BLE112 In-system Programmer

BLE112 In-system Programmer

BLE112 In-system Programmer

I do a lot of work with bluetooth low energy (BLE or bluetooth v4.0) and have a few different BLE modules I’ll turn to, but often end up using the Bluegiga BLE112 (as evidenced by my DIY BLE112 breakout).  It’s a great chip but one thing that can get annoying is programming the thing.

BLE112 In-system Programmer

BLE112 In-system Programmer

Whether you’re running code on the on-board 8051 microcontroller or just setting up the GATT, you eventually need to connect to the BLE112 using a TI CC debugger and that means having some way to tying the 10-pin connector to the correct pads on the chip.

The usual approach here is to include a 10-pin header on your PCB.  However, even when using the small 2×5 1.27mm connector, this takes up space on your circuit board and involves routing a header that will normally only be used a few times (at least on production boards).

I wanted a way to sidestep all of that, in order to keep certain PCBs down to the strict minimum size–both in terms of area and (and sometimes more importantly) height!  Having a header sticking out is unacceptable in some instances, and soldering it on and off just to program the BLE112 is a real pain.  My solution: the BLE112 In-system programmer.

 

BLE ISP PCB (so many TLAs!)

BLE ISP PCB (so many TLAs!)

The BLE112 ISP is a small PCB with a header for the CC debugger on one side.  On the other, three series of pins are aligned such that they wrap around the chip.

BLE112 and BLE ISP board

BLE112 and BLE ISP board

While I was at it, I also included support for USB connections (though, as of this writing, I’ve yet to test it).  The important thing is that thanks to the BLE-ISP, it is possible to connect the CC debugger to the BLE112 without a header.

 

This can be done completely “stand-alone” by placing the BLE112 snugly within the headers on the underside

BLE112 inserted into ISP "stand-alone"

BLE112 inserted into ISP “stand-alone”

and then connecting the debugger.  In this case, a source of 3.3V power must be provided.  This can be done using the power header on the PCB, show here above and to the left of the blue BLE112:

Connected through BLE ISP

Connected through BLE ISP

Though you have to be gentle and careful when placing the BLE ISP (and as long as you haven’t exaggerated with the amount of solder when affixing the BLE112 to a PCB), the programmer can also be connected in-circuit:

Using the BLE ISP in-circuit

Using the BLE ISP in-circuit

So from now on: no more headers. Pretty cool!

I’ve got a few of these on-hand… get in touch if you want one :)

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