Which are the *best* NRF24L01+ modules?


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux wonderful! Even if fake, ones with correct ack bit will probably work better so its a step in the right direction


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    An overview of the module I have lying around (origin is unclear, as I don't really keep track of where they come from)
    The chip close-ups were taken using a microscope, so they have far higher resolution then shown in the table (right-click & show image to view at native resolution) .

    Datecode YYWWLL Module top Module bottom Closeup Fake/Genuine
    0830AE 2015-07-27 18.59.21.jpg 2015-07-27 18.59.32.jpg 20150727_0005.jpg Genuine? Datecode 0830 indicates production wk30 2008. nRF24L01+ was launched in 2008

    FWIW, the 0830AE date code is only a little earlier (4 weeks?) than the 0834AF datecode on the chip above in Hek's post where Hek alleges the module is genuine.


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    I really needed it to hand-solder those QFN's πŸ˜‰

    How hard would it be to desolder a bogus NRF chip and then solder a known good NRF24L01+ (purchased either directly from Nordic, if Nordic does that, or else from a trusted distributor like Digikey) in its place? Perhaps in this way the modules can be given a second life of sorts.


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux: Those are wonderful photos! Thanks so much for posting them. πŸ˜„ Did you use the microscope for the module shots also, or just the NRF chip closeups?

    Since you have a nice module collection that spans different NRF chips and also different module types, have you noticed whether any of your modules stand out head-and-shoulders above the others as having clearly better performance?



  • Lol, I just checked all of my radios from Alice1101983 and they are all dated 1242AF - FAKES! I have 20 from two orders of 10 radios each placed about six months apart (10/14 & 4/15) and they all have the same production date. They do work but I have occasional and random node hangup. This is an ongoing problem which I have been unable to troubleshoot. @hek, we might want to change the vendor in the MySensors store.


  • Hero Member

    Here's a module that is itself surface mountable. It seems like roughly half the footprint of typical modules.
    smm.jpg
    Anyone have suggestions on how best to cheaply hook it up to an arduino? Not sure, but the pin pitch might be 1.27mm. I do have arduino prototyping shields, and there do seem to be 7 pin areas meant for soldering on something with surface mount (see SOIC area in upper left below):
    protoshield.jpg
    Unfortunately, there are only 7 pads on the SOIC that I can solder it to, and the ground pin is on the end, with the IRQ next to it.
    pinout.jpg
    Not ideal! Should I try soldering a wire to the ground pin but solder the rest of the pins to the SOIC pads on the prototyping board? Seems like that may be the cleanest way to do it.

    That might be fine if using an Uno, but what about if using a pro mini? How best to connect it then? Anyone here already doing it?

    As a ghetto method I could also run jumper pins through each through-hole and solder into place, and then run each wire to the proper pin on the pro mini and solder into place, but... not very elegant. Are there better ways I'm not aware of?


  • Hero Member

    Anyone know by what method Nordic prints the lettering on the chips? In looking at Yveaux's CSI-like photos, from chip-to-chip all of the letters have some amount of black mixed in, but on some they seem to be gaps left by air bubbles (so you're seeing through paint gaps to the black background) from the lettering being sprayed on, and on others the black seems like black dust or or something that was sprinkled on top after the lettering was applied. So, if you look closely through a microscope, some differences do seem to emerge. Under magnification, the lettering on the 1331AF is visibly sloppy, almost as if printed by a professional cake decorator from your local bakery.

    Anyone know what some of the other lettering is supposed to mean? e.g. M, AF, EV, CH, A, 0, CL, AE, DQ, FJ, or FY? On Hek's genuine chip, it seems blank after the NRF, whereas that's not true for any of the other chips.


  • Hero Member

    My "regular" modules were bought from gc_supermarket and the NRF chips all have the following printing. There is no circle in the center of the +.

    .
    NRF  T
    24L01+
    1420JB
    

    My LNA/PA modules were bought from alice11011983 and the NRF chips have the following printing. There is a circle in the center of the + on the first set, but not the second set.

    .
    NRF  M
    24L01+
    1431FC
    
    .
    NRF  O
    24L01+
    1417GP
    

    I'll try to grab some pics this weekend.

    Cheers
    Al


  • Hero Member

    Update: I provided Itead with my contact information, and they will try to arrange for a Nordic FAE to contact me.

    As there's no telling how long the above might take to resolve, I decided to roll the dice again and ordered three of these modules:

    red1.JPG
    red2.JPG
    I hope to receive them by later in the week. I'm hopeful, but only slightly optimistic. If there's interest, I'll post closeups after I receive and test them.

    I also ordered more blob modules, but from a different source than the two I already have, so who knows what I'll actually receive. If it turns out blob modules from different sources are all about the same, I might standardize on that and simply move on. The two that I have work well enough that I wouldn't mind doing that, though it may put me on a fork from the rest of you. My only reluctance is that we'd all be more productive if we can find some way to leverage a common platform, so that remains my preference (and hope) for the long-term.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie said:

    Did you use the microscope for the module shots also, or just the NRF chip

    Only the chips were shot using my microscope. The field of view is simply too small to shoot the whole module.

    Only > Since you have a nice module collection that spans different NRF chips and also different module types, have you noticed whether any of your modules stand out head-and-shoulders above the others as having clearly better performance?

    No, but I had troubles mixing different modules in the past (even the NO_ACKs were involved iirr), so I'm very interested to know which ones are genuine.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie said:

    Anyone know by what method Nordic prints the lettering on the chips?

    Yes, it's in the data sheet. The date code is in YYWWLL which stands for year & week of production, an LL indicates wafer lot. The top right code indicates the production location (first letter) followed by optional letter indicating engineering sample.

    Nordic is fabless so only they know what the location letters mean.

    The text is normally written using a laser scriber, so no ink is involved.
    Thinking of it, differences in font/thickness etc. can be caused by different laser scribers at different production facilities (or even within one facility) so I'm starting to doubt if it will help us in distinguishing fakes from genuine.


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDie said:

    Anyone know by what method Nordic prints the lettering on the chips?

    Yes, it's in the data sheet. The date code is in YYWWLL which stands for year & week of production, an LL indicates wafer lot. The top right code indicates the production location (first letter) followed by optional letter indicating engineering sample.

    Nordic is fabless so only they know what the location letters mean.

    The text is normally written using a laser scriber, so no ink is involved.
    Thinking of it, differences in font/thickness etc. can be caused by different laser scribers at different production facilities (or even within one facility) so I'm starting to doubt if it will help us in distinguishing fakes from genuine.

    Thanks for pointing that out. Looking at the version 1.0 spec sheet (available at http://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/2.4GHz-RF/nRF24L01P), I see it covered in section 13.1 and 13.2.

    Curiously, according to the spec sheet, the chips should be marked "nRF", not "NRF".


  • Mod

    @NeverDie said:

    Curiously, according to the spec sheet, the chips should be marked "nRF", not "NRF".

    Maybe they hoped the copycats would also copy this error, but unfortunately they didn't πŸ‘Š


  • Hero Member

    @Sparkman said:

    My "regular" modules were bought from gc_supermarket and the NRF chips all have the following printing. There is no circle in the center of the +.

    .
    NRF  T
    24L01+
    1420JB
    

    My LNA/PA modules were bought from alice11011983 and the NRF chips have the following printing. There is a circle in the center of the + on the first set, but not the second set.

    .
    NRF  M
    24L01+
    1431FC
    
    .
    NRF  O
    24L01+
    1417GP
    

    I'll try to grab some pics this weekend.

    Cheers
    Al

    Hi Al,
    Funny that you happen to mention gc_supermarket, because just yesterday I was noticing that they had good pricing on blob modules. These visually resemble the two blob modules I have and which seem to perform quite well at 1mbps air datarate. Intriguingly, the listing title says "Power enhanced version Compatible NRF24L01" and in the description it says:
    "This module is design to solve the problem of small power in NRF24L01 module, its distance is far away than NRF24L01
    Please download the data in below link
    http://www.ai-thinker.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=411&extra=page%3D1 "

    It would be easy to dismiss this as gibberish or as a failed attempt at chinglish, except for the fact that my two blob modules do, in fact, seem to have much better range than any of the "regular" NRF24L01+ modules I've tried so far. So, whether deserved or not, that does seem to give gc_supermarket more credability in my eyes than a lot of other re-sellers. Also, whether by luck or intent, they referred to it as "NRF24L01", not "NRF24L01+", which is also closer to reality, as it doesn't support 250kbps. So, in my book they get some credibility points for that also.

    Have your transactions to date with gc_supermarket gone well?


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie said:

    Have your transactions to date with gc_supermarket gone well?

    Overall yes. First shipment from them got lost, but they replaced the shipment right away without any argument and it showed up ok. The modules seem to be a good quality with nice soldering and the flux cleaned up properly. I haven't done any packet loss testing with them, but have had good range with them (@250kbps).

    Cheers
    Al


  • Hero Member

    Here's a link which lists chips similar to the NRF24L01+ (there are many more than I had supposed), and it also highlights some of their differences: http://sigrok.org/wiki/Protocol_decoder:Nrf24l01
    Especially useful is the mirror of the datasheets.

