ON Semi RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK Sensor Board - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: ON Semi RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK Sensor Board

Author: luislabmo

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?: Nordic Thingy:52

What were the biggest problems encountered?:

Detailed Review:

The On Semi RSL10-SENSE Development Kit is a very compact sensor platform featuring a full range of sensors to develop IoT applications with Bluetooth® 5 Low Energy, it also brings cloud connectivity when used together with the Sense and Control Mobile app.


This Development Kit is designed around the RSL10: a Bluetooth® 5 Certified, multi-protocol radio System on Chip (SoC) conceived mainly to develop ultra-low-power Bluetooth electronic gadgets.





  • Bluetooth 5 certified
  • Certified to international wireless regulations (CE, IC, KC, MIC, FCC)



  • NOA1305 (Ambient light)
  • BHI160 (Integrated low power smart hub, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope)
  • BMM150 (Low Power, Low Noise 3-axis digital geomagnetic sensor)
  • BME680 (Integrated high-accuracy gas, pressure, humidity and temperature sensor)
  • INMP522 (Ultra-low noise digital Microphone)


Other Features

  • N24RF64 (64kB NFC EEPROM)
  • 3 programmable push-buttons
  • APTF1616 (Programmable RGB LED)
  • 5-pin (2.54mm pitch) Interface Output port (VCC, GND, I2C, GIO)
  • 10-pin needle header for connection to the debug probe
  • 2x5-pin Micro Header for connection to the debug probe (populated only on the Debug Variant of the kit)
{gallery:width=648,height=432,autoplay=false} RSL10 Sense - Features


RSL10 Sensor Board: Sensors


RSL10 Sensor Board: Other features


RSL10 Sensor Board: Backside


Debug probe: Segger J-Link Lite CortexM-9


Package Contents

For this Road Test, I will be reviewing the RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK (the Debug variant of the kit) which includes everything needed to upload new firmware. Below the package contents:

  • RSL10−SENSE−DB−GEVK: The “debug” (−DB) version of the sensor board
  • Flexible NFC antenna
  • 3V CR2032 coin cell
  • Segger debugger J−Link LITE CortexM-9 with a 10-pin ribbon cable and a Micro-USB cable.
{gallery:width=648,height=432,autoplay=false} Package contents


Package contents: RSL10-Sense Sensor board (Debug Variant)


Package contents: Segger J-Link Lite CortexM-9


Package contents: RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK box


Package contents: RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK unboxing 1


Package contents: RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK unboxing 2


Package contents: RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK unboxing 3


Package contents: RSL10-SENSE-DB-GEVK all contents


Testing the Sense and Control Mobile app

The Sense and Control Mobile app allow users to Publish/Subscribe data from sensors and actuators connected to Sensor Board. The manufacturer says that the app can be configured to match the hardware setup but I wasn't able to find a way to hide the sensors that were not supported by the Sensor Board, which I believe is relevant for better user experience as this app is used for other platforms that feature RSL10 SoC.


The RSL10−SENSE−GEVK boards are by default, configured with the ultra-low-power firmware. It's worth mentioning that there are some relevant aspects to account for when using the sensor board with this firmware installed:

  • BLE advertising can be restarted by holding the push button (PB1)
  • Environmental sensors are updated every 5 minutes. Other sensors are updated every 3 seconds
  • The gas sensor is disabled in ultra−low-power firmware


I tested the iOS version of the app which weights around 30 MB, found a few bugs on it but I managed to work around them. I think the app needs a few improvements but overall is well designed and fulfills its main purpose.


Receive Mode

This mode is used to view the sensor data. It requires to select the Sensor Board and to choose the sensor(s) to be displayed.


Real-time data will be displayed in a "Card" for each sensor that has been selected. When a card is swiped data is plotted over time.



Low power firmware - block diagram

As I mentioned before, the Sensor board comes with the ultra-low-power firmware pre-loaded. The diagram below depicts the detailed high-level operation of ultra−low-power firmware:



Broadcast Mode

The app also provides cloud connectivity, enabling sensor data to be published to the cloud and actuator data to be subscribed from the cloud. The most popular cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft® Azure, IBM Bluemix are supported and also custom MQTT brokers.



