Nordic Semiconductor's ULP Wireless Technology Provides Processing Power And Software Flexibility Demanded By Enthusiast Model Car Sector
Taiwanese ODM, Relight Technologies, unveils model racer transmitter that meets the demands of serious consumers for a multichannel, low latency, interference immune RF link - with smartphone connectivity for simple set-up - using Nordic's nRF24LE1 SoC and nRF51822 Bluetooth low energy and 2.4GHz proprietary SoC
Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA recenty announces that Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM), Relight Technologies, has selected the nRF51822 Bluetooth low energy and 2.4GHz proprietary System-on-Chip (SoC) and the nRF24LE1 SoC as the basis of a high-end remote control model car radio transmitter. Relight's "Smart-Tx" is one of the most advanced surface radio transmitters for remote control model car drivers.
The nRF24LE1, a proven 2.4GHz ULP SoC used in millions of devices worldwide (see "About nRF24LE1" below), powers the wireless link between the transmitter and vehicle. Relight selected the chip because of its robust RF performance and because it can be programmed with the ODM's own RF software protocol that has been specifically designed to cope with the demands of remote control cars used by enthusiasts. These vehicles can reach speeds approaching 100km/hr and are often surrounded by many other remote control vehicles, so range, low latency, and interference immunity are essential requirements for the wireless link.
The remote control handset also employs Nordic's nRF51822 SoC (see "About nRF51822" below). Apart from its superior RF performance and ultra low power consumption (-92.5dB RX sensitivity in Bluetooth low energy mode and sub-10mA peak currents when running off a 3V coin cell battery), Relight selected the chip for two key reasons: Seamless connectivity with smartphones, and because the device's powerful 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 based processor features ample computing overhead to cope with the complex remote control algorithms.
The latest generation of smartphones such as Apple's iPhone 4S and 5 include support for Bluetooth v4.0 (which embraces Bluetooth low energy as a hallmark feature). Allied to a downloadable 'app', the handset's computational power and large touchscreen make setting up the control program for high-level remote control models much easier than the traditional system that relies on a basic dot matrix display, using complicated menu-based commands, situated on the controller itself.
In addition to providing the remote controller's computing capability, the nRF51822 powers the wireless link between controller and smartphone that relays the user's set-up instructions after they have been selected using the app. The iPhone is a Bluetooth Smart Ready product, ensuring it is interoperable with any Bluetooth Smart product. A Bluetooth low energy radio - as integrated into the nRF51822 - is a prerequisite for a Bluetooth Smart product. (See "About Bluetooth low energy" below.)
"Most enthusiasts own more than one type of remote control car but typically only one radio transmitter," explains Elvis Huang, Vice President with Relight Technology. "Each car requires its own control parameters and some of these - such as the throttle curve - are very complex to program via a tiny dot-matrix display. But because the nRF51822 enables wireless connectivity to an iPhone, the user can now program the control parameters easily using an intuitive handset-based app and then transfer these back to the controller.
"But that was not the only reason for choosing the nRF51822," continues Huang. "Nordic's software framework makes it easy to build 'customized' Bluetooth low energy profiles. This is particularly important for the toy sector because there are no standard profiles available. Second, the 32-bit microcontroller looks after the control algorithms while handling the complex Bluetooth protocol without any stress. Finally, the large 128 kByte user-accessible Flash memory built into the nRF51822 provides plenty of room to store the high accuracy control algorithms required for these high-performance model cars."
"Relight Technologies have demonstrated considerable innovation to not only use ULP wireless connectivity to control high-performance model cars, but also to employ the technology to link the transmitter to a smartphone to make programming the control system for the vehicle much easier than in the past," notes Geir Langeland, Nordic's Director of Sales & Marketing. "This impressive application perfectly demonstrates how the nRF51822 SoC's built-in computing power and large Flash memory allows customers the scope to develop and support wireless applications that were previously beyond a single-chip solution. Better yet, the power consumption of the device is considerably lower than the previous generation of ULP transceivers."
SOURCE: Nordic Semiconductor ASA