    I have a hunch that a simple way to differentiate among the various chips might be to measure the amount of current consumed in various modes (e.g. standby, powerdown, etc), because those numbers are also given in the datasheets. Anyone tried that?


  • Hero Member

    I just placed an order on Ali Express for four NRF24L01+ modules that look similar to the one Hek says is genuine: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-shipping-Original-Genuine-NRF24L01-Wireless-Module-2-4G-wireless-communication-module-2-54mm-Interface-2/1781618813.html I mainly picked this seller because he will be sending by ePacket for only 4 cents extra, and that should mean much faster delivery (5 to 15 days). Also, the seller has decent feedback and is promising that the chips are "original" and "genuine." So, with shipping, the modules will be costing me an average of $2.82 each. I hope they're worth not just the money, but also the wait.

    I would have preferred to first receive and then test the modules I've already ordered to see if they are genuine, but given the shipping time from Asia, I'm doing parallel orders in the hope of getting at least one shipment of genuine NRF24l01+ modules up and working fairly soon. Doing the orders serially would have run the risk of the procurement process taking too long.



  • @NeverDie : Can you please post the sketch you use to test your NRFs modules. I just recieve 10 today from Itead. Same packaging that the ones you recieve. I just want to compare result in same conditions.



  • I ordered some surface-mounted by accident.
    2015-07-29 10.04.56.jpg

    The reading say:
    NRF M
    24L01+
    1436AH

    They seem to work fine, but if somebody has an packet-loss testing sketch i would test it.


  • Hero Member

    @Fabien said:

    @NeverDie : Can you please post the sketch you use to test your NRFs modules. I just recieve 10 today from Itead. Same packaging that the ones you recieve. I just want to compare result in same conditions.

    OK, sure. It started out as RF toy code, and then I just evolved it. It contains a lot of commented out code that I haven't bothered to delete. If that gets in the way of your understanding, just delete the code that's commented out. Aside from that, it's straightforward.

    Here's the main transmitter code. After compiling and uploading, you should open a serial window on your computer to read the statistics it prints out:

    /*
     nRF24Sender Demo for RFToy
     
     This demo shows how to use RFToy to make a
     wireless temperature sensor. This is the
     sender module which transmits the current
     temperature value to a receiver module. The
     demo uses the Mirf library.
     
     This demo uses a 100K resistor and 100K
     thermistor to form a simple temperature 
     sensor. Pin A1 is used to read the value. 
     The connection is:
     VCC->100K->A1->thermistor->GND
      
     Written by Jonathan Goldin @ Rayshobby LLC
     Nov 2014
     For details, visit http://rayshobby.net/rftoy
    */
    
    #include <SPI.h>
    #include <Mirf.h>
    #include <nRF24L01.h>
    #include <MirfHardwareSpiDriver.h>
    #include <U8glib.h>
    
    U8GLIB_SSD1306_128X64 u8g(U8G_I2C_OPT_NONE);	// I2C / TWI 
    
    void setup(){
      Serial.begin(115200);
      Serial.println("Starting...");
       
      /*
       Set ce and csn pins
       */
      
      Mirf.cePin = 17;
      Mirf.csnPin = 16;
      
      Mirf.spi = &MirfHardwareSpi;
      Mirf.init();
      
      /*
       * Configure reciving address.
       */
       
      Mirf.setRADDR((byte *)"clie1");
      
      /*
       * Set the payload length to sizeof(unsigned long) the
       * return type of millis().
       *
       * NB: payload on client and server must be the same.
       */
       
      //Mirf.payload = sizeof(long);
      Mirf.payload = sizeof(long);  
      /*
       * Write channel and payload config then power up reciver.
       */
       
      /*
       * To change channel:
       * 
       * Mirf.channel = 10;
       *
       * NB: Make sure channel is legal in your area.
       */
       
        // we use channel 90 as it is outside of WLAN bands 
      // or channels used by wireless surveillance cameras 
      //Mirf.channel = 90;
      
      Mirf.config();
      
        
      //This register value is not remembered between power cycles.
      //It defaults to 0x0F.
      //It should be initialized each time if different than 0x0F.
      Mirf.configRegister(RF_SETUP,0x07); //0x0F is 2mbps, max Tx power 
                                          //0x07 is 1mbps, max Tx power
                                          //0x2F is 250kbps, max Tx power.
      Serial.println("OTA datarate set to  1Mbps.  Transmit Power set to Maximum.");
      
      // Read and print RF_SETUP
     byte rf_setup = 0;
     Mirf.readRegister( RF_SETUP, &rf_setup, sizeof(rf_setup) );
     Serial.print( "rf_setup = " );
     Serial.println( rf_setup, BIN );
      // OLED
      u8g.firstPage();
      do{
        uint8_t h;
        u8g.setFont(u8g_font_10x20);
        u8g.setFontRefHeightText();
        u8g.setFontPosTop();
        h = u8g.getFontAscent()-u8g.getFontDescent();
        u8g.drawStr(29,(u8g.getHeight()-h)/2,"Tx Sender");
      } 
      while(u8g.nextPage());
      Mirf.setTADDR((byte *)"serv1");
      
      Serial.write("Sending...\r\n"); 
      delay(200);
    } // End of *Setup*
    
    
    long temp;
      int temp1;
      int temp2;
      long timeTxSent;
      long timeRxReceived;
      long roundTrip;
      byte age1=52;
      byte age2=11;
      long txCounter=0;
      long matchCount=0;
      long differentCount=0;
      long lostCount=0;
      long cumulativeRoundTrip=0;
      long averageRoundTrip=0;
      boolean packetLost=false;
      float packetErrorRate=0;  //no errors yet, and maybe there never will be.
      float lostPacketRate=0;  //no packets lost yet.
      const int statusFrequency=500;  //How many iterations of main loop before printing status info.
      long minRoundTrip=9999; //value will be driven down when program runs
      long maxRoundTrip=0;  //value will be driven up when program runs
      
    void loop(){
       
      
      
        
      
     
      txCounter++;
      packetLost = false;  //It can't be lost, because it hasn't even been sent yet.
      
      temp = txCounter;  //getTemp(resistance);
      temp1=temp;
      
      timeTxSent=micros();
      Mirf.send((byte *)&temp);  
      
      
      
    
      while(Mirf.isSending()){
      }
    
      /*
      Serial.write("temp=");
      Serial.print(temp,DEC);
      Serial.write("\r\n");
      Serial.write("temp1=");
      Serial.print(temp1,DEC);
      Serial.write("\r\n");
      Serial.write("Finished sending.\r\n");
      */
      //delay(10);
      unsigned long time = millis();
      while ((!packetLost) && (!Mirf.dataReady())){
        //Serial.println("Waiting");
        if ( ( millis() - time ) > 8 ) {
          //Serial.println("Timeout on response from Rx Echo Reflector!");
          lostCount++;
          packetLost=true;
        }
      }
      
      if (!packetLost) {
      Mirf.getData((byte *) &temp);  
      timeRxReceived=micros();
      temp2 = temp;  
      roundTrip =  timeRxReceived - timeTxSent;
      if (roundTrip < minRoundTrip) {
        minRoundTrip=roundTrip;
      }
      if (roundTrip > maxRoundTrip) {
        maxRoundTrip = roundTrip;
      }
      if(temp1 == temp2){  
        matchCount++;
        cumulativeRoundTrip += roundTrip;
        averageRoundTrip = cumulativeRoundTrip/(txCounter-lostCount-differentCount);
      } else {
        differentCount++;
        Serial.println("***DIFFERENT**");
          Serial.write("temp1=");
          Serial.println(temp1, BIN);
          Serial.write("temp2=");
          Serial.println(temp2, BIN);
      }
      
      if ((txCounter%statusFrequency)==0) {
        /*
        if(temp1 == temp2){  
          Serial.print("Match");
        } 
        else {
          Serial.println("***DIFFERENT**");
        }
        Serial.write(",");
        */
      }
      }
      
      lostPacketRate = 100*((float)(lostCount))/((float)txCounter);
      
      if ((txCounter%statusFrequency)==0) {
       
        Serial.print(txCounter);
        Serial.write(",lost=");
        Serial.print(lostPacketRate);
        /*
        Serial.write("%,T=");
        Serial.print(temp,DEC);
        //Serial.write(".  ");
        Serial.write(",T1=");
        Serial.print(temp1,DEC);
        //Serial.write(".  ");
        Serial.write(",T2=");
        Serial.print(temp2,DEC);
        */
        Serial.write("%,RT=");
        Serial.print(roundTrip,DEC);
        Serial.write(",minRT=");
        Serial.print(minRoundTrip);
        Serial.write(",maxRT=");
        Serial.print(maxRoundTrip);
        Serial.write(",aRT=");
        Serial.print(averageRoundTrip,DEC);
        Serial.print(",#lost=");
        Serial.print(lostCount);
        //Serial.write(",mat=");
        //Serial.print(matchCount);
        Serial.write(",diff=");
        Serial.print(differentCount);
        Serial.write("\r\n");
        delay(100); //give time for it to print out
        //txCounter = 0;  //restart gathering statistics
      }
    
      
      /*
      delay(1000);  // keep the 'sending' message displayed on OLED for 1 sec
      u8g.firstPage();
      do{
      } while(u8g.nextPage());
    
      delay(2000);  // wait for 2 seconds till next transmission
      */
    }  //End of main loop. 
    

