There are already several ways to add wireless connectivity to your hardware project. For short ranges, we can use protocols such as Bluetooth (e.g. RFDuino, BLEDuino projects, or Bluetooth USB dongle), for much longer ranges 3G/4G connectivity may be required, and achievable via a 3G/4G USB dongle, or SparqEE CELLv1.0 project for example. But what if you want something in the middle with a range closer to 1km? Flutter boards using the 915MHz band (US only) can provide such range, and are software compatible with the Arduino.
There are two version of the board:
- Flutter Basic – Board with an low-profile integrated antenna. It features micro USB for power, an LED, and a button, as well as several digital and analog I/O.
- Flutter Pro – Board with external antenna (and probably longer range). It comes with all features found in Flutter Basic, and adds battery charging, an additional button, and more memory.
Here are the key features shared by the boards:
- MCU – Atmel SAM3s ARM MPU @t 64MHz ()
- Radio chip – Texas Instruments CC1101 (915 MHz operating frequency) currently. It might be replaced by TI CC1200.
- 1,000m+ meter range
- 1.2 Mbps max data rate
- AES-256 Cryptographic key storage
- Mesh networking
- 3.3v system voltage
- 10-40mA current draw (normal use)
That’s the same radio used in TI eZ430-Watch development kit, so even though they currently only support 915 MHz band, and ship to the US, in theory it can also support 868MHz (EU) and 433MHz (international) bands. This will only be considered if they exceed their funding target on Kickstarter ($80,000).
Several shields are available for Flutter:
- Breakout Board – Socket board for Flutter
- RC Shield – Features a buzzer, DC jack, a few FETs for switching things on, plugs for 4 R/C servos, and a temperature sensor. It can be used for R/C cars, quadcopters…
- Network Shield – Wi-Fi and Ethernet board
- Bluetooth Shield – Bluetooth version has not been disclosed
All that will be open source hardware once the project development is complete.
Initial prototype is working, but since they may change the Radio chip, and they’ll add an encryption chip, some hardware re-designed is needed, and firmware needs to be further developed, which means the project should complete and ship in April 2014. If you’re interested you can check out their Kickstarter campaign, and pledge $25 for Flutter Basic or a T-Shirt. If you want the Flutter Pro, you’ll need to pledge at least $75 for a kit that also includes a Flutter Basic board, an RC shield, and 2 USB cables and breakout boards. Pledges include shipping. As mentioned previously, this product is only available in the US, unless they decide to do a stretch goal to support 898Mhz and/or 433Mhz bands.