BLE Client

The ble_client component enables connections to Bluetooth Low Energy devices in order to query and control them. This component does not expose any sensors or output components itself, but merely manages connections to them for use by other components.

Note

The BLE software stack on the ESP32 consumes a significant amount of RAM on the device. As such, you may experience frequent crashes due to out-of-memory if you enable many other components.

A maximum of three devices is supported due to limitations in the ESP32 BLE stack. If you wish to connect more devices, use additional ESP32 boards.

This component does not (yet) support devices that require security settings (eg connecting with a PIN).

Currently, devices connected with the client cannot be supported by other components based on ESP32 Bluetooth Low Energy Tracker Hub as they listen to advertisements which are only sent by devices without an active connection.

Despite the last point above, the ble_client component requires the esp32_ble_tracker component in order to discover available client devices.

esp32_ble_tracker:

ble_client:
  - mac_address: FF:FF:20:00:0F:15
    id: itag_black

Configuration variables:

  • mac_address (Required, MAC Address): The MAC address of the BLE device to connect to.

  • id (Required, ID): The ID to use for code generation, and for reference by dependent components.

Automations:

  • on_connect (Optional, Automation): An automation to perform when the client connects to a device. See on_connect.

  • on_disconnect (Optional, Automation): An automation to perform when the client disconnects from a device. See on_disconnect.

BLE Client Automation

on_connect

This automation is triggered when the client connects to the BLE device.

ble_client:
  - mac_address: 11:22:33:44:55:66
    id: ble_itag
    on_connect:
      then:
        - lambda: |-
            ESP_LOGD("ble_client_lambda", "Connected to BLE device");

on_disconnect

This automation is triggered when the client disconnects from a BLE device.

ble_client:
  - mac_address: 11:22:33:44:55:66
    id: ble_itag
    on_disconnect:
      then:
        - lambda: |-
            ESP_LOGD("ble_client_lambda", "Disconnected from BLE device");

BLE Overview

This section gives a brief overview of the Bluetooth LE architecture to help with understanding this and the related components. There are plenty of more detailed references online.

BLE uses the concept of a server and a client. In simple terms, the server is implemented on the device providing services, usually these are the devices such as heart monitors, tags, weather stations, etc. The client connects to the server and makes use of its services. The client will often be an app on a phone, or in the case of ESPHome, it’s the ESP32 device.

When a client connects to a server, the client queries for services provided by the server. Services expose categories of functionality on the server. These might be well defined and supported services, such as the Battery Level service, Device Information or Heart Rate. Or they might be custom services designed just for that device. For example the button on cheap iTags uses a custom service.

Each service then defines one or more characteristics which are typically the discrete values of that service. For example for the Environmental Sensor service characteristics exposed include the Wind Speed, Humidity and Rainfall. Each of these may be read-only or read-write, depending on their functionality.

A characteristic may also expose one or more descriptors, which carry further information about the characteristic. This could be things like the units, the valid ranges, and whether notifications (see below) are enabled.

BLE also supports notifications. A client continuously polling for updates could consume a lot of power, which is undesirable for a protocol that’s designed to be low energy. Instead, a server can push updates to the client only when they change. Depending on their purpose and design, a characteristic may allow for notifications to be sent. The client can then enable notifications by setting the configuration descriptor for the characteristic.

Each service, characteristic, and descriptor is identified by a unique identifier (UUID) that may be between 16 and 128 bits long. A client will typically identify a device’s capabilities based on the UUIDs.

Once the connection is established, referencing each service/characteristic/descriptor by the full UUID would take a considerable portion of the small (~23 byte) packet. So the characteristics and descriptors also provide a small 2-byte handle (alias) to maximize available data space.

Setting Up Devices

Whilst the component can connect to most BLE devices (that do not require authentication/pin), useful functionality is only obtained through dependent components, such as BLE Client Sensor. See the documentation for these components for details on setting up specific devices.

In order to use the ble_client component, you need to enable the ESP32 Bluetooth Low Energy Tracker Hub component. This will also allow you to discover the MAC address of the device.

When you have discovered the MAC address of the device, you can add it to the ble_client stanza.

If you then build and upload this configuration, the ESP will listen for the device and attempt to connect to it when it is discovered. The component will then query the device for all available services and characteristics and display them in the log:

[18:24:56][D][ble_client:043]: Found device at MAC address [FC:58:FA:B1:F8:93]
[18:24:56][I][ble_client:072]: Attempting BLE connection to fc:58:fa:b1:f8:93
[18:24:56][I][ble_client:097]: [fc:58:fa:b1:f8:93] ESP_GATTC_OPEN_EVT
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:143]: Service UUID: 0x1800
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:144]:   start_handle: 0x1  end_handle: 0x5
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A00, handle 0x3, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A01, handle 0x5, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:143]: Service UUID: 0x1801
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:144]:   start_handle: 0x6  end_handle: 0x6
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:143]: Service UUID: 0x180A
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:144]:   start_handle: 0x7  end_handle: 0x19
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A29, handle 0x9, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A24, handle 0xb, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A25, handle 0xd, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A27, handle 0xf, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A26, handle 0x11, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A28, handle 0x13, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A23, handle 0x15, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A2A, handle 0x17, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A50, handle 0x19, properties 0x2
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:143]: Service UUID: F000FFC0045140-00B0-0000-0000-000000
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:144]:   start_handle: 0x1a  end_handle: 0x22
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic F000FFC1045140-00B0-0000-0000-000000, handle 0x1c, properties 0x1c
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:343]:    descriptor 0x2902, handle 0x1d
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:343]:    descriptor 0x2901, handle 0x1e
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic F000FFC2045140-00B0-0000-0000-000000, handle 0x20, properties 0x1c
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:343]:    descriptor 0x2902, handle 0x21
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:343]:    descriptor 0x2901, handle 0x22
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:143]: Service UUID: 0xFFE0
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:144]:   start_handle: 0x23  end_handle: 0x26
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0xFFE1, handle 0x25, properties 0x10
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:343]:    descriptor 0x2902, handle 0x26
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:143]: Service UUID: 0x1802
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:144]:   start_handle: 0x27  end_handle: 0x29
[18:24:57][I][ble_client:305]:  characteristic 0x2A06, handle 0x29, properties 0x4

The discovered services can then be used to enable and configure other ESPHome components, for example Service UUID 0xFFE0 is used for iTag style keychain button events, used by the BLE Client Sensor component.

See Also