    Here's the code for the receiver node. It doesn't need to be plugged into a computer:

    /*
     nRF24Receiver Demo for RFToy
     
     This demo shows how to use RFToy to make a
     wireless temperature sensor. This is the
     receiver module which displays the received
     temperature value to OLED. The demo uses
     the Mirf library.
     
     Written by Jonathan Goldin @ Rayshobby LLC
     Nov 2014
     For details, visit http://rayshobby.net/rftoy
    */
    
    #include <SPI.h>
    #include <Mirf.h>
    #include <nRF24L01.h>
    #include <MirfHardwareSpiDriver.h>
    #include "U8glib.h"
    
    
    U8GLIB_SSD1306_128X64 u8g(U8G_I2C_OPT_NONE);	// I2C / TWI 
    
    void setup(){
      Serial.begin(115200);
      Serial.println("Echo Receiver.  Listening");
    
      Mirf.cePin = 17;  //???
      Mirf.csnPin = 16;  //???
      /*
       * Set the SPI Driver.
       */
    
      Mirf.spi = &MirfHardwareSpi;
    
      /*
       * Setup pins / SPI.
       */
    
      Mirf.init();
    
      /*
       * Configure reciving address.
       */
    
      Mirf.setRADDR((byte *)"serv1");
    
      /*
       * Set the payload length to sizeof(unsigned long) the
       * return type of millis().
       *
       * NB: payload on client and server must be the same.
       */
    
      Mirf.payload = sizeof(long);
    
      /*
       * Write channel and payload config then power up reciver.
       */
    
    
     // we use channel 90 as it is outside of WLAN bands 
      // or channels used by wireless surveillance cameras 
      //Mirf.channel = 90;
      
      Mirf.config();
        //This register value is not remembered between power cycles.
      //It defaults to 0x0F.
      //It should be initialized each time if different than 0x0F.
      Mirf.configRegister(RF_SETUP,0x07); //0x0F is 2mbps, max Tx power 
                                          //0x07 is 1mbps, max Tx power
                                          //0x2F is 250kbps, max Tx power.
      Serial.println("OTA datarate set to 1Mbps.  Transmit Power set to Maximum.");
      
      // Read and print RF_SETUP
     byte rf_setup = 0;
     Mirf.readRegister( RF_SETUP, &rf_setup, sizeof(rf_setup) );
     Serial.print( "rf_setup = " );
     Serial.println( rf_setup, BIN );
    
      
      u8g.firstPage();
      do{
        uint8_t h;
        u8g.setFont(u8g_font_10x20);
        u8g.setFontRefHeightText();
        u8g.setFontPosTop();
        h = u8g.getFontAscent()-u8g.getFontDescent();
        u8g.drawStr(19,(u8g.getHeight()-h)/2,"Echo Rx");
      } 
      while(u8g.nextPage());
      
    }  //End of *Setup* procedure
    
    void loop(){
      /*
       * A buffer to store the data.
       */
    
      byte data[Mirf.payload];
    
      /*
       * If a packet has been recived.
       *
       * isSending also restores listening mode when it 
       * transitions from true to false.
       */
    
      if(!Mirf.isSending() && Mirf.dataReady()){
        //Serial.print("Got packet: ");
    
        /*
         * Get load the packet into the buffer.
         */
    
        Mirf.getData(data);
    
        
        // Set the send address.
        Mirf.setTADDR((byte *)"clie1");
    
        /*
         * Send the data back to the client.
         */
    
        Mirf.send(data);
    
        /*
         * Wait untill sending has finished
         *
         * NB: isSending returns the chip to receving after returning true.
         */
         
        
    
        //Serial.println("Reply sent.");
      }
    }
    

    As background, here's a link to the RFToy:
    http://rayshobby.net/rftoy/
    Links to the RFToy library, as well as the hardware design, can be found there. It's all open source.

    This shows the pin assignments: https://github.com/rayshobby/rftoy-hw/blob/master/RFToy.png

    You'll need a pinout diagram to match-up those internal pins to the physical pins of whatever Arduino you're using. For instance, for an Uno, here's a pinout diagram which maps internal pins to physical pins:
    http://marcusjenkins.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ARDUINO_V2.png
    That way you'll know how to properly wire-up your NRF24L01+ so that it works properly with the library code.

    So, I did that just now and tested it on the UNO, and so for the UNO the simplified wiring directions are:
    NRF24L01+Pin --- --> Uno Female Header Pin
    GND (1) ----------------------------> GND
    VCC (2) -----------------------------> 3.3V
    CE (3) ------------------------------> A3
    CSN (4) -------------------------------> A2
    SCK (5) --------------------------------> D13
    MOSI (6) --------------------------------> D11
    MISO (7) --------------------------------> D12
    IRQ(8) ---------------------------------> n/a

    The RFToy has an OLED screen that gets written to. You can remove that code if you wish, but leaving it in does no harm, even if you don't have an OLED screen on your arduino. I modified the code so that it's only written to during the setup loop, so regardless it shouldn't interfere with any of the measurements taken in the main loop..

    Hope that helps!



  • I just finish some tests with your sketch. With ITead Modules, I have 0.05% packet loss at 1mbps and about 15 meters with 1 wall.
    aRT is 1700. With NRF from electrodragon, I have same results aRT is a bit higher eg 2000.
    But during my tests, I found some issues :

    • With UNO I have more lost packets without extra capacitor. I think 3.3V output is not enough good. With Arduino Nano, it's ok
    • Quite different results when touching my dupont wires ...
    • When I let temp1 and temp2 output, there's a bug with synchro. It says it's always different but it's only dure to a shift with comparaison. If i just comment serial.output of temp1 an temp2 diff is always equal to 0

    I will make a test with RF24 from TMRh20 (used in MySensors).
    About Mysensors, I have a question : is there a configuration to retry packet sending and delay bewteen resend like radio.setRetries(2,15); ?

    So for me the Itead modules are good and electrodragon too.


  • Admin

    @Fabien said:

    is there a configuration to retry packet sending and delay bewteen resend like radio.setRetries(2,15); ?

    No, there isn't currently. You can always run a gw.setRetries() after gw.setup() has been called,



  • @hek : I just look in the library and see there is a retry RF24::setRetries(5,15); in MySensor::setupRadio and it is called by MySensor::begin


  • Admin

    Yes, thought you meant if there were any config options to set this...


  • Hero Member

    @Fabien said:

    I just finish some tests with your sketch. With ITead Modules, I have 0.05% packet loss at 1mbps and about 15 meters with 1 wall.
    aRT is 1700. With NRF from electrodragon, I have same results aRT is a bit higher eg 2000.
    But during my tests, I found some issues :

    • With UNO I have more lost packets without extra capacitor. I think 3.3V output is not enough good. With Arduino Nano, it's ok
    • Quite different results when touching my dupont wires ...
    • When I let temp1 and temp2 output, there's a bug with synchro. It says it's always different but it's only dure to a shift with comparaison. If i just comment serial.output of temp1 an temp2 diff is always equal to 0

    I will make a test with RF24 from TMRh20 (used in MySensors).
    About Mysensors, I have a question : is there a configuration to retry packet sending and delay bewteen resend like radio.setRetries(2,15); ?

    So for me the Itead modules are good and electrodragon too.

    Interesting! Thanks for reporting the results. I'm sure Itead will be happy to hear about it. πŸ˜„ BTW, what lettering is printed on the NRF24L01+ chips? Also, from where did you procure the modules (Itead headquarters?) and how long ago?

    Prior to this morning, I had been using only an RFToy (which is effectively an 8Mhz 3.3V Arduino Mini Pro), and differences between the number transmitted (temp1) and the number echoed back (temp2) were fairly rare. Because probably no one but me has an RFToy, I setup and tested using an Uno this morning to verify that I was giving the correct wiring instructions (above). I did notice a much greater rate of differences reported by the Uno than the RFToy, but I didn't pay attention to the details. From what you're saying, it sounds like it hasn't finished shifting all the bits from the Rx buffer before comparing temp1 to temp2? Am I understanding you right? If so, you could try adding, say, a 2ms delay before doing the comparison to allow the received data to fully settle before the comparison. It wouldn't affect the roundtrip timing, because it would be happening after the elapsed microseconds had been recorded. Without looking into it, I had thought that my use on the Uno of fairly long dupont jumper cables was injecting noise. On the RFToy, the connections are shorter, and no jumper wires are used.

    What size capacitor (how many Farads) have you found works best? What type (e.g. electrolytic, ceramic, film, etc.)?

    If you move the code over to TMRh20, would you mind posting it back to this thread? I think more people will be familiar with it than with the Mirf library. I only used Mirf because the RFToy code used it, and for simplicity that was my starting point.

