Review of Texas Instruments 430Boost-CC110L BoosterPack featuring  Anaren Integrated Radio (AIR) modules

Table of contents

RoadTest: Texas Instruments 430Boost-CC110L BoosterPack featuring  Anaren Integrated Radio (AIR) modules

Author: refaqtor

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?: -The missing pre-programmed parts were the most problematic. I had to find other methods to load my regular Launchpad processors. -Step 5 on the "Quick Start Guide" is vague and incorrect. There were no "14-pin DIP ICs" to replace with a "20-pin DIP IC." The usual G2553 was installed in the Launchpad; with the usual thermal sensor software. Replacing with the secondary Lauchpad IC didn't produce any demo applications. It took me some days to realize that I didn't actually get the pre-programmed part, and some days more to get the demo application onto my own G2553. Using actual model numbers, instead of pin count, might have helped. -The Quick Start Guide needed a URL, in big bold type, to the online version of itself, and additional resources, that could be kept corrected, and skip the additional inserted ADDENDUM.

Detailed Review:

Overall Impressions:  My experience with this Anaren AIR BoosterPack had a very rocky start with missing parts and spotty instructions, but finished strong with solid radio performance.

 

In the beginning, naturally, I was hoping for an easy walk through the Quick Start Guide to get a feel for these units before exploring the developer resources to bend them to my will.  That was not to be.  The vagueness of the Guide (particularly, Step 5) left me wondering if I had the correct processor inserted, or hadn't followed the instructions carefully enough.  I took some time to realize that there were no parts pre-programmed with the demonstration software that worked with the desktop app. 

 

Well, ok.  I've coded on the MSP430.  Let's jump in to the code and knock together a test app.  But, I soon realized, that to see what I desired, the demonstration app really was the most expedient tool.  Ultimately, I put the demo on the G2553 that I had, and got on with what I really meant to do.

 

What I really meant to do was see how these radios performed in electrically noisy environments, particularly largely surrounded by metal chassis and electric motors.  And what made the demonstration application (that they cleverly call AIR Traffic Control) the best tool was that it was easy to see dropped packets as the Serial data scrolled by, and trends were revealed nicely in the line graph.  The most convenient, not to have had to code yourself just as you're beginning to learn about radios, is the RF Configuration Control that allows you to easily change radio settings, such as power and frequency.

 

So, I have these two 8 hp electric motors on a mobile machine that I'm considering controlling remotely.  For the test I went for what I felt was an extremely poor location for radios, as you see in the picture.

 

Much to my surprise, the motors running had practically NO affect on the performance of these radios.  The metal chassis did cut the range down to ~100', which was not unexpected.  Actually, quite promising, given the poor environment it was placed.  The data did drop out pretty consistently at just the same distance away.  It wasn't a gradual decline in utility.  I'll have to be certain to build in a fail safe-mode which cuts power if the radios get out of reach of each other.  But, for now, I've learned the practical limits of the radios for my applications.  I'm anxious now to get back in and code it

 

Would I get another Anaren AIR BoosterPack?  Yes, I would, because they work great and are such a great deal.  And, for me now, I won't be counting on the Quick Start Guide to give me a quick start.

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