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Designing a Product with SimpleLink CC26xx or CC13xx Wireless MCUs
A 10-step guide
This is a step by step guide to designing a low power RF product based on the CC26xx/CC13xx family of SimpleLink wireless MCU devices. The goal is to present you with the resources that are relevant at the different stages of design. If you get stuck or have questions anywhere along the line, please post your questions to our e2e forum:
- 1 Step 1 - Decide on which RF technology you want to use
- 2 Step 2 - Buy the relevant development kit
- 3 Step 3 - Download an evaluation tool
- 4 Step 4 - Download a software development environment:
- 5 Step 5 - Design the hardware
- 6 Step 6 - Test the hardware
- 7 Step 7 – Test the software and application functionality
- 8 Step 8 – Certify your product
- 9 Step 9 – Production Test and Programming
- 10 Step 10 – Production
Step 1 - Decide on which RF technology you want to use
- Bluetooth low energy (BLE) – low power star network with ~100 m range and connectivity to most phones, tablets and computers. Previously known as Bluetooth Smart.
- Contiki 6LoWPAN – 6LoWPAN is a low-power wireless mesh network where every node has its own IPv6 address, allowing it to connect directly to the Internet using open standards
- Supported with CC2630 or CC2650
- ZigBee – A robust mesh network with sleeping end nodes and standards defined application profiles for vendor interoperability
- Supported with CC2630 or CC2650
- Proprietary – Take advantage or long range (kilometers) or high throughput (up to 5 Mbps) physical layers by writing your own protocol on top of the CC2650 or CC1310/50 very flexible and powerful radio architecture. The TI-RTOS release contains the drivers you need to access hardware features easily and ensure efficient power management:
Step 2 - Buy the relevant development kit
- Find the available ones on the product page:
- CC26xx BLE: See the Getting Started page
- CC1310 Sub 1GHz: http://www.ti.com/product/CC1310/toolssoftware#desKits
- Let yourself be inspired by the out-of-the box example
Step 3 - Download an evaluation tool
- SmartRFStudio for RF performance evaluation
- Packet-error-rate (range) testing
- RF characteristics evaluation
- Can be used to generate settings for proprietary physical layers
- BTool for BLE
- A PC tool for implementing and controlling a BLE Controller using the CC2540 USB Dongle
- Allows TI Vendor Specific HCI operations and more
- BTool is included in the BLE-Stack SDK installer
- BLE Device Monitor
- A PC tool for operating BLE Devices via CC2540 USB Dongle
- Over The Air Download
- SensorTag Data Monitoring
- SensorTag Production Test
- SmartRF Protocol Packet Sniffer
- Use a USB dongle to capture and analyze over-the-air traffic
- More tools available here:
Step 4 - Download a software development environment:
- You have several choices for the platform:
- Complete list here: http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/CC13xx_CC26xx_Tools_Overview
- Code Composer Studio is fully featured and free with the use of the emulators that come with TI development kits.
- Download the relevant SDK (software development kit) according to your choice of technology above (follow the associated link to download and install)
- Read the Bluetooth Low Energy Software Developer’s Guide: SWRU393 Bluetooth Low Energy Software Developer's Guide
- Read the CC26XX Family SW Quickstart guide for a better understanding of the SW architecture: CC26xx Family SW Quickstart Guide
- Find the application example that most closely resembles your application
- Open it in your chosen IDE. The rest of this guide will assume that it’s Code Composer Studio. More details on how to use the SDK, including supported IDE version, are provided in the respective SW Developer’s Guide.
- Make your own project based on the example. For BLE, there is a tutorial in SimpleLink Academy using Project Zero
- More examples on the BLE Wiki
- For BLE proprietary profiles, you should also make the corresponding iOS and Android App
- Examples for the TI SensorTag can be found here: http://www.ti.com/tool/SENSORTAG-SW
Step 5 - Design the hardware
- Consider using a module to reduce development time & cost. Links to module vendors can be found on the BLE Wiki.
- Based on I/O requirements, RF front-end options and form-factor constraints, choose the right package for your CC26xx/CC13xx device
- The available package options are found in each device data sheet
- Order samples of your desired device from TI.com. Example for CC2640:
- Based on form-factor, desired performance and cost targets, choose a relevant reference design to take as a starting point. The “EM” reference design is designed to be a good starting point for the most common applications. Example for CC2640:
- Replicate the reference design into your PCB design tool.
- Make changes and additions to the design based on your application requirements.
- To ensure good RF performance, do not change the schematic, BOM or layout of the RF, decoupling or DC/DC regulator part of the design.
- Consult the device data sheet to understand the constraints on I/O assignments and operating conditions. GPIO assignments to peripherals is extremely flexible on these devices.
- Read the guides here to get advice on schematic, BOM and layout:
- Think about how you will test and program your product, and make sure you have the required connectors available for that. Skip ahead to the “Production Test” section for details.
- Send your design to production
Step 6 - Test the hardware
- Check the following aspects as a minimum:
- Power up/down sequence
- Application functionality
- Current consumption
- RF performance
- RF Standards compliance when relevant (Bluetooth Smart, ZigBee etc. )
- RF regulations compliance (FCC, ETSI, ARIB) depending on the targeted market regions
- Remember to test over the full voltage and temperature range of your application
- Tuning and matching of the RF – compare to the TI reference design performance for a point of comparison
- If you find bugs or performance below target, re-design and repeat – if in need of advice, please post on the relevant e2e forum
Step 7 – Test the software and application functionality
- Test your software running on your hardware – you’re getting close
Step 8 – Certify your product
- Certify the product (hardware and software) for standards compliance.
- For Bluetooth low energy: http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/How_to_Certify_your_Bluetooth_product
- For ZigBee: http://www.zigbee.org/zigbee-for-developers/zigbeecertified/
- Certify the product for regulatory compliance:
Step 9 – Production Test and Programming
- Develop your production test solution
- Test RF performance
- Test peripheral functionality
- Test current consumption
- Program your device with the final program. This can be done by your distributor before mounting the devices on your board, before board production testing or after board production testing.
- For BLE products, a lot can be tested with PTM mode controlled over UART:
- More information:
Step 10 – Production
- Send your product off to pilot production
- Start production
- Sell a lot of them and keep improving the production flow throughout the lifetime of the product.
Don’t hesitate contact us on the e2e forum if you have any questions along the way!