    Is this the electrodragon NRF24L01+ module that you tested? http://www.electrodragon.com/product/nrf24l01/




  • Admin

    @Fabien
    Gotta love their product description...

    "The main advantage of it is cheap."



  • @hek : Yes but I havn't notable difference with the one from itead ! And you know it is clone.
    @NeverDie : The first 2 chip from Itead : 1443IA , not a dot but a square and too small to see if there is a hole inside the +. I think i don't investigate more with others sketch because with my dupont cable error rate can increase a lot when just touching a cable.
    I just setup a Iboard with PA+LNA from electrodragon and all my sensebender with clone from electrodragon too, and everything is working fine, up 20 meters without any problems.
    For security I will change my NRF with the ones from Itead and will keep my PA+LNA for milight gateway emulation.


  • Hero Member

    @Fabien said:

    @hek : Yes but I havn't notable difference with the one from itead ! And you know it is clone.

    Move your test nodes further apart, and keep increasing the distance until you start losing a higher percentage of packets. Most likely, as the separation distance and/or RF impairments increase, at some point one module or the other is going to perform much better than the other--that is unless they're using the same type of NRF chip. At least to date that's been my experience with the very few datapoints I've collected so far.


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie If/when you get contact with nordic rep, it would be great if they can provide a sketch that does the testing. they probably have one...


  • Hero Member

    @Moshe-Livne said:

    @NeverDie If/when you get contact with nordic rep, it would be great if they can provide a sketch that does the testing. they probably have one...

    What kind of testing?


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie

    1. Authentic module testing (they might be reluctant to give something like this as it can probably be used to make the copies closer to the original - but worth the try)
    2. QA testing - packet drop, etc at different speeds

  • Hero Member

    @Moshe-Livne said:

    @NeverDie

    1. Authentic module testing (they might be reluctant to give something like this as it can probably be used to make the copies closer to the original - but worth the try)
    2. QA testing - packet drop, etc at different speeds

    OK. I haven't yet been contacted by Nordic, and I don't know how that conversation will unfold. If there' is room for Q&A, then I'll be sure to ask them your questions as well as relay their answers back to you.



  • @NeverDie

    NORDIC has on their Website the option to raise questions (MyPage) which are handled by their Tech Support Team. Normally they reply fast.


  • Hero Member

    @GIEL said:

    @NeverDie

    NORDIC has on their Website the option to raise questions (MyPage) which are handled by their Tech Support Team. Normally they reply fast.

    Thanks! I tried it just now, so hopefully I will get a response soon.

    Today I ordered some RFM69's. Unit cost is higher, but shipping cost is so much lower that the total cost is actually lower. If they test out better, then I may just go that route instead. In fact, if they test out better. then is there any reason to prefer the NRF24L01+?


  • Hero Member

    I received the NRF24L01+'s that are on the red PCB's (above), and when I saw they were using the now notorious 1242AF chips, I had little hope. However, I tested them at 1mbps over the same challenge distance as the others, and so far they're doing very well: I transmitted over 200,000 packets, and there were only 0.03% lost packets. Average round trip time was 2.2ms.

    As before, I'm using the RFToys to do the testing. The modules seem more finicky about their orientation than others that I've tested, and moving things just a little can make for much, much worse results.

    I bought them from MDFly on ebay.


  • Hero Member

    I received more blob modules, and they continue to impress. me. I sent 160,000 packets, and there's only .22% packets lost with an average roundtrip time of 2.2ms. Also, the module doesn't seem particularly sensitive as to its orientation. For that reason, I like them more than the red modules.


  • Mod

    I did some current consumption testing on my modules and the results were quite surprising.
    What should happen is that the current consumption rises during transmission, then stays high until transmission is finished.
    Most modules however show very deep spikes in current consumption during transmission.
    This behavior does not seem to be chip related, more module related (the green ones perform best in this respect).
    It could be caused by the board layout and/or components used.
    My HF knowledge is very limited, so maybe anyone of you have any ideas?


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    I did some current consumption testing on my modules and the results were quite surprising.
    What should happen is that the current consumption rises during transmission, then stays high until transmission is finished.
    Most modules however show very deep spikes in current consumption during transmission.
    This behavior does not seem to be chip related, more module related (the green ones perform best in this respect).
    It could be caused by the board layout and/or components used.
    My HF knowledge is very limited, so maybe anyone of you have any ideas?

    I don't know HF, but....

    How many bytes in your "transmission" versus how many bytes in your packet data payload? i.e. I wonder if each of your spikes simply correspond to different packets.

    If that's not it, you should compare your measurements to what this guy measured:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvjpmsH2wKI
    as it seems he did some careful measurements.


  • Hero Member

    I received and tested these 10 pin modules from Alice on ebay:

    alice10.jpg
    I hooked them up to Arduino Uno's using 10 pin adapters, also from Alice on Ebay.

    Results are interesting:
    1.21% packet loss over 580,000 packets sent. Average round trip was 1.52ms. The lowest roundTrip time recorded was 0.872ms. These times are a lot lower than on any other modules I've tested.

    As with the red modules, results are sensitive to the antenna orientation .



  • I bought some modules from gc_supermarket which had "antenna symbol" on one side and pinout markings, marked "GOOD QUALITY". Reality was all thrown into a single antistat bag, no markings at all and crap transmissions. I confronted them (after ebay feedback timeout had passed), and they replied "We may send you another 10pcs" two weeks ago. Waiting to receive them.

    I got a batch from ITEAD, with good packaging (individual box+antistat+foam) and the two I've tested so far are surely the best I've had. I can place sensors in my car on the driveway, signal getting into the house (passing through large parts of the engine, metal sheets, thick house walls, inner walls, ...).


  • Hero Member

    @Stric said:

    I bought some modules from gc_supermarket which had "antenna symbol" on one side and pinout markings, marked "GOOD QUALITY". Reality was all thrown into a single antistat bag, no markings at all and crap transmissions. I confronted them (after ebay feedback timeout had passed), and they replied "We may send you another 10pcs" two weeks ago. Waiting to receive them.

    I got a batch from ITEAD, with good packaging (individual box+antistat+foam) and the two I've tested so far are surely the best I've had. I can place sensors in my car on the driveway, signal getting into the house (passing through large parts of the engine, metal sheets, thick house walls, inner walls, ...).

    Can you provide a link to the modules you purchased from gc_supermarket? I just want to make sure I don't order precisely the same thing. I haven't tried their blob modules yet, and was literally just about to place an order.

    Did you get your ITEAD modules from the factory or from one of their distributors? I wish I had your good fortune regarding the ITEAD modules. I believe you, but the ones I have from their distributor just don't test out well.

    In fact, for me personally I've concluded that the blob modules work the best. Great range, low packet loss, and no finicky antenna orientation to consider. It turns out they're also among the least expensive modules, but that's just a nice bonus, not my primary consideration. The downside is that they're definitely not genuine NRF24L01+'s, and so I worry there might be some subtle code incompatibility that will someday bite me.

    Anyhow, I'm tired of testing NRF24L01+'s from different vendors, and that's what I'm going with. I have some RFM69HW's on order. If they turn out to be a lot better, then I''ll probably standardize on them, and all this will be moot.


  • Hero Member

    Wow, what a mess to sort out.

    A given module may have

    • genuine Nordic nRF24L01+
    • genuine Nordic nRF24L01 (no ESB, no 250Kbps) - possibly marked as +
    • quality clone of either, possibly even out-performing Nordic in some way
      (some have higher RF power output)
    • clone with inverted OTA ack bit (ESB OK between same, incompatible with Nordic)
    • clone with reduced sensitivity and/or increased power usage
    • any of the above with missing passive components compared to Nordic reference design

    Meanwhile:

    • We cannot count on visual inspection (Nordic is fabless, some genuine chips may differ over time) or date codes.
    • We do not know of register tests to distinguish differences (except L01 vs L01+)
    • The inverted NoAck bit could be easily tested OTA using ESB mode to a known-good module.

    The packet loss testing may have value, but it can be tricky. NeverDie says " The modules seem more finicky about their orientation than others that I've tested, and moving things just a little can make for much, much worse results."

    That makes comparison difficult - is a given module better/worse than another, or was it it moved "just a little"? There's also the issue of intermittant interference in a crowded band.

    The idea of having "screwed down" test positions as someone suggested is making a lot of sense. Maybe.

    I'm wondering about the blobs that worked better than genuine/iTead nRF24L01+ (@1Mhz), is that because they are the higher powered clones? What's the power supply drain during transmit, compared to genuine?

    The RFM69 family is a good alternative for most sensors, where lower data rates and (regulatory) lower duty cycles of 433/868/915 MHz bands are usually OK. If we want the higher data rates of GFSK at 2.4GHz, maybe the RFM73 is more consistent (fewer if any clones)?


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    I'm wondering about the blobs that worked better than genuine/iTead nRF24L01+ (@1Mhz), is that because they are the higher powered clones? What's the power supply drain during transmit, compared to genuine?

    I wonder about that as well. For instance, the Si24R1 supposedly has a max transmit power of 7dB, which is well above the maximum of 0dB for a true NRF24L01+.

