We have the new Radioland NRF52832 beacon in stock. Along with the iB002M and i7 (Eddystone), these use the nRF52 rather than nRF51 series of Nordic System on a Chip (SoC). nRF52 is more power efficient and provides twice the memory for more ambitious scenarios such as mesh networking.
The Radioland NRF52832 is the first beacon we have supplied unprogrammed. It’s for R&D users creating their own solutions. You will need to create your own firmware using the Nordic SDKs. The pinout for programming is available in our product description.
This beacon has NFC, temperature, battery level and MAG3110 magnetometer sensors, red/green/blue leds, 8 0.1″ pad GPIOs, 9 x SMD GPIOs and an IR transmitter. Unlike other beacons where you can only change pre-defined settings, it’s totally up to you what you make the beacon do and what it advertises. It can obviously be made to advertise Eddystone and iBeacon and any other custom protocol you might wish to invent. You have full access to what is a 64MHz Cortex M4 based computer with sensors, input/output and Bluetooth.
You can get it to connect to other Bluetooth devices, for example other Pucks, single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi or even fitness wearables. It also has 512kB flash, some of which could be used for data logging purposes.
The Puck is programmed via the Espruino Web IDE or a native IDE:
All hardware and software is open source on GitHub helping you to progress your prototypes to production. Buy Puck.js on BeaconZone.
Google has just open sourced firmware that implements Eddystone on Nordic nRF SoC beacons. Their aim is to get wider distribution of Eddystone beacons and also encourage other devices, for example vending machines and remote control toys, beyond just beacons. This open source release is intended for manufacturers rather than end users. However, hobbyists might also use the software to re-program currently available Nordic-based beacons.
By providing reference software, it should make it easier for manufacturers to support Eddystone. Also, as this implements the Eddystone Configuration GATT Service, beacons using this software will also be configurable via the Web Bluetooth Configuration Page. The standard GATT Service also allows common configuration apps to be used such as the Nordic nRF Connect app rather than having to rely on specific manufacturer configuration apps.
So far, take up of the Eddystone Configuration GATT Service by manufacturers has been slow. Only one of our manufacturers, Sensoro, supports the Eddystone Configuration GATT Service and when you use this mode iBeacon and all Sensoro-specific features get turned off. This is the problem for manufacturers. Not many people want Eddystone-only beacons so manufacturing them is currently a low volume specialist edge case for manufacturers. Also, while Google is trying to standardise firmware and configuration, the higher profile beacon providers probably think it’s in their interest to continue with proprietary features that lock users into using those particular features and their particular platforms.
UPDATE: We now stock a version of the i7 that supports the Eddystone GATT Service.
The beacons we sell allow settings such as UUID, major, minor signal strength and advertising period to be set via the respective manufacturer iOS and Android apps. However, what if you want to program the SoC itself to implement custom advertising schemes, extra settings and communicate with other hardware?
We now stock the Waveshare BLE400 kit that allows you to program the nRF51822. It includes the BLE module, a Bluetooth Core 51822 beacon and a USB cable. We also have additional Core 51822 modules that can be plugged into the BLE400 motherboard or used stand-alone.