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CC1120 433MHz Booster Pack by V-Chip

In collaboration with TI, V-Chip has released an inexpensive CC1120 433MHz development kit for the China market which also serves as a CC1120 BP (Booster Pack) for MSP430 Launchpad (partnumber: CC1120EK-433). It can be used stand-alone to verify RF performance of CC1120 @ 433MHz, or together with the MSP430 Launchpad for MCU + RF development. The kit can be ordered directly from V-Chip:

Link to webshop in English.

Link to webshop in Mandarin.

VChip CC1120 photo.png

 Kit Content

2x CC1120 433MHz evaluation boards

2x SMA connectors (unmounted)

2x micro USB cables

Quick Start Guide

The kit has two modes of operation: SmartRF Mode and Launchpad Mode. In SmartRF Mode, the boards are connected to a PC and controlled by SmartRF Studio software. In Launchpad Mode, the boards are plugged onto an MSP430 Launchpad and the CC1120 is controlled by the MSP430.

SmartRF Mode

  1. Download and install SmartRF Studio software (link here).
  2. Connect both boards to a PC (same PC can be used) with the supplied USB cables. When the  green LED "USB Ready" lights up it means that the PC is communicating OK with the CC1120 chip on the kit.
  3. Run SmartRF Studio. The two boards should be recognised in the startup window and you can start exploring the functionality of the software. This includes RX and TX testing. Here is a link to an introductory hands-on tutorial for SmartRF Studio which works with the CC1120EK-433 + SmartRF Studio.
  4. It is also possible to run the RX Packet Sniffer together with the CC1120EK-433. For example, it is possible to send RF packets using one CC1120 BP and SmartRF Studio, and receive and visualize these packets using the other CC1120 BP and the RF Packet Sniffer software (link here).

Note! SmartRF Mode will not work correctly if the CC1120 BP is connected to an MSP430 Launchpad. Only connect the CC1120 BP to a PC when it is stand-alone. (The reason is that there will be conflict of power supply between the boards).

Launchpad Mode

  1. You should get 2x MSP430 Launchpads for development (one for each side of the RF link).
    VChip CC1120 BP433 pinout.jpg
  2. Remove jumper on P1.6 on the MSP430 Launchpad (P1.6 is used for the SPI MISO line of CC1120)
  3. Insert the CC1120 BP onto the MSP430 Launchpad so that the Launchpad "rockets" 
  4. on each board is oriented in the same direction.
  5. Connect the MSP430 Launchpad via USB to the PC and start development with IAR, CCS or GCC. More info about the MSP430 Launchpad is found here. A good first example to try is the EasyLink Software Example for CC1120 on MSP430 Launchpad.

Measurement Results

Measurements on two typical boards at 433MHz show +15dBm Pout, -123.5dBm sensitivity at 1.2kbps and -111dBm at 38.4kbps. This is in-line with values found in the CC1120 datasheet. Measurements were done conducted at room temperature and Vdd = 3.0V.