License-free radio modules deliver next-generation performance and value

November 08, 2012 // By Nick Flaherty
RF Solutions has launched a new family of radio transceiver modules for cost-sensitive cable replacement, remote control, switching, tracking, monitoring, security, metering and data-logging applications.

The ZULU family offers designers a choice of firmware specifications for control or data collection, or a basic transceiver ready for custom firmware. The modules combine an 8051-based microcontroller with a sub-GHz RF transceiver operating with FSK, GFSK or OOK modulation in the license-free 433, 868 or 915 MHz frequency bands. Modules are available in surface-mount or dual-inline options.
Telemetry firmware in the ZULU-T modules allows designers to build a multi-channel remote industrial switching application in which the receiver outputs follow the transmitter inputs. These modules are ideal for remote control, networking or switching applications requiring control of up to 10 digital channels and two PWM channels over a range of up to 2km.
The ZULU-M transceiver is a radio modem capable of supporting RF data rates of up to 56kbit/s over eight user-selectable channels. The module provides a simple modem interface to the system host controller, and handles all RF communications such as packetising, preamble, encoding and CRC checking without user intervention. RF transmit power of +20dBm and receive sensitivity of -121dBm ensures reliable, high-speed communications up to distances of up to 2km.
For designers using proprietary wireless firmware or requiring custom functionality, the base ZULU transceiver provides rich analogue and digital peripherals such as a 10-bit Analogue/Digital converter, dual comparators, SmaRTClock, and UART, SPI and I2C ports. The module has a 25MHz 8051 microcontroller and up to 64KB of on-board Flash.
By using the latest generation, highly integrated wireless transceiver ICs, the ZULU modules offer competitive pricing, low power consumption and operating voltages, and the advantages of simplified system integration with minimal additional components required.
To accelerate development of wireless control and monitoring applications using the ZULU family, RF Solutions has also released ZULUEVAL-T and ZULUEVAL-M evaluation kits. The ZULUEVAL-T kit comprises a pair transmit and receive boards containing the ZULU-T telemetry module, which are easily paired and use either RS-232 or USB host communications. The ZULUEVAL-M kit