Beacon Development Kit Instructions (Version 3.1)
Note: These instructions are for a previous version of the Beacon Development Kit (3.1). Instructions for Version 3.0, Version 2.0, and Version 1.0 are also available. Instructions for the latest version can be found here.
Picking a power supply
The Beacon Development Kit requires a standard 5V power supply with a micro USB connector. The Raspberry Pi computer can be sensitive to poorly performing chargers. If your charger works, you should see a red LED illuminated when the board is powered, and a green LED that flashes intermittently. If this doesn’t happen, try a different charger.
Verify that the SD card and the Bluetooth dongle are properly seated in their sockets, and the power supply is connected to a wall socket and the micro USB connector on the board.
Powering on the beacon
There is no power switch for the Beacon Development Kit. As soon as the 5V micro USB adapter is connected to a wall socket and the computer board, the beacon will start up automatically. It takes about 60 seconds for it to begin transmitting.
Verifying it works
Use an beacon test program like Radius Networks’ “Locate” (iOS) to verify the beacon is transmitting. Click here for information on how to download these free tools.
Information on Beacon Identifiers
Proximity beacons using iBeacon™ technology have a three part identifier consisting of ProximityUUID, Major, and Minor. By default, the Beacon Development Kit will transmit with a ProximityUUID of 2F234454-CF6D-4A0F-ADF2-F4911BA9FFA6, Major of 1, and Minor of 1. If you have the Dual Beacon Development Kit model, it will also transmit as a second beacon with ProximityUUID of 2F234454-CF6D-4A0F-ADF2-F4911BA9FFA6, Major of 1, and Minor of 2. These values are included in the default identifier list in Radius Networks’ beacon test apps so these tools can be used to test if the beacon is working.
The ProximityUUID is a 16 byte identifier, usually expressed as a series of hexadecimal digits separated by dashes.
Generally, you generate one ProximityUUID to use in all of your organization’s beacons. If you don’t have one already,
you can use any GUID/UUID generation tool (for example: the
uuidgen command in OS X) to create your own identifier
similar to the one listed above. Radius Networks’ beacon test apps (listed above) also have tools to generate your own
The Major and Minor are both integers that can be between between 0 and 65535. The Major is used to put beacons into a logical group, like a building or a room. The Minor is used to identify an individual beacon within the group.
Power is a measure of signal strength received by a device one meter from the beacon. This is used by another device to calibrate distance estimates from the beacon. The Beacon Development Kit comes preconfigured with the default value for the included Bluetooth adapter (-59) so you only need to change this value if using another adapter. If you decide to use another adapter, you can use Radius Networks’ beacon test apps to find its calibrated power value.
Broadcast Frequency indicates how often the beacon will broadcast its advertisement – in times per second (Max = 10, Min = 0.25). With this feature you can select how often the beacon broadcasts, which will help you determine how your app will respond to beacons with different advertising rates. By default this value is set to 10 times per second, which is the setting recommended by Apple engineers.
Customizing the beacon Identifiers
With the Radius Networks Beacon Development Kit, you can easily customize the identifiers being broadcast by the
beacon. The easiest way to do this is with a card reader and a computer (if your computer doesn’t have an SD card
reader skip to the next section to connect to the Raspberry Pi and edit these values in the console). Unplug the
Raspberry Pi, then remove the SD card and put it into your computer’s SD card reader. After attaching it to your computer,
look for a volume with a file named
ibeacon.conf in the root directory. When you open this file, you should see two
blocks like the one below, these give the identifiers for each transmitter (Note: changing the second set of identifiers
does nothing unless you have the dual model).
export UUID1=2F234454-CF6D-4A0F-ADF2-F4911BA9FFA6 export MAJOR1=1 export MINOR1=1 export POWER1=-59 export BROADCAST_FREQUENCY1=10
To change the beacon identifiers simply edit the values for each of these parameters. Just paste your UUID in the standard format (both uppercase and lowercase letters are acceptable) and enter the other values in decimal format. Be sure to properly save the file and detach the SD card from your system before ejecting the card, otherwise the card may be corrupted. Note: if you change to a custom UUID you will need to add this UUID to your ‘Locate’ iOS app for it to be visible since iOS devices can only detect beacons with known UUIDs.
Now it’s time to start developing your app! When you are ready to deploy beacons, visit our products page to buy models suitable for production use.
Controlling the Beacon(s) Manually
While developing, you may find it useful to start and stop the beacon without having to power cycle it and wait another 60 seconds. Additionally, if you have the dual model, it may be useful for testing purposes to dynamically start and stop the two transmitters independently. With the scan feature, you can also search for nearby beacons and see their identifiers on your display. In order to control the beacon manually, you will need basic Linux command line skills, an ethernet cable, and access to a router.
Step 1. Using an ethernet cable, plug one end into the ethernet port on the Raspberry Pi computer and the other end into your router.
Step 2. Power on the Beacon Development Kit.
Step 3. Using a computer, go to your router’s administration page and determine the IP address of the Beacon Development Kit. It should show up on your router’s attached devices list as “raspberrypibeacon”
Step 4. On your computer connected to the same router, open up a ssh client and connect to the Beacon Development Kit, logging in with username: pi, password: raspberry
Step 5. In the console, use the following commands to control the beacon:
ibeacon scan # scans for other nearby beacons (use the -h option for more information) ibeacon start # starts all beacons ibeacon stop # stops all beacons ibeacon start 1 # starts the first beacon ibeacon stop 1 # stops the first beacon ibeacon start 2 # starts the second beacon (dual model only) ibeacon stop 2 # stops the second beacon (dual model only) ibeacon help # prints out summary of the different ibeacon commands
You may also adjust the identifiers through the console by editing the
/boot/ibeacon.conf file. If you change the
identifiers, you will need to rerun the start command in order for the changes to take effect.
With beacon scanning, your Raspberry Pi can now be aware of other beacons in its vicinity, which leads to tons of cool, location aware applications. For example, check out our developer blog for a quick tutorial that takes advantage of the Raspberry Pi output pins to control external devices based on the proximity of nearby beacons.
We’ve added some features in the latest version to improve scanning performance. You can now set two optional parameters for the scan command: scan interval and sleep time. Scan interval is the length (in seconds) an individual scan will run before the program terminates it and starts a new one. Sleep time is the time that the program will sleep between individual scans. These options were implemented to increase the stability of scanning for long periods of time in areas with many beacons. The Raspberry Pi has a tendency to lock up the Bluetooth dongle after a while when trying to scan for many beacons. Decreasing the scan interval and increasing the sleep time will help prevent this from occurring. For example, this command will scan for five seconds at a time and sleep for five seconds in between:
ibeacon scan -i 5 -s 5
In addition, you can further improve the stability of the Bluetooth dongle by lowering the USB speed of the Raspberry Pi from 2.0 to 1.1. To do this, edit the
/boot/cmdline.txt file and add the following entry:
lowering the USB speed to 1.1 means that keyboards and other USB devices that require 2.0 will no longer work with your Raspberry Pi. If your keyboard stops functioning, you will have to connect to the Pi via local network to control it (see steps above).
If you have problems configuring or operating the Beacon Development Kit, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Radius Networks
Radius Networks is a proximity services company that provides solutions to help businesses and individuals enhance their experience through mobile device detection and location awareness. Located in Washington DC, Radius was founded in 2011 by experienced entrepreneurs to build applications and services around wireless technology and mobile devices. Visit our main website to learn more about what Radius Networks services can do for you.