Frequently Asked Questions

General

aconno’s product range is based on a wide variety of modules, each one a small computer with Bluetooth Low Energy. Basically, we offer our products in three categories:
IoT Development Boards
Connectivity Products with our top model ACN52840
Beacon Solutions

Whether it’s tinkering with existing sensors on our IoT Development Boards, using a finished product like the Beacons and ACN528* Modules or searching for a custom solution, we have everything.

We use premium quality materials, cooperate with leading component manufacturers and make everything in house.

p.s. we’ll soon present a brand new line of NB IoT products, so follow the news.

Our Connectivity Products have maximum range of 1500m in free field test.
The range of Beacons depends on many factors such as TX power, housing of the beacon, antenna orientation etc. For example, the range on beacons based on nRF52832 with 4dB, with a direct link without obstacles for BLE (4.2) is around 70-80m. Beacons based on nRF52840, with Coded PHY turned on have range of 1000+ meters (1300 in some of our measurements).

Bluetooth is a general name for connectivity protocol devices found in cars, home and health devices, wireless headphones, computer peripherals and other. BLE stands for Bluetooth Low Energy (former Bluetooth Smart) and it is a completely new version of a Bluetooth protocol. It’s designed for IoT devices where power consumption is more important than speed for example.

Completely backward compatible with Bluetooth 4.0, 4.1, 4.2.

By using Coded physical layers (PHYs), receiver sensitivity improves while maintaining the same power draw as in BT 4.0, 4.1., 4.2. BT 5 uses forward error correction (FEC) to expand payload data bits 1-to-2 or 1-to-4 at data rates of 500 Kbps or 125 Kbps.

Both high speed and long range is not possible at the same time. Devices can either operate at 2 Mbps at a lower range, or at longer ranges with a lower data rate (to achieve maximum range, it needs to be dropped to 125 Kbps).

BT 5 does NOT improve the delay between packets in comparison to BT 4. It just increases the packet size. This is why the power draw does not increase in comparison to BT 4.

To make use of BT5 high speed or long range, both the central and the peripheral need to have BT5 support. For example, a long-range sensors device will not be able to communicate with a phone that does not support BT 5 Coded PHYs.

aconno embedded projects are based on FreeRTOS. Currently, we use FreeRTOS Kernel V10.0.0.
FreeRTOS is a truly free professional grade RTOS for microcontrollers that supports 35 MCU architectures. RTOS stands for Real-Time Operating System. More info about FreeRTOS and RTOSes, in general, can be found here.

For the BLE protocol, we use standard Bluetooth security methods. For OTA we will use a Private-Public key encryption method with ECC to make sure no one is able to update your devices with malicious code.

No. OTA (Over The Air) DFU (Device Firmware Update) is not supported at the moment. We are still working on this feature and it will be available in the future.

We have specially designed casings for our beacons with different weather, dust and water requirements. If you need a different kind of case – we can make it for you.


Support

Every product has a download section where you can find all the necessary files to get you started with aconno devices. We’ve also developed files to help you better understand products, like Quicksheets which are like Datasheets only in a more compact form with updated datasheets of every component. Product brief helps you understand the full range of functionality of the product and the manual as always, shows you how to work with the device.

Also, we have one page with all the files for our products, we call it: Docs & Resources.
If something is missing, just contact us and we’ll update it as soon as possible.

We have a discussion section under Developers -> Questions. There you can ask our aconno community for help, and aconno developers answer questions alongside other developers. If there is no other way, you can reach us at support@aconno.de and we will look at the problem.

-.- let’s get serious, beacon only does what you tell it to do, so don’t worry.


Sales

Of course we do. If you’re asking how much is it – there is only one way to find out – sales@aconno.de

We would be very glad to help you make your device as quickly as possible. You can reach us at sales@aconno.de


Hardware

The capacity varies depending on the manufacturer. In general, the capacity of a coin cell is around 230 mAh.

The CR2450 battery relies on the same storage technology as the CR2032 type. Therefore the energy density is the same, but the CR2450 cell provides more capacity due to its larger size. The capacity also varies depending on the manufacturer and lies around 620 mAh.

Tag-Connect is a special type of connector with a tiny footprint. On our aconno programmers, we use Tag-Connect. Whereas its main competitor JTAG has a much bigger footprint and 2.54mm pitch, Tag-Connect has pogo-pins (spring-pins) and 1.27mm pitch. Tag-Connect cables are currently available in two versions: ‘Legged’ (TC2030-MCP) and ‘No Legs’ (TC2030-MCP-NL). Both have a Tag-Connect connector on one end, and an RJ12 (6-pin modular plug) on the other directly compatible with Microchip In-Circuit Debuggers and Programmers.
More info on Tag Connect can be found here.

ACN52832 is all you need to start developing low power consumption IoT and Bluetooth applications. The module is equipped with powerful Nordic Semiconductor’s micro-controller nRF52832 which runs on 64MHz. It is a so-called SoC – System on a Chip – the nRF52832 and Bluetooth Low Energy radio in one IC package.
ACN52832 module is not some kind of modem or Bluetooth transceiver only (like popular HC-05 for example), the ACN52832 is all you need!

You can use it on DIY board, but not on a Breakout board.

acnFIND Plus XS

Of course, just scroll down to the download section of the product and there you can find libraries. Also, you can find it at our Docs & Resources page. If it is missing, please contact us on info@aconno.de and we’ll upload it ASAP.


