help identifying nRF24l01+ compatible modules

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#1
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I picked up a bunch of SMD nRF24l01+ modules off AliExpress.  They're definately not using Nordic nRF24l01+ chips, since they respond to the bank switch command (0x50, 0x53).

They're COB under an epoxy blob, so there's nothing to identify the chips.

Besides supporting bank 1 registers like the BK2421 & RFM70, these chips have a different pipe0 default address (starting with 46 20 88 instead of E7 E7 E7).  The pipe1 default is the same as the nrf (C2 C2 C2..)

The reset value for registers 0-5 are identical to the nRF, but register 6 0x4a.  That doesn't match the datasheet for any of the nRF compatible chips like the BK2423, Si24R1, the RFM70 or any of NST's chips.

http://www.nst-ic.com/en/product...

http://www.bekencorp.com/en/inde...

http://www.silabs.com/products/w...

 

I paid $6.10 for 10 of these modules, so I doubt it uses a HopeRF chip (too expensive).  My guess would be NST or Beken, or maybe some other Chinese chip designer I haven't heard of.

 

I'd like to find the datasheet for these so I can control the power properly using register 6.  Also since it has a second register bank, it may have a way to read RSSI (unlike the Nordic chips).

 

Attachment(s): 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

Last Edited: Fri. Oct 16, 2015 - 12:47 AM
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I meant to put this in the wireless sub-forum, but somehow it seems to be in no sub-forum.

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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The vendor replied to my inquiry about the modules.  They use a Semitek SE8R01 chip.

So far from reading the datasheet I'm concerned they may not be compatible with the nRF modules - the packet format refers to 2 guard bytes after the address.

I'm hoping to have one of these wired up to test shortly.

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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I've ordered probably the same device.  Can you share the data sheet you have?  Searching that part number online provides no clear results.

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arantius wrote:

I've ordered probably the same device.  Can you share the data sheet you have?  Searching that part number online provides no clear results.

+1

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The seller, in response to a request for a data sheet, gave me the link http://www.ai-thinker.com/ -- Which is not remotely a data sheet.  And is in Chinese.

 

At least one of the forums contains a topic which mentions LT8900, and a Google search for that part number gives an almost identical looking image, difference being a discrete IC in TSOP (?) package rather than COB.  From an eBay listing titled "Details about  2pcs 6dBm 2.4GHz Wireless Transceiver Module LT8900 Compatible NRF24L01 SPI Bus".  That ( http://www.datasheet-pdf.com/dat... ) looks possibly promising, but still doesn't let me know which unlabeled pin is which on this particular board.

 

Overall it looks like I probably wasted six bucks.  Probably a fair price to remember to be more careful on sites like aliexpress.

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arantius wrote:

The seller, in response to a request for a data sheet, gave me the link http://www.ai-thinker.com/ -- Which is not remotely a data sheet.  And is in Chinese.

Aha, I dug around there and found this PDF, which has a pinout for the board in question. I'll try to attach it to this post. It's in Chinese but the diagrams might be useful to you.

Thanks for the link!

Bob

Attachment(s): 

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Good sleuthing.  That PDF definitely shows a quad flat package however, so I worry about the pinouts being consistent.  It shows in order Vcc, GND, CE, CSN, SCK, MOSI, MISO, IRQ.  Another nearly identical image ( http://s1381.photobucket.com/use... ) of a very similar looking device but with a different (TSOP?) package chip shows Vcc, GND, SS, CLK, MOSI, MISO, REST, PKT.  Seemingly confirmation that the boards are redesigned to fit the different packages, and the pinouts do not remain the same.

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Seller has now provided another image ( http://kfdown.a.aliimg.com/kf/HT... ) but it also clearly does not describe this board.

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I'm planning to do a blog post with more details, but for now I'm attaching the datasheet and pinout.

I have successfully transmitted and received data between each other, but not with a genuine nRF module.  The packet format seems incompatible with the 2byte guard after the address.

 

Attachment(s): 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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arantius wrote:

Overall it looks like I probably wasted six bucks.  Probably a fair price to remember to be more careful on sites like aliexpress.

