Silicon Labs

Silicon Labs Blue Gecko Starter Kit

Silicon Labs provides a Blue Gecko Starter Kit to support Bluetooth 5 development. The Blue Gecko kit is built around the EFR32 SoC line. The starter kit is modularized to support a wide variety of radio daughter boards for easy prototyping and chip comparisons. This kit provides a "mainboard" with two radio daughter boards: EFR32BG13 and the EFR32BG1. Only the EFR32BG13 radio board supports the new Bluetooth 5 LE Coded and LE 2M PHYs.

The starter kit contains a few push buttons and a coin cell battery holder, but does not include other on-board peripherals. A wide variety of headers are supplied for your prototyping needs.

More on the EFR32 Blue Gecko Starter Kit:

bluegecko

About the EFR32 Line

Silicon Labs offers Bluetooth 5 support in the EFR32 Blue Gecko line of SoCs. Similar to the Nordic nRF52810, the EFR32 series is built upon a Cortex-M4 processor. The EFR32 line sports a whopping +19dBm of programmable output power in their beefiest configuration.

Unlike Nordic's nRF52 line, the EFR32 line has many different chip configurations. Also, not all EFR32 chips support the new 2M PHY and LE Coded PHY, so be sure to include those features in your search. Silicon Labs provides a full list of EFR32 SoCs, so you can find one that fits your needs exactly.

If you wish to evaluate other radio chips in the EFR32 line, Silicon Labs likely provides a module that interfaces with the mainboard.

Sample EFR32 Specifications using maximum values:

  • ARM Cortex-M4 Processor (up to 40MHz)
  • Up to 1MB of flash
  • Up to 256kB SRAM
  • Up to +19dBm output power
  • AES256/128 hardware accelerator
  • 12-bit ADC
  • Current DAC (4-bit)
  • Up to 4x analog comparators
  • Low-energy UART
  • Up to 4x USART (SPI, UART, I2S, IrDA)
  • Up to 2x I2C
  • Up to 65 GPIOs
  • On-chip balun

EFR32BG12P632F512FM38 Specifications (Blue Gecko Starter Kit):

  • ARM Cortex-M4 40 MHz Processor
  • 512kB Flash + 64kB SRAM
  • +10dBm output power
  • -103.3dBm receiver sensitivity
  • AES-128/256 hardware accelerator
  • 12-bit ADC
  • Current DAC (4-bit)
  • Up to 4x analog comparators
  • 4x UART Ports
  • 3x USART ports (SPI, UART, I2C)
  • 2x I2C ports
  • 31 GPIOs

More on EFR32:

Crazyflie2

The Crazyflie is much more fun than your typical development kit, as it involves a small flying drone! This is a great example of a complex system with multiple processors that interact. The Crazyflie2 utilizes BLE and a custom Nordic radio protocol (Enhanced Shockburst) for communicating with a phone or host PC. The Crazyflie has two expansion decks, so if you're interested in learning to build a custom board this is a great platform to utilize.

Right out of the box there is a fully operational flying drone. The drone's capabilities can be expanded via two expansion decks. Particularly adventures hackers who want to test their hardware development skills can try building their own expansion decks and writing a custom deck driver.

The Crazyflie itself has two processors: an nRF51 and an STM32. The nRF51 manages the radio link with the USB radio base station, and the STM32 handles flight control and other primary system functions. There are many ways to tinker with this device, such as exploring inter-processor communication, adding custom decks, messing with the flight control software (just to name a few).

All Crazyflie-related source code is available on Github. There are many software pieces involved with this device, and each has its own dedicated software repository.

More on the Crazyflie2: