Maker Module 001: BLE Microcontroller

Originally posted 2015: information may be out of date, as this tech moves so fast! These 'Maker Modules' were a series of mini 'recipes' for extending components which can in turn be combined into something cool.

I’m really excited about the potential with this building block – grant a tiny microcontroller BLE capabilities. Core to any ‘smart’ home, I can also think of tons of wireless, smartphone controlled toys to make with this as a foundation!

Parts

  • Arduino Pro Mini (or any equivalent clone via eBay)
  • HM10 BLE module

Notes

I choose a 3v, 8mhz, ATMega328 Arduino Pro Mini (clone) – perfect for low energy applications, and has a very small size with just the right amount of space for the HM10 to sit onboard. Note that the HM10 has its VCC at 3.3V, so is unsuitable for any 5V Arduino without extra engineering.

The HM10 I purchased from eBay, shipping all the way from the far East; these take a while to arrive, but are very low cost.

Construction

Refer to the photo above – I flipped the Arduino over to expose its relatively bare back, and attached the HM10 with a double sided sticky foam pad. Leave a little room at the antenna end to maximise communication range.

Pin soldering was simple (if a little fiddly); refer to this pinout [https://github.com/nickswalker/ble-dev-kit/wiki/HM-10-Pinout]. The only pins that are needed for basic wireless serial communication are VCC, GND, TX and RX. Couple the TX/RX with any digital pins on the Arduino – simply use the SoftwareSerial library to use it.

Code

Code listed here is all that’s needed to echo anything arriving via BLE into the Arduino serial monitor, and likewise push anything typed there back over BLE. Writing code for ‘any other thing’ to push data over to the board, is a whole other post… To give a short hint for now: I had great success with a PhoneGap app I built for iOS and Android, using a plugin called EvoThings BLE.

img_20150609_1015551

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