Sure 2.4 GHz UART Module

2

I've recently had a few applications where a wireless link would be handy. Looking on eBay, I found that Sure makes a 2.4 GHz UART module for a decent price (US$14 each on eBay including shipping).  These are designed as a cable replacement, with a claimed range of 10 meters. 

The specs are here. Just a reminder - I have no relationship with Sure Electronics apart from being a satisfied customer.  They offer some unique products at astonishingly low prices.  Sure also has some modules in the 900 MHz range which offer greater transmission range but these operate on 3.3V.

The first test I made was to connect a module to each of the 2 PICkit 2s I have and test them out using the UART tool.  Power, ground, transmit and receive and I was in business.  Able to send messages both ways over a range of 2 inches!  Not bad for the first attempt.  The baud rate is fixed at 9600.

For something a little more challenging, I wrote a quick Swordfish program that sends "Ping" followed by a counter number every second.  I used the TAP-28 board and easily connected the RF module to the UART connector.  As luck would have it, the pins are even in the same order.  I left the TAP-28 sending this message in my office and retreated to the far end of the house with the PICkit 2 and RF module connected to my laptop.  This distance is almost twice the claimed range of 10 meters, separated by several walls and the floor (wood frame construction).  If I held the antenna about 3 feet above the floor and rotated the module to the best position, I had solid reception of my ping messages.  If I randomly laid the module on the chair, the results were a little more sporadic.  I'd guess that within 10 meters, the performance will be reliable without any concern over positioning.

This picture shows the RF module connected to the TAP-28 board's UART connector.  The module and board are being powered by the PICkit 2.  This picture also shows the clearance between the daughter board connector and the 6 pins connectors which was questioned earlier.  These's about 0.15" clearance beyond the centerline of the daughter board connector.

sure_gc500_rf_mod

This is a closeup of the RF module.  Note the familiar connector location on the right.  The module is controlled by a PIC 24 series part.  No documentation appears to be available for what's happening on the board.

The RF module has a choice of 8 frequencies in the 2.4 GHz band which are just below the frequencies used by my wireless network.  No interference has been noted.

So what applications come to mind?  A wireless data logger.  Home control system.  A remote control for my dSLR.  Since long messages can be sent rather than just "button presses" the possibilities are endless!

The Sure documentation is here, since it can be difficult to locate.


Posted: 8 years 5 months ago by Graham Mitchell #5561
Graham Mitchell's Avatar
I'm not to sure about the range, though the features and price definitely makes up for that. I've been toying around with a few Sure Electronics 915Mhz modules, will post more in the coming days
Posted: 8 years 5 months ago by Jon Chandler #5562
Jon Chandler's Avatar
Graham,

I also got a pair of the 915 MHz modules. I'm sad to say that my progress hasn't been as swift with these.

Two things are immediately apparent: the 915 MHz modules work only around the 3.3 V range and the enable line must be grounded to make these modules work unlike on the 2.4 GHz where it can be floating.

So far, I have the modules on a breadboard, operating from 3.3 volts on a variable power supply, with the enable lines grounded. An LED is connected between each busy line and V+ via a 301 ohm resistor. A PICkit 2 is connected to RXD and TXD on each module.

No actual data transmission yet but at least the "busy" LEDs flash on both the sending and receiving module when I try to send a character. Floating the enable pin stops the LEDs from flashing, so I'm reasonably sure SOMETHING is being sent.

I'm unsure of the procedure to change the channel or if the set line can be floating during normal operation. I believe the instructions say "suspend or pull high" - I'm not entirely sure what suspend means here.

More playing yo follow....any suggestions on making these thing talk?
Posted: 8 years 5 months ago by Graham Mitchell #5563
Graham Mitchell's Avatar
I've made a couple of development boards for the modules - not that you need to go that far to get basic comms between them!

Transmit;
My program checks the Busy line to ensure a high, and if it is then start feeding data to the RXD Terminal (they have the pin naming convention back-to-front imho).

The module has a 63 byte transmit buffer. Before or at that point, the program should delay for 15mS to allow the data frame to be sent.

Receive;
Simply connect TXD from the module to the RX on the PIC. Not that it matters in this case, Busy will be pulled low during reception.
Posted: 8 years 5 months ago by Jon Chandler #5564
Jon Chandler's Avatar
Thanks for the info Graham. I need to play with these a bit more.

Have you noticed the action of the busy line? I connected at LED to each, and with one module, the LED remains illuminated for some period of time after transmitting a character. On the other, it just flashes briefly.

I need to check the RXD/TXT connections to be sure I have those sorted out properly.

Jon

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