About this project
Introducing Talk² Whisper Node
A real ultra-low power board based on the popular AVR ATMega328p, the same chip used on the Arduino. Thanks to a highly efficient step-up switching regulator, this board can be powered with little as 0.9V. In another words, you can run it on a single Alkaline Cell, for very long periods, until the battery is totally dry.
If you prefer you can still plug a standard 5V power supply, like an USB charger, and take advantage of the dual 300mA LDO regulator. This give you much more flexibility while developing or running hunger projects and you still can use the battery as a backup.
As standard, this board comes with a RFM69 Sub-GHz RF module, giving you wireless connectivity out of the box! You'll be able to talk with other Whisper Nodes or compatible boards like Moteino or Anarduino Miniwireless!
Finally each board also counts with a 4MBit SPI Flash attached to it, giving you plenty of storage, including the option for remote firmware upgrade over-the-air.
You get all this running on a board specially designed to consume very little power, perfect for any automation projects, remote sensing or the Internet-of-Things.
Low, very Low Power
How many times you've built a system to work on batteries and succeeded? It's frustrating that so many people don't even try it, most because the majority of Arduino alike boards are not designed for that.
We recognize that developing a system to run for long time on low power demands significant effort. But all starts with the right tools for the job!
Talk² Whisper Node has been specially design to work with low voltage. The board and its components run at 3.3V, but anything from 0.9V will power it up for a long time.
If you have space constraints you might decide to run it on a single AAA, CR2032 or CR2450. In case you need some extra juice, for high demanding projects, just connect a bigger cell like a D-type Alkaline battery and get over 15,000mAh.
In a real life example, if you are planning to use Whisper Node to blink a led and transmit some data every minute, a temperature reading for example. It's very likely you'll be able to do than in 10ms for every cycle. Lets suppose you are doing more things every and spending 30ms awake. In this case a single AA Alkaline battery should last for over 1.5 years. Now if you throw a second battery or simply run your cycle every 2 minutes instead, you could have it running for over 3 years!
Also, the Battery and Power inputs are connected back to the Analog ports on the MCU by default. This setup is ideal to keep eye on the supplied voltage, estimate consumption and send alerts when need new batteries.
We all like to build things and develop projects using our Arduino. But most of those board don't offer communication out-of-the box! What's the point of putting together all those sensors and actuators if you end-up tied to an USB cable for data and power?!
Every Talk² Whisper Node comes with a built-in Sub-GHz RFM69 RF Module. This is a great piece of hardware based on the advanced Semtech SX1231. If offers not only an excellent range indoor/outdoor, but it counts with additional features like:
- CRC and AES 128-bit encryption by hardware;
- 66 bytes FIFO and RSSI;
- Up to 300kb/s;
- Low RX power consumption of 16mA.
That's not all, Talk² Whisper Node has a proper SMA connector and will be shipped with a real 2dBi external Antenna.
Enough of 2.4GHz!
We do like sub-GHz: After not much thinking we simply discarded the 2.4GHz spectrum for this project. Even this frequency being very popular and offering great bandwidth, low cost and only requires a tiny antenna, it has some major problems:
- It’s crowded. Every single WiFi device use it: Your and everybody’s home wireless network, Bluetooth, cordless phone, and so on.
- Poor penetration. The 2.4GHz frequency is quite high, having troubles to penetrate solid materials like the walls of your house.
- Range. Sub-GHz frequencies (433MHz or 915MHz) offers much better range compared with 2.4GHz when using the same transmit power.
Compatible with Arduino
- Board size: 58.8 x 30.48 x 1.6mm - breadboard friendly
- GPIO: Two 13 Pin PCB Header to access all MCU Pins
- Standard 3×2 ISP Header
- 6 Pin FTDI Header
- 3×2 Header to access Vin, Vbat, and both 3.3V Rails
- Micro USB for External Power supply
- RF SMA Connection for external Antenna
- MCU Atmel 8-bit AVR: ATMega328P-AU (32Kb Flash/2Kb RAM)
- 4Mbit SPI Flash: W25X40
- Sub-GHz RF Module: RFM69W or RFM69hW @ 433MHz or 915MHz
- Step Up Switching Regulator: MCP16251/2
- Dual LDO Regulator: RT9011
- 16Mhz real Crystal - not the unreliable ceramic resonator
- Feedback LEDs
- External Antenna
- Battery Power Supply: from 0.9V to 3.3V
- External Power Supply: from 3.3V to 5.5V (can use a 3.7V LiPo battery)
- Power Consumption: down to 20µA in Sleep mode from a 3V source
Note: The power supply is determined by the components used. Check the silicon datasheet for additional information.
This is an Australian based project, so it's very likely the prices you're seeing are in Australian Dollar. We've added the approximately value in other currencies for reference - exchange rates might change during the campaign.
We're committed to continually improve the product design. Depending on the campaign success and available budget we might be able to squeeze more components, sensors, gifts and additional features. All without compromising the ultra-low power capability.
All backers will be contacted later to chose the board frequency. The frequencies available are 433MHz and 868/915MHz.
Update: We've just finalized the tests using the RFM69hW, the high-power version RF module. This radio offers 100mW (20dBm) TX, compared to 20mW (13dBm) TX of the regular module.
As everyone has different requirements we've decided to ship the boards with headers not soldered, please let us know if that is an issue for you.
Contact us if you have any other question regarding the rewards.
G'day! Aussie Born
Risks and challenges
Although designing low-power applications can be challenging, most of the risks are behind us. We already have working prototypes being professionally assembled in small scale and at this point, there is just one hurdle left: production.
In order to bring the cost down to an affordable amount, we need to produce a minimum of 500 units. At this scale we can negotiate prices and have the option to purchase components directly from manufactures in case parts are not promptly available from distributors.
Finally, we need to make sure our automated testing, board programming and quality control can keep up with the production speed to honor our dead-lines and delivery a great product to all our backers!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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