I'm a backer
I finally got the XY beacon tag that I wanted to attach to my cat, Django. As I read there was an initial objective to help find or track your pets but I think the limitation of Bluetooth Beacon sunk in and a small re marketing had to take place. Still, I like gadgets and this seemed like a great Bluetooth 4 Low Power thingamabob to play with.
The iOs application
Very well done native iOs application that is responsive and intuitive to use. There is also a version for Android.
It was very easy to pair and take a photo of the tagged object.
A nice feature is on iOs 8 the XY icon pops onto your lock screen, so you can slide up from the left corner and go straight into the app.
When you tap the object you get a few options. A google map showing the last known location your phone detected the object at.
A proximity sensor telling you if you are nearer or further away but this doesnt work to great. It works on the db signal level and can go bonkers if you inside your home.
A button to press that will fire of an audible ping for the locator so you can listen and find.
A nice concept is that you can mark your tag lost and if another user of XY detects it in range, it somehow notifies you. I have not tested this. I suspect that I am the only person within 100 miles that has one of these and that might stay like that for long time. But in a dense location, you never know. The video has some nice use cases on the site.
The tag it self is fairly large just because of the battery. I know the feeling because battery life in these things is crucial but so is space... its not too bad.
It is water tight to rain and splash. Not too sure if can be fully submerged though.
Good quality build and good materials used for plastic and seal.
- Very simple design using Texas Instruments CC2541 and the PCB is tiny, really tiny!
- 2.9ish cm wide from edge to edge and and 0.9cm wide where the chip is.
- On the back we find a 32mhz crystal for the MCU (SoC) and a 32kHz crystal which is mandatory in BLE for low power applications. It drives internal event triggers and keep things in synch. For always on applications its not required.
- The printed PCB antenna is not one found on the Texas Instruments antenna guide, so either sombody already knew this would work better or they spend some time on R&D for this antenna design. Its nice because its ultra compact and most probably has a very good omni directional RF radiation to it. The drawback is that they had to design a tune the ballast instead of using a pre built ballast. The ballast are all the resistors and capacitor between the chip and antenna.
- The SoC is an 8081 MCU. Dont attempt to write your own code for these. Find a professional because there are allot of low level things involved in the code itself.
- I suspect it costs about 3USD to make one of these PCB in mass production but lets not forget it must have cost 30000USD to design and develop this beauty to perfection.
Compare my CC2533 module which is ZigBee 2.4Ghz rather than Bluetooth stack 2.4ghz and uses a folded dipole antenna. So no ballast required, thanks TI, but it means the PCB is much wider.