Prepare the header strip:

Cut the strip to length if necessary. It will be easier to solder if you insert it into a breadboard - long pins down

Add the breakout board:

Place the breakout board over the pins so that the short pins poke through the breakout pads

And Solder!

Be sure to solder all pins for reliable electrical contact.

(For tips on soldering, be sure to check out our Guide to Excellent Soldering).

You're done! Check your solder joints visually and continue onto the next steps

Antenna Options

These radio breakouts do not have a built-in antenna. Instead, you have three options for attaching an antenna. For most low cost radio nodes, a wire works great. If you need to put the radio into an enclosure, soldering in uFL and using a uFL to SMA adapter will let you attach an external antenna. You can also solder an SMA edge-mount connector directly

Wire Antenna

A wire antenna, aka "quarter wave whip antenna" is low cost and works very well! You just have to cut the wire down to the right length.

Cut a stranded or solid core wire the the proper length for the module/frequency

  • 433 MHz - 6.5 inches, or 16.5 cm
  • 868 MHz - 3.25 inches or 8.2 cm
  • 915 MHz - 3 inches or 7.8 cm

Strip a mm or two off the end of the wire, tin and solder into the ANT pad.

That's pretty much it, you're done!

uFL Connector

If you want an external antenna that is a few inches away from the radio, you need to do a tiny bit more work but its not too difficult.

You'll need to get an SMT uFL connector, these are fairly standard

uFL SMT Antenna Connector
uFL connectors are very small surface-mount parts used when an external RF antena is desired but a big bulky SMA connector takes up too much space. We use this part on our GPS and WiFi...
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You'll also need a uFL to SMA adapter (or whatever adapter you need for the antenna you'll be using, SMA is the most common

SMA to uFL Adapter Cable
This RF adapter cable is super handy for anyone doing RF work. Often times, small electronics save space by having a pick-and-placeable u.FL connector (also called uFL, IPEX, IPAX,...
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Of course, you will also need an antenna of some sort, that matches your radio frequency

uFL connectors are rated for 30 connection cycles, but be careful when connecting/disconnecting to not rip the pads off the PCB. Once a uFL/SMA adapter is connected, use strain relief!

Check the bottom of the uFL connector, note that there's two large side pads (ground) and a little inlet pad. The other small pad is not used!

Put down a touch of solder on the signal pad

Solder in the first pad while holding the uFL steady

Solder in the two side pads, they are used for signal and mechanical connectivity so make sure there's plenty of solder

Once done, check your work visually

Once done attach your uFL adapter and antenna!

SMA Edge-Mount Connector

OK so

You'll need an SMA (or, if you need RP-SMA for some reason) Edge-Mount connector with 1.6mm spacing

The SMA connector 'slides on' the top of the PCB

Once lined up, solder the center contact first

Solder in the two side ground pads. Note you will need a lot of heat for this, because the connector is an excellent heat sink and its got a huge ground plane

Flip over and also do the other side ground/mechanical contacts

Attach on your antenna, you're done!

This guide was first published on Apr 15, 2016. It was last updated on Apr 15, 2016.

This page (Assembly) was last updated on Apr 15, 2016.

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