WiFi connectivity - Spark Core vs Particle

2 minute read

Over the last few days I have been struggling to get my Spark and Particle Photon connected to my home WiFi seamlessly.

The Particle board connects to WiFi instantly. When I tried connecting my Spark Core, it fails continuously. Spark Core would always blink GREEN and would never get connected to my home WiFi.

I tried flashing the lastest software using dfu-util

particle flash --usb cc3000_1_14

It did not connect. I tried connecting using Mobile Hotspot (using LG G4 Android), Home WiFi and Xiaomi USB Access Point. Particle Photon Board was able to connect to all of them successfully; Spark Core could only connect to Mobile Hotspot. This meant that there were some settings in the other two WiFi that were creating issue.

Finally, the electronics engineer in me took up the challenge and I started reading the datasheet of both boards. Below are the findings and the way to fix this

Particle Photon Board

  • Uses Broadcom BCM43362 chipset that works with IEEE 802.11 b/g/n device classes at 2.4GHz (single band)
  • Connects well with Channels 1-13 (tried by myself)

Spark Core Board

  • Uses CC3000 chipset that works with IEEE 802.11 b/g device classes at 2.4 GHz (single band)
  • Connects well with Channels 1-11

The Fix

With this knowledge, I tried to analyze my home WiFi connecting using 3 different WiFi connections

  • Home WiFi (AzTech repeater) using mixed mode 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4GHz was using Channel 12. I changed the channel to Channel 5 and rebooted the router but it still used Channel 12. This was because the repeater was connected to DLINK router (main router) that was broadcasting on Channel 12.I manually configured to use mixed mode 802.11 b/g/n with Channel 10. A restart of modem and Spark Core could finally connect to main router. A restart of repeater was required to have Spark Core connect successfully to the repeater network.

Spark Core

 

  • Xiaomi USB Access Point: I could not manage to connect using this even with Channel 1. I believe this uses 802.11 n mode.

WiFi Analysis

For this analysis, I used WiFi Analyzer on Windows Store. This application displayed all key information required to troubleshoot this.

After fixing the router, WiFi analyzer output looks like,

 

wifi-analysis

So in a nutshell,

Spark Core needs 2.4Ghz 802.11b/g CH 1-11 whereas Photon works with 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n CH1-13

PS: I had posted the problem on Community forum and troubleshooted this problem. Detail steps also available at:  https://community.particle.io/t/wifi-connectivity-issue-with-spark-core-1-0/20851/18

Updated:

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