Testing with AWS

For this review, I wanted to test the cloud connectivity -part of my proposal. I picked Amazon Web Services (AWS) -no particular reason. I then created a free tier account and followed the necessary steps. Here is a summary of what the steps are:

  • Create a certificate: this provides the means (certificate files) to authenticate your device to the cloud -or whatever platform that will connect/publish/subscribe.
  • Create a policy: defines a set of authorized or unauthorized actions
  • Attach the policy to the certificate
  • Finally, use the certificate files to configure the Sense and Control mobile app.

    Bug: To be able to select the SSL Certificate option, I had to provide a fake user/password and Save, then the fake User/Password can be removed.

When configuring the IoT device on AWS, I didn't have any issues besides that the AWS console has changed a little so some instructions in the manual require a little digging.


To view the data on AWS, the easiest way I found -as a start- is to subscribe to topic "#" on the MQQT Client



Programming the Sensor Board

Users can download different firmware versions, here things get a trickier as there are many steps involved just to get started.


Installing the On Semiconductor IDE

To install the On Semiconductor IDE, the steps are clear but some links on the steps have changed, here are the steps I followed to test on a Windows 7 machine:


  1. Download and install the J-Link Software and Documentation Pack from https://www.segger.com/downloads/jlink#J-LinkSoftwareAndDocumentationPack
  2. Download and Install the ON Semiconductor IDE Installer from https://www.onsemi.com/PowerSolutions/product.do?id=RSL10

    You'll need to register first, validate your account  and log in to be able to complete this step and the next one

  3. Download the RSL10 Software Package zip file from https://www.onsemi.com/PowerSolutions/product.do?id=RSL10 and copy the .pack from its contents in a folder e.g.: C:\CMSIS_Packs
  4. Launch the ON Semiconductor IDE, and switch to a new workspace folder (as a precaution)
    Menu File > Switch Workspace > Other and then chose the new folder e.g. C:\Workspace1. Click Launch -this will restart the application.

  5. Import the  RSL10 CMSIS pack from step 3:

    Use the Open Perspective icon, CMSIS Pack Manager

    then use the Import Existing Packs... icon to locate the .pack file and follow the instructions.

  6. Download the latest version of the ARM CMSIS pack from https://github.com/ARM-software/CMSIS_5/releases, save it in the same folder as Step 3, and import using the Import Existing Packs... icon.

  7. Download the latest version of the ARM CMSIS – FreeRTOS pack from https://github.com/ARM-software/CMSIS-FreeRTOS/releases, save it in the same folder as Step 3, and import using the the "Import Existing Packs..." icon.

  8. Download the “Bluetooth IoT Development Kit CMSIS Pack”, save it in the same folder as Step 3, and import using the Import Existing Packs... icon.


Once all packs are successfully imported, they should look as pictured below in the CMSIS pack manager.



Reading temperature with a Modified firmware

After following the necessary steps to install the ON Semiconductor IDE and all the libraries needed, I took one of the included code-examples that reads temperature data and modified it a little. Temperature readings are displayed in the console so I modified some messages and changed the LED color to BLUE when the sensor was measuring -see GIF below. The process pretty much is straight forward, I hit a few bumps on the road but managed to accomplish what I initially wanted.


To test the data variations, I exhaled my breath to the board for a couple of seconds. Note the variations on the humidity also.


I tried to change the next call interval also and failed to do so; unfortunately, the parameters/logic that define the sensor reading interval in this code example are behind a pre-compiled library, in the end, I couldn't find a proper way to change them without errors. image

Before flashing a new firmware Insert the battery into the board. Mandatory step as it creates the voltage reference for SWD logic signals

Other code examples

All code examples included have a file that summarizes what the main purpose of the code-example is and what are the steps involved -a big plus in my opinion.


The only downside I've found with the code examples is that each example is so unique that I found the way the steps involved vary between examples (initialization, validations, connectivity, and steps involved, etc) which makes hard to know what the best approach would be when developing new firmware and what the best practices should be -at least from my perspective.


Another minor issue I encountered is that the RSL10 Firmware Reference was only available in one place at the time of writing this review.



I believe this kit brings everything needed to start developing applications around Bluetooth 5 and any of the sensors included in the board. The Sensor Board is really small, there is a broad range of code examples, the debug probe included and the Mobile App available will provide a solid foundation to start developing custom firmware with very little setup time, simplifying the time and efforts overall of prototyping solutions that require any of the features that this kit may provide.


Thank you all for reading this review and a big thanks to Element14 and ON Semiconductor for choosing me for this Road Test.