Arduino Primo or nRF52 DK or ...

smithron99 gravatar image

asked 2017-01-22 16:16:26 +0200

Hi, I'm looking to build a simple ANT+ application. My only asset for this project is a background in C/C++. I'll need to learn/relearn the basic electronics and protocol bits. I had thought to use an Arduino UNO and have been looking for an appropriate ANT breakout board. I've just come across the Arduino Primo, which seems like it might be right up my alley, but none of the materials discuss the ANT capabilities of the nRF52832. Would the Primo allow me to exploit the ANT stack and/or the S210 softdevice? Alternatively, should I forego the Primo and just look at the nRF52 DK?

Essentially what I want to do is fairly simple: Create a 'smart plug' that I can plug any fan into which will read the ANT+ stream from my bicycle speed sensor and use a TRIAC to calibrate power to the fan. I'm beginning to wonder if your nRF52 Dev kit might be all I need, though I was hoping to exploit the wealth of material available on the UNO.

I'm thinking to build the solution into an old external DVD drive enclosure, using the 5v pin off the 4-pin molex power lead to power the board. Any guidance greatly appreciated!

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rogerclark gravatar image

answered 2017-01-23 05:35:58 +0200

I doubt the Arduino Primo will focus on ANT, so if you are going to buy any board, the Nordic nRF52 DK is probably your best bet as you can program it using the Nordic SDK and can compile using gcc, which is free.

Beyond that, I'm not sure if you are aware that the ANT protocol stack is proprietary and AFIK is not written by Nordic and requires license fees to be paid to use it.

You should read the bottom of this page


I'm also unsure of your skills and experience with design for high voltage, which you will require if you want to build a triac controller.

I have designed a microprocessor controlled triac board, and it is non trivial because of the required spacing of tracks on PCB's etc as well as the separation of the mains and the 3.3V side of your board.

So I think choice of development board may be the least of your issues

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Thanks Roger. As I read it, usage of ANT+ is free until you try to commercialize it. This is just a hobby thing for myself, so I think I'm ok. Thanks for your cautions, I am beginning to appreciate this may be a longer journey than I at first thought. I came across this module https://www.circuitar.com/nanoshields... that I was hoping would deal with the bulk of the heavy lifting with AC mains. Also, I was hoping to exploit the power supply in the DVD enclosure to provide a 5v DC load. I was hoping I could splice an extra pair of leads off the incoming AC main terminals to bypass the power supply to send through the TRIAC and back out the the fan. Would this mitigate the concern above, or am I missing something? Also, I've recently found (out of Hong Kong) some ...(more)

Ron ( 2017-01-23 14:48:07 +0200 )editconvert to answer

The triac module you linked to doesn't look like its capable of driving large loads, like a fan. If you look at the track size on the big connector, they are very small. I presume the fan you would need would be quite powerful.

Also that module is purely the triac and you would also need their zero crossing detector module as well.

I recommend you look at a device called a variable Solid State Relay. Those devices take an analog input voltage ( DC level ) and use it to control the output power of the mains side.

You should be able to drive one using PWM via a low pass filter.

Re: ANT Yes. AFIK its free for non commercial.


I dont think that device is ANT compatible.

You would need to use a nRF51422 or nRF52832 or nRF52840

nRF52832 modules are becoming very common, I would ...(more)

Roger Clark ( 2017-01-23 22:03:21 +0200 )editconvert to answer
SlowRobotAhead gravatar image

answered 2017-01-22 17:37:05 +0200

If you have never worked with micros, I'd strongly recommend a module that runs a scripting language (LAIRD, Others). And then the Ardiuno, which will still be a challenge.

Starting an nrf52 project with zero micro experience is not a good idea, there are way too many options and features for a first project imo.

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Asked: 2017-01-22 16:16:26 +0200

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Last updated: Jan 23