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What is the lowest cost way to add a Bluetooth integrated radio to an embedded system?

I am using a BlueGiga WT12 which works well. IIRC these are in the $20-$25 range. Are there comparable modules that are less expensive?

For example, I've also considered the Zigbee integrated radios (e.g. XBee). However, everything seems to be in the $20-$25 range.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also similar: electronics.stackexchange.com/q/514/142 \$\endgroup\$
    – endolith
    Commented Jan 10, 2010 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ For a project hack, maybe using a BT headset (practically free sometimes) and using audio to transport data? Pretty lousy bandwidth, but it'll speak bluetooth! :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Toybuilder
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 16:00

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Bluetooth is somewhat complex to implement, there's a whole protocol stack etc. $20 is probably the minimum you are going to pay at this point, the only way to go much cheaper is to mass produce (and I'm talking like tens of thousands of modules).

Do you really need Bluetooth? You could try using a slower, cheaper, RF radio, depending on your application. For example, the least expensive wireless mice and keyboards generally do not use bluetooth, they use custom RF which requires a separate USB dongle on your PC, but even with the separate piece it's cheaper for them to produce than bluetooth.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I want to have a wireless connection directly to a phone so I believe that BT is the only option that is standard on most phones. For other applications I am using a CC2500 design which has a total parts cost of around $2-$3. \$\endgroup\$
    – jluciani
    Commented Jan 7, 2010 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ chiphacker link is dead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @antony.trupe - Thanks for the notification and edit; the link isn't technically dead (it points to electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/227/…, which resolves as a deleted question) but it's effectively dead because it's just a list of links to some ebay auctions and web stores which were active and offered good deals in late 2009 and early 2010. It was closed as off topic last year, and has since been deleted. I think this is a great example of why bad shopping questions are off topic, and why informative answers like this one are better. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 22:12
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The $2 option:
Stick a $2 USB-Bluetooth adapter on your propller MCU

It depends on you already using a Parallax Propeller for your local Microprocessor, but you could probably bang-together a USB-Host driver for another microprocessor, if you really know the microprocessor well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, I just found this answer, and it perfectly matches the idea I had for getting a cheap Bluetooth adapter! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 6:17
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You said you're using the CC2500 for other projects, the CC2540 might appeal (if BLE is an option).

Also, BTStack looks like it can drive cheap HCI USB dongles.

http://code.google.com/p/btstack/

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You need to be careful here.. If your application is talking to phone, I would strongly advise against BT. Simple reason, you cannot get it to work with iPhone. You need to become an MFI member and pay Apple tax(i.e. royalty) and put an authentication chip.

If your app is vertical and you can specify Android, bt is ok.

Depending on your complexity, if you need additional or more comprehensive protocols, you need to license a BT stack from somebody unless you want to spend 6 months developing yourself. The BT stack mentioned above is good for basic stuff but wouldn't work for more complex stuff.

The commercial BT stacks cost about 20K and comes with a royalty as low as tens of cents. (Volume is the determining factor)

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My vote goes for these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/190433073764 and their kind. (many more on dx.com) Very easy to interface.

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