“In the era of the Internet of Everything, the depth and breadth of the combination of people, processes, data, and things with the network has greatly increased, and extended to many types of human-to-human (P2P), machine-to-human (M2P), and machine-to-machine (M2M). interactive mode. The benefits of doing so are obvious: promoting human society from informatization to intelligence is the most potential technological innovation since the advent of the Internet.
Author: Doctor M
In the era of the Internet of Everything, the depth and breadth of the combination of people, processes, data, and things with the network has greatly increased, and extended to many types of human-to-human (P2P), machine-to-human (M2P), and machine-to-machine (M2M). interactive mode. The benefits of doing so are obvious: promoting human society from informatization to intelligence is the most potential technological innovation since the advent of the Internet.
Of course, technological innovation is always accompanied by corresponding design challenges, especially for the radio frequency communication link necessary for the Internet of Everything. In network construction, the diversity of interaction modes will also bring about changes in communication methods, from point-to-point to mesh networks. In terms of network selection, there are many choices just for short-distance low-power networks in the Internet of Things. These changes from simple to complex will undoubtedly increase the complexity of user development.
The good news is that these challenges don’t need to be faced by engineering friends alone. Mouser Electronics has prepared a wealth of communication/RF development tools to help you solve these troubles easily.
Excellent mesh networking development tool
Just as the computer network has transitioned from a decentralized and centralized communication mode to a distributed communication mode in order to adapt to the increase in equipment, traditionally each communication terminal accesses the network through a wireless link connected to an AP (Access Point). With the rapid development of the Internet of Things in the Internet of Everything, this method will appear inefficient, especially in the information exchange of terminal devices. The emergence of wireless mesh network is to solve this problem.
Compared with traditional single-hop networks, wireless Mesh networks are also called multi-hop networks. In such a network system, any wireless device node can act as an AP and a router at the same time, and each node in the network can send and receive signals. In this way, a system’s network connectivity can be highly scalable. Figure 1 demonstrates the local features of a wireless mesh network, showing its fully connected nature.
Figure 1: Local Wireless Mesh Network (Source: Wikipedia)
Through this fully connected network form, wireless Mesh networks have many unique technical advantages, including:
・ Higher network bandwidth
・Easy to implement NLOS configuration
・ Rapid networking, easy deployment and installation
・ Flexible structure and stable network
Of course, in the process of specific solution development, building a wireless Mesh network system requires that each node has a flexible radio frequency communication configuration, not only as a network node, but also able to assume the role of a gateway. At the same time, the increase in the complexity of each node increases the difficulty of design from point to point, among which system development and power management are the most prominent. Therefore, under the premise of low power consumption, in addition to the core radio frequency devices such as the antenna, the terminal must also have the capability of the radio frequency matching network.
Using Mouser’s SLWRB4308D development tool from manufacturer Silicon Labs, users can rapidly develop line-powered IoT products for mesh networks.
Figure 2: SLWRB4308D development tools (Source: Silicon Labs)
The SLWRB4308D development tool is used to evaluate the +10dBm transmit power version of the MGM210P Mighty Gecko and BGM210P Blue Gecko modules. The BGM210P is based on the EFR32BG21 Blue Gecko SoC and supports Bluetooth mesh networks. This wireless mesh network is a very popular network topology at the moment, allowing users to build a large-scale network system based on Bluetooth technology, which can easily expand to hundreds or even thousands of Bluetooth mesh devices. The Bluetooth 5.1 supported by the BGM210P is Bluetooth Low Energy, which helps users create solutions with low cost, low power consumption, and miniaturization. It has important applications in building automation, smart agriculture, environmental monitoring, asset tracking, and hospital equipment monitoring. value.
To facilitate users to develop solutions quickly, together with the WSTK motherboard, Gecko SDK kit and Simplicity Studio IDE, the SLWRB4308B provides a powerful embedded development platform that includes the hardware required to create, debug and optimize IoT applications based on the xGM210P module and software.
Of course, it should be noted that the SLWRB4308D radio board cannot be used independently and needs to be equipped with a corresponding motherboard. You can also directly purchase the SLWSTK6102A Wireless Module Starter Kit available from Mouser Electronics for evaluation of the above features. The kit provides multiple radio boards to support mesh network development setups, including:
・ 2 Wireless Starter Kit (WSTK) boards
・ 2 GM210Px32 Wireless Gecko Module Radio Boards (+20dBm)
・ 2 GM210Px32 Wireless Gecko Module Radio Boards (+10dBm)
Figure 3: SLWSTK6102A Wireless Module Starter Kit (Image source: Silicon Labs)
In terms of support tools, the SLWSTK6102A includes a powerful software stack, advanced debugging and optimization tools, sample application code, pre-compiled demos, documentation, and various other resources.
Energy efficiency management and onboard interface are two product highlights worth mentioning of SLWSTK6102A. In terms of energy efficiency management, the SLWSTK6102A is equipped with an AEM circuit for monitoring energy consumption. As shown in Figure 4, the low noise 3.3V LDO on the motherboard is used to power the radio board when the slide switch on the board is slid to the AEM option. It is important to point out that the power domain of the SLWSTK6102A is carefully designed to allow the selection of different power sources (USB, coin cell and external power supply options) for the target device, while retaining debug capabilities. This power domain is also specially isolated to prevent leakage current from the target power domain when the board controller is powered off.