    Unfortunately, I'm not presently setup to measure that, so I don't know the answer. However, the range and performance is simply so much better that I'm guessing that might be the reason for it. And if that is the reason, then great: I can dial back the Tx power when it's not needed, but it's there when it is needed.

    However, I doubt it's the whole story. I also tried some high power modules with PA + LNA that I got from IC Station. These are the same modules that got top rank by a guy who reviewed a whole bunch of modules:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtM832Z0ujE
    Guess what? They don't perform as well as the blob modules! At least not in my indoor test setup environment. They cost a lot more too than the blob modules. It's difficult to fathom.


  • Hero Member

    The packet loss info could be useful.

    The Round Trip Time (RTT) testing would seem to make sense only if using ESB with ack and auto-retry is enabled, and there are errors which require one or more retries. Without retry, the packet should either be received in a fixed amount of time, or not received; the nRF24L01+ doesn't "think it over" for a while before deciding on weak packets. So it's just a disguised packet loss test, but harder to interpret.

    If we want to test link quality, I think packet loss without retries is a the measurement.

    And there should often be different packet losses with short and long packets. Long packets are more likely to get corrupted and lost (failing the CRC test).


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie So you've received two orders of blob modules which work well, from different sources?

    Where did you order them from? I'm interested.


  • Hero Member

    @GIEL said:

    @NeverDie

    NORDIC has on their Website the option to raise questions (MyPage) which are handled by their Tech Support Team. Normally they reply fast.

    It worked! I provided them with photos of the chips from the Itead modules. Here is their reply:

    "
    Hi,

    We are not aware of any fake chips with these markings as of today, but if you want us to investigate further we need samples here for x-ray.

    It is also possible that the modules has not been properly tuned (e.g. matching network and antenna) during development of the module. You will need access to a spectrum and network analyzer for proper measurement.

    Best regards,

    Kenneth"

    I need to move on. It is not worth my time to pursue this further.


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie oh come on! Do it! Do it! πŸ˜„


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    @NeverDie So you've received two orders of blob modules which work well, from different sources?

    Where did you order them from? I'm interested.

    I originally received two modules from: http://rayshobby.net/rftoy/ when I purchased my RFToy.

    I received 10 from http://www.ebay.com/itm/301378218320, of which I've tested two, and they seem the same.

    These I haven't tried: http://www.ebay.com/itm/301402792434 but looking at the photos they look the same to me.

    So, for the NRF24L01+, if you can call it that, this "blob module" is my final choice. In my rough-and-ready testing, it stood out from the rest. If you decide to get it, I'd be curious if you, or anyone, can figure out what it actually is. It can't do 250Kbps. I anticipate I would run it at 1Mbps only.

    If it weren't for the RFM69HW, I would buy more. I'm waiting to see whether I like it more.


  • Hero Member

    Looking at the datasheet for the RFM69, I notice the maximum datarate is 300kbps. So, at least on paper, I get the impression the NRF24L01+ wins on power efficiency, but the RFM69 can offer greater range. Is that right? Is that the main tradeoff between the two?


  • Hero Member

    The RFM69x operates in one of three smaller frequency bands (ie: fewer available frequencies): 433MHz, 868 MHz (Europe), 915 MHz (US).

    While there are supposed to be scores of independent channels for the nRF24 on the wider 2.4GHz band, there isn't as much room on the lower frequency bands. So 300 KBps is more of a theoretical limit; mostly the RFM69 is used for lower bit rates than that, with correspondingly lower bandwidth - and thus higher range! Unlike the nRF, you can trade off bit rate & bandwidth vs range (at any given power).

    For most sensor networks, I think the RFM69 will have plenty of data bandwidth and better range (at say 56Kbps or so). For a good example, see the JeeNodes (which used the RFM12B but are migrating to the RFM69x which fits the same niche but is a better chip). JeeNodes fit a niche very similar to MySensors in that there are distributed sensor nodes communicating with a central hub, with some of the sensor nodes sleeping most of the time to save battery power. (JeeNodes are not as well integrated into common Home Automation systems, but we are now talking more about hardware and protocols).

    I also use the nRF for holiday lighting control, which is more bandwidth hungry. For that the higher speeds are required. In this case a master is blasting data as fast as it can to one or more slaves; the slaves don't need to respond much, and if they do they can be polled with the Master so the master doesn't broadcast at the same time. (If using nRF for MySensors too, obviously they need to be on different channels).

    There is some usefulness to me in using nRF24L01+ for both, so the same node hardware can potentially be re-purposed; it's only a firmware (and channel) change to switch between these networks. But I'm rethinking this and wondering about switching sensors to the RFM68x.

    I'm not sure about power efficiency. An analysis will depend on how often the node needs to be powered up and for how long, as well as the sleep current. JeeNodes are also pretty careful about power.


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie

    So, for the NRF24L01+, if you can call it that, this "blob module" is my final choice.

    They are sounding potentially attractive. Here is some of what I am wondering.

    1. Do they take more power when transmitting? When receiving? (Should be fairly easy to test) When sleeping? (Harder, needs micropower sensor)

    2. Do they test (via registers) as nRF24L01 or nRF24L01+? And in particular, do they implement all the plus features (like ESB mode) other than the missing 250 Kbps data rate?

    3. Are they compatible over the air with the Nordic chips (at 1Mbps/2Mbps)? In general, and in terms of using ESB mode. At least one clone/derivative chip got the NoAck bit (as sent over the air) reversed from Nordic, due to an error in the Nordic datasheet. (We don't see that in the registers, it only shows up in the OTA packet).

    It would be good to be compatible with Nordic (and good clones), so that (1) we can swap in/out with other nRF chips we already have or purchase in the future and (2) in particular we can use the higher powered LNA+PA+antenna versions for a gateway or hub, which are not available in blob form AFAIK.

    Do you have any answers to any of these yet? Anybody else? If they have ESB and are compatible OTA with Nordic, I think they are very attractive; the power usage is a secondary concern, and only for some nodes.


  • Hero Member

    I don't at present know any of those answers. However, I am interested in power consumed. Also, at present I'm less concerned about interoperability than I am about range and not having to aim the antenna so precisely.


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    @NeverDie

    So, for the NRF24L01+, if you can call it that, this "blob module" is my final choice.

    They are sounding potentially attractive. Here is some of what I am wondering.

    1. Do they take more power when transmitting? When receiving? (Should be fairly easy to test) When sleeping? (Harder, needs micropower sensor)

    2. Do they test (via registers) as nRF24L01 or nRF24L01+? And in particular, do they implement all the plus features (like ESB mode) other than the missing 250 Kbps data rate?

    3. Are they compatible over the air with the Nordic chips (at 1Mbps/2Mbps)? In general, and in terms of using ESB mode. At least one clone/derivative chip got the NoAck bit (as sent over the air) reversed from Nordic, due to an error in the Nordic datasheet. (We don't see that in the registers, it only shows up in the OTA packet).

    It would be good to be compatible with Nordic (and good clones), so that (1) we can swap in/out with other nRF chips we already have or purchase in the future and (2) in particular we can use the higher powered LNA+PA+antenna versions for a gateway or hub, which are not available in blob form AFAIK.

    Do you have any answers to any of these yet? Anybody else? If they have ESB and are compatible OTA with Nordic, I think they are very attractive; the power usage is a secondary concern, and only for some nodes.

    @Zeph: Regarding #2: What is ESB mode? To what degree does the mysensors code rely on those things being true? i.e. do certain clone/fake chips "break" the mysensors code, or do they just run less efficiently?

    So far I haven't noticed incompatibility between the blob modules and other modules. I haven't extensively tested, though, so it's more of a casual observation. The data seems to get through. That said, I'm going to use only blob modules, so it's a moot issue to me. If it were a concern for you, they're cheap enough you could probably just replace whatever modules you have with blob modules, and then those potential issues disappear. Ironically, the only way to be certain all your modules are of the same type may be to use blob modules! Otherwise, as you outlined earlier, it's really hard to know what chip you actually have on any given module. I have less confidence in how randomly different chips might interoperate than when chps are all of one type, whatever that may be.

    I'm going to switchover from using Mirf (which got me started) to the same library mySensors uses :tmrh20. Then I'll be better able to run more detailed tests that are directly relevant. Either before or after that I'll try to measure power consumption, especially transmit power.


  • Admin

    Got the microscope today. This is a closeup of the genuine NRF-chip.

    PICT0001.JPG

    PICT0003.JPG



  • Hi everyone!

    I bought some NRF24L01+ that have the Range Extension chip RFaxis RFX2401C

    I'm curious to see how they perform πŸ™‚

    And for that I'm thinking in rewriting the RFToy Sender/Receiver examples with the MySensor libraries.
    This will allow me to learn about the MySensor libraries and also to test the "performance" of the RF modules with different configurations.

    What do you think? Let me know if you're interested in such code.

    Regards


  • Hero Member

    @Daniel-Oliveira said:

    Hi everyone!

    I bought some NRF24L01+ that have the Range Extension chip RFaxis RFX2401C

    I'm curious to see how they perform πŸ™‚

    And for that I'm thinking in rewriting the RFToy Sender/Receiver examples with the MySensor libraries.
    This will allow me to learn about the MySensor libraries and also to test the "performance" of the RF modules with different configurations.

