Teardown Tuesday: Bluetooth Trackers

May 31, 2016 by Alex Udanis

Bluetooth trackers are a new emerging market. This Teardown Tuesday is going to be a little different, we're going to look at the insides of 3 different trackers.

Want to see inside some Bluetooth trackers?

Bluetooth trackers are a new emerging market. There were existing solutions such as proprietary RF pagers and whistle reactive key finders, but with the widespread use of Bluetooth LE, they are starting to gain traction. This Teardown Tuesday is going to be a little different, we are going to look at the insides of 3 different trackers. In this article, the insides of a Tile 2.0, a Nut Smart Tag, and a Nonda iHere will be revealed.


The Three Opened Trackers Used in this Teardown 


Opening Them Up


The Tile Tracker Opened Up! 


The Tile Bluetooth tracker was very difficult to open. The Tile is the only tracker in this article that's water resistant. Its plastic shell was firmly sealed and required a thin X-Acto Saw Blade to open. The entire perimeter of the tracker was cut to reveal the battery and circuit board.



The Nut Tracker Opened Up Without the Battery! 


Unlike the Tile, the Nut tracker was designed to be opened. A small flathead screwdriver separates the two sides of the enclosure. Another internal plastic cover was easily removed. The replaceable battery and PCB are viewable.


The iHere Tracker Opened Up! 


The iHere tracker was held together with plastic clips, an X-Acto blade was used to separate the front of the of the tracker from the frame of it. Once opened, the circuit board was revealed.




The Battery in the Tile Tracker 


The Tile uses an internal battery that's not intended to be replaced by the end user. This is a primary lithium cell, size 2032, that will last a year. The battery has spot welded tabs that are soldered onto the PCB. Once the power in the battery is depleted, Tile offers a program called “reTile”, where the old Tiles can be replaced with new ones at a substantially discounted price.



The Battery in the Nut Tracker 


The Nut tracker uses the same battery as the Tile, a 2032 lithium coin cell. The battery can be easily replaced by the end user. The Nut runs for 3 months on the coin cell battery. The 2032 batteries used in this tracker typically have a capacity of 225mAh.



The Battery in the iHere Tracker 


The iHere runs off of a rechargeable battery. There is a small 70mAh 3.7v prismatic Li-Ion cell that is attached by adhesive to the inside of the tracker. The tracker charges from a USB power source using an included cable that terminates in a small barrel jack. The iHere has an advertised battery life of around 2 weeks depending on usage.




The Speaker in the Tile Tracker 


The Tile tracker uses a small piezoelectric speaker to transmitters its alarm. This is the speaker is connected to the circuit board through a two spring loaded contact. The speaker is attached to the plastic enclosure of the tracker via adhesive tape. The speaker produces a 90-decibel alert.



The Transducer in the Nut Tracker 


The Nut uses a small surface-mounted transducer. The manufacturer does not offer a lot of details on this tracker's specs, but the volume put out by the Nut’s transducer is similar to that of the Tile tracker.


The Transducer in the iHere Tracker 


Like the Nut tracker, the iHere tracker uses a transducer in a surface mounted package. The iHere tracker has an advertised alert volume up to 85 dB.


Bluetooth Transceiver


The SoC used in the Tile Tracker 


The tracker uses a low power Bluetooth Smart SoC made by Dialog, part number DA14580. This SoC contains a Bluetooth transceiver and an ARM Cortex-M0 core. This SoC also contains a buck controller so that it can run from a coin cell battery without the need for an external voltage regulator.



The SoC used in the Nut Tracker 


The Nut tracker uses a Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822. The nRF51822 has an ARM Cortex-M0 core and an embedded 2.4GHz transceiver that supports both Bluetooth Smart and the Nordic Gazell 2.4 GHz protocol. Like the DA14580 used in the Tile, the nRF51822 also contains a switching power supply controller.



The SoC used in the iHere Tracker 


The iHere tracker uses a Cambridge Silicon Radio (now Qualcomm) CSR1010A05. This SoC is designed to be a low powered Bluetooth IC. This IC has an array of analog inputs, digital inputs, and serial interfaces. Like the Bluetooth SoC’s used in the other trackers, this also supports Bluetooth smart, a low energy variant of the Bluetooth protocol.


Wrapping it up!

Compact and long lasting Bluetooth devices are getting more and more common. Each of these Bluetooth trackers come with pros and cons such as the battery, app features, size, cost, and user base.

Thanks for looking at this week's Teardown Tuesday!

Stop by next Tuesday for another teardown. We're always looking for new things to teardown, so if you have any suggestions or would like to contribute an item for a future Teardown Tuesday, click here for my email address.

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  • kiwironnie June 09, 2016

    Interesting article, particularly detail of battery life and various SoCs.  It would have been useful to know what kind of antenna these devices use. Best wishes, Ron.

    Like. Reply
  • J
    Jonlate March 23, 2018

    What a scam. You can’t change the tile battery yourself. What a great way to make money.
    That’s like saying, But my electric car, but you can’t charge it yourself, you have to buy another one when the battery’s flat.
    Can you even run a business on this model? I wouldn’t buy it.

    Like. Reply
    • Thomas Riley December 17, 2018
      Tile has done a 180. They are offering user replaceable trackers now. Even there base models are able to have the batteries replaced by the user. They are also running a promotion at best buy, if you buy a 4 pack of tiles you get a free google home mini.
      Like. Reply