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Criteria for choosing short-range wireless:RF/bluetooth/zigbee

  1. Apr 16, 2014 #1
    I am a mechanical engineer with little/no knowledge of wireless communication protocols.I have the need to transfer serial data from my Arduino(microcontroller) to my PC.

    Steering wheel sends serial data upon request from Arduino-> Arduino receives this serial data -> (wireless protocol sends this data to) -> PC

    Since my application works with just a constant 2 meter spacing,I have decided to use one of the three wireless communication protocols: RF,Zigbee,Bluetooth. All these 3 cost almost the same,as the RF requires me buying a 2nd Arduino. How should I go about making a decision? I do not understand how bandwidth and bit rate relate to all this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2014 #2
    I personally would use Bluetooth. All these are RF, I'm assuming you mean a specific RF module solution they sell and requires a receiver regardless which device you use to connect. Zigbee is limited use in US and likewise requires a receiver regardless which device is used to connect to communicate. Bluetooth or WiFi would be the best choice to match and potentially communicate to other devices in the future without the need for additional receiver hardware, phone, tablet, laptop.

    You mention bandwidth, but not any requirement. Bluetooth is used to transfer audio and other information that is minimum speed critical sensitive. Your module and specifically the Arduino being a slow device will probably limit your data stream much below the capability of the Bluetooth potential.
  4. Apr 16, 2014 #3
    short range Wifi via Dlink 802.11 is usually adequate for sending serial communications, Allows IP protocols easily. The environment is is also a key factor so you will need to look at placement regardless of which wireless format you choose. The advantage of 802.11 is that you configure fixed IP's without worrying about FCC frequency regulations and setting up an assigned licensed IP. With microwave links some commercial applications must be licensed. Same with radio frequencies. The Dlink's bandwidth is excellent for multiple device communications. If your looking for commercial 802.11 try Intermec www.Intermec.com. I've worked on their 802.11 access wireless systems and equipment for years in a rugged high wash down environment and rarely encountered failures.

    Dlink though is a far cheaper solution

    you may need to get a serial or USB to IP converter though those are cheap as well, but your PC should already have a wireless transmitter/reciever card. YOu didn't define how short range is short

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  5. Apr 16, 2014 #4


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    So on a bigger note, what exactly are you doing? Hopefully this is a simple school practice project, and you are not actually putting this on a vehicle.

    Quiz Question -- Why is this a bad idea in the real world?
  6. Apr 23, 2014 #5
    What am I doing?
    On the steering wheel module in the driving simulator,there are a number of buttons(ACC,lights,..etc).The module sends out signals using a LIN bus(in other words,serial communication).My Arduino acts as the master node. Therefore,now my arduino detects a signal every time a button on the steering module is pressed.I would now like to transmit this data wirelessly from the Arduino to a usb receiver dongle on my laptop.
    Distance between Arduino and laptop: FIXED at 2 meters
    Why wireless?
    My professor wants it to be done wireless.Says it creates more "flexibility" for future projects.

    Why am I doing all this?
    Driving assistance systems sometimes conflict each other and unfortunately we have built-in redundancies that neglect these data(at times of conflict).I use a Kalman filter to let the sensors decide for themselves.But first,I need to figure-out how to transfer these signals wirelessly.

    My conclusions:
    Bluetooth seems waay cheaper than RF,Zigbee or Wifi. I don't have to buy an extra arduino for the bluetooth receiver.Plus,I just have 1 slave node and books tell me bluetooth works best for single slave nodes,Zigbee for multiple.What do you guys think?
  7. Apr 23, 2014 #6
    Berkeman: Its a bad idea in the real world(/real moving vehicle) because there can be "interference". RF seems to be the most prone to interference from what I read. Programmers seem to have developed techniques to overcome interference like: 1.Bit parity check 2.Checksum.
  8. Apr 23, 2014 #7


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    You have suggested 'error checking', which is part of the way there. For an critical data link, it is possible to use 'error correcting codes' which can detect AND repair a number of errors. This involves using a higher data rate but it is very good value in many cases - particularly where a 'handshake' signal (back from receiver to transmitter) is not available to request a repeat of damaged data.
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