    What do you think? Let me know if you're interested in such code.

    Regards

    Yes, definitely! I'll also be very interested to hear about the performance of your range extended modules.


  • Hero Member

    I took a quick stab just now at using a Dave Jones uCurrent and an oscilliscope to measure the current on an NRF24L01+, but there was too much noise. I suspect long wires are contributing to the problem. I'm inclined to think some kind of onboard measurement by the arduino itself is the way to go, as then the wire lengths are short. Not sure how other people are rigging to do it, but so far measuring NRF power consumption seems a lot easier said than done.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie just some tips when measuring small currents:

    • use a stable power supply (e.g lab supply). Don't power from you pc or cheap switching powersupply.
    • twist the leads to the current.
    • use your scope to filter noise or add a lowpass filter using a capicitor+resistor on the signal going from the ucurrent to your scope

  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDie just some tips when measuring small currents:

    • use a stable power supply (e.g lab supply). Don't power from you pc or cheap switching powersupply.
    • twist the leads to the current.
    • use your scope to filter noise or add a lowpass filter using a capicitor+resistor on the signal going from the ucurrent to your scope

    Thanks! Those are useful suggestions on how to proceed.

    On my first attempt last night I used an Arduino Uno to drive the NRF24L01+. I eventually noticed that even without plugging the USB cable into my computer that the USB cable was a big source of noise when plugged into the Uno. When I did plug the USB cable into my computer, the noise got much worse. So, the USB cable has got to go.

    New plan for the second attempt::

    • Use an RFToy, instead of Uno, because it's a more compact way to plug-in the NRF24L01+ without having wires dangling all over, and because it can run off a coin cell battery, again without wires.

    • Plug the NRF24L01+ into "tall" female header pins, and then plug those into the usual 2x4 header on the RFToy. Why? Because the leg of the tall VCC header pin I'm going to snip and (hopefully) replace with a 1 ohm sense resister. With luck there will be enough room on either side of the inline sense resister to connect up the oscilloscope and thereby do measurements without introducing long wires that might pick up noise.


  • Hero Member

    BTW, I notice ManiacBug measures transmitter current with just a $50 multimeter and setting "endless trasmitter" mode. https://maniacbug.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/sensor-node/

    Not sure how accurate that is though.


  • Hero Member

    Lastly, I notice these "Noise Cancelling Techniques" from an Attiny datasheet, regtarding ADC measurements:
    "Digital circuitry inside and outside the device generates EMI which might affect the accuracy of
    analog measurements. When conversion accuracy is critical, the noise level can be reduced by
    applying the following techniques:
    β€’ Keep analog signal paths as short as possible.
    β€’ Make sure analog tracks run over the analog ground plane.
    β€’ Keep analog tracks well away from high-speed switching digital tracks.
    β€’ If any port pin is used as a digital output, it mustn’t switch while a conversion is in progress.
    β€’ Place bypass capacitors as close to VCC and GND pins as possible."


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie said:

    @Zeph said:

    @NeverDie

    So, for the NRF24L01+, if you can call it that, this "blob module" is my final choice.

    They are sounding potentially attractive. Here is some of what I am wondering.

    1. Do they take more power when transmitting? When receiving? (Should be fairly easy to test) When sleeping? (Harder, needs micropower sensor)

    2. Do they test (via registers) as nRF24L01 or nRF24L01+? And in particular, do they implement all the plus features (like ESB mode) other than the missing 250 Kbps data rate?

    3. Are they compatible over the air with the Nordic chips (at 1Mbps/2Mbps)? In general, and in terms of using ESB mode. At least one clone/derivative chip got the NoAck bit (as sent over the air) reversed from Nordic, due to an error in the Nordic datasheet. (We don't see that in the registers, it only shows up in the OTA packet).

    It would be good to be compatible with Nordic (and good clones), so that (1) we can swap in/out with other nRF chips we already have or purchase in the future and (2) in particular we can use the higher powered LNA+PA+antenna versions for a gateway or hub, which are not available in blob form AFAIK.

    Do you have any answers to any of these yet? Anybody else? If they have ESB and are compatible OTA with Nordic, I think they are very attractive; the power usage is a secondary concern, and only for some nodes.

    @Zeph: Regarding #2: What is ESB mode?

    Enhanced ShockBurst, which is a mode added to the plus version by Nordic (nRF24L01+). Many of the clones and derivatives have it, some may not. It adds automatic ack and retry, and perhaps other features.

    @hek is ESB mode still used in MySensors?

    So far I haven't noticed incompatibility between the blob modules and other modules. I haven't extensively tested, though, so it's more of a casual observation. The data seems to get through. That said, I'm going to use only blob modules, so it's a moot issue to me. If it were a concern for you, they're cheap enough you could probably just replace whatever modules you have with blob modules, and then those potential issues disappear.

    Have you found compatible blob modules with external antennas and/or LNA+PA (Low Noise Amplifier + Power Amplifier)?

    Ironically, the only way to be certain all your modules are of the same type may be to use blob modules!

    Until a new blob module type shows up.

    Otherwise, as you outlined earlier, it's really hard to know what chip you actually have on any given module. I have less confidence in how randomly different chips might interoperate than when chps are all of one type, whatever that may be.

    People here and elsewhere have had a lot of success in interoperation. However, that could be becoming more difficult, if too many fake chips get on the market.

    BTW - I consider an openly described "nRF24L01+ compatible" chip to be a "derivative" if it openly modifies or extends the Nordic functions, a "clone" if it attempts to exactly mimic the Nordic chips. A "fake" is mislabeled and deceptive rather than being openly described as not Nordic.

    I'm going to switchover from using Mirf (which got me started) to the same library mySensors uses :tmrh20. Then I'll be better able to run more detailed tests that are directly relevant. Either before or after that I'll try to measure power consumption, especially transmit power.

    Good idea. I think TMRH20 has the best RF24 fork, and I've contributed slightly to it in its early days.

    I look forward to your measurements. For battery operation with long sleep periods, the sleep current is also important.

    If your module has higher RF transmit power (as I suspect), it might also be interesting to see what the current drain is when you drop the power a notch (ie: bring it closer to the Nordic part's RF output). The ideal might be if it can be run at about the same RF power as Nordic with similar PS current, OR could be boosted for more RF power at the cost of more PS current.

    Bu the way, you might have a version which can boost its power still further. For example, the Si24R01 has a default boost of about 2-3 dBm over the Nordic, but can be set for 7 dBm! See https://github.com/solarkennedy/equail/tree/master/Libraries/RF24

    Since transmit power is likely over 10mA you may be able to measure that without a MicroPower device. But you'll need such a device to measure sleep currents.


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    Have you found compatible blob modules with external antennas and/or LNA+PA (Low Noise Amplifier + Power Amplifier)?

    Interesting idea. I don't recollect seeing any LNA+PA modules with blobs on them, but then again I haven't tried looking for such a thing. At least so far the simple blob module appears to have all the range I need.


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    For battery operation with long sleep periods, the sleep current is also important.

    Good point. Noise might present a problem with measuring it, but I'll make an attempt. Perhaps a regular multimeter would be good enough for that, since (presumably) it would average any spikes? The result might be higher than the true number, and so be a worst case number. That's possibly OK though: if it turns out the worst case number is acceptable, then all is good.


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    I think TMRH20 has the best RF24 fork, and I've contributed slightly to it in its early days.

    Excellent! In that case, do you happen to know off the top of your head: what's the simplest method or function call in TMRH20 for putting the NRF24L01+ to sleep? If I don't have to research that, I can jump ahead to taking a measurement of it sleeping, as per the above.


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie
    http://tmrh20.github.io/RF24/classRF24.html#aa0a51923a09ba4f3478aba9be0f8a6a1

    You are going to need your Davy Jones uCurrent to measure sleeping current!


  • Hero Member

    So, here are the current measurements on the blob module. I used a 1 ohm sense resister, so 1mv=1ma.

    I wrote a short script to transmit a packet once every 10 milliseconds:
    oscope1.jpg

    Now I'll zoom in progressively so you can see for yourself what the current is:
    oscope2.jpg

    oscope3.jpg

    oscope4.jpg

    Doing this measurement is the first time I've ever used an oscilliscope (a Rigole 1054Z). Because the lines are kinda thick (noise, I guess), what would you say the current draw is during a transmission?

    In this case, there is no echo receiver, and so whatever gets sent isn't received by anything.


  • Hero Member

    Here is the simple test jig that I made, using a 1 ohm resistor:
    jig.jpg

    Here it is mounted on the RFToy:
    mounted.jpg

    Here is how I hooked up the oscilloscope probe:
    hookup.jpg


  • Hero Member

    For comparison, here are the measurements taken on an ITEAD module:

    itead1.jpg

    itead2.jpg

    itead3.jpg

    itead4.jpg

    So, purely eyeballing it, I'd say the Itead uses about, what, 13ma? The blob module is using maybe 20ma. Perhaps that difference in transmitter current, at least in part, explains the range difference that I observed.


