Setting up a Bluetooth Mesh Network


#1

Hi,

I am working on a senior design project for my undergraduate program in engineering. Currently, my team and I are trying to develop a system to track patients through a hospital clinic. To accomplish this, I did a bit of research and found that a Bluetooth mesh network could be a potential solution.

If I were to implement a mesh network, what would I need to accomplish this? I’m fairly new to Bluetooth, so I’m mostly wondering about which specific parts I would need to get this network up and running. I assume that I need some sort of antennas to place around the building, processors that can interpret this information from the antennas, and then some sort of central hub that connects the whole system. We are tracking people, so I have proposed giving patients some sort of tags that they could wear that communicate with the antenna.

I would very much appreciate any input to this problem, including: (1) big picture concepts of what parts of needed, (2) specific parts that I can look up on this website (3) suggestions, concerns, or problems that you could foresee with this project. We are a student group, so keeping costs as low as possible is essential. Thank you for any input you can give, it is much appreciated!


#2

@jaklisam, i would look at Nordic Semi:

https://www.digikey.com/products/en?keywords=NRF52840-DK

https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/Bluetooth-low-energy/nRF5-SDK-for-Mesh

It might simply things if you consider the patient to be “advertisers” and the hard nodes “beacons” on the software side, but you’ll still have to interpret the rssi between nodes.

Regards,


#3

@RobertCNelson, thank you for your fast response. A quick follow up question: would I use the same device for the “advertisers” and the “beacons” or are those two different pieces of hardware?


#4

@jaklisam, it would be the same hardware, Beacons and Advertisers are just modes of the device on the bluetooth network:

Regards,


#5

@RobertCNelson I think I am starting to understand the network, thank you for providing that reference material! Another question for you (if it’s okay to keep picking your brain): would it be sufficient to simply have a bunch of these nodes in the system, some advertising, others receiving? Would that be a complete system? Or do I need a master unit that collects information? How do I get information out of the system? When I want to go and get my wait time data, do I plug into the system and pull it? Sorry for all the questions, I’m very new to all of this.


#6

@jaklisam, you’ll definitely need one of the Bluetooth Mesh nodes to also be connected to either a computer or a gateway that you would need to use for control and monitoring.

This one gateway node will probably take a majority of your software development for this project.

Regards,


#7

Could I use something like this for the nodes?

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/nordic-semiconductor-asa/NRF52832-QFAA-R/1490-1052-1-ND/5428660


#8

@jaklisam, I would really look at the modules:

https://www.digikey.com/products/en/rf-if-and-rfid/rf-transceiver-modules/872?k=NRF52832

But yes, that ‘chip’ should work, just pick up a module to limit the amount of design required.

Regards,