Useful Bluetooth Low Energy Android Apps (for free)

I just stumbled across a few useful android apps for BLE development. My curiosity was sparked by github user tomkubitza who wrote that there’s a useful BLE android app by Nordic Semiconductor. They actually have a set of apps/demos which look well-done. It’s nice to see they take those apps seriously – after all WPAN chips are their bread and butter 🙂

For now this is just a list for reference. I might come back and add infos after giving some of the apps a go.

Nordic Semiconductor

BLE scanners/detectors

Texas Instruments SensorTag related

USB-BT4LE Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter by Plugable on Ubuntu 12.04

This is my experience with the USB-BT4LE Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter by Plugable. I bought it since it claims to have Linux support out-of-the-box. Well – the chipset IS supported but I needed to fiddle some to make it work 🙂 Of course I can only speak for the device I got and my computer (Ubunu 12.04 LTS, kernel 3.8). So here we go.

After inserting the dongle into the USB port I only got the following message in dmesg:

So I began some digging. A search for the product code and the device id gave me the Bluetooth chip that is used: BCM20702. The last line of the dmesg output suggests that a firmware is needed. Some more searching on the web confirmed this and this Ubuntu bug report suggests a tool called hex2hcd by Jesse Sung to convert the firmware image that comes with the windows driver into a hcd file. So I booted Windows, installed the driver and checked which firmware is being used:


These are the build instructions I found in a comment on the same bug report:

When the Bluetooth adapter gets plugged into the PC the kernel will look for a proper firmware in the /lib/firmware folder. For this to work the filename of the firmware must have the following format: fw-<manufacturer_id>_<device_id>.hcd

After removing the Bluetooth adapter and plugging it in again I got the following messages:

So far so good. However, I encountered another problem:

It turns out that there’s a program called rfkill that will acticate/deactivate your bluetooth and/or WLAN devices. In my case this was probably triggered by the hardware switch for wireless communication on my Thinkpad. I found solution on the Ubuntu forums: