How to select a CC2530 board
Ebay and Aliexpress offer several boards with the CC2530 chip (keyword: CC2530). You may select any board, but use the following criteria:
- The board must have the CC2530F256 chip (fig. 3). The key number here is 256 and it means 256 KB of flash memory. Most firmware was compiled for 256K memory.
- The board may have many pins or contacts. If you do not have a soldering iron then select a board with headers. I would suggest to select a board where each pin has the corresponding label. The label may slightly different on different boards: P0.2, P02, P0_2 are the same pin. The board must have at least the following pins:
- Po.2, Po.3, P2.0 – used for a UART interface. If you plan to use this board instead CC2531 and connect to your SBC like Raspberry Pi, then you need these pins. If you’ll upload a router firmware to this board then these pins are optional.
- P2.1, P2.2, RST – used for uploading firmware.
- GND – ground.
- Power source (VCC) – it may be 3.3V, 5V or both. This pin can be marked by VCC only. Internally, the CC2530 chip uses the 3.3V voltage, but a manufacturer may add a voltage regulator on the board and you may use any supported voltage (3.3V or 5V, no difference). Please, read a description for this board carefully about the voltage.
- The board may include an additional small chip (fig.5). Most likely, this is a wireless signal amplifier. Usually these boards contain “Long range”, “RF front-end”, “RF amplifier”, “CC2591”, “RXF2401” in a description. These boards require a special firmware. I would suggest to select this board if you really have a firmware for this combination of the main chip (CC2530) and the RF front-end chip.
- The board may contain an antenna on-board (fig.2, 3, 6) or a connector for an external antenna (fig. 1, 3, 4, 5). The board with an external antenna will work better in most cases.
- Some boards may have a metallic shield over the main chip and/or the RF front-end. This shield protects the board from radio noises (good). But I would suggest to buy this board from a trusted vendors only because you cannot be sure about chips under this cover.
- Rare CC2530 based boards may include an USB interface (fig. 6). CC2530 does not have native USB support apart from CC2531. Therefore a manufacturer adds an additional chip on the board. The additional chip implements the USB interface and the CC debugger. Therefore you can upload a firmware to this board without a special debugger (CC debugger or SmartRF04EB). Therefore it holds small space on your work table. It can be useful for developers. If you need only one CC2530 or CC2531 for a coordinator role you may save money. Please, read a description for a board carefully because this USB interface and chip may be used for another purpose. Therefore I cannot recommend this board for beginners.