GS2200M Starter Kit Board: An Easy to use Evaluation and Development Platform for Your Next Connected Product Design


GainSpan’s recently released GS2200M Starter Kit Board is a platform designed to accelerate time to market for your next connected product.gs2200miz-skb-w-shadow

As a designer of a connected product, you are faced with a number of challenges in evaluating and prototyping alternative designs and then rapidly ramping up your development effort once you’ve settled on a your approach. Several of the larger challenges you face are: minimizing the time and cost involved in prototyping, estimating battery life, if you are designing a battery powered product, and leveraging reference designs and platform features so you don’t waste precious resources “reinventing the wheel.”

The GS2200M Starter Kit Board has an extensive assortment of features aimed at addressing the challenges you face evaluating potential designs and quickly ramping up your development effort. Its features include: a GS2200MIZ Ultra-low Power Wi-Fi CERTIFIED® 802.11b/g/n Mini-Module, built-in power measurement circuitry, Arduino™ and Pmod™ compatible hardware interfaces, USB serial and JTAG debugging ports, and software controlled buttons and LEDs. This article provides an overview the key features of the GS2200M Starter Kit Board and discusses how they will help you get your product to market as quickly as possible.

Ultra-low Power Wi-Fi Connectivity with Abundant Resources to Host Your Application, All in a Miniature Module

skb-blog-1The GS2200M Starter Kit Board is built around the smallest of GainSpan’s Wi-Fi modules, the GS2200MIZ, which is about the size of a U.S. penny (13.5mm x 17.85mm x 2.13mm). The GS2200MIZ module is part of GainSpan’s GS2000 family of ultra-low power Wi-Fi modules, which can realize years of battery life from just one or two AA batteries.  In its lowest power mode – “hibernate” – the GS2200MIZ module draws only 260nA!  Using its standby power-save polling features, the GS2200MIZ module can maintain Wi-Fi, TCP, UDP and SSL connections and resume your application within one second of the Wi-Fi access point indicating waiting data, while drawing as little as 610uA average current. (Current estimates are at 3.3V.)

Despite its small size, the GS2200MIZ module is packed with features to host your application specific firmware, including an ARM Cortex-M3 application processor, SRAM and flash memory, eliminating the need to include a separate microcontroller in your design, although interfacing to an external host microcontroller is also supported. Additionally, the GS2200MIZ includes UART, SPI, SDIO, I2C, GPIO, ADC, PWM and GPIO interfaces to provide connectivity to peripherals, including advanced peripherals like video and audio codecs.  All of the GS2200MIZ module’s I/O signals are accessible on one or more of the GS2200M Starter Kit Board’s peripheral connectors.

The GS2200MIZ module incorporates a chip antenna. GainSpan has optimized the RF design and obtained regulatory certifications, allowing you to focus your effort on features that differentiate your product, rather than becoming an expert in the art of building radios.

Built-in Power Measurement and Battery Gauge Features

skb-blog-2Estimating and optimizing the power consumption of your product typically involves a lot of guess work, where you use data from datasheets, make lots of assumptions, and come up with rough power consumption estimates. With the GS2200M Starter Kit Board you can easily measure the current drawn by the GS2200MIZ module, running GainSpan’s evaluation kit firmware or your own firmware, taking the guess work out of determining power consumption.

Simply attach your oscilloscope or digital voltmeter to the power measurement test points and take your measurements. Keep the range switch in the “ACTIVE” position for taking measurements when the GS2200MIZ module is active.  Use the “SLEEP” position to take static measurements when the module is in one of its ultra-low power modes – standby or hibernate.

The circuit excludes current consumed by other components on the SKB so your measurements won’t be skewed by features like the USB serial port or LEDs that will not be part of your final design. And, since they are excluded, you can use them to facilitate your effort without impacting your measurements.

The battery gauge circuit provides for sampling the battery voltage while the batteries are under load. Enabling the circuit via a GPIO places a load on the batteries and connects the GS2200MIZ module’s ADC so you easily measure battery voltage. By sampling and recording the battery voltage over time you can measure how fast the batteries actually drain over days or weeks.

Solder-less Prototyping

The GS2200M Starter Kit Board makes prototyping easy, and solder-less, through an assortment of standardize hardware interfaces.skb-blog-3

The Arduino shield connectors are compatible with shields designed for the Arduino UNO. UART, SPI and I2C signals are brought out to the same pins as on the Arduino UNO. Therefore, the GS2200M Starter Kit Board can interface with many of the shields designed for the Arduino UNO.  Additionally, the GS2200M Starter Kit Board can be configured via jumper settings as a shield, so it can act as a peripheral, rather than the host/main system board. The shield connector pins extend below the board so can be used as a shield without replacing connectors. All I/O signals from the GS2200MIZ module are available on the Arduino Shield Connector.

Pmod compatible SPI and UART ports make it easy to connect Pmod compatible peripherals to the Starter Kit Board. The SPI and UART signals can be configured via jumper settings to support master/host mode or slave/peripheral mode.

The Pmod compatible I2C port makes it easy for you to connect an I2C sensor or other peripheral because it provides power, ground, and an alarm input, in addition to the standard I2C signals.

Intelligent, Ultra-low Power Temperature and Light Sensors

skb-blog-4The GS2200M Starter Kit Board includes temperature and light sensors. The Temperature and Light Sensor ADK firmware that comes pre-installed provides a reference implementation for an IoT sensor device. The sensors are ultra-low power and provide threshold alarms that can be used to wake the GS2200MIZ module its ultra-low power standby and hibernate modes.

