Introducing RFToy, an Arduino-compatible gadget for radio frequency modules


Ray Wang from RaysHobby has informed us of his latest open-source project called RFToy:

it’s an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board for interfacing with radio frequency (RF) modules, such as the popular 433/315MHz transmitter/receiver, and the nRF24L01 transceiver. The RFToy has a built-in ATmega328, USB-serial converter (CH340G), 128×64 OLED display, three buttons, and a coin battery holder. Programming is done in Arduino through the on-board mini-USB port. It has three sets of pin headers to directly fit RF modules, and an audio jack to output RF receiver signals to a computer’s sound card. Using RFToy you can build a variety of projects involving RF modules, such as remote control and wireless sensors.

Source code and hardware design are available on Github.

Check out the video after the break.

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  1. What would really be useful is: Typical power consumption data for major components. Sleep power consumption. Without some power data, it’s hard to evaluate this thing for use in heavy-use battery-powered hobby projects. The OLED may use quite a bit of juice, I think.

    I think an external battery solution is really needed for any serious project based on this. A CR2032 has limited current capability. Even the LIR2032 suggested by the author is pretty limited, batteryspace claims only 40mAh and roughly C/3 max discharge current.

    1. As the video mentioned, the wireless sensor demo uses watchdog timer and powerdown sleep. While sleeping it draws about 98 uA current. This can be further optimized (the USB-serial chip actually draws some considerable amount of current, it can be desoldered if you want to enter sub-20uA level). The coin battery is meant for applications like remote control. For sensor applications, you should probably use AA or AAA batteries.

      1. Thanks for the response. I almost never watch ‘net vids except SpaceX ones. With Facebook claiming people will be interacting using vids in the future, uh, how would people get any real work done? ;-)

        A 200mAh CR2032 coin battery would still be a big problem with 98uA sleep current (2000 hours?). Practical sleep would mean considerable surgery, or the user will have to fiddle with a power switch. What about OLED power? I’m interested in that data point, I’ve checked many China parts, they all seem to need considerable power… wondered if a CR2032 can handle that.

        A data point to compare with: I once made a 7″ resistive touch panel IR remote control ‘pad’, mono LCD display, LiFePO4. Sleep (touch to wake) was ~1uA. A hobby project nonetheless, but with a practical target performance, i.e. months of use between recharge.

    2. Look, I already said that the coin battery is meant for applications like remote control. For long-term sensing, use a pair of AA battery, which can provide 2000 mAh.

      The OLED consumes only a few uA if you are not displaying anything to it. If that’s still a problem, you can simply take it off (it’s plugged into a pin header, not soldered).

      1. Look at a scenario. Say I want to build a small thingy that can control some lights via RF. I want to command the lights by pressing the buttons, couch to lamp, low range, nothing too demanding. Now nobody in the year 2014 will want to fiddle with an on/off switch. So this remote thingy has to sleep, wake on button, and have a practical lifetime on a battery set. This is a reasonable scenario for a hobby project that one plans to actually use.

        So when you say “the coin battery is meant for applications like remote control”, given the power data it does not seem that such a venture will be as smooth-sailing as it sounds. Since you appear to have brushed off my musings on coin battery lifetime, then perhaps you can present some ballpark numbers for such an application. Hard numbers are more convincing to engineers.

        About OLED power consumption, no data on active power? How disappointing.

      2. I apologize if you feel I am being too pushy. But let’s face it, having the OLED operating is desirable, and it would be easier to imagine applications if we know the main power constraints. This is not like sci-fi authors, who break the laws of physics all the time. Also, it would be easier to convince your significant other to use your hobby project if it has a fancy display. ;-)

    3. Look, I don’t want to battle with you on the comments section here. I already told you how much current the circuit draws in power down sleep. The active power consumption of the OLED, I honestly haven’t measured, but you can find plenty of information by Googling — this is the same 128×64 OLED that you can find in many places, Adafruit, Sparkfun etc. Also, I don’t see why you are dwelling on the active power consumption of the OLED and call it disappointing that I didn’t provide data on it, plus if you don’t want it to draw it, I already said you can take it off.

      This is designed as a prototyping gadget, not a commercial product. Thanks.

  2. Just received mine today including a nRF24L01 and two 433 MHz receiver/transmitter and I must say is a cool kit at a reasonable price. ( And it cleared the Danish custom without having import tax added :-) )
    Bo :o)

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