Building a development environment

Developer Board Build Instructions

The following instructions who you how to connect the RFu-328 to the developer board. Please refer this tutorial that show you how to build the wireless sensor case kit.

The most difficult part of this build is to connect the RFu-328 to the developer board. I have covered this topic in detail below. I have not covered other more basic parts like soldering the optional FTDI connector and battery clips.

There are two ways to connect the RF module. You can either use the 2mm sockets and 10 pin connectors (supplied with the RFu-328) so that the RF modules can plug in and out of the sockets or you can solder the RF module directly to the board, in which case you won't be needing the sockets or connector parts. My preference is to solder the RF module directly to the board because it's much easier and much less soldering work. The advantage of using the connectors is you can easily remove the RF module and plug in a different module.

Depending on your choice follow one of the two following sub-steps:

Connecting the RF Module directly onto the developer board

Soldering the RF module directly to the board requires a technique. I find it easiest to put a small amount of solder on each of the 20 pads (labelled by the two orange arrows in Figure 1), before placing the RF module on the board. The orange arrows in Figure 1 show the 20 connections that need to be soldered (10 on each side of the RF module). Take your time doing this step and be very meticulous about making sure the module is positioned perfectly to the board. If you make mistakes now it will be a lot of work later to diagnose and correct mistakes. 

Then place the RF module onto the developer board as shown in Figure 1. Tape the module in place to that it does not move during the soldering. 

Solder the corners to anchor the module to the board. You do this by melting the solder you placed on each pad, one by one, using an upward movement of the soldering iron to connect the solder from the developer board on to the side of the RF module. Each of the RF module pads a have a grove that will guide the soldering iron upwards. This helps you not bridge solder onto the adjacent RF module pads. Once you have the module anchored and each pad on the board lines up nicely with each half pad of the module then solder the remaining 16 connections in a similar manner. Carefully inspect each connection and make sure there is a good contact with no bridges.

Figure 1 - Soldering the RF module directly to the develop board

Notice the two rows of pads either side of the RF module. Each of these pads are connected to it's corresponding pin on the module. You will use these pads later in your projects to connect electronic parts to the various pins of the RFu-328.If you have a circuit tester then use it to test each of the 20 outer connections pads connect to their respective pin on the RF module. 

Also look carefully at the top left hand corner of the RF module, you will see a small "1" written on the developer board. This is showing you that the top left pin is pin number 1. The pin numbering goes from top left starting at 1 and going to 10 on the bottom left, then from bottom right (pin 11) to top right (pin 20).

Connecting the RF Module to the developer board using connectors

Start by soldering the two 10 pin sockets to the developer board. Use some tape to make sure that they are at right angles to the board as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 - Position the sockets using some tape

Once the two sockets are soldered to the board connect the two 10 pin connectors to the sockets and then place the RF module between the two 10 pin connectors so that each of the 10 pins wither side line up with the connectors on the RF module, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 - Solder the RF module to the two 10 pins connectors

Now solder the RF module to the two 10 pins connectors. Try to use a little solder as possible on each pin so that you don't bridge any of the pins. Take your time. Making mistakes now will cost you a lot of time later with diagnosing and fixing problems.

Lastly connect the small blue capacitor that is included in the developer board kit. Locate the two small holes just below the RF module and solder in the capacitor (as shown in figure 4). It does not matter which way round the capacitor is inserted. Note : Ignore the jumper wires and sensor seen in figure 4. This picture was taken from another tutorial.

Figure 4 - Install the capacitor

Connecting a power POD

The developer board has an area specially designed to connect power pods. Use some bare jumper wire to connect the power pod to the developer board. Line up the holes in the power pod with the 4 holes for the power pod in the developer board, as shown below. Put a small piece of wire through each of the four holes and solder both the top and bottom so that the pads on the power pod connect with the pads on the developer board. The power POD is in the foreground of the picture below.

The power POD is connected through the developer board to the battery supply (+ and -) that you can see in the picture below (bottom right hand corner). The output of the power pod feeds the RFu-328 and also the two lines of pads labelled 3V3 and GND (where the red and green jumper wires are connected on the left of the picture below).