Software Controlled Buttons and LEDs

skb-blog-5Three software controlled buttons and two LEDs provide simple user interfacing. One button is an alarm button, which you can use to wake the GS2200MIZ from standby or hibernate mode. Since all three buttons and both LEDs are fully software accessible, you can define their functions to meet the requirements of your product.

Development and Debugging Support

skb-blog-6A USB serial port makes it trivial to power, flash program and view debug output using your personal computer.

Using an I-jet or other debugging probe connected to the 10-pin JTAG probe connector, you can easily debug your source code from your personal computer.

Suitable for Developing Either Host-less or Hosted Designs

skb-blog-7Regardless of whether you are developing a product where your firmware will execute on the GS2200M module (host-less design), or one where your firmware will execute on an adjacent microcontroller (hosted design), you can use the GS2200M Starter Kit Board as your initial development platform.

UART configuration jumpers provide for swapping the two UARTs between the USB serial interface and the peripheral connectors. These same jumpers enable the GS2200M Starter Kit Board to act as a host or a as a peripheral over the Arduino and Pmod interfaces.

SPI configuration jumpers provide for configuring the GS2200M to act as either a SPI master or a SPI slave over the Arduino and Pmod interfaces.

The GS2200M Starter Kit Board can be configured to provide +5V power to the Arduino shield connector to power peripherals. It can also be configured to be powered from the +5V pin on the Arduino shield connector.

Flexible Powering Options

skb-blog-8The GS2200M Starter Kit Board provides flexible powering options. You can power it from the USB port while you develop, switch to battery power for untethered demos and experiments, power it from an Arduino host if you are using it as a shield, and power it from a bench supply to minimize power supply induced noise when making power measurements.

Apple® HomeKit™ Ready

skb-blog-9The GS2200M Starter Kit Board provides a footprint for you can install your Apple Wireless Authentication Coprocessor chip. You can also leverage GainSpan’s HomeKit Application Development Kit to speed your HomeKit integration.

Note: The Apple WAC chip is not included and must be obtained through Apple via its MFi licensing program.


The GS2200M Starter Kit Board is a flexible evaluation and development platform that will enable you to get off to a quick start on your next connected device project. Whether you are developing an ultra-low power, battery operated device, using the GS2200M module or a separate microcontroller to host your application, interfacing to simple peripherals like buttons and LEDs or complex peripherals like video and audio codecs, the GS2200M Starter Kit board provides the features and flexibility to get your project moving quickly so you can get your product to market fast.

Choosing the right wireless technology for your new IOT product

Various wireless technologies compete today to serve the burgeoning market for the Internet of Things (IoT), creating confusion and uncertainty in the mind of developers and end users, and slowing down market acceptance. The leading contenders include wide area networks (WAN) technologies:  LTE , SigFox, or LoRA which require service subscription, and local area networks (LAN) technologies: Zigbee, Thread, Z-Wave , Wi-Fi, proprietary RF, Bluetooth™ Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

This blog focuses on the role of the various wireless technologies in the LAN applications. Although the examples given come from the  connected home market segment, the largest and most visible market segment today,  similar conclusions apply to industrial or commercial products.

                                   INTERNET TRAFFIC BY DEVICE TYPEvni-hyperconnectivity-wp_2


                 GLOBAL M2M CONNECTION GROWTH BY INDUSTRIESCisco_vni_global_traffic

*Other includes Agriculture, Construction, and Emergency Services.
Source: Cisco VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2015–2020

There is no doubt that legacy technologies such as ZigBee, Z-Wave or proprietary RF  will continue to be deployed in the near future,  given the number of devices using these technologies available in big-box stores and promoted by major carriers like AT&T and Verizon in the USA. However, it is unlikely that many new products will be developed based on these technologies. ZigBee and Z-Wave  will be superseded by Thread,  an IP technology that is based like ZigBee on IEEE 802.15.4 standard , that benefits from the learning of ZigBee and addresses many of its shortcomings,  including being more secure and resilient. Bluetooth low energy  is already displacing  other technologies such as ANT and proprietary RF  in devices running on coin cell.   With the addition of meshing and IP, the BLE applications could also extend well beyond wearables.

At GainSpan we are focusing our development on three wireless technologies, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth low energy and Thread, that will capture the largest share of the IOT connectivity market in Local Area Networks. These technologies are the only ones to offer at least one fundamental IOT element:  Internet protocol connectivity, which is the basis of the IOT , and smartphone connectivity for ease of use and commissioning, which is essential for IOT adoption.


In some cases the right choice is clear:

  • Only Wi-Fi can deliver the throughput required by applications such as video in video doorbell or video surveillance cameras. Similarly, Wi-Fi is gradually being adopted in music streaming applications displacing Bluetooth classic for the same reasons.
  • Bluetooth is the only  technology with a peak current that is low enough ( few mA)  to operate from a coin cell in applications such as wearables or tags.
  • If smartphone connectivity is required the choices are between Wi-Fi for longer range applications (e.g.  appliances)  and higher throughput and  Bluetooth low energy for extended battery life.

In typical sensor applications such as thermostats, smoke alarms or door locks,  the choice of the most appropriate technology is function of the selling proposition and the positioning of the products in the market:

  • Wi-Fi is the most mature, proven and secure technology, offering connectivity to smartphones and generally available infrastructure in homes, commercial buildings and cities (e.g. access points) with a long reach but a higher power consumption.
  • With better receiver sensitivity and strong meshing capabilities , Thread has the potential to extend the application reach beyond Wi-Fi range, with lower power consumption. It is a strong technical solution, but its market acceptance is still to be proven, despite the large numbers of Tier1 companies that have joined the Thread group
  • For short-range applications, Bluetooth low energy offers the longest battery life and the capability to operate from a coin cell battery.

Please let us know the reasons you chose one wireless technology over another in the development of your IOT products.