Firmware

Mbed is an online platform that provides everything you need to develop IoT devices and applications. It provides full support for over 100 “Mbed Enabled” boards and more than 400 components, tools for writing, building and testing applications.
To develop with aconno modules or aconno DKs you need to register on mbed.org as a developer and choose Nordic nRF52-DK as a target development platform.
Many examples to work with aconno boards can be found on official aconno dev team mbed web site: https://os.mbed.com/teams/aconno-dev-team/
All the examples can be easily tested with a few clicks. You should first click on the Import option to import an example into your Arm Mbed Online Compiler. After it, click on the Build and Compile options. After the building and compiling process you get your hex file. The hex file needs to be uploaded on aconno boards using a simple drag & drop.
Restart aconno board to see your first program in action.
Here’s the link for the step-by-step introduction tutorial: step-by-step introduction tutorial.

Yes, it’s possible.
Use their manual to install the mbed-cli
Then set:
mbed config -G
Use for example in linux: mbed config -G GCC_ARM_PATH “/usr/bin”
-G flag makes settings global
Use that command to:
GCC_ARM_PATH
TOOLCHAIN GCC_ARM
TARGET NRF52_DK
In the end check with
mbed config -L
Clone repos with
mbed clone < address >
Compile with
mbed compile
If there is an error with the libs and you get prompted to use “mbed deploy” and it does not work, try to delete all folders which have a *.lib with the same name. Then run “mbed deploy”.

The SoftDevice is the firmware required for each Bluetooth application.

It provides a low-level API over Bluetooth and other capabilities of the chip.

Here is how the application communicates with the SoftDevice: the SVC calls (each of which has a different number) trigger the SVC IRQ handler, which the SoftDevice implements and performs the requested action. This is why you don’t have to link with the SoftDevice – there’s nothing to link with, the entire communication between the two is done with SVC calls. That’s also why there’s no .c file, there’s no C, apart from the SVCALL() macro which expands into 2 lines of assembler which call the SVC call with the correct number and return.

All examples made on mbed.org platform already include SoftDevice (if Bluetooth is used).

Firmware development in other IDEs requires you to program SoftDevice into the chip manualy. More on SoftDevice find here

ARM Compiler: By combining microarchitecture-specific instruction scheduling, whole-program optimization strategies, and finely tuned libraries, Arm Compiler significantly accelerates the execution time across a wide variety of workloads. In fact, in some large industrial and automotive bodies of code, performance gains over its previous generation exceed 30 percent. This is a result of our all-encompassing optimization investment targeting complex and realistic embedded code, as opposed to focusing on a single small CPU benchmark.

The GNU compilers are highly optimizing compilers that support both the C and C++ languages. The GNU C compiler (gcc) supports the C language, while the GNU C++ compiler (G++) supports the C++ language. And so, there are actually two GNU compilers in the toolchain, not one. The GNU C/C++ compilers have a number of extensions that make them well suited for embedded development, including fine-grained control using many command-line options, inline assembly, and compiler #pragmas that helps control the compiler behavior in great detail. Furthermore, the GNU compilers have extensive support for a large number of target processors and language dialect standards.

Ozone is a full-featured graphical debugger for embedded applications. With Ozone it is possible to debug any embedded application on C/C++ source and assembly level. Ozone can load applications built with any toolchain/ IDE or debug the target’s resident application without any source. Ozone includes all well-known debug controls, and information windows and makes use of the best performance of J-Link and J-Trace debug probes. The user interface is designed to be used intuitively and is fully configurable. All windows can be moved, re-sized and docked to fit the need of any developer.

aconno embedded developers use C/C++ programming languages. Since our Bluetooth code base is based on Nordic’s SDK which is written in C, we use it for the lower levels. On higher abstraction layers we use C++ and Object Oriented Programming paradigm.

Our developers use a modern VS Code editor, but other editors such as CLion and Segger Studio can be used as well. aconno example projects are built with Make build tool and GNU GCC compiler for ARM.

ACN PROG is Drag&Drop programmer. Simply connect it to your PC and when it opens as an HID device Drag&Drop hex of the program you want to flash and that’s it. ACN PROG programmers are already preprogrammed with the latest version of the programmer.

No. SEGGER Ozone debugger tool can be used with SEGGER debugging tools only, such as J-Link EDU, etc.

nRF52PROG is aconno’s adjusted openOCD tool that can be used with aconno products.


Software

You can find our app very useful for getting started with our devices. For more informations please go to our Products – Application section.

Yes. You have to activate the aconno beacon, tell it what to do and then you’ll have a happy and functional beacon 🙂

Yes. After you set up your beacon, you can close your app and reopen it when you want to interact with the beacon.

We have wide variety of our products using Bluetooth, NB IoT and other connectivity technologies. It all depends of your needs. If there is something you need and you can’t find it on our site, contact us on info@aconno.de and we’ll make it work for you!

Yes. The number of concurrent connections supported by your mobile device will be determined by the BLE chipset and the Bluetooth Stack of your mobile device. In terms of packet collisions, I would not be worried, as a Bluetooth Low Energy Central schedules its connections, i.e. it will communicate with one peripheral at the time sequentially. See Connection timing as a Central.
The nRF52832 and the S132 v6.0.0 SoftDevice supports up-to 20 concurrent connections.

This is a requirement from Google for any app scanning for/connecting to any Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) device. More precisely, it is needed because during scanning/connection the app can see the hardware (MAC) addresses of our devices. This is the same address type that any WiFi hotspot has, which in turn can help determine a coarse location of your phone. Rest assured though, our app does not collect or use your location at all.


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