SparkFun Thing Plus – RA6M5 board supports Bluetooth 5.1 LE through Renesas DA14531MOD module

SparkFun Thing Plus – RA6M5 is a small MCU board based on a 200 MHz Renesas RA6M5 Cortex-M33 microcontroller and a Renesas DA14531MOD Bluetooth 5.1 LE module that follows Adafruit Feather/Sparkfun Thing Plus form factor.

The module can transmit data over BLE with just 4mA (at 3.3V) power consumption and the company claims the board to be powered by a coin-cell battery. A LiPo battery can also be connected to the board through a 2-pin JST battery connector, and the Things Plus – RA6M5 board also features a single-cell charger and LiPo fuel gauge.

Sparkfun Thing Plus - RA6M5

Sparkfun Thing Plus – RA6M5 specifications:

  • Microcontroller – Renesas R7FA6M5AH3CFP
    • Core – Arm Cortex-M33 microcontroller @ up to 200 MHz
    • Memory – 512KB SRAM
    • Storage – 2MB Flash
    • Security – Arm TrustZone, and Secure Crypto Engine 9
  • Wireless – Renesas DA14531MOD module for Bluetooth 5.1 LE connectivity with support for CodeLess AT command Datapump
    • Radio
      • Transmit Power: -19 to +2.2 dBm
      • Receiver Sensitivity: -93 dBm
    • Operating range (1.8 V – 3.6 V)
      • Receive: 2mA
      • Transmit: 4mA
      • Sleep: 1.8 µA
  • Storage
    • 16 MB/128 Mbit QSPI Flash (MX25L12833F)
    • MicroSD card slot
  • USB – 1x USB-C port for power and programming
  • Expansion
    • 28-pin through hole pins with
      • GPIOs
      • Up to 2x UART
      • SPI, I2C
      • Analog – Up to 6x 12-bit ADC channels, up to 2x 12-bit DAC outputs
      • Etc…
    • 4-pin JST Qwiic connector
    • Some pins are 5V tolerant, but it is primarily a 3.3V logic-level board.
  • Debugging – 2x JTAG/SWD PTH Pins
  • Misc
    • PWR (Rred), CHG (Yellow) and  STAT (Blue) LEDs
    • WS2812 RGB LED (connected to D13)
    • Reset and USR (connected to D31) buttons
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB-C port
    • 2-pin JST connector for a LiPo Battery (not included)
    • MC73831 single-cell LiPo charger with 213mA charge rate
    • MAX17048 single-cell LiPo fuel gauge
  • Dimensions – 73.66 x 22.86 mm (Sparkfun Thing Plus / Arafruit Feather form factor) with 4x mounting holes

Renesas RA6M5 board DA14531MOD bluetooth LE module

Sparkfun Thing Plus – RA6M5 board is programmable in the Arduino IDE using the unofficial Renesas-Arduino core and is loaded with the “SmartBond – CodeLess AT command set” that allows easy Bluetooth configuration with AT commands without modifying the firmware from the DA14531 Bluetooth 5.1 LE SoC. Note the RA6M5 is also found in the Arduino Portenta C33 board, and although it’s not the exact same part (R7FA6M5AH3CFP vs R7FA6M5BH2CBG), that probably means Arduino support works pretty well, even though it’s somehow unofficial for Sparkfun board. You’ll find instructions to get started on the Sparkfun documentation website.

Sparkfun and Renesas announced the Thing Plus – RA6M5 board at Embedded World 2024 and a “video demo” of the board can be seen there according to the press release, which I understand as the board is not physically showcased at the event…  More details may also be found in the press release and on the product page where the board can be purchased for $49.95 plus shipping.

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