Figure 4: Power supply options for the SLWSTK6102A (Source: Silicon Labs)
As shown in Figure 5, the rich interface resources of SLWSTK6102A are another big advantage. Among them, the Virtual COM Port Interface (VCOM) provides an easy-to-use serial port connection via USB or Ethernet; the Packet Trace Interface (PTI) provides valuable debug information about transmitted and received packets over the wireless link; the 20-pin extension ( EXP) header to connect external peripherals or plug-in board interface kits via common serial interfaces such as SPI, UART, I2C; also includes an on-board debugger that supports SWD, JTAG, and C2.
Figure 5: Rich interface resources of SLWSTK6102A (Source: Silicon Labs)
Through rich configuration, SLWSTK6102A makes every node in the Bluetooth Mesh network have excellent scalability.
One suite, many protocols
The complexity of network protocols is another representative problem that users need to face, especially in IoT-related applications. Protocols such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee all have their own applications in the IoT field, but users need to spend A large number of R&D resources develop different protocol software on different chip platforms.
At the same time, almost all protocols have their own ecological barriers, so that the Internet of Things we have built today is still an isolated ecosystem. If the device itself cannot support multiple protocols, it cannot provide the necessary cross-protocol again. connectivity. With the rapid proliferation of IoT devices, this problem will become more pronounced. According to IDC statistics, it is estimated that by 2025, more than 150,000 devices will be connected to the Internet every minute in the world, bringing exponential growth to connected applications including the Internet of Things.
Therefore, we need an efficient and suitable IoT platform to provide support for various mainstream protocols, so as to realize the seamless integration of various standards in practical applications, and provide strong support for the development of ubiquitous networks.
With the STM32WB5MM-DK Discovery Kit from STMicroelectronics (STMicroelectronics) available from Mouser Electronics, users can easily develop solutions with such multi-protocol support capabilities.
Figure 6: STM32WB5MM-DK Discovery Kit (Image source: ST)
The STM32WB5MM-DK Discovery Kit is a discovery kit that ships with the STM32WB5MMG MCU. As the core of the board, the STM32WB5MMG MCU is an ultra-low power and small size certified 2.4GHz wireless module that supports Bluetooth 5.2, Zigbee 3.0, OpenThread, dynamic and static concurrent modes and 802.15.4 proprietary protocols. With its good receiver sensitivity and high output power signal, it delivers best-in-class RF performance regardless of the supported protocol.
For IoT applications, device security performance is extremely important. The STM32WB5MMG MCU embeds a number of security performance settings, including 256-bit AES hardware encryption, PCROP read and write protection, JTAG fuse bits, public key encryption using an elliptic curve encryption engine, etc., providing excellent security hardware functions for the final application.
In RF-oriented applications, users do not need RF expertise when using the STM32WB5MMG MCU. The product offers a fully royalty-free protocol stack, such as with HAL and LL peripheral drivers, a complete middleware and wireless protocol stack, and a variety of pre-configured software examples, ideal for speeding up development.
Furthermore, when we use any STMicroelectronics related MCU development tools, we cannot ignore the STM32 ecosystem as shown in Figure 7. These rich ecological resources will greatly simplify the system design, thereby speeding up the process of going to market.
Figure 7: STM32 ecosystem (Image source: ST)
We then move the perspective to the board. In addition to its excellent RF performance, the STM32WB5MM-DK also provides a touch-sensitive 0.96-inch 128×64 OLED Display, sensors, USB and 128Mbit quad SPI NOR external flash memory. Board connectors include:
・ ARDUINO® Uno V3 expansion connector
・USB users with Micro-B connector
・ TAG10 10-pin footprint
Here, the scalability of this Discovery Kit must be emphasized. With the extension headers on the STM32WB5MM-DK, users can easily connect Arduino boards for specific applications. With the help of Arduino, a convenient, flexible, and easy-to-use open source Electronic prototype platform, it can run on the three major operating systems of Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux, further enhancing the intelligent capability of the device.
Whether it is the STM32WB5MMG MCU or the STM32WB5MM-DK Discovery Kit, flexible power options are outstanding performance advantages. STM32WB5MM-DK provides users with multiple power options for ST-LINK/V2-1 USB connector, 5V from Arduino or external connector, USB charger or USB power supply for audio, lighting, home and building automation, objects In applications such as networking and remote control, it is easy to achieve advantageous power supply options.
The increase or decrease in the difficulty of RF/communication development
Radio frequency/communication is a huge and complex technical field, and new modes and protocols will be extended for each different field, which has caused a divergence point in the industry. Some practitioners believe that a communication system that simplifies complexity is necessary, and such a system will come sooner or later; some practitioners believe that as the Internet of Everything descends into a broader scene, the radio frequency/communication system will become more complicated. No matter what the result is, Mouser can find suitable development tools, and the development interface presented to engineers and friends will be simple and easy to use.