RSL10 Sensor Development Kit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: RSL10 Sensor Development Kit - Industrial Sensing

Author: lbridges

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

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?: In my research on specifications for RSL10/Arm Cortex/BLE, a few devices popped up repeatedly (Nordic, STM, ESP). However the RSL-10-SENSE-GEVK is the first development board I have spent any amount of time working with.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Sorting through current documentation, organizing and prioritizing available reference materials. Without previous knowledge of any RSL10 development processes, it is a little difficult to locate information specific to the RSL10-SENSE-GEVK.

Detailed Review:

Intro

 

    Use Case

I applied for the RSL10-Sense-GEVK Road Test because I want to create an application that tracks a user's location and also responds to basic voice commands. The sensors included in the development kit appeared to meet the needs of my project. I was most interested in the microphone and "location-based-services" capabilities -specifically to use the microphone to trigger the recording of a user's location via voice command.

 

    Expectations    

I expected to have access to the data generated by the microphone, however at the time of the review, the microphone was unsupported. While this was disappointing, I can understand why    further considerations and precautions should be implemented in developing an application that could possibly record sensitive material. We all have the right to know we are being recorded.    Development of voice-based applications should be held to the highest standards in privacy preservation.

 

It would be worthwhile for me to purchase the debugging probe and the 10-pin needle adapter for programming the microphone to respond to one of the push buttons. While I have    downloaded the IDE and the CMSIS packs, I saw no need to set up the development environment without the debugger hardware/cables. I have limited knowledge of programming embedded    systems, so I shifted my focus to the lowest barrier of entry in interacting with the sensor dev kit. I expected to be able to create a small mesh network with at least 3 Bluetooth enabled devices    (one being the RSL10-sense-gevk). Currently, I have found this is only possible if all of the devices are "online". Bluetooth alone isn't enough to exchange/store data between more than 2  devices.

 

Overall, I expected a little more flexibility in interacting with the development kit. The debugging probe required to program the push buttons/deep sleep mode is very specific and it isn't cheap. I searched high and low for alternatives to the J-Link/TagConnect combination and came up with little to note. For anyone looking for more information on the standard: https://www.segger.com/products/debug-probes/j-link/technology/about-real-time-transfer/

 

 

Hardware/Software

 

        RSL10-SENSE-GEVK

Detailed specs for the device can be found in the User Guide EVBUM2614.                   

"The RSL10−SENSE−GEVK (and RSL10−SENSE−DB−GEVK) is a comprehensive,

compact, node−to−cloud IoT sensor platform that allows development of various

Bluetooth Low Energy based use cases."

I had spent a little time looking for a case/enclosure for the board,

but couldn't find anything that I could pick up locally or order from Amazon.

The best result I found was from a German company that appears to specialize

in different types of enclosures for circuit boards in a range of sizes/styles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enclosure Alternative

Being that this was a "low budget" project, I created a case from a sample box of Qtips. The sensor fit in perfectly. I used a very small amount of mounting putty to stabilize the sensor in the makeshift case. I compared some of the sensor readings both in and out of the case and found no notable difference in the readings.

 

 

        LG smart phone Android

Phone name: LGL62VL

Android Version: 5.1.1

This is an older phone, not in daily use. I was able to download the Sense and Control application to the phone and was able to connect to the sensor dev kit with it. This was a very      constrained instance of connectivity, using only Bluetooth. The Sense and Control App did not allow for more than one connection to the sensor. Switching from iOS to Android required      resetting the sensor.

 

RSL10 related Android appsNo Connection Sample ReadingFOTA?!

      

 

Brief details of Android applications I found related to RSL10:

Primary Application for RSL10-SENSE-GEVK

RSL10 Sense and Control App (Android and iOS)

 

RSL10 FOTA App (Android)

" The FOTA application acts as a central device to scan, connect and transmit the firmware image to a remote RSL10 device. The remote RSL10 device firmware must have FOTA-enabled firmware to receive the FOTA firmware image."

 

RSL10 Sensor Beacon App (Android)

"The RSL10 Sensor Beacon application allows the monitoring of various sensors connected to energy harvesting based RSL10 development platforms."

--RSL10-SOLARSENS-GEVK--

**"The data is displayed as text and line plots to visualize the data over time. The data can also be exported for further analysis."

 

 

        iPhone 6

Software Version: 12.3.1

This iPhone was my primary tool for interacting with the sensor dev kit. It is my daily phone, connected to a carrier. I found the functionality to be the same as that of the Android version, however not quite as smooth. I downloaded a few other applications related to MQTT and Bluetooth -to test alternative connectivity to the sensor. While I was able to establish connections with "LightBlue" and "BlueCap", the data available seemed to be restricted. I would like to spend a little more time exploring these alternatives. The information fields in the MQTTool are similar to those of the generic broker option on the Sense and Control application.

