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Which MCU + BT/BLE for heart rate and ECG monitoring (from TI ADS1293)

Discussion in 'Microcontrollers, Programming and IoT' started by victus, Jan 25, 2016.

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  1. victus


    Jan 25, 2016
    I am working on a portable wireless heart monitor with Bluetooth interface. The idea is to measure ECG signals for at least 1 day straight and then transmit data to the Android device. According to my research I believe that TI's ADS family would probably be the most suitable for my case, specifically ADS1293, which is in short all-in-one ECG chip.

    I am now searching for a suitable microcontroller with Bluetooth capability which would acquire the signals from ADS1293, save them to external flash memory and then transfer them to the phone over BT/BLE. The original idea was to work with Arduino, but then I came across SoC TI CC2640. It obviously looks really suitable for my case at first glance since it's dimensions are small and it also has low power consumption, but so does Nordic nRF52832. I've already searched all related forums for comparison between these two and people seem to prefer nRF52832 a bit more over CC2640. However, TI already has a very similar project design like mine here. Code is already provided, but the project is designed with CC2541, which is not compatible with CC2640 though, but I suppose that this would still help with coding.

    Since I basically don't have any previous experience with these platforms, I was wondering which MCU+BT/BLE would you recommend to me? An important factor here is also that the development process should be as cheap as possible since I am a student, so the price of debuggers, development boards and software should also be taken into consideration.
    Should I rather choose any other MCU e.g. like RFdroid or would you have any other recommendations? I would really prefer a well supported MCU for faster development process and quicker learning curve.

    Thanks for help and any suggestions in advance.
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    I've used another of the Nordic chipsets and I would use their chipsets again on the basis of the experience I've had.

    It really comes down to software support. You really don't want to write all the low level code unless it's absolutely necessary. The TI development kits are pretty good, and if they have code for something similar it could set you off to a flying start.

    What you will have to concern yourself with is the rights you have to this code. For a proof of concept student project you should be home free, but if it ever goes into production you may have to acquire rights to use it commercially.

    If physical size is not an issue (i.e. for a prototype) I'd go with an arduino and a bluetooth module if you want ease of development and plenty of hardware support..

    Remember that you're going to need external storage, I'd suggest an SD card as your data rates are likely to be low.

    Also make sure this device is completely battery powered and preferably not connected to a human (for safety). If you can make up a dummy torso with its own ECG signal source you'll be able to test the device in total safety.
  3. victus


    Jan 25, 2016
    CC2541 really looks interesting though because I could just use TI's project and add SD card to their circuit to store data from measurements. The drawback is that I would need to use IAR Embedded Workbench which is very expensive. I know that there are evaluation versions available, do you perhaps know if they are fully functional?Because in that case I suppose I could use e.g. VMware and just use another Windows installation for new trial period? That would also make development much easier since the code for that TI project is also provided. The one downside I see though is the lack of support of BLE in CC2541, so it would consume more power than CC2640. Do you believe that this would make a lot of difference?

    How about 3rd party Bluetooth modules, would you recommend them? E.g. or ?

    I have also seen some good opinions on BlueGiga, for example BLE113 looks very decent, but the DKBLE Development Kit costs about 200 $ which is quite a lot and I suppose I cannot do really anything without it, right?

    Although this is only a school project, I just though that if there is a chance, I would be nice to have it as small as possible and also to power it up for at least 1 day with a battery pack. Arduino is pretty big and I am also not sure if the batteries would suffice.
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