a global view of the development ensemble.

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