In it’s simplest form, it works on the same principle as a common USB/Serial adapter (the FTDI Friend, for example!). Any data that you enter via your favorite terminal emulator on your development machine will be transferred over the air to the connected phone or tablet, and vice versa, as a basic ‘UART’ connection.
The short and sweet:
- Completely transparent Data mode for USB to Bluetooth LE UART connectivity from computer to tablet/phone
- Connect to any phone or tablet with BLE, great for debugging or developing BLE devices or apps
- Works great with both Nordic (Android/iOS) or Adafruit (iOS) UART app, check out our source code if you want to create your own app!
- Uses the fancy Nordic nRF51822 chipset with custom firmware
- Optional Command mode to set GATT services/characteristics, advertising name/packet, Beacon capability, query status, RSSI, etc.
- Comes with standard Over-the-Air DFU bootloader, reprogram firmware using any BLE-capable iOS or Android device
- 4 LED indicators: blue connection status, red mode status, orange and green for RX/TX
- Snap-off SWD connector for advanced JTAG re-programming
- Comes with Nordic nRF58122 developer key
You might be asking, Hey my macbook already has Bluetooth and I can get a USB Bluetooth adapter, so why use this? Good question! You can get a Bluetooth 4.0 USB dongle from the store already, but Windows 7 doesn’t support Bluetooth Low Energy natively, and on Win8 or OS X you’ll have to sort through a huge pile of native Bluetooth APIs and development tools that often require an annual paid license and specific license terms to access. You can’t just connect wirelessly without a huge stack of software or firmware in the way because there isn’t a standard, open source, cross-platform way to talk BLE today.
The Bluefruit Friend is much more, it has a full BLE peripheral stack and interface software so that you can treat your BLE connection just like a UART connection – that makes it trivial to use with free Terminal software or scripting software like python (with pySerial). Using Bluefruit LE Friend, you can be up and running in under and hour on just about anything with a USB port, with easy migration across platforms and operating systems.
To use, simply plug into your computer and flip the switch to either UART mode (transparent data transfer, anything you type will be sent, and data from phone is received as well) or CoMmanD mode, where thanks to an easy to learn AT command set, you can also create your own basic GATT Services and Characteristics, simulate Beacons, and change the way that the device name appears/advertises itself.
To make sure that your device stays up to date and can benefit from the latest Bluefruit LE firmware from Adafruit, you can also update the firmware on your BLEFriend over the air using any BLE-supported iOS or Android device. We always try to keep the bar as high as possible at Adafruit, and one of the biggest advantages of the BLEFriend and the entire Bluefruit LE family is that we wrote and maintain all of the firmware running on the devices ourelves from scratch and we’ll be releasing new firmware and bug fixes without having to rely on a third-party vendor. For super-advanced users, we have an SWD connector on board that can be used to reprogram the nrf51822 using Nordic’s SDK and an SWD debugger like the J-Link.
Bluefruit LE Sniffer – Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE 4.0) – nRF51822 – v1.0
Interested in learning how Bluetooth Low Energy works down to the packet level? Debugging your own BLE hardware, and trying to spot where something is going wrong? Or maybe you’re writing a custom application for your phone or tablet that needs to talk to existing BLE hardware, but you don’t know how it works beneath the surface? We have the perfect tool for you!
This Bluefruit LE Friend is programmed with a special firmware image that turns it into an easy to use Bluetooth Low Energy sniffer. You can passively capture data exchanges between two BLE devices, pushing the data into Wireshark, the open source network analysis tool, where you can visualize things on a packet level, with useful descriptors to help you make sense of the values without having to crack open the 2000 page Bluetooth 4.0 Core Specification every time.
Plug it into your development machine, fire up the special sniffer bridge SW, select the device you want to sniff, and it will fire up Wireshark for you and start pushing data in via a live stream.
Please Note: The sniffer software is currently Windows only. We’re exploring ways to make this tool accessible on other platforms, but for the moment you’ll need a Windows-based PC to use the device.
The sniffer firmware cannot be used with the the Nordic DFU bootloader firmware, which means that if you want to reprogram this devices you must use a J-Link + SWD adapter! You cannot over-the-air reprogram it.