Solar Energy Harvesting Kit From TI Enables Permanently-Powered Wireless Sensor Networks
Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) announced a solar energy harvesting (SEH) development kit that converts ambient light into power for industrial, transportation, agricultural and commercial applications. The credit card-sized eZ430-RF2500-SEH kit combines Cymbet Corp.’s EnerChip™ thin-film battery technology with TI’s MSP430 microcontrollers (MCU), CC2500 radio frequency (RF) transceivers and the eZ430-RF2500 development tool. According to TI, developers can now build self powered solar-based wireless sensor networks, eliminating system batteries, which cost time and money to periodically replace, especially in remote locations.
In remote or hard-to access environments, wireless sensors are becoming increasingly integrated and miniaturized. Until now, designers typically power wireless devices via storage components such as coin cell or AA batteries. However, these storage technologies do not supply the right mix of charging, storage, discharge and physical size characteristics to provide permanent power for wireless devices. TI claims that the combination of Cymbet’s EnerChip batteries with TI’s MSP430 MCU and CC2500 RF technology allows energy harvesters to achieve more efficient storage, processing and transmission in both bright and low light environments.
eZ430-RF2500-SEH key features and benefits include: a high efficiency solar panel connected through the EnerChip energy harvesting module delivers enough power to run the wireless application even under low ambient light; based on Cymbet’s EnerChip solid-state lithium thin-film battery technology, which increases conversion efficiencies when storing and starting power in energy harvesting modules; Cymbet EnerChips are environmentally friendly, rechargeable and so efficient they can send up to 400 transmissions from a single charge when no ambient light is available; TI’s USB-based eZ430-RF2500 tool provides hardware and software to program an MSP430 MCU and low power wireless transceiver on a postage stamp-sized target board; MSP430 MCU’s ultra-low power, fast wake-up time and system-on-chip (SoC) peripheral integration saves board space while enabling maintenance-free, self-powered sensors; and CC2500 RF transceivers operate in the 2.4-GHz range, making them well suited for reliable, low-cost digital wireless applications.
The $149 eZ430-RF2500-SEH kit is sampling now.