Particle Unveils Three nRF52840 Bluetooth 5 Boards: Argon (WiFi), Boron (LTE), and Xenon, as well as Particle Mesh Technology

Orange Pi Development Boards

In the last year or so, Bluetooth has gotten an upgrade with the release of Bluetooth 5. The new protocol works on several existing platforms, but if you want support for the full set of Bluetooth 5 features such as longer range and higher bandwidth, we’ve seen you need a recent chip such as Nordic Semi nRF52840.

However so far, AFAIK you had to buy Nordic Semi own development kit for play with nRF52840, and now Particle has announced not one, but three low cost development boards powered by nRF52840 chip starting at just $9, and supporting their newly announced Particle Mesh technology. So for some reasons, it appears they did not go with Bluetooth Mesh.

Argon, Boron, Xenon

Particle Xenon – Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

Xenon is the cheapest model with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity (via nRF52840)
    • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
    • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
    • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
    • NFC-A tag
    • On-board PCB antenna
    • u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Particle Argon  – WiFi + Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

The Argon board has a similar designed as Xenon, except it adds a single core ESP32-S0WD for WiFi connectivity:

  • SoC
    • Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
    • Espressif ESP32-S0WD single core 32-bit LX6 microprocessor, up to 200 DMIPS with 448 KB ROM, 520 KB SRAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash for nRF52840, 1MB SPI flash for ESP32-S0WD
  • Connectivity via SoCs
    • ESP32
      • 802.11b/g/n WiFi (2.4 Ghz) up to 150 Mbps
      • u.FL connector for external WiFi antenna
    • nRF52840
      • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
      • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
      • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
      • NFC-A tag
      • u.FL connector for external antenna
    • On-board PCB antenna for Bluetooth or WiFi (user selectable)
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

Particle Boron – LTE (NB-IoT / eMTC) + Bluetooth 5 + Mesh

Bron board have a again a similar design, but instead adds LTE IoT connectivity:

  • SoC – Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 Arm Cortex-M4F 32-bit processor @ 64MHz with 1MB flash, 256KB RAM
  • Storage –  2MB SPI flash
  • Connectivity
    • u-blox SARA R410 LTE modem
      • LTE CAT M1/ NB1 module with global hardware support (MVNO support for US/Mexico only)
      • 3GPP Release 13 LTE Cat M1
      • EGPRS Power Class E2
      • Dual SIM support: Nano 4FF (unpopulated) and MFF2
    • 802.15.4-2006 up to 250 Kbps
    • Bluetooth 5 @ 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 Kbps, 125 Kbps
    • Up to +8 dBm TX power (down to -20 dBm in 4 dB steps)
    • NFC-A tag
    • On-board PCB antenna
    • u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Expansion – 20x mixed signal GPIO (6 x Analog, 4 x PWM), UART, I2C, SPI
  • USB – 1x Micro USB 2.0 port full speed (12 Mbps)
  • Debugging – JTAG (SWD) Connector
  • Misc – RGB status LED, Reset and Mode buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB
    • Integrated Li-Po charging and battery connector
  • Dimensions –  ~5.1 x 2.3 cm (Meets Adafruit Feather‘s dimensions and pinout)
  • Certifications – FCC, CE and IC; RoHS compliant (lead-free)

All three boards support Particle Mesh, a mesh networking technology built on Thread, and “designed to connect the spaces in between existing Wi-Fi and cellular deployments with local networks that are low-cost, secure, and ultra-reliable”. Xenon boards can act as end-points or repeaters in the mesh network, while Argon and Boron boards would normally be used as WiFi/LTE gateways.

The company has priced the boards very aggressively at least during during the pre-order period with Xenon going for $9, Argon for $15, and Boron for $29, and shipping is free during the first 24 hours (9 hours left at the time of writing). The boards are expected to ship in July 2018, and after prices will go up to respectively $12, $19, and $39.

Particle also increased the free data allowance for their $2.99 cellular Device Cloud plan which now comes  with 3MB of data per month instead of just 1MB. If you exceed that amount, they’ve decreased the price per MB from $0.99 to $0.40 too.

Leave a Reply

2 Comments on "Particle Unveils Three nRF52840 Bluetooth 5 Boards: Argon (WiFi), Boron (LTE), and Xenon, as well as Particle Mesh Technology"

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joe Bleau
Guest

I pulled the trigger on the two low-end boards ($9 Xenon and $15 Argon). Looks like I got free shipping even though the was outside the first 24 hours. Worst case, I can use ’em for M4F dev boards with a nice built-in charging circuit. Just a bit concerned about the user-selectable on-board antenna on the Argon–I’d hate to have to move a resistor to switch between bluetooth and wifi!

I’m not seeing any NFC antenna coil on there.