I've decided that the TI CC1101 IC is a good solution for the panStamp project in terms of wireless communication. There are basically four factors that have led me take such decision:
- It's a very popular IC, widely available from most electronic suppliers. It's moreover used in thousands of commercial products.
- Price is under $4 each unit in small quantities.
- CC11XX IC's implement different kind of modulation mechanisms: FSK, GFSK, OOK and ASK. This will let the panStamps communicate with a huge amount of commercial products, including low-cost home automation equipment and weather stations.
- The CC1101 can operate n the 315/433/868/915 MHz ISM/SRD bands . Thus, this version of panStamp will be a sub-1GHz one, extending communication distances and avoiding the most complex RF design issues.
- It provides sufficient smartness to do most of the communication work in the chip, including automatic CRC calculation, address filtering, RSSI and LQI values and a Clear Channel Assessment (CCA) mechanism. CCA is specially interesting when you want to minimize packet collisions.
(Picture obtained from Digikey)
But before retaining this IC, I considered other alternatives as Atmel's 802.15.4 interfaces (AT86RF2XX), Texas Instruments' (CC25XX) and Silabs' SI443X RF transceivers, very good options all of them. I strongly recommend taking a look at Freaklabs for anyone wanting to dive into the low-power wireless panorama. The author of this great website frequently publishes reviews about the latest low-power RF devices and IC's. A very good learning resource indeed.
At the end, the CC1101 appeared as a war veteran, with lots of available resources in the net and with serious expectations to still soldier on for years. Now it's time to start designing!