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I am a complete beginner (I have only gone through the beginners book to Arduino + done a few small projects). I want to know if it's possible to connect a very basic/cheap microcontroller like the MSP430 to a RF transmitter (for example this one) and another microcontroller to a RF receiver, add power supplies, some code and have them communicate (I am going to add a buzzer later). I also only need the receiver to acknowledge that it is receiving a signal. Data is not very important (i.e. 1 bit is enough).

Am I being naive/leaving something out/making a mistake? I understand resistors, diodes, etc. and c++, but have no idea of the rest of the world of electronics...


(By the way, the reason I chose the cheap parts is because I'll eventually need loads of them).
(Also, is there a cheap RF transmitter/receiver built onto/into a microcontroller?)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ They make a msp430 with a built in rf transceiver. They call them the CC430. There are many others. All that you've said you want to do is possible ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Some Hardware Guy Oct 23 '12 at 19:00
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They make a msp430 with a built in rf transceiver. They call them the CC430. There are many others. All that you've said you want to do is possible ;)

Also their EZ-RF kit is pretty easy to use and fun to play around with: enter image description here

I think I got all mine free but it looks like they're only $49. There are bunch of other guys like microchip who make micros + RF solutions.

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If you are already familiar with the MSP430G2 LaunchPad, then a suggested next step would be TI's "CC110L BoosterPack" - At $19, the pack contains two complete RF transceivers, just plug them onto two Launchpads.

The boosterpack comes preconfigured with code for interconnection, so your requirement for transmitting data and switching on an output, would work right out of the box.

This clearly isn't an end product suggestion: Once you are familiar with the concepts, moving onto cheaper solutions follows.

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To answer your first question simply yes is it possible to send/receive a signal using two microcontrollers with a transmitter and receiver. However, do you know how to setup coupling capacitors and a LDO for your power supply, add a crystal for the clock if you need one, flash a boot loader which will support your C++ language? If that sounds a bit confusing then might I suggest a different approach to start with.

If you're just starting out, I would recommend something like an Arduino development board. It supports a very easy to use C based language and takes away a lot of the hardware problems you may first face as a beginner. If you're specificity set on learning RF then you can try it with something like a XBee (and shield) which will directly plug into the development board. This will get you started learning the basic of coding and understanding how hardware and software work together. There is also huge, HUGE, support for this on Arduino's website and all across the electronics community to include source code for doing almost exactly what your trying to learn. Otherwise I wouldn't recommend trying to buy a standalone microcontroller and RF transmitter. Hope this helps.

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Many people are working with small, low-power systems that include a microcontroller and a transciever. A few people who put together "loads of them" are working on wireless mesh networks. The wireless sensor network wiki has a (highly incomplete) list of them -- see WSN Platforms and Radio Transceivers.

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