Broadcasting Bluetooth Beacons With Bubbles

Bluetooth beacons have only been around for a few years, but the draw is incredible. With Bluetooth beacons, your phone is location aware, even with location services are turned off. They’re seen in fast food joints, big box retailers, and anywhere else there’s a dollar to be made. [Nemik] has been working on a home automation project, and came up with a use for Bluetooth beacons that might actually be useful. It’s a WiFi-based Bluetooth beacon notifier that scans the area for beacons and forwards them to an MQTT server.

[Nemik]’s ‘Presence Detector’ for Bluetooth advertisements is actually a surprisingly simple build, leveraging the unbelievably cheap wireless modules available to us today. The WiFi side of the equation is a NodeMCU v2 ESP8266 dev board that provides all the smarts for the device via Lua scripting. The Bluetooth side of the board is a PTR5518 module that has a nRF51822 tucked inside. With the right configuration, this small board will listen for BLE advertisements and forward them to an MQTT server where they can be seen by anyone on the network.

[Nemik] is selling these beacon to WiFi bridges, but in the spirit of Open Hardware, he’s also giving away the designs and firmware so you can make your own. If you ever have an abundance of Bluetooth beacons sitting around and want to make a beacons of Things thing, this is the build for it.

14 thoughts on “Broadcasting Bluetooth Beacons With Bubbles

  1. Wow $30 is a serious ripoff for such an amateurish produced product. The BOM price at quantity 10 should be around $8. I don’t know big their production run was, if it was a really low quantity $30 might be justifiable considering the COGS. But the value as a product is just far lower than that.

    First (and that would already be enough) at this prices it competes with the Raspberry 3 which has WiFi and Bluetooth integrated but is a much more powerful platform.

    Second the value added by [Nemik] above the COGS is a joke. The PCB is a 5 minute job in Eagle and counting both MCUs it has a grand total of about 100 LoC. This thing was developed in probably less than a single afternoon.

    The main cost is the PTR5518, but a NRF52822 is massive overkill, the ESP8266 has already a powerful MCU in it so it should be doable with just a additional Bluetooth radio. Also, did he try to set a record on how many PCBs you can stack or why is there a NodeMCU board instead of just the ESP12 module (+ LDO)? Using just the ESP module would reduce the size 4-6 times (and that’s without placing components on both sides).

    So in conclusion a nice hobby project but if you want to sell something put some more effort into it. And a realistic value/price for the function of the device would be $10 max.

    BTW: @Benchoff They don’t use Lua, only C. Maybe fix that in the article.

      1. Yes I have. Sparkfun and Adafruit are pretty much the worst ripoffs in the electronics world. I order the same modules from Aliexpress for way less (sometimes for nearly 1/10 of the price) and I’m sure the chines shops are also selling with profit.

      1. I have seen this video. In the first paragraph I did even note that considering the COGS (and Daves COGS*2.5 rule) the $30 are correct. But as he says in the first 3.5 minutes of the video, if the price you get this way is not competitive you won’t be able to sell it.

    1. Why are you complaining? If you don’t like it, don’t buy it and stay far from it. Better yet, build something better and compete. This kind of useless rant is counter productive to our field.

      This is one of the reasons HaD is becoming a terrible place to show off ideas. We have a bunch of self professed experts to criticize and treat others like dunces.

      1. Criticism/Feedback is counter productive?

        The reason why HaD is becoming a terrible place is because the site authors feature more and more boring low effort projects like this and are too lazy to take even a quick peek at a project. Benchoff talking about Lua shows that he didn’t even look at the Github project and even after I noted the error he doesn’t seem to bother correcting it.

        1. Is someone holding a gun to your head to make you visit this site? If you’re that damned unhappy, go somewhere else. This is for people sharing their ideas and builds. They’re under ZERO obligation to satisfy any requirements or demands or yours. Hell, go start your own version of Hackaday (maybe you’ll call it WhineADay), and you can curate the submissions to your hears content. All zero of them.

    2. Dude, what’s your problem? Here is someone that has released his work as an open source project and sell pre-built modules with a reasonable mark up and you complain about that he doesn’t sells the kits at BOM cost? Just build them yourself if you think it isn’t worth $20 to get it manufactured and tested.

      I would be surprised if this module even sells in hundreds of units, so reducing the development time rather than BOM cost/hardware utilization makes sense to me. I would probably not find it worth while to design something and sell something like this for the profit that a few hundred units would generate myself, so I applaud Nemik for making a product and releasing the documentation so the rest of us can bootstrap our next project.

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