Range test of various Bluetooth Low Energy modules

March 18th, 2015

I recently have been working on several projects that involve Bluetooth Low Energy, a.k.a Bluetooth Smart. I was looking at using a Dialog Semiconductor DA14580 based module in an upcoming design because of its low cost, low RX and TX current and small footprint. I was curious however how the low current consumption would affect range, so I decided to run a little test using some development boards and modules I had laying around.

Mind you, this test was extremely unscientific, so take the results with a grain of salt, or rather, a whole salt shaker. I basically just spread out a bunch of boards on my desk with little regard for antenna orientation etc. and used my phone (a Nexus 5) to check at what distance I could pick up each module's advertisement signal. Distance was estimated using steps, afterward recalibrated using an aerial view and scale from Google Maps. All the modules were used at their default power settings.

ManufacturerModuleChipRange (m)
BlueGigaBLE112CC254022
MicrochipRN4020CSR101225
Cypress SemiconductorCY8CKIT-142PSoC 4 BLE25
PanasonicPAN1740DA1458014

The distance was not measured in open space, the signal originated from my desk, had to go through a wall and two metal door frames and a glass door. I also did not check if the default settings for TX power for each of the BLE modules was similar at all. As I said, a very quick test to see how the DA14580 compared to the others.

Obviously the range of this chip is less, but I was actually happily surprised to find that it worked as well as it did. I think it's a pretty decent range in far from ideal circumstances, considering the low current consumption of only 5mA in TX and RX.

 
 
© 2010 Patrick Van Oosterwijck.

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