What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth makes the sharing and exchange of information between mobile and/or static devices as simple as possible. Whether at home, on the move, or in the office it can be used for networking, sharing files, synchronizing information, email, Internet access, printing, and more. In industry it can be used to wirelessly control equipment and machinery - perfect for servicing inaccessible devices.
And now it will be for a wireless link between a PC/laptop and your robot! Imagine reprogramming your robot wirelessly (with bootloading software), or data logging/collecting sensor data, or sending commands without a long data cord to hassle with. Way better than any RC robot . . .
The Disadvantages of Wired Data Links
Classes of Bluetooth
up to 100 meter range
up to 10 meter range
up to ~1 meter range
Where Do I Connect Bluetooth On My Robot?
The easiest way to do this would buy a microcontroller that already has a built in serial interface, and then connect it to a rs232 bluetooth adaptor. I have found two by brainboxes.com, and both are shown below.
A Bluetooth rs232 Adaptor allows any device with an rs232 port to communicate with another Bluetooth device without the need for additional software/drivers.
But as mentioned before, you could still get a Bluetooth module and plug it directly into the micrcontrollers' UART pins. Stollmann also offers many Bluetooth modules.
What About The Computer End?
Notebooks can use Bluetooth via a PCMCIA card or a USB dongle. There are Bluetooth adapters for PDAs and PDAs with integrated Bluetooth functionality. There are also Bluetooth enabled phones (robot controlled by your mobile, anyone?).
Because the Bluetooth module basically acts like a wireless serial cable, the software on the connected devices does not typically need to be modified.
To operate the device, just install the included drivers and software that comes included.
Costs, Where to Buy
I have found many other sites offering Bluetooth chips/modules, but the ones above looked the easiest/cheapest to work with at the time of this writing. There are a few Bluetooth products in the ads, too.
Extra Information - WiFi vs Bluetooth
IEEE 802.11b offers faster speeds and greater range than Bluetooth. While Bluetooth has a weaker radio signal, this provides for more conservative use of battery power (designed for PDAs, wearable headsets, cell phones). Wifi's stronger signal provides more range, but uses 10 to 100 times more power than Bluetooth (designed for notebook computers, where the additional current drain is negligible).
The two systems share space. But WiFi uses te 2.4 GHz radio band/Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSS), not frequency hopping (FHSS) such as with Bluetooth. Bluetooth also doesn't typically have an access point. Devices on a Bluetooth PAN communicate directly with one another. IEEE 802.11b allows mobility over a very large area. When out of range of one IEEE 802.11b access point, another takes over.
In the unlicensed 2.4 GHz radio spectrum, and it is possible for Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11b systems to interfere with one another. The 2.4 GHz Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) radio band is 83 MHz wide. The ISM band is also used by the HomeRF wireless networking system, cordless analog and digital phones, microwave ovens, and some medical equipment. As is the case with most unlicensed radio bands, no one "owns" any particular frequency in the band, so users must share the radio spectrum. Generally keeping the devices far from each other distance wise will dramatically reduce interference - but dont worry too much, the FCC requires all of these devices to 'play nice' and be resistant to interference.
Extra Information - Why is it Called 'Bluetooth'?
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