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PanSTamp NRG
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Author:  faqbot [ Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:47 am ]
Post subject:  PanSTamp NRG

I'm a software developer and my knowledge in electronics and radio communication are just on hobby level. That's why I search for low-cost and easy to use OEM module, at least for a start. PanStamp meets these requirements and it's the right size. I need as much as possible small module. Another module I take into account is this one - They give me really nice price of about $11 per module. But there's no builtin antenna too.

I read now about SPIRIT1 and it seems to be a really nice chip. The thing is there are literally no OEM modules with SPIRIT1 and some arm on board. Only the dev kits from ST, which are too big. So, I'm pretty interested in the OEM HayTag modules you mentioned. Can you tell me something more about them? Do you plan to make some with minimalist design? When you expect to have some of the to play with?

The SPIRIT1 is only 1 year old, so there are not many boards using it yet. The problem is that SPIRIT1 is new, so it is not in many designs.

Haystack is also building a few designs of OEM HayTag modules, which will have the same dimensions of HayTag (35mm diameter with integrated antenna). This should be small enough, unless you have extremely small size requirements.

PanSTamp is a nice product, but it has some limitations that hobbyists and integrators MUST know:

1. It does not include an antenna. Adding a SMA antenna is expensive, and often they don't even work very well. Cutting a wire to make a good antenna is much more difficult that you might think. Hobbyists on the internet will tell you to cut a wire at 1/4 wavelength, but I promise this will result in terrible performance. Making a coil antenna, like on PanStamp photos, is even more difficult. You really need a vector network analyzer to analyze your design, to make sure it is the right frequency.

2. There is only a version for 866/915 MHz operation. LTE interferes with these bands a little bit. Plus, in USA, 915 MHz is used by electric meters and FCC allows 1W DSSS -- it is not a friendly place for narrowband.

3. CC430 has only 32KB/4KB, which is fine for simple applications, but it limits your ability to expand in the future. CC430 also has no EEPROM. The "information block" of NAND flash is not good for doing frequent writes. OpenTag has a number of features that compensate for its limitations, like file caching in SRAM, Flash wear-leveling, etc. I don't think the PanStamp designers are aware of the practical limitations, because they have not implemented features like these. OpenTag for PanStamp will fix many of these problems, but I don't have any CC430 PanStamps yet so I can't port it yet.

4. There is no USB. This is only a problem for building USB gateways, but it is something you need to consider in the total solution cost.

In any case, CC430 PanStamp is really not so bad, but the performance is a lot worse and there is very little room to grow. It is still a fine platform to start, and if you find that it is not sufficient to meet requirements, it is easy to switch to HayTag in the future. If you find that it meets your requirements, you can keep it. OpenTag will support CC430 for at least the next several versions.

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