230 -> 231 (was Re: awesome little video showing ben-wpan in action)

Werner Almesberger werner at openmoko.org
Sat Jan 8 06:36:06 EST 2011

Bart wrote:
> Not to be impatient, but I'd like to see some data flowing.

Communication is still very primitive. All I have that can be
properly called "data exchange" is an application that can send or
receive strings, which are transmitted in "naked" frames that don't
even have the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC header.

But that's not so important for now. What I'm after at the moment is
to reach some closure on the RF side. I think I'm quite close for the
atusb board (the one that goes into the PC), and with some luck, the
same design principles will also make the atusd board (the one for
the Ben) work reasonably well.

In other news, the AT86RF230 chip I was designing for suddenly became
unavailable at all major distributors. I was quite shocked when I
found out about this. But then I saw that the AT86RF231, which can be
considered its successor, is no longer restricted from export from
the US.

The 230 and the 231 are almost pin- and register-compatible. Here's
the product page of the 231:

The plan is now to switch from the 230 to the 231. I've already
updated all the design and my software tools, but have yet to make a
board with the new chip.

The 231 brings the following major features:

- better support for the 2006 revision of IEEE 802.15.4,

- much better flow control when accessing the send/receive buffer,

- entering a test mode useful for debugging and production testing
  is easier (the 230 needed a special pin to be asserted, which
  would have been inconvenient in some cases),

- built-in AES encryption engine (that's probably why export was

- last but not least a non-standard 2000 kbps high data rate mode.

There are also a few smaller improvements, like lower power
consumption, support for external RF frontents, etc.

- Werner

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