  • Hero Member

    For further comparison, here are the measurements taken on the red module from earlier in the thread:

    red1.jpg

    red2.jpg

    red3.jpg

    red4.jpg

    Again, just eyeballing it, that looks like, what, maybe 23ma? Acually more than the blob module, it would seem.


  • Mod

    @NeverDIe Very intersting measurements dude!
    I have a gut feeling for some time that accurately measuring the transmission/reception current of a chip could be used to distinguish fake from real (and of course xray/boiling acid, which is impossible to do for the average consumer).
    Both the width and level of the current spikes are different for each module.
    Could you post the sketch used for measurement somewhere, so I can repeat your measurements?
    I have some 100% genuine Nordic modules, which can be used for reference.


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDIe Very intersting measurements dude!
    I have a gut feeling for some time that accurately measuring the transmission/reception current of a chip could be used to distinguish fake from real (and of course xray/boiling acid, which is impossible to do for the average consumer).
    Both the width and level of the current spikes are different for each module.
    Could you post the sketch used for measurement somewhere, so I can repeat your measurements?
    I have some 100% genuine Nordic modules, which can be used for reference.

    Here it is:

    
    /*
     nRF24Sender Demo for RFToy
     
     This demo shows how to use RFToy to make a
     wireless temperature sensor. This is the
     sender module which transmits the current
     temperature value to a receiver module. The
     demo uses the Mirf library.
     
     This demo uses a 100K resistor and 100K
     thermistor to form a simple temperature 
     sensor. Pin A1 is used to read the value. 
     The connection is:
     VCC->100K->A1->thermistor->GND
      
     Written by Jonathan Goldin @ Rayshobby LLC
     Nov 2014
     For details, visit http://rayshobby.net/rftoy
    */
    
    #include <SPI.h>
    #include <Mirf.h>
    #include <nRF24L01.h>
    #include <MirfHardwareSpiDriver.h>
    #include <U8glib.h>
    
    U8GLIB_SSD1306_128X64 u8g(U8G_I2C_OPT_NONE);	// I2C / TWI 
    
    void setup(){
      Serial.begin(115200);
      Serial.println("Starting...");
       
      /*
       Set ce and csn pins
       */
      
      Mirf.cePin = 17;
      Mirf.csnPin = 16;
      
      Mirf.spi = &MirfHardwareSpi;
      Mirf.init();
      
      /*
       * Configure reciving address.
       */
       
      Mirf.setRADDR((byte *)"clie1");
      
      /*
       * Set the payload length to sizeof(unsigned long) the
       * return type of millis().
       *
       * NB: payload on client and server must be the same.
       */
       
      //Mirf.payload = sizeof(long);
      Mirf.payload = sizeof(long);  
      /*
       * Write channel and payload config then power up reciver.
       */
       
      /*
       * To change channel:
       * 
       * Mirf.channel = 10;
       *
       * NB: Make sure channel is legal in your area.
       */
       
        // we use channel 90 as it is outside of WLAN bands 
      // or channels used by wireless surveillance cameras 
      //Mirf.channel = 90;
      
      Mirf.config();
      
        
      //This register value is not remembered between power cycles.
      //It defaults to 0x0F.
      //It should be initialized each time if different than 0x0F.
      Mirf.configRegister(RF_SETUP,0x07); //0x0F is 2mbps, max Tx power 
                                          //0x07 is 1mbps, max Tx power
                                          //0x2F is 250kbps, max Tx power.
      Serial.println("OTA datarate set to  1Mbps.  Transmit Power set to Maximum.");
      
      // Read and print RF_SETUP
     byte rf_setup = 0;
     Mirf.readRegister( RF_SETUP, &rf_setup, sizeof(rf_setup) );
     Serial.print( "rf_setup = " );
     Serial.println( rf_setup, BIN );
      // OLED
      u8g.firstPage();
      do{
        uint8_t h;
        u8g.setFont(u8g_font_10x20);
        u8g.setFontRefHeightText();
        u8g.setFontPosTop();
        h = u8g.getFontAscent()-u8g.getFontDescent();
        u8g.drawStr(29,(u8g.getHeight()-h)/2,"Tx Sender");
      } 
      while(u8g.nextPage());
      Mirf.setTADDR((byte *)"serv1");
      
      Serial.write("Sending...\r\n"); 
      delay(200);
    } // End of *Setup*
    
    
    long temp;
      int temp1;
      int temp2;
      long timeTxSent;
      long timeRxReceived;
      long roundTrip;
      byte age1=52;
      byte age2=11;
      long txCounter=0;
      long matchCount=0;
      long differentCount=0;
      long lostCount=0;
      long cumulativeRoundTrip=0;
      long averageRoundTrip=0;
      boolean packetLost=false;
      float packetErrorRate=0;  //no errors yet, and maybe there never will be.
      float lostPacketRate=0;  //no packets lost yet.
      const int statusFrequency=500;  //How many iterations of main loop before printing status info.
      long minRoundTrip=9999; //value will be driven down when program runs
      long maxRoundTrip=0;  //value will be driven up when program runs
      
    void loop(){
       
      txCounter++;
      
      temp = txCounter;  //getTemp(resistance);
      
      
      timeTxSent=micros();
      Mirf.send((byte *)&temp);  
    
      while(Mirf.isSending()){
      }
    
      while ((micros() - timeTxSent) < 10000) {  //send at intervals of 10 milliseconds = 10,000 microseconds.
      }
     
    }  //End of main loop. 
    
    

    By the way, an RFToy is, from an IDE perspective, basically an 8Mhz Pro Mini.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie Thanks, but it has quite some dependencies: Mirf, MirfHardwareSpiDriver & u8glib... I guess I have to strip it first.
    Furthermore, which nrf24 library did you use? The one from tmrh20?


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDie Thanks, but it has quite some dependencies: Mirf, MirfHardwareSpiDriver & u8glib...
    Furthermore, which nrf24 library did you use? The one from tmrh20?

    Mirf is the nrf24 library. It's what the RFToy example used, so I started with it, because it "just worked" out of the box. It just happens to be as far as I've gotten so far. I haven't yet converted to tmrh20, which would look more familiar to you.

    The start loop is just a left-over from when I was doing echo testing. I removed the OLED for this test because it was a potential source of interference, so any code related to that could be deleted. Obviously, most of the global variables aren't needed either. As far as transmitting once every 10ms, all the action happens in the main loop, which is pretty simple. It's all fairly basic, because up until I actually did it, I wasn't sure I could even get a sufficiently noiseless signal to measure. Luckily, running the RFtoy on a coincell, and because it's compact and without dangling wires, made that possible.

    So, in terms of which library to install, at the moment the easiest would be to load the RFToy library.

    Or you can wait until I convert over to tmrh20, and then you can follow along that way. I'll need to do that to do the sleep measurement, and because TMRH20 is currently the leading library to use--at least that's what ManiacBug seems to think.

    Or, if you already know tmrh20, you could code it yourself. The pseudo-code is quite simple:

    1. Note the time in microseconds.
    2. Send a packet with a 4 byte data payload (i.e. a LONG)
    3. Wait until the current time exceeds the time in step 1 by at least 10,000 microseconds.
    4. Goto Step 1

    What I don't know are the defaults for ACK's and # of retries, if any, in Mirf and in TMRH20. Aside from that possible difference, I would imagine the current draws are going to be the same in either library, wouldn't you?

    Perhaps the cleanest thing would be to skip the libraries entirely and do it all purely by register manipulations. That'd probably be a diversion from where I want to go, but maybe not a huge diversion. After all, how hard could it be? Since the guys doing the mysensors library for the attiny85 appear to be stuck, I may eventually have to do it that way if I want to use an attiny85 (which I do).


  • Mod

    @NeverDIe I committed a small sketch + NRF24 library which should essentially do the same as your sketch.
    Please find it at https://github.com/Yveaux/NRF24_CurrentFingerprint.
    I verified its behavior using the NRF24 sniffer:

    upload-c8184e00-67be-43e9-af4c-43242e39b830

    Maybe we could compare register settings to be absolutely sure settings are identical:

    upload-1418cfa7-5a26-40ff-9531-7221378b1875

    Maybe you can repeat one of your measurements with this sketch, just to make sure we're measuring in the same way?

    Currently I'm having a hard time measuring the actual current during transmit. I've not been able to get the individual spikes on the scope, not by using a uCurrent nor a single 1ohms resistor.

    This is a uCurrent plot, set at 1mV/uA:

    upload-2a6efb00-7e6a-462f-b3ce-f3a179b80ae6

    That boils down to 1.3mA peak during transmission... That can't be right?!


  • Mod

    Small update: using a 10ohms resitor, the current profile looks like:

    upload-fe4a379b-9a19-4e5d-ba78-086f1906e86b

    10mV/mA, so my module peaks at 11.7 mA. This module contains a 100% genuine Nordic nRF24L01+.

    A module containing a proven fake nRF24L01+ (marked 1242AF), reveals following current profile:

    upload-916e4d87-e4f8-4262-bef9-fd82dbfbca1d

    This one peaks at 19.8mA !!

