Microchip's new Bluetooth Low Energy module needs no host MCU - Embedded.com

Microchip’s new Bluetooth Low Energy module needs no host MCU

Microchip Technology Inc. has announced its first Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy module .  The RN4020 carries worldwide regulatory certifications and is Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) certified.  The integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) stack and onboard support for the common SIG low-energy profiles speeds time to market while ensuring Bluetooth compatibility, eliminating expensive certification costs and reducing development risks.  The module is also pre-loaded with the Microchip Low-energy Data Profile (MLDP), which enables designers to easily stream any type of data across the BTLE link.

Because the RN4020 is a stack-on-board module, it can connect to any microcontroller with a UART interface, including hundreds of PIC MCUs, or it can operate standalone without an MCU for basic data collection and communication, such as a beacon or sensor.  This standalone operation is facilitated by Microchip’s unique no-compile scripting, which allows module configuration via a simple ASCII command interface—no tools or compiling are required.

Microchip’s RN4020 Bluetooth LE Smart module includes all of the hardware, software and certifications that designers need to easily add this low-energy connectivity to any design, while easing End Product Listing (EPL) via QDID Bluetooth compatibility testing.  All of the programmable profiles are stored and selectable on the module, including Microchip’s flexible MLDP and the common Bluetooth SIG low-energy profiles.  In addition to common public profiles, private services can be created via the ASCII command interface.  The RN4020 also provides a built-in PCB antenna with 7 dBm transmit power and a receive sensitivity of -92.5 dBm, enabling operation over 100 meters* in a compact form factor of only 11.5 x 19.5 x 2.5 millimeters.

Microchip also announced today the flexible RN4020 Bluetooth Low Energy PICtail/PICtail Plus daughter board (part # RN-4020-PICtail), which is available now for $49.  This board enables code development via USB interface to a PC, and over the onboard In-Circuit Serial Programming interface for Microchip’s PICkit or MPLAB REAL ICE tools.  It also leverages customer investments in Microchip’s existing development boards with a PICtail interface, such as the Explorer 16, PIC18 Explorer and PIC32 I/O Expansion Board.  Additionally, the onboard eXtreme Low Power (XLP) PIC18 microcontroller allows the PICtail board to run in standalone mode, powered by USB from the host, enabling portable demonstrations and proofs of concept.

The RN4020 Bluetooth Low Energy Module is available today, for $6.78 each in 1,000-unit quantities.  The worldwide regulatory-agency and Bluetooth SIG-certified module measures 11.5 x 19.5 x 2.5 millimeters, and includes a built-in PCB antenna. 

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