Bluetooth Communication for the Half-Byte Console (or how to make your HC-06 work)

WP_20140619_007Wireless transmission of data is mostly preferable to using physical connections and, in the Arduino world, it is no different. If you want a network of sensors or need to have several microcontrollers communicate with each other or a PC, you may not be able wire them together. Fortunately, there are several wireless alternatives that are simple and inexpensive.

While scouting eBay and other sources for parts for the Half-Byte Console, I found these cheap, simple and cute little Bluetooth modules. They also happen to work with the serial connection on your Arduino. If you decide to use the standard serial pins (RX/TX) then coding the module is a no brainer: just use Serial.Write, Serial.Print, etc. to send data or Serial.Read(), etc. to get data. If you need to use other pins, use SoftwareSerial.  It really is that simple.

The particular module I have is the JY-MCU BT-Board v1.02pro (HC-06).  It was $4.99 on eBay.

Wiring it up was simple: WP_20140619_014

  • RX->TX
  • TX->RX
  • GND->GND
  • VCC->+5v

When the module is powered up, and found by another Bluetooth enabled device, it shows as ‘HC 06’.  The key is ‘1234’.  Once the device pairs with the HC-06, you are now ready to communicate. On a PC, you’ll need some kind of terminal app that can access a virtual serial port or Bluetooth directly. I found a Windows 8 Modern Appbtserialterm called Bluetooth Serial Terminal and it works great (it is also free from the Windows App Store.) The application is very simple, there’s no real setup as it detects BT devices and configures itself accordingly.

The module defaults to 9600baud, which is a bit slow, but you can reconfigure it. I chose to leave it at the default since the particular application I have in mind will not require more than that.  I’ll spare the dirty details of configuring the module and leave it to ‘Stan’ at the 42bots blog.

Since the module is serial, it works with Arduino Tiny Basic.  As long as you keep it on the RX/TX pins, you can use the built-in Tiny Basic serial statements to talk to and send data over bluetooth.

SPRINT “Hey ma, I’m on Bluetooth now!”

will send that sentence over Bluetooth and be displayed on the BT enabled device. You can IN( 0 ) to receive data from the module. It is very simple.

WP_20140619_011This little module, coupled with an Arduino Pro Mini and some sensors would make a cool little environmental (one use) device. No screen would be needed, which brings cost way down. Instead, you could use your BT enabled phone or tablet and when it gets near the device, they auto pair and you can open up your terminal or, perhaps, dedicated app and get the data streamed to you. I envision, under Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8, having a live tile that would display this data for you. 

It also opens up some cool game ideas. Awhile back, I wrote of using Basic Stamps to create a meshed Star Trek like game.  These little BT modules could make that really easy to do.  There are always possibilities.

I am really impressed with this little module. It was super simple and really cheap and, it just works.

For a cheap, simple and effective means for wireless data in your Arduino projects, these little gems seem to be the way to go.

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