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

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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.

Of you want to get up to speed quickly and easily and are considering a CC2640, it might be worth looking at the recently released CC2650 LaunchPad. The CC2650 is a similar chip to the CC2640, but multiprotocol. I just bought one but not had a chance to do much with it yet.

You may consider a PSoC 4 BLE - a cortex-M0 CPU with an integrated Bluetooth low energy radio. It also has sufficient analog resources (opamps, comparators, ADCs..) to build your own heart rate monitor, so you could essentially reduce your design down to a single chip solution.

See the HRM example project here: http://www.cypress.com/blog/100-projects-100-days/project-045-pulse-oximetry-heart-rate-monitor

and more about PSoC 4 BLE here: www.cypress.com/psoc4ble


I can only second the PSoC4 BLE recommendation. I used them in the past, they are really easy to use.For experiments go with the BLE Pioneer kit, or with the BLE breakout module (if you have something to program it). There are also the EZ-BLE modules which are even smaller (but have a limited set of peripherals.

Please notice that I will not measure heart rate but ECG (Electrocardiography) which requires more sophisticated hardware (e.g. ADS1293). I must admit that I have not heard of PSoC 4 BLE before and it certainly looks like a very interesting solution.

As for the above mentioned project, I will eventually just have to choose one option. I really would rather not make another mistake like the last time when I have bought ADS1292 Demonstration Kit for 120 $ and then found out that it is completely useless piece of hardware with obsolete software and no support from TI at all.

I would like to kindly ask you to have a look at the TI's project Wireless Heart Monitor with Bluetooth Low Energy. It is supposed to be a fully functional ECG monitor designed with ADS1293 and CC2541. PCB and code are provided as well, so as far as I see it, the fastest solution would be to just use that reference design and modify it in a way that it would store the measurements to external flash (SD) instead of sending it to phone in real-time. In that case I could devote more time for development of the Android app. So one of the drawbacks I see here is that I would need to use IAR Embedded Workbench because of 8051 which is very expensive. I know that there is evaluation version available, do you perhaps know if it is fully functional? Because in that case I suppose I could use e.g. VMware and extend trial period for as long as needed?
Another downside I see when comparing it to CC2640 is the power consumption. Do you think that this would be a problem? Would CC2640 make a big difference?

If I really need to use alternative to CC2541, then I suppose it should be overall much better MCU to actually be worth it. As far as I see it PSoC 4 BLE is a similar solution than CC2541 or the newer CC2640. Does it offer any advantages over them?

How about Nordic nRF51 and nRF52? They have very similar SoC than Texas Instruments and a lot of positive reviews. I have also read several good opinions on BlueGiga e.g. BLE113, however it is quite expensive though since this is still only a school project. DKBLE Development Kit costs about 200 $ and I suppose I cannot really do anything without it, right?


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