Get Started with Thunderboard™ Sense

Start collecting environmental and motion data easily. Thunderboard Sense supports multiprotocol wireless connectivity including Bluetooth®, Thread, and zigbee, and its sleek design is supported by free online analytics dashboard and open source mobile apps. 

Fire up your Thunderboard Sense 

Difficulty Easy
Steps 6
Time Required 5-10 minutes
Requirements Thunderboard Sense + mobile phone

Unleash the power of Thunderboard Sense. Let's start with unboxing, downloading the app and exploring the sensors and basic features.
 

Step 1: Unbox Thunderboard Sense

  1. Purchase your Thunderboard Sense if you don't already have one.
  2. Remove Thunderboard Sense from the box.
  3. Locate the Sense board, a battery and a getting started card.
  4. Place the battery in the coin cell batter holder on the bottom of the board

Step 2: Use the Thunderboard Mobile App

There are several apps available for Thunderboard from Silicon Labs and our partners*. In this guide we will use the official app from Silicon Labs.

  1. Download the Thunderboard mobile app
  2. Enable Bluetooth on your mobile phone

Launch the app to discover your Thunderboard Sense.

Press the Reset button on the Thunderboard Sense to re-enable discovery mode.    

After pairing with the Sense board you can access the app menu.    

Step 3: Try the Sensors

When you have successfully paired the Sense board and mobile app, we are ready to test the sensors. 

  • In the motion menu you can calibrate the board and test the accelerometer and gyroscope.  
  • Humidity and Temperature: Blow or cover the temp. sensor with your finger
  • Light: Cover or shine a light on the board
  • UV: Measure UV index from the sun or a UV light
  • Sound: Talk, whistle, sing or clap to record audio levels
  • Pressure: Move the board from floor to ceiling to test the barometric pressure sensor
  • Select the motion and calibrate the board and test the accelerometer and gyroscope.
  • Select "Environment" to test a number of environmental sensors
    • Humidity and Temperature: Blow or cover the temp. sensor with your finger
    • Light: Cover or shine a light on the board
    • UV: Measure UV index from the sun or a UV light
    • Sound: Talk, whistle, sing or clap to record audio levels
    • Pressure: Move the board from floor to ceiling to test the barometric pressure sensor
  • Select "I/O" to test a buttons and LEDs.
    • Switches: Press the two push buttons on the board    
    • Lights: The app switches will turn on/off the small LEDs on the board
    • Note that the four high-brightness RGB LEDs require external power. You will need to power the board via USB to test this.        

Note: that the air quality sensor requires external power. You will need to power the board via USB to test this.    

Step 4: Stream To Cloud

The mobile app seamlessly connects your Thunderboard Sense to a real time cloud database and dashboard. You can share the data using the built-in share option.

Enable streaming of data to the cloud    

Click the share button and choose how to share the data    

View the data stream in your browser    

Programming the Thunderboard Sense

Difficulty High
Steps 7
Time Required 60 minutes depending on download speed
Requirements Thunderboard Sense
Micro-USB B cable
Simplicity Studio
Bluetooth Smart SDK version 2.0.1
Useful Documents

User Guide (UG250)
Bluetooth Guide (UG251)

 

Step 1: Get Simplicity Studio

Download Simplicity Studio from www.silabs.com/simplicity and run the installer.


Step 2: Connect to your computer

Connect the Thunderboard Sense to your computer using a micro-USB B cable. A blue LED should turn on next to the USB connector to verify connectivity.


Step 3: Install drivers

Follow the Installation Wizard so it can install the basic drivers.


Step 4: Log-in

By logging in, you will get access to the required wireless stacks and SDKs for Thunderboard Sense. You do not need to register your TB Sense at this time.


Step 5: Install Bluetooth Smart SDK 2.0.1.0

5a. Cllick on the “Update Software” button. Alternatively you can click on the settings wheel next to your login name, and in the SDK Preferences settings, click "Need more SDKs? ..." to open the Package Manager or Install Wizard.

5b. In the Package Manager window, click the “Stacks” pane. Change the versions field to “All”. Find and install the Bluetooth Smart SDK 2.0.1.0    

5c. In the Launcher window, click to change the preferred SDK, and choose Bluetooth Smart SDK version 2.0.1    

Step 6: Blink RGB Demo

From previous steps you have already tested the mobile app and the LEDs. We can turn on the high-brightness LEDs selecting the  "Thunderboard Sense Blink RGB" demo from the Launcher perspective (the home screen). One of the high-brightness LEDs will start blinking.


Step 7: Using Blink RGB demo as Hello World!

Now you should feel a bit inspired, and you can try to customize the code on our own. From the Launcher perspective, select the "Thunderboard Sense Blink RGB” from the “Software Examples” list this time. This will program the kit and open the Simplicity IDE. In the Simplicity IDE perspective, using this demo, let’s turn on both RGB LEDs on the front of the board by updating this part of the src/blinkRGB.c code:

from “BOARD_rgbledEnable(true, 0x04)”
to “BOARD_rgbledEnable(true, 0x0C)”

Click the hammer icon to build the project, and then upload the .hex file to the Thunderboard Sense from the Flash programmer menu.

 

Projects using Thunderboard Sense

Get inspired by other users on the Silicon Labs community. These projects use the Thunderboard Sense, Raspberry PI, Python and other gadgets to create cool gateways, environmental monitors and experiments.

 

Cloud Partners

ClearBlade

ThunderBlade application, ClearBlade EDGE gateway and cloud analytics platform.

Learn More

Mesh Systems

SensorIntact gateway application and Microsoft Azure cloud and analytics.

Learn More

Xively

Xively Thunderboard gateway application paired with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Tableu/SalesForce analytics solution.

Learn More
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