 

I disputed my transaction, and requested a 50% refund since the modules work but are not nRF compatible.  The seller accepted the dispute.

The seller was MT Technology Co., Ltd.

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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Hi Ralph.

 

Are you saying you took the time to request a $3.05 refund.... ? Wow things must be tough over your way.

 

However, I enjoy reading your blog.

 

Cheers,

 

Ross

 

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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ralphd wrote:

I'm planning to do a blog post with more details, but for now I'm attaching the datasheet and pinout.

I have successfully transmitted and received data between each other, but not with a genuine nRF module.  The packet format seems incompatible with the 2byte guard after the address.

 

Thank you!

Bob

Last Edited: Wed. Nov 12, 2014 - 10:33 PM
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valusoft wrote:

Are you saying you took the time to request a $3.05 refund.... ? Wow things must be tough over your way.

 

Most things I do in life aren't about the money.  For instance a few weeks ago I made a donation to the Red Cross West Africa ebola fund.

 

And even doing the ex post facto cost/benefit analysis, it doesn't take much time to click 'dispute' and fill in the form on aliexpress.  I'd say it took me between 3 and 5 minutes.  Going with 5 minutes, that's $36.60/hr, or almost double the average hourly wage in atlantic Canada.  And compared to the financial payback for my time posting in Avrfreaks, it's infinite! :-)

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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FYI all: Several back-and-forths with my seller later provided this file ( https://db.tt/znAJnLss ) which contains what looks like the same data sheet linked above for the SE8R01, plus a bunch of sample code (for I-don't-know-what kind of system/environment).

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ralphd wrote:

I'm planning to do a blog post with more details, but for now I'm attaching the datasheet

 

Thanks, I also ordered one lot of those and couldn't get them to work with other nrf24l01+ modules at all. I'm curious if you noticed any difference in range compared to other modules.

Last Edited: Fri. Nov 14, 2014 - 03:55 AM
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jbstrange wrote:

 

ralphd wrote:

 

I'm planning to do a blog post with more details, but for now I'm attaching the datasheet

 

 

 

Thanks, I also ordered one lot of those and couldn't get them to work with other nrf24l01+ modules at all. I'm curious if you noticed any difference in range compared to other modules.

They'd match the address of a packet from a nrf24l01, but the payload was messed up.

I didn't get to range testing, but they have higher output power so may have longer range.

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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jbstrange wrote:

 

ralphd wrote:

 

I'm planning to do a blog post with more details, but for now I'm attaching the datasheet

 

 

 

Thanks, I also ordered one lot of those and couldn't get them to work with other nrf24l01+ modules at all. I'm curious if you noticed any difference in range compared to other modules.

They'd match the address of a packet from a nrf24l01, but the payload was messed up.

I didn't get to range testing, but they have higher output power so may have longer range.

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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jbstrange wrote:

 

ralphd wrote:

 

I'm planning to do a blog post with more details, but for now I'm attaching the datasheet

 

 

 

Thanks, I also ordered one lot of those and couldn't get them to work with other nrf24l01+ modules at all. I'm curious if you noticed any difference in range compared to other modules.

They'd match the address of a packet from a nrf24l01, but the payload was messed up.

I didn't get to range testing, but they have higher output power so may have longer range.

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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I just finished posting my review of the SE8R01 2.4Ghz wireless modules, comparing them to the nRF24l01+ modules.

 

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

 

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In your review you say

With nothing more than a couple minor tweaks, they can be controlled using existing nRF24l01 code libraries.  

Care to share which library you use/like and what modifications are necessary?  Also:

They do not inter-operate with nRF modules, and consume significantly more power...

How much is significantly more?  Did you measure this or are you just going from the data sheets?

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I use a modified version of the mirf library.  It still needs some cleanup, but feel free to have a look.

https://code.google.com/p/nerdra...

 

Technically the SE8R01 modules will 'work' without changes to the library, but you won't get the correct power output settings.

 

As for power consumption, I'm comparing datasheets when I said, "Power consumption for the Semitek chip at 0 dBm output power is 18.5mA - much worse than the 11.3mA consumed by the nRF chip at 0 dBm output."

 

I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein