WARNING: All the Cinterion related content from this blog will be removed to go to the javacint wiki soon. Please get used to going there.

M2M projects are the type of project I like to work on. Connecting remote devices, making them work together, and controlling everything remotely are things i love !

I discovered the Cinterion TC65 (which belonged to Siemens then) 3 years ago. And it was a dream come true. I’ve been mostly working on it to build some powerfull GPS tracking software over GPRS. But I have also worked on some other projects making it communicate with some equipments using GPIO or serial port.

Some things you might like with the TC65 Chip :

  • Java Virtual Machine (J2ME)
  • Only requires a serial or a virtual serial link over a USB cable to program
  • You can easily build powerful, multi-threaded programs
  • Easy management of GPIO, SPI, I2C ports
  • Easy management of TCP/UDP connections
  • Quite powerful (400 KB of RAM, 1.7 MB of memory)
  • You can update your code remotely with at commands or specially formated SMS
  • It’s fast enough for most of your M2M usages (but it’s not well suited for sound or video transport)

I’m quite disappointed to see how only few people/companies are interested in this product. The product is great, developers tools are great and the over the air updating feature is great too ! I think it costs around 6070 € ($95). One reason might be that the first version of the chip was pretty buggy. The only safe solution was to add a hardware watchdog.

There’s a pretty interesting feature that I would love to use : libraries that are downloaded and updated separately from the main program. But sadly, it isn’t compatible with some old v1 chips I still use.

Available TC65 software versions are :

  • TC65 v1 : First version. Very unstable. It could crash for days. It also happened that the software was suddenly deleted. Couldn’t get standard output to the virtual serial port on USB. Sometimes OTAP SMS could save the chip, sometimes we just had to wait for days before it decided to come back to life.
  • TC65 v2 : New hardware (HW v2). Seems more stable. Thought, I have one chip where it sometimes crash just 20 seconds after startup.
  • TC65 v3 : Can be upgraded from a software v2 (needs a HW v2). Offers a software watchdog.
  • TC65i v1 : Cinterion has bought it. Smaller, better power saving mode.

And for the XT65 chip :

  • XT65 v1 : TC65 v2 with GPS
  • XT65 v2 : TC65 v3 with GPS

Vendors selling their TC65 with a watchdog often don’t have one. They just rely on the software watchdog of the TC65 v3 chip.