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The Bluetooth Sensor/Controller Project

January 2008

This project was motivated by an inquiry on the Microsoft.public.compactframework newsgroup.  The gist of the question was, “How can I connect a switch input to my Pocket PC, so that I can detect change-of-state of the switch?”  The problem is that Pocket PC’s, in general, and other PC’s, such as some notebook computers have no (or very limited) general-purpose hardware I/O.  Thus, it can be hard to connect them to real-world inputs.

Another issue that makes such I/O problematic is that you have to actually connect wires or a cable between your computer and the sensor… This certainly reduces the portability of the computer.



One thing that many Pocket PC and other Windows computers have is a Bluetooth interface.  Bluetooth is an industrial specification for wireless personal area networks (PANs). Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices such as mobile phones, laptops, PCs, printers, digital cameras, and video game consoles over a secure, globally unlicensed short-range radio frequency. The Bluetooth specifications are developed and licensed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

OK, but I don’t see anything in this “official description” of Bluetooth that suggests that Bluetooth is good method to use for this simple – or for other even more complex – applications.  And, by itself, that objection is correct.  However, if we combine a simple microcontroller board that has a serial communications port, with a serial Bluetooth adapter, we now have a mechanism for sending and receiving wireless data between our Pocket PC or other computer and the microcontroller board.  We can use the microcontroller to provide the interface to our sensors (anything from a simple switch to much more complex “stuff”) and also to provide a way for us to send commands and control signals from the computer to the microcontroller!  Use the link below for a complete project description.

Download the complete Word document that describes this project here (includes example code). 

Contact me for consultation.



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Last modified: 11/25/09
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