Anaren AIR B-Smart BoosterPack - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Anaren AIR B-Smart BoosterPack

Author: gsgill112

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?: Bluegiga's BLE112/113 BLE Module

What were the biggest problems encountered?: No Android Support

Detailed Review:

Road Test Review:

     First of all, I want to thank Anaren, Element14 and RoadTest Program for providing me an opportunity for RoadTesting this product. Unfortunately, I own an Android Mobile so I won’t be able to test the application side of the product. I will be uploading application point of view once Anaren releases Android applications.


     This review will be a Q/A kind of a review where I will answer all the key points Anaren wants as a part of review, and I will also post my findings. Finally I will be comparing this with other BLE Module I have been using.

1.     What did you think of the kit when it first arrived, even before you opened the box?

          I had been through many documentations (Anaren has a really Good Documentation set), about the kit and I knew what I was about to get. I was very fascinated by the kit as it is a really promising kit, featuring,


A2542R24A BLE 4.0 Module with CC2541 SoC

Voltage Regulator on Module

Pre-certification to FCC/IC and ETSI compliant

            Low Power Consumption


           The best feature I liked about the module is that this module had an on Module Regulator which is really awesome. Why? Because as per TI with the correct Regulator you can get up to 30% power           performance improvement image that’s awesome image image



2.     On opening the box, what struck you first about the layout of its contents and the overall component packaging?

          Well, let me assure you Anaren has taken that extra step for you to give you great aesthetics satisfaction. Everything in the box has its own compartment and is elegantly and neatly packed. I just had one of those Awwwweeee… Moments while unboxing this kit. Well, where they have taken extra care of even boxing the – connector, I was disappointed by the quality of USB cable provided with the kit image. Even a 9.9$ Ti’s MSP430 Launchpad has a better Quality of USB B cable. But, anyways the provided cable worked so its fine image .

          A neat feature of the box is space for an MSP430 image. This board can be used as a stand-alone system with MSP430 and AIR Module by soldering few components at place and Bingo image. So they have           provided a neat small space for an Extra MCU if ever you need one image.


3.     On unpacking the box and looking at all the parts, what did you feel we could have added to the kit, or even excluded from the kit, for that matter?

     AS mentioned above, the Quality of USB cable according to me was not up to mark, so, definitely some improvement at that department. There’s no need for a special packing for the connector cable. Though it seems cool, but is unnecessary.


          AS this is a Development Board, I really would have liked a USB Module which can connect to the kit and you can debug the Gatt Profiles, etc. (Currently I do not own an iPhone so I am not able to test anythingimage)


4.     Were you successful in connecting the kit to your embedded application?

          Well, YES and NO. While running the demo code which compiled successfully, there was no way for me to check whether the code was running fine or not. Further there is no other way to check the transmission and test the BLE side as there aren’t any tools like CC2540DK/BLE4.0 Dongle/etc. currently shipped with the board.

5.     Were you successful in connecting your kit/embedded application to the Em-hub using the tools and instructions included with the kit?

     Anaren and Emmoco has done a really good job with documentation of the kit and steps for setting up the simple demo. The learning experience is really seamless as everything you need is right there at the em-hub portal or the em-Builder IDE.


     An important point I want to mention here is the toolchain setup, usually companied have a long tiring setup methods for even the most simple work and that’s really painful to go through. In this case the em-Builder IDE is really the savior of the day. I was able to set up the entire toolchain with the most easy to install software within 30min, and was able to sit for a couple of ours and got the basic programs up and running. Too bad I couldn’t see the output on the mobile front instead I had to settle with Ti’s BLE device Monitor (Download Link) in conjunction with TI’s CC2540 DK usb dongle found here.


     Finally, I realized that there’s a BLE Device monitor (Few other BLE Apps are also available here) which works Ok with any BLE4.0+ compatible mobile, but is extremely unreliable. I was able to see the entire GATT profile on my Mobile but the App crashed as soon as I tried changing some parameters inside GATT.


6.     How was your experience with the Em-hub itself?

     Em-Hub is a really cool experience with all the information required available there, but it does have some serious Glitches.


  1. Under the software version 14, Em-Hub shows Em-Builder and Em-Blinky android Apps version but clicking the does nothing?
  2. Same holds true for most of the v14 tools
  3. Sometimes you get an old information page on the site, as I got for troubleshooting help and for Android app section (According to em-hub emmoco already has android apps on Play Store. They have also published a video on how to install those apps which unfortunately does not exist).


7.     Did the kit live up to, exceed, or fall short of your expectations?

          Yes, it did. This is easy to use and interface and really does the job. It has an on board Voltage Regulator, so approx. no External components for the Module.


8.     Would you recommend this kit to your customers and colleagues?

          Well, the answer depends. I would prefer/recommend this module, if


  1. I don’t have much of a size restrictions. The Air module that comes pre-soldered on the BoosterPack is not the smallest modules I have seen.
  2. If you want a cheap solution for testing and debugging Bluetooth Smart (BLE/ Bluetooth 4.0)
  3. You have a TI’s Launchpad Eval kit laying around.


Now, Lets Compair this with the BLE Module I am using image

          I am Using a BLE 4.0 Module (based on ti's CC2541) from BlueGiga Tech, called BLE-113. I was using BLE112 earlier which was based on CC2540. The Anaren AIR A2542R24A  Module is also based on CC2541 chipset. I have tabulated all my findings below. 


BLUEGIGA BLE113 Anaren AIR A2542R24A
Based on Ti's CC2541 SoCBased on Ti's CC2541 SoC
Only the SoC and Antenna on ModuleComes with Voltage Regulater giving better performance
Needs Ti's CC Debugger to work withCan be programmed using the Launchpad/Serial Prog.
Smaller in sizequite Larger as compared to BLE113

Runs Bluegiga's Stack

(Stack is Heavy Adds 2Bytes to Header Dec the payload )

Runs Emmoco's Stack

(Based on Ti's BLE Stack)

Extreamly Easy to use (It is as simple as Arduino)

Difficult to use as compared to BLE113

but Extremely easy to set up the prog. env.

Documentation is not up to the mark and the

example programs aren't so helpful

Extremely well written Documentation

and plethora of examples  to start with

No Learning Video's or tutorials are availableLearning tutorials provided

          The A2542R24A module is really interesting and I will switch (in near future) to this module from BLE because of it's awesome support and tutorials. Though, I already have wasted an enormous amount of time on the BLE Module to learn those, so will stick to them for now.

Which one to choose?

          Well that depends on application. For my application I have to transmit Medical Data over BLE so I would suggest the Anaren's Module. But, if Size is the main concern then go with the Bluegiga's BLE Module as they are crazy Smaller. Recently Ti Announced a BlE 4.1 IC with antenna embedded inside. I will try and get my hands on them to evaluate their performance, but meanwhile will stick to these image

Some Advantages and disadvantages of the BoosterPack:


image Easy to use

image Easy Toolchain setup

image FCC certified

image Built In Voltage Regulator

image Can be used as a stand alone Board

image Current measurement jumper

image Configuration switches for easy use

image Emmoco BLE Stack is lighter than others image



image Jumper's are not Standard 0.1" spacing instead they are 2mm

image Not the smallest BLE Module I have seen


image Em-Hub is Great but outdated

image Doesn't come with BLE 4.0 Dongle