Bluetooth LE/Bluetooth 5 I/O sensor provides long range data transfer for industrial IoT applications

Laird Connectivity

Laird Connectivity’s BT610 I/O sensor employs Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC to make wired sensors wireless

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Laird Connectivity, an Akron, Ohio-based leading wireless technology company, has selected Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to power its new ‘Sentrius™ BT610 I/O Sensor’. This sensor platform supports a wide range of interface options—including general purpose analog inputs, digital I/Os, UART, I2C and SPI serial interfaces—and is compatible with almost any industry-standard external sensor and can convert the devices from wired to battery-operated wireless operation.

Full Bluetooth 5 support

Supplied in a hard-wearing IP67-rated enclosure with an operating temperature range of –40 to 85º C, the BT610 employs Laird Connectivity’s ‘BL654 module’, integrating Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC, to deliver full Bluetooth 5 support; this includes 2x on-air raw data bandwidth (2Mbps), 4x range, 8x broadcasting ability with advertising extensions that increase the advertising packet payload size to 251 bytes, and an improved channel coexistence algorithm. The nRF52840 SoC’s radio architecture with on-chip PA provides -95dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps in Bluetooth LE mode), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm. Together with an integrated high-gain antenna to ensure good performance when using the LE Coded PHY, and an IPEX locking connector for increased durability when subject to shock and vibration, the BT610 is designed for rigorous applications in harsh environments. 

The Flash/RAM supporting the powerful MCU enabled us to meet our specific application needs
Chris Boorman, Laird Connectivity

The BT610 can be coupled with off-the-shelf sensors to, for example, wirelessly capture temperature data inside/in support of HVAC units, perform AC current sensing on large induction motors, or gather ultrasonic/pressure level data in remote tank monitoring applications. Using the nRF52840 SoC’s Bluetooth 5 Long Range capability, data can then be relayed by a gateway to the Cloud. An accompanying iOS or Android smartphone app is also available for convenient sensor interaction. Users can configure sensor types, read sensor data, set alarm conditions and advertising durations/intervals, and much more.

Long-lasting battery life

The BT610 is powered by a replaceable, large capacity Lithium Thionyl Chloride battery, especially chosen for its performance in challenging environments. This battery has the capability to last for years (depending on the application and environment) thanks in part to the ultra low power operating characteristics of the Nordic nRF52840 SoC. The nRF52840 is engineered to minimize power consumption with a fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with the nRF51 Series.

Nordic’s nRF52840 advanced multiprotocol SoC combines a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU), with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5.2, Long Range, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee, ANT™, IEEE 802.15.4, NFC, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software), featuring 8dBm output power -95dBm RX sensitivity for a link budget of 103 dBm, with 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM. The Dynamic Multiprotocol feature uniquely supports concurrent wireless connectivity of the protocols. The SoC features 12Mbps Full Speed USB. The nRF52840 SoC incorporates the ARM® CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator offering best-in-class security for Cortex-M based SoCs.

The nRF Connect SDK [Software Development Kit] is recommended for nRF52840 software development. The nRF Connect SDK integrates the Zephyr RTOS, supports applications using Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth mesh and Thread, and includes examples, Bluetooth LE profiles and driver support for all peripherals. The SDK also includes a migration of Nordic’s Bluetooth SoftDevice Controller from the company’s proven SoftDevices used with the nRF52 Series. The nRF5 SDK can also be used for development with Nordic’s S113, S132 and S140 SoftDevices Nordic’s Bluetooth RF protocol stacks.

“The nRF Connect SDK was a major benefit,” says Chris Boorman, Senior Product Manager for Laird Connectivity. “It allowed us to build the BT610 as an open platform, using a standard protocol, which allows customers to leverage their own Cloud offering as they wish.

“The generous 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM of the nRF52840 were also major drawcards for Laird when considering applications of the BT610. The Flash/RAM supporting the powerful MCU enabled us to meet our specific application needs, whilst also enabling future scaling of the product’s capabilities. We also wanted a stable and proven chipset, and the fact we already had that on our established BL654 with the nRF52840 made it an obvious choice given the hardware feature alignment.”