Geez.  Need to figure out how to get this sensor lab started for the Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1.  If I use USB, then that means only the Windows 8.1 will be able to be used.  If I use both, well then that would be nice, but it would require that I use Bluetooth. 

As Steven Edouard just pointed out USB and the Bluetooth is about the same, except for annoying differences, like the Bluetooth using the HC-06 JY-MCU (aka: Linvor) doesn’t like to stay connected easily.

So… I am going to use USB today and try to get the app working.  Which it will.  Just have to ignore my thoughts about the purchase of an Oscilloscope which will steal a lot of time.  So I don’t get an Oscilloscope till I get this app working.  Then I won’t need an oscilloscope.  Sigh.

Ok, let’s get started with the Arduino connection to the USB to the Windows 8 app.

Design goal:

Build a simple sensor lab that can be used from Windows 8.1 store app that is downloaded by students, hobbyists and so forth.

First Step: Understanding the App Package Manifest

To start in vast confusion, you can start off with the link below, it seems odd that the RFComm supports so little.  Just seems odd to me…but the list is what it is:

How to specify device capabilities for Bluetooth (Windows Runtime apps) (link functional on 6/9/2014)

Next you want to hit the excellent blog by Dan Ardelean, as Dan notes, GATT, which is the Low Energy Bluetooth.  Windows 8.1 and Phone only support devices like the HC-06 like the JY-MCU available under $10 or the HC-05 which supports the server and client side of the issue. 

As Dan points out the Windows 8.1 (not phone) story for BLE seems to be strangely awful to use.  Your users will have to manually pair the device with the tablet or notebook, no other options.  This makes sense when you think about the security issues, etc. But painful nonetheless.  You will have to give your endusers guidance on how to pair the Bluetooth.  In my case, it is easier since people using sensors will be a little more ready to suffer with the Microsoft issues than a busy (but intelligent) Mom or Dad or Grandparent trying to deal with the kids.

I did note that the Sphero app in the Windows store does have a nice way of handling the pairing situation it just opens the correct settings page.  Of course if you have a seriously discharged Sphero then you have to wait. 

If you do have a Sphero, then try to follow what Dan is talking about with the TI Bluetooth system, which is a killer deal at $25 US with free shipping in the US.  It comes with a few sensors like a temperature sensor, Humidity sensor, a magnetometer and a gyroscope all for the 25 bucks US.  Nice.  I have also bought the HC-06 and an HC-05, but these are not BLE devices, rather they are the older Bluetooth specification.

Second Step: Giving Up on Bluetooth for now

There is an old saying: Try, try, and try again, then give up, there is no use being a fool about things.  And so for today, I have given up on the Bluetooth connection to focus on the USB and serial data exchange.  I will get the TI system later in the month and use it to extend my sensor test lab.  But for now, the Bluetooth connections are complicated, and will take more time than I have.  But in later blogs I will pick it up again.

Third Step: See my next blog

My next blog will be on using the USB and serial connection with Arduino and Windows 8.1.  If you do want to see the Bluetooth in action though, and you have one of the inexpensive HC-06 JY-MCU devices, use this working  sample to get started: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/Bluetooth-communication-7130c260, at the minimum you will need to have a HC-06 or HC-05 JY-MCU so that you can see it pair.  If you have an Arduino or Netduino you can make the sample work for you.

But for now, I am switching to the USB approach.

Here are some links that I am working through: