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Evaluation kit eases low-power wireless design

Posted: 07 Mar 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:evaluation kit  wireless market  picoPower 

An evaluation kit that provides designers a unique ready-to-use development platform in the low power wireless market for the 2.4GHz industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) frequency band has been introduced by Atmel Corp. The AVR RZ Raven evaluation kit utilises the AVR picoPower technology in combination with the RF performance offered by the AT86RF230 2.4 GHz ISM transceiver and allows easy evaluation of short range wireless connectivity with IEEE802.15.4, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN.

Kit components
The RZ Raven kit comprises two Raven boards, one USB Stick and a selection of firmware application and software that will dramatically reduce time to market for designers considering short range wireless ISM band applications based on IEEE802.15.4, ZigBee or 6LoWPAN.

The Raven board can be used as a multi application wireless node with an LCD graphical user interface. It has two AVR picoPower MCUs: an ATmega1284P that can be used to control RF application stacks, and an ATmega3290P that controls the display and user interfaces. The Raven contains a custom LCD display, a five position joystick, a microphone and a speaker allowing the evaluation of a variety of user interactions that are appropriate in the target wireless applications. To support application development the following functionalities are available: graphical user interface, communication ports, ATmega1284P port pins available on headers, on-board temperature sensor, voltage sensor, relay driver, boot loader and ISP support for programming.

The USB stick can serve as a PC gateway to the wireless network, or as the hardware platform for wireless protocol analyser. It is based on the AT90USB1287 AVR MCU and the AT86RF230 transceiver.

Firmware features
The firmware provided includes low level drivers and application stacks enabling simple point to point communication, IEEE 802.15.4 compliant solutions, and more complex applications based on ZigBee and 6LoWPAN. Updated source code, libraries and documentation for the applications are available from the Atmel web site. PC software is also provided, including a demo and a management suite for setup, configuration and management of wireless networks. Key features include wireless protocol analyser and Over-The-Air upgrade. "Customers selecting the AVR Wireless platform get a flexible solution with a wide selection of MCUs tailored for any wireless application," said Magnus Pedersen, director of AVR Product Marketing. "Combining the superior RF performance and the extremely low power consumption of picoPower technology, Atmel provides an ideal platform for the rapidly growing market of low power wireless devices demanding years of life on a single battery."

The AT86RF230 offers industry best RF performance with a link budget of 104dB and gives up to three times the range of competitor radios. This results in an outdoor range of up to 700m with the high gain PCB antenna used on the Raven board. Current consumption in active mode is only 15mA and down to 20nA in sleep mode.

AVR picoPower devices consume as little as 340?A in active mode at 1.8V running from the internal RC oscillator at 1MHz. In power-save mode it is 500nA with a real time counter running, and 100nA in power-down mode. picoPower AVRs are pin-, performance-, and code-compatible with existing AVR MCUs giving designers flexible hardware options for small, medium sized and complex wireless networks.

The Raven board and the USB Stick holds FCC and ETSI certification. It is available now at a resale price of Rs.3,897.15 ($99).




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