The MWL01 Beacon is an AoA beacon which means it advertises a constant tone extension (CTS) for angle of arrival detection. An accelerometer detects the degree of movement and adjusts the advertising across three levels between 100ms (fast) -> 250ms (normal) -> 4s (slow) to save battery life. The battery level is provided in the advertising data. Double clicking the button changes the advertising, for example, for SOS notification.
Here are some observations that aren’t immediately obvious in the documentation:
While AoA is Bluetooth 5.x, It actually advertises Bluetooth 4.1 rather than 5.x. This makes it suitable for non-AoA applications where it can be detected by non AoA Bluetooth 4.1 receivers. It’s particularly suited for asset tracking because it increases the period between advertising, when not moving, to significantly save battery.
You might think the change to 4s advertising isn’t working. Be patient. It takes 5 minutes of normal advertising before it switches to slow advertising. Note that it also takes 5 seconds to go from fast advertising to normal advertising. While the advertising rates can be changed, the times to transition can’t be changed.
The beacon that is supplied with the AoA kit is different to that supplied separately. The kit’s MWL01 is fixed to 100ms advertising and can’t be changed. This is because it much easier to evaluate AoA and develop software when the advertising is consistent over time. The kit MWL01 can be upgraded, if necessary, to support the changing advertising period. However, we recommend you keep them as 100ms advertising beacons for ease of testing.
The ‘Location Finding’ flag in the AoA advertising is actually an indication of the double button press rather than anything to do with direction finding. This flag stays on for a minute and the blue led flashes during this time. Again, the double button press is only available on the non-kit beacon.
The battery level isn’t in the AoA data advertising. The beacon advertises a second connectable broadcast frame that includes the MAC address and battery level every 1s, 1s and 4s in the fast, normal, and slow modes respectively. These times can’t be changed.
Unfortunately, Minew are stipulating that the settings and firmware upgrade are only available to people who have signed an NDA with Minew or BeaconZone if you purchased the beacons from us.
The video showcases the beacon, shows it in use, demonstrates how to update the output power settings and update the firmware. Please note that the MWL01 only provides direction finding AoA functionality in collaboration with the G2 AoA Kit.
The Minew AR1 locator has multiple antenna that receive special constant tone extension (CTE) advertising from beacons.
The Minew antenna consists of 12 PCB patches. If you imagine a radio signal hitting the antenna array from the left hand side, the antennas to the right will receive the signal slightly later. The phase difference can be use to determine the angle.
In practice, if you do this across just two antenna and with one sample the result has very poor stability. Instead, you need to consider all the antenna patches, over time, as well as perform analysis in multiple directions. This requires use of advanced radiogoniometry techniques.
This beacon works like a standard Minew beacon advertising up to 6 channels that can be iBeacon, Eddystone UID, Eddystone URL, Eddystone TLM, acceleration and device info. The button can be set to specific advertising for one, two of three presses. There’s a flashing led and vibration when pressed. There’s also a 6-axis accelerometer that can be used to analyse movement or for motion triggered broadcast.
A full charge lasts up 60 days per charge depending on settings.
We have the new Minew P1 Plus in stock. It’s a sensor beacon designed for rough environments and is IP68 waterproof, IK09 shockproof and has a wider than normal temperature rating due to use of the included industrial ER14250H lithium battery.
This beacon has temperature and accelerometer sensors. It’s turned on and off via a magnetic switch. As with other Minew beacons it advertises up to 6 channels that can be iBeacon, Eddystone UID, Eddystone URL, Eddystone TLM and device info.
We often get asked what’s the best iBeacon? Unfortunately, there is no one best beacon for all scenarios. It depends on your particular project and business requirements. Having said this we have some favourites based on specific characteristics:
Best for Price: FSC-BP103 – Inexpensive beacon that transmits up to 10 channels simultaneously:
Best for Features:M52-SA Plus – Large easy replaceable battery, long range, temperature, humidity, accelerometer:
Best for Battery Life:SmartBeacon-AA Pro – Allows use of 4x AA batteries. Use lithium AA batteries for 7+ year battery life (also depends on settings).
Best for Setup App:Minew range – Minew’s latest BeaconPlus range (those supporting both iBeacon and Eddystone) provides the best in class app.
There’s a new Mr Beacon podcast with Eason Huang of Minew. It describes how Minew focus mainly on hardware rather than full solutions and how they provide re-branded hardware for many platforms and beacon providers. Steve Statler (Mr Beacon) provides the insight that many of those platforms don’t really want to sell hardware and they are often focussing on software their customers might not necessarily want.
The conversation turns to the growth and challenges of IoT. The main challenges are lack of clarity of return on investiment (ROI), proof of concepts (POC) taking too long and end results not being scalable. Eason identifies that better preparation is required before starting. Steve suggests projects should initially bring in consultants to provide expert and neutral advice.
The podcast resonates with what we do at Beaconzone. We set up Beaconzone because we identified the reliance on subscription-based cloud platforms and beacons locked to platforms was limiting the available information, products and solutions. We set up BeaconZone in 2015 to provide for standalone solutions, using original manufacture beacons, not locked to subscriptions. We use and stock Minew and tens of other manufacturers’ beacons and gateways.
The issues of IoT projects also resonates with what we have seen through providing consultancy. Too many people come to us, too late, with projects that shouldn’t have been started because they had obvious technical limitations or have been developed in a direction that makes them technically or financially non-viable. A small amount of expert advice, early on, can make a huge difference and reduce risk.
Even when organisations know they should seek initial help and contact us, we sometimes find they are reticent about investing what is a relatively small amount of money compared to a failed POC cost. The reason is that these organisations have no experience of using Bluetooth for IoT so don’t know the unknown unknowns. Everything looks feasible until they are deep into the POC. It’s for these situations that we also offer quick, low priced Micro Consultancy.
Tracker beacons are different from normal beacons in that they are designed to be connected to an app for the majority of the time. Non-tracker beacons just advertise and aren’t usually connected except for setup.
The F6 comes with iOS and Android SDKs that provide for bonding/pairing with a password, listening to events such as connecting, connected, disconnected, getting the MAC address and RSSI, ringing the tracker, receiving a button press event, receiving a notification n seconds after disconnect and disconnecting at a given distance (received signal power level, RSSI).
We now have the white variant of the Minew i3 in stock.
The i3 is a twin AA battery (not included) beacon with a range up to 200m. It advertises up to 6 channels at the same time that can be iBeacon, Eddystone UID, Eddystone URL, Eddystone TLM and device info.