RoadTest: LPRS eRIC Development Kit
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
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?: Nordic nRF9E5
What were the biggest problems encountered?: No real problems, just a few niggles.
The kit arrived in a well presented and well packed box, complete with everything that was needed, except the software compiler.
There were two radio module boards, two USB cables, two batteries, two antennas and a USB memory stick in the form of "ERIC". It seemed a bit cruel to pull Eric's head off to read the files, but they were a copy of the files available on the LPRS web site, so those of a squeamish disposition need not decapitate Eric. The web site was slightly more up to date than the USB files anyway.
I started by running the demonstration which was already loaded onto the two radio module boards. The most useful demo uses one board to send an incrementing LED pattern across the radio link to the second board. This made it easy to check the useable range. I found that it worked reliably for about 100 metres, partly in open air but also through several walls, trees and vehicles. All this took no more than 10 minutes from opening the box, so well done LPRS!
My application will need bespoke software, so next I investigated the compiler and IDE. This is the TI Code Composer Studio, (CCS) which is available under a free licence, allowing up to 16k of code, which is enough for the ERIC module. The LPRS tutorials explain how to download CCS although they refer to an older version. The differences were not too great, but might be confusing to a first time user. The worst part was the time it took to download; I have a reasonably fast internet connection (75M most of the time) but even so it took the best part of a hour. To be fair, the tutorial does hint at this, but it would be better if CCS could be included in the USB stick.
Once loaded and running, CCS worked well. There is a demonstration file which compiled correctly first time, although there were a few warnings, mostly due to unused variables. The tutorial gives a very simple example as a guide to writing your own code; it's a simple LED blinker. There is another, slightly more comprehensive example elsewhere on the LPRS web site, but a few more examples would be really helpful. While I think of it, the LPRS web site is quite pretty, but not that easy to navigate. For example, to get the hardware data sheet for Eric from the home page, you have to select "easyRadio" then "Eric Modules" (OK so far) then "eROS3 Downloads" (not at all obvious and at the bottom of the page) before you get to the page which includes the data sheet. All the information is there somewhere but you have to dig for it.
I followed the tutorial again and flashed the LED blink code onto one of the radio module boards. No real problem here, although the "eRIC Flash Programmer" is a bit quirky and the supplied USB cables are very short.
There is a help forum which doesn't seem to be used very much. Maybe it's because eRIC is a new product, or perhaps it's so easy to use that little help is required.
To summarise, the hardware works extremely well and I am confident that it will do the job for my project. A few more real-world code examples would be useful but overall I was favourably impressed.
Pretty good review for a first time. If I may make some suggestions, a few pictures to explain what you are refering too always helps. Also talking through the steps as you go through it often helps too, for the most part you this one really well but a bit more meat to help someone who has not use dthe device undertsant what it is you did is offtenhelpfull. Otherwise this was a good and easy to read review.