    Register settings and on-air packets are identical.

    For completenes my measurement setup:

    • Lab supply, which powers USB isolator
    • USB isolator between PC & Arduino (otherwise ground-loops mess things up when using a USB scope on the same PC)
    • 10 ohms resistor

    upload-3ba85b97-4e4a-40af-86f6-00f38b5d545b


  • Hero Member

    That's great!

    The red module I tested (above) also used 1242AF. So, asuming the NRF chip in the Itead is genuine (which seems increasingly likely), then proportionately speaking, we're getting similar measurements.

    Aside from the Picoscope, what is your test setup? You don't seem to be experiencing the fat scope lines that I am. Where is the NRF module in your photo? Is it being levitated by the wires in the photo? I'm surprised the wires don't seem to be picking up noise.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie I added it to my previous post.

    Overview of whole setup:

    upload-f518c490-0a0f-4376-899d-14af8966192a

    I never had issues with the wires picking up noise; at least not enough to distort communication. They're approx. 20cm long.

    One more:

    upload-972e72b1-ed33-4440-8f4f-602ac91263bf

    Module with nRF marked 1322DQ, supposedly genuine.
    Also 11.2mA

    Tried it with another, random 1242AF, which gave 21.4mA


  • Hero Member

    Exactly which USB isolator are you using? Sounds like I should get myself a couple in case I ever need to do this again.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie A Chinese clone of this circuit: https://www.circuitsathome.com/measurements/usb-isolator
    The power socket is used to power the isolated USB side.
    Beware this isolator ca only handle FullSpeed (12MBit/s), so not USB 2.0 HighSpeed (480MBit/s).
    This prevents me from isolating my USB scope with it...


  • Hero Member

    Your setup roughly resembles my first attempt, where I was also using an Uno. However, I was overwhelmed with noise, which made me try the RFToy. I wasn't using isolators, though. I'm glad you got yours working, because it means that just about anyone with isolators and a scope can maybe do this test for themselves. As illustrated by you, the setup if pretty easy to follow. Good job!

    P.S. Does using ribbon cable, as you are doing, rather than individual Dupont wires (as I did when I tried using the Uno) also help with controlling noise?


  • Hero Member

    Interestingly, the USB cable that came with my Rigol has big ferrite cores on both ends of it. So, that probably helps as well.


  • Hero Member

    Actually, you could just power that arduino using a battery. Right? Having the isolator is nice, in that you can monitor what's happening, but not strictly necessary.

    So, really, I guess anyone with an o-scope can do this test, which is great!


  • Mod

    @NeverDie correct!
    With some simple hardware the uno could measure the current by itself and determine the maximum current used!
    This has potential!


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDie correct!
    With some simple hardware the uno could measure the current by itself and determine the maximum current used!
    This has potential!

    Which hardware would that be?


  • Hero Member

    It turns out my scope can do better than I thought. Here's the blob module again, but this time at 5mv/div.

    blob1x_1.jpg

    blob1x_2.jpg

    So, I may be able to use an even smaller resistor, because now I can go down to 1mv/div, whereas before it seemed it wouldn't let me go lower than 10mv/div. Hopefully that will help improve my measurement accuracy.


  • Mod

    @NeverDie shunt resistor & opamp. Not sure about the sampling speed of the AtMega yet. Have to dive into its data sheet first....


  • Mod

    @NeverDie transmission takes 233us in my measurements. What's the hdiv on your scope? 500/200us?


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDie transmission takes 233us in my measurements. What's the hdiv on your scope? 500/200us?

    Which chip? The 1242AF (presumed fake), or the one that might be genuine (the one on the Itead module)?


  • Mod

    @NeverDie any chip. Transmission time is identical every time.


  • Hero Member

    @Yveaux said:

    @NeverDie any chip. Transmission time if identical every time.

    Here's my best picture of the start of the transmission cycle for the blob module. I'm not sure where to call the actual start of it though, but we need to agree on that if we're going to compare numbers without pictures.

    blob_halfOhm.jpg
    It's labeled on the upper bar (just to the right of the red "STOP") 50us/div
    I modified the resister to be 1/2ohm, so now the vertical is 4ma/div, because it's 2mv/div vertical. Make sense?


  • Mod

    @NeverDie your horizontal scale is very different from what I measure.
    The initial low-level part in the last scope picture shows only part of what you identify as transmission time, while it already lasts roughy 250us. That's more than the whole transmission time I measure!
    We're definitely measuring differently.
    Quickly off my head: a single message is 14 bytes long (see the sniffer capture above). At 1mbit this will take 14*8/1mbit=112 us. Add some time for startup, preamble, shutdown etc. and I think total time will be in the order of 233us, as I measured.

    Could you try running the sketch I put on github to compare things? Probably you will only have to change cs/ss pins to run it (I stick to the default mysensors connections)
    It will also toggle a digital output on pin 3 before/after transmission which you can put on the scope together with the current measured, to have a reference when actual transmission takes place.

    Tonight (in 12 hours or so) I can do some more measurements if necessary.


  • Hero Member

    I just now noticed where you put your markers on your o-scope plot. There are two voltage increases, the second settles out higher than the first, and it looks like you're counting both. I would guess transmission doesn't really start until the higher voltage is reached, though, wouldn't you? That also is a better match to your 112us number. Perhaps the lower voltage corresponds to loading the buffer or something like that that doesn't need the higher transmit power.

    If you don't mind my asking, why the interest in the transmission length? Doesn't it have to be pretty similar from one type of chip to another, or else they won't interoperate?


  • Hero Member

    I think that's probably what's happening. I'm running on an 8Mhz Pro Mini (effectively), and you're running on a 16Mhz Uno. So, your first hump takes about half the time mine does ( is that right?), whereas both our second humps should take about the same amount of time. Ahhhhh..., except they don't. Your second hump appears to take longer than my blob module's second hump does. Mine is about 100us, and yours is about 150us? Is that what interests you?


  • Hero Member

    We would expect the data transmission per se to include a fixed prefix byte, 5 bytes of address, 9 bits of control, 4 bytes of payload, and 2 bytes of CRC (I think). 105 bits = 105uS. (I'm not sure where the 14 bytes in the calculation @Yveaux presented comes from. Either the nRF sends a 16 bit control but only documents 9 bits of it, or the nRF actually sends 9 bits but some software translates the 9th bit into a second byte for analysis purposes)

    Before that there's something like 130 uS to power up and stabilize. And there could be additional time gaps before or after the data per se.

    And of course before all that, there is the time to load the data and commands via SPI; power might potentially rise during that, I suppose.

    Only the time to load commands and data would seem to care whether the uC is running at 8 or 16 MHz. The 105 uS data time should be the same, if they are OTA compatible. The 130 uS power up and stabilizing time could vary between chip designs.

    Any way to see if the fake chip is one of those transmitting with more RF power output? (If it wastes more power doing the same job, not good. If it has the ability to run at higher power but can also be reduced to sip more carefully, that could be a win).

    I look forward to your further testing. Maybe worth checking how much supply current is saved in the other transmit power settings.


  • Hero Member

    @NeverDie said:

    It turns out my scope can do better than I thought. Here's the blob module again, but this time at 5mv/div.

    How did you reduce the noise so much in your later scope captures?


  • Hero Member

    @Zeph said:

    @NeverDie said:

    It turns out my scope can do better than I thought. Here's the blob module again, but this time at 5mv/div.

    How did you reduce the noise so much in your later scope captures?

    http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/how-do-i-get-1mvdiv-on-the-1054z-i'm-only-getting-10mvdiv/
    Also,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMXiD3dKYJc
    How's that for timely?


  • Hero Member

    Suggestion: for the clone/fake chips, could you test whether they have the SI24R01 power control?

    That is, set bit 1 of register 6 and see if they draw even more current. That should set the SI24R01 - or perhaps a derivative or clone of it - from 2-3 dBm to 7 dBm, which will probably mean using more supply current when the bit is 1 than when it's 0.

    See the (currently) last couple of links in the OP of the fakes thread.


  • Hero Member

    You might also see if the second register bank can be selected (ACTIVATE+0x53) and read. See http://sigrok.org/wiki/Protocol_decoder:Nrf24l01#Variants_and_clones_of_the_chip from the penultimate link on the fakes thread.

    If it has a second register bank then it's probably a BK24* series or a clone/derivative thereof. (Note that the contents of that second bank seem to be undocumented, at least in English). This niche is apparently popular enough that there are second level derivatives - for example advertised as being BK24* compatible which is in turn nRF24 compatible with extensions!

    I did catch a reference somewhere that implied there was a real RSSI in the second register bank in some derivative; that could be handy if true.


    There's a reference at that same link to the Nordic nRF24L01 (no plus) needing an ACTIVATE+0x73 command to enable certain features that are automatically available in the nRF24l01+.

    This is not something I am aware of. I wonder if some features like ESB can be enabled on the non-plus version? Anyway, if so, this might also be a test which helps sort out clones - if they look like a non-plus derivative, do they respond to ACTIVATE+0x73? (the linked source does not suggest that 250 Kbps mode is one of the features which could be activated)


 

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