The FreakLabs FL-AT86RF212-CC1190-DEV 900 MHz modular radio board is designed to be an easy way to rapidly prototype and evaluate usage of high powered radios for wireless sensor networks. It comes with the Atmel AT86RF212 900 MHz radio which conforms to the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol. It also sports a high power front end transmit amplifier and low noise receive amplifier to improve the communications range of the radio.
This board was originally designed to evaluate high power radios for research work in environmental monitoring applications. In a remote location, a wireless sensor network often consists of a localized sensor network to collect data and a long distance link to a location where the data can be processed or forwarded into the internet.
This board is also good to evaluate the performance of a high power radio in environments that are either harsh or difficult for lower power radios to communicate. This is often the case in industrial environments where the background RF noise may drown out signals coming from lower power radios. Building automation is also difficult for low power radios since there are usually many obstacles to an RF signal such as ceilings, floors, walls, and furniture. This is often seen when communications occurs across multiple floors of a building.
The main feature of this board, as opposed to the standalone FreakLabs AT86RF212 radio board is that the front end is based on the TI CC1190 900 MHz RF front end IC and has a 500 mW power amplifier with an 11 dB low noise amplifier. That's around 50x the transmit power and almost 16x increase in the receive sensitivity of the standalone radio. It also comes with an RP-SMA external antenna connector for connection to a wide array of antennas including omni-directional antennas or high gain directional antennas which can provide even greater range. This board is also supported by the FreakLabs Chibi simplified 802.15.4 stack which provides a quick way to evaluate the radio performance.
The Datasheet including schematics, layout, and BOM can be found in the link below:
The driver for the AT86RF212 and the modification needed for the CC1190 can be found in the Chibi open source 802.15.4 stack. Here is a link to the project page:
Chibi Project Page
** It should also be noted that the term "high power" is relative and in this case, is in comparison to standard 802.15.4-based wireless sensor nodes which typically have 1 to 10 mW of transmit power. 500 mW is actually the typical power output of a standard cellular phone and would be considered fairly low power for a standard CB or HAM radio which usually runs around 10W.