THP Semifinalist: Level, The Ultrawideband Radio Module


When you start looking into the Internet of Things, the first thing you realize is that despite there being grand ideas for Internet connected everything, nobody knows how these things will actually connect to the Internet. There are hundreds of different radio protocols being pushed, and dozens of networking schemes currently in development. The solution to this is a radio module that can do them all, talking to all these modules and serving them up to the Internet. This is the idea of [Hunter Scott]’s Level, a radio module with a frequency range of 30 MHz to 4.4 GHz. That’ll cover just about everything, including some interesting applications in the TV whitespace.

[Hunter]’s module is based around TI’s CC430, basically an MSP430 microcontroller and a CC1101 transceiver smooshed together into a single piece of silicon. There’s bit of filtering that makes this usable in the now sorta-empty TV whitespace spectrum, something that a lot of IoT and wireless networking protocols are looking at.

If the form factor of the device looks familiar, that’s because it is; the board itself is Arduino compatible, but not with Arduinos themselves; it will accept shields, though, meaning building a bridge to Ethernet or WiFi to whatever radios this board is talking to is really just a change in firmware.

This board is excellent for experimenting with different radio modules, yes, but it’s also great for experimenting with different radio protocols. [Hunter] has been looking around at different mesh networking protocols.

You can check out [Hunter]’s two minute video overview, along with a more detailed overview of the schematic below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

22 thoughts on “THP Semifinalist: Level, The Ultrawideband Radio Module

    1. It doesn’t. I don’t see directinal couplers or anything else on the schematics to read the swr, anyway the PA produces 40mW of power which probably would allow misaligned antennas to be used without risk. Unless I got the article wrong, the device doesn’t seem intended to be used as a wideband transceiver, although it could probably be used as such, it does cover a really wide band but once you plug in the host interface it will work only on that one. Truly interesting project, to me it fully deserves a win.
      Will stay tuned to see when it becomes a board that can be purchased.

    1. Yeah, that was the first thing I thought too. But if you look at the guy’s actual entry page he addresses the mis-use of UWB,

      “I’ve said that this board can do 30 MHz to 4.4 GHz, but it’s also narrowband. What I mean by that is the frequency synthesizer, CC430, and mixer can achieve that range (using the new mixer), but the instantaneous bandwidth is only 812 kHz.”

  1. Huh, wonder if you could build an arduino shield for it, a go between that allowed it to work as an arduino shield to an extent- or at least utilize one. An arduino shield shield if you will.

    Very cool though- if it can be made cheaply, this would be amazing for the developing field of SDR.

  2. He generates a modulated signal from the MSP430 and a carrier frequency from the ADF4351, mixes them and transmits the resulting mess ?

    That approach only works if you have a fixed frequency and can filter out the unwanted products from the mixer. It will not work on a tunable device.

  3. This is one of the coolest projects I’ve seen on Hack-a-Day in a while. You don’t see many transverters in the wild — yet, this is a perfect solution to low-cost, wideband, low-data-rate communication.

    One small correction: this is not ultra-wideband communication — the bandwidth of the signal itself is quite narrow (I think the CC-series radios have a maximum FSK deviation of about 400 kHz). It’s just tunable over a wide frequency range. Ultra-wideband should only refer to transceivers designed to operate with extremely wideband signals.

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