The CC2530 from Texas Instruments is an 802.15.4 radio on a chip along with an 8051-compatible MCU and appropriate interfaces that should find its way into a variety of wireless applications. Recall that 802.15.4 transceivers operate in the worldwide unlicensed 2.4-GHz band with 16 channels of data using direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS). The data rate is 250 kbits/s. More and more, this standard is being adopted in industrial and commercial monitoring and control products.
TI supports most of those growing applications with free software protocol stacks. For example, the Z-Stack for ZigBee PRO is a standard ZigBee Alliance-compliant version that supports mesh networking. Also, the RemoTI software supports the ZigBee RF4CE wireless remote-control standard for consumer electronics. RF4CE was finally ratified in March, and you should begin to see RF wireless remote controls for TV sets, set-top boxes, and other products by the end of the year.
This RF remote probably will eventually replace the long-lived IR standard, which is still common. The RF remote provides greater range, and it doesn’t require direct line of sight to operate. Furthermore, it offers two-way communications between the device and the remote unit. It will be interesting to see how that gets used.
TI’s comprehensive utility metering portfolio includes the CC2530 and other devices designed for electricity, water, and gas metering, as well as powerline communications (PLC) and radio frequency (RF) interfaces for automated meter reading (AMR). Previously independent systems like meters, home thermostats, and large appliances will be able to communicate wirelessly (or over existing power lines) to help consumers make more informed choices about electricity.
Another TI protocol, SiimpliciTI, is a simplified networking protocol for basic proprietary applications. Many wireless control projects don’t require the mesh or other sophisticated features of ZigBee, and this TI software lets designers put together their own system optimized to the application.
The CC2530 also offers a link budget of 101 dB (receiver sensitivity plus transmit power) with 49-dB adjacent channel rejection. The 8051 MCU has up to 256k of flash and 8k of RAM. Interfaces include 21 general-purpose I/Os (GPIOs), two USARTs, an analog-to-digital converter (ADC), and support for USB 2.0 in the CC2531 version. There is also AES-128 encryption for security. The chip has four flexible power modes and operates from –40°C to 125°C as well.
A wide range of available development kits addresses specific applications, including the basic development kit (CC2530DK), the ZigBee kit (CC2530ZDK), and the RF4CE kit (RemotTI-CC2530DK). The chip comes in a QFN-40 package, and pricing starts at $3.25 in 1000-unit quantities. Additional resources are available at www.ti.com/cc2530-pr, www.ti.com/rf4ce-pr, and www.ti.com/metering.