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Freescale delivers transceiver for dual 2.4GHz IoT networks

Posted: 21 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MCR20AVHM? home automation? Thread? Zigbee? mesh networking?

Multiple wireless networks need to be functioning simultaneously in industrial and home automation systems. Freescale delivers the MCR20AVHM transceiver to answer this need for users of

Thread, Zigbee or proprietary mesh networking in the 2.4GHz band. The device touts a two-antenna diversity design able to switch between networks without losing data packets.

Unlike many wireless offerings coming out for the Internet of Things (IoT), the MCR20AVHM does not integrate a microcontroller; it is strictly a radio transceiver.

"The functions at different IoT nodes are different," said Freescale's director of connectivity products Emmanual Sambuis in an interview with EE Times, "and the MCUs they use need to have different capabilities. Designers need a flexible implementation, so we've kept the MCU and radio separate."

Freescale's radio transceiver

The radio is designed for battery operation, the transmitter using only 17mA at 0dBm, and receiver using 19mA. A receiver sensitivity of -102dBm helps extend the range of IoT nodes with minimal transmit power.

"For battery operation it's better to listen well than to shout loudly," Sambuis noted. When additional transmit power is needed, however, the transceiver can be programmed to deliver as much as 8dBm.

The transceiver provides a MAC controller along with the RF PHY. Included within the MAC controller are an AES hardware encryption engine and a true random number generator to support secure communications throughout the network. The device also includes an SPI MCU interface optimised for the Kinetis series of microcontrollers, especially the KL46 and K64F families, supporting burst transfers. The existing Kinetis SDK already includes wireless protocol software as well as a compliant IEEE 802.15.4-2011 PHY-MAC implementation.

Because the device has dual-antenna diversity, it is able to support two concurrent mesh networks. These can be two Zigbee, two Thread or one of each network type. The dual-antenna design can also be used to provide more robust communications performance in harsh environments such as industrial settings. The device's operational range, between -40C and 105C, also supports industrial usage.

Developers seeking to explore the MCR20AVHM will be able to obtain in June the FCC-compliant FRDM-CR20A shield, which contains the transceiver, balun and other RF components, switches, LEDs and a PCB inverted-F antenna. An SMA connector can also be jumpered in when an external antenna is desired. The shield plugs directly into Freedom development boards based on the KL46 or K64F MCUs and is also Arduino compatible.

- Rich Quinnell
??EE Times

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