More WiFi Modules For IoT Madness

The last year has brought us CC3000 WiFi module from TI, and recently the improved CC3200 that includes an integrated microcontroller. The Chinese design houses have gotten the hint, putting out the exceptionally cheap ESP8266, a serial to WiFi bridge that also includes a microcontroller to handle the TCP/IP stack and the software side of an 802.11 connection. Now there’s another dedicated WiFi module. It’s called the MT7681, and it’s exactly what you would expect given the competition: a programmable module with the ability to connect to a WiFi network.

Like TI’s CC3200, and the ESP8266, the MT7681 can be connected to any microcontroller over a serial connection, making it a serial to WiFi bridge. This module also contains a user-programmable microcontroller, meaning you don’t need to connect an Arduino to blink a few pins; UART, SPI, and a few GPIO pins are right on the board. The module also includes an SDK and gnu compiler, so development of custom code running on this module should be easier than some of the other alternatives.

You can pick up one of the MT7681 modules through the usual channels, but there’s an Indiegogo campaign based in China that takes this module and builds a ‘dock’ around it. The dock has a relay, temperature/humidity sensor, a few GPIO pins, and a USB serial connection for use as an Internet of Things base station.

For anyone looking for a little more computational horsepower, there’s also a few mentions and press releases announcing another module, the MT7688, This is a very small (12mm by 12mm) module running Linux with 256 MB of RAM and 802.11n support. This module hasn’t even hit the market yet, but we’ll be on the lookout for when it will be released.

Thanks [uhrheber] for sending this one in.

33 thoughts on “More WiFi Modules For IoT Madness

  1. Can any of these new modules do the 802.11s mesh thing? I have been really interested in trying that mesh standard but don’t want to use full on big chips and PIs or BeagleBones. Seems like it would be cool to do instead of Zigbee or the like.

    1. It might be possible to add 802.11s support.

      Hackaday needs to check their sources more closely! This thing does NOT have “an SDK and gnu compiler” — there’s just a hope that the indiegogo MIGHT deliver one.

      At the present, the manufacturer, MediaTek, is being their normal troll selves. Not helpful.

  2. For a commercial project, I contacted MediaTek to ask for datasheets and documentation for MT7681. I was rebuffed instantly: they said that they could only release that to customers, and not to me. No indication that it might be possible to become a customer.

    1. Typical “big” player arrogance: Mediatek-Ralink, Qualcomm-Atheros, Marvell are all not interested unless you cans sign a few $100,000 check. When will they understand that even if DYI/makers do not provide direct cash back directly, they are their future?

        1. No, it is not public as you have first to register with QCA ID and agree with their terms of service, then you get access to an SDK that only allows you to use the chip as a device, not to program it directly.

          You don’t even know what CPU is in it, how much RAM and Flash it has, and just use mailboxes to talk to it.

          Then all QCA400x-based modules you find are 2x to 5x the cost of the ESP8266 ones and about the same price or more expensive than a true QCA AR9331 module running OpenWRT with 64MB DRAM and 16 MB SPI Flash ;)

          1. Ah ok so it’s not a full SDK. There is a full SDK which I guess is not easily available, too bad. It has a 130MHz xtensa core and 448KB RAM, 768KB flash, 68 pins, and the 4004 is dual band so you are getting a lot for the price difference.

    2. Relax, it’s mediatek: They’re assholes all the way down. Guys at the company I work for asked mediatek about the specs… Their reply was something like:
      “No you do not need specs, go ask our partners, tell them what you want and they’ll make it and you’ll just be selling”.
      In the end they ended up signing NDA with rockchip.

  3. I bought from the Indiegogo campaign. Should drop in nicely for a project where I’m currently using an arduino.

    It would be cool if they used an atmega that could be programmed using the arduino IDE instead.

  4. Compared to ESP8266:

    Pros:
    – manufactured by a big player (Mediatek/Ralink)

    Cons:
    – manufactured by a big player (Mediatek/Ralink)
    – twice as expensive in same QTY (~ 10 USD vs. 5USD in single QTY)
    – larger BOM: ESP only requries crystal + caps and Flash chip
    – RF calibration required: guess what you will get from cheap suppliers;)
    – same size (5 x 5 mm), but QFN40 with 0.4 mm pitch vs. QFN32 with 0.5 mm pitch

    Unlike what is said in the article, I no free SDK or Gnu compiler in sight :(

  5. Got this from the team tab “x:The unknown. Think:Make difference . xThink Lab: Explore the unknown,Think Different.” Who are the people involved? Cryptic we are, aren’t we?
    No people listed, just a mission statement. If someone isn’t willing to put their face on a campaign it says something about their prospects for success.
    And I believe that open source projects that include a hard/impossible to get chip are not open source.
    But the killer for me is the required calibration. I don’t think my 100 Mhz scope would be good enough.

  6. Very nice to read about new Wi-Fi boards.
    I am currently testing CC3200-LAUNCHXL and writing a blog about it:

    http://www.element14.com/community/groups/internet-of-things/blog/2014/09/05/cc3200-launchxl-iot-program-uploading-values-and-hibernating-ok

    Envisioned product could be a solar garden lamp with Wi-Fi and sensors.

    It is quite new and practically no other examples exist besides those included in Texas Instruments SDK. Managed to programm data upload to IoT and drive it from 2xAA cells with hibernate consumption of 0.7 mA.

  7. The wifi module from MTK is tiny. But does it support enough security for wifi network operations? It seems that only his elder brother MT7688 supports AES 128/256. Certainly it’s bigger and more expensive, but security is security.

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