Prototyping rapidly is key to developing a new concept and delivering it on time. In the Toylab we have been tinkering recently with a bunch of cool wireless and remote control ideas, but have consistently been held back by the difficulty of implementing them. Although there are many relatively simple wireless solutions available to hobbyists, we couldn’t find anything that quite fit our criteria:
- capable of transmitting arbitrary data
- quick to setup
- easy to use
So, we set out to make some tools. A little research revealed that there were several single-chip radio transceivers available for very low prices, but most of them required special printed circuit board layouts and additional components to function properly. Luckily however, the talented folks over at Sparkfun have already tackled this issue. The company sells their own, and third party tools that make integrating these complicated miniature radio systems into a project all but trivial. We decided to use their line of breakout boards and modules based on the Nordic Nrf2401 transceiver as there are several configurations available varying in size and transmission range.
The only remaining piece to this puzzle was software. There are a few libraries out there for using this equipment with familiar controllers like the PIC and AVR, but none of them seemed to “just work” easily with Arduino – the popular AVR based open source platform that we use the most. Accordingly we have built a simple and straightforward interface that we hope everyone can make use of.
Want to build your own wireless prototypes? Check out our library on the Arduino Playground.