 

 

LightBlue ConnectionBlueCap ConnectionAlternative MQTT Connection

 

Basic Cloud Connectivity


The easiest cloud connection was to CloudMQTT. There is a free plan option, which was perfect for this Road Test.

1. Create your CloudMQTT account, choose your plan, create your instance:

 

2. Note your sign in credentials from your CloudMQTT account and add a generic broker in the Sense and Control App:

 

3. Remember to "enable broadcast" on the screen that prompts the user to manage brokers or receivers, and then make sure your intended broker is selected:

 

4. If you entered incorrect information, you will be notified that the connection was unsuccessful. If everything is proper, you will see a shell listing the data being broadcast to the cloud:

 

Summary

I only scratched the surface of the capabilities of this development platform. While I think it would be fun to hook up the J-Link and program the buttons (and microphone!), I am certain I am underestimating the level of complexity involved. I was far more interested in exploring the MQTT protocol and setting up a local environment for publishing/subscribing. I got as far as successfully starting Mosquitto on a Windows Subsystem for Linux:

I am looking for a little more control over the data being exchanged between the sensor and the smartphone application. I will have to dive in deeper to get a better idea of the best way to accomplish that. Straight out of the box, this is still good value for the money. As a web developer, my instincts are to move the sensor data to a more manageable form (JSON). It seems like too much work to get the data from the Sense and Control app and transform it into JavaScript. I will be looking into how to interact directly with the sensor data, not using the smartphone app.

The project I have in mind relies heavily on best security practices. Having to use a smartphone application to access data that is in my physical proximity seems like overkill. Obviously there are all matter of use cases where the phone app would be an integral piece of the bigger picture. Even including an app that I don't want to have to rely on, the sensor development kit is well worth the asking price. I think this is a good starting point for anyone who is looking to get into embedded systems/IoT. To accomplish anything noteworthy takes some determination and patience. This Road Test pushed me to study some things I would not have found on my own -much of what I learned was truly fascinating and I am more knowledgeable about some basic networking concepts because of it.

Anonymous
  • Ok that’s interesting...

    I appreciate the links you shared.  I really am fascinated with this kind of development. I plan to keep plowing ahead with the RSL10. I am determined to create something with it. If you have any luck with the particle debugger, drop me a line:)

  • No, there is no character limit on replies. I had a similar problem too (not on your post mind you). I think it has something to do with Auto Save, which triggers periodically.

  • I am running into errors in attaching my complete response to your comment. Is there a max character limit on replies? This is so odd!

  • Thank you for reading my review!

    On the microphone: I expected to find it on the Sense and Control app -as a sensor to add, like the humidity or temperature. It just seemed to be completely inactive, with no way to interact with it *unless I purchased and hooked up the debugger equipment. I found so little mention of it, outside of a quick blurb from EVBUM2614 User Guide. I have never used a debugger, so it was difficult for me to follow along with the examples *in theory. If I had any previous experience with debugging equipment, it might have been easier to visualize the process and gain a better understanding of how to go about accomplishing something specific. I was set on not purchasing anything extra for the Road Test -for my own budget reasons, and to provide a simple assessment based on the "out-of-the-box" capabilities of the kit.

  • As a fellow road tester, I am always intrigued to see how others look at the product.

     

    I found your "Expectations" section very illuminating to warrant a comment.

     

    Firstly, when you said "I expected to have access to the data generated by the microphone, however at the time of the review, the microphone was unsupported", did you mean access to the data via the demo firmware or did you mean that you could nor see a way of getting hold of the data when developing your own firmware. I assume its the former from the sentence in the next paragraph "It would be worthwhile for me to purchase the debugging probe and the 10-pin needle adapter for programming the microphone to respond to one of the push buttons. "

     

    Then I agree with you totally on the next point: Overall, I expected a little more flexibility in interacting with the development kit. The debugging probe required to program the push buttons/deep sleep mode is very specific and it isn't cheap.

     

    I realise I made no comment on it, but I could not see the value to having two debug interfaces at all. It rather baffles me. Surely just populating the debug header would've sufficed.

     

    I am hoping the Particle debugger solves the problem. You can actually purchase this from Adafruit: https://www.adafruit.com/product/4001

     

    I would concur with your findings. CloudMQTT is very easy to use. Then if you are looking for an easy to use MQTT client for a PC, I would recommend this one: https://mqttfx.jensd.de/

     

    Otherwise, as a web developer have you considered a node.js mqtt client. I haven't tried this myself, but I did come across this link, which looked interesting.

    https://medium.com/@cri.bh6/in-this-simple-example-im-going-to-show-how-to-write-a-very-simple-expressjs-api-that-uses-m…