Adding a BLE (Bluetooth 4.0) dongle to Mac OS X (Mavericks)

I recently started playing around with one of those RFDuino’s. These are microchips with BLE built-in and with the Arduino framework built around it. It’s easy to connect them to a iOS device, but if you want to connect them directly to your Mac, it’s a little bit harder.

One of the things you’ll need, is BLE support on your Mac. One way to check this is issuing the following command:

system_profiler -detailLevel full SPBluetoothDataType | grep "LMP Version"

If you see a response like

LMP Version: 0x6

Then you’re in luck, if you see a lower value, like

LMP Version: 0x4

Then you need to buy a BLE Dongle, like me. I bought a LM506 Bluetooth 4.0 adapter from LM Technologies, which actually has the Broadcom BCM20702A0 chip inside it. On Mavericks, this chip should work ‘out of the box’, but it didn’t 😦
dongle

You’ll have to select which Bluetooth chip you want to use. The built-in one or the external. You can’t use both. To do this you have to download the Hardware IO Tools for Xcode from the Apple Developers site (just search for it). Then, run Bluetooth Explorer. Choose ‘HCI Controller Selector’ from the tools menu.
bluetooth explorer
Select your BLE chip and press activate!
ble

If you’re using a Bluetooth mouse, you will have to re-pair your mouse again.

So that’s it. Now I can start using those RFDuino’s with my Mac 🙂

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17 comments on “Adding a BLE (Bluetooth 4.0) dongle to Mac OS X (Mavericks)
  1. what do you think the chance that a Mac with one of those will be able to use Handoff in Yosemite?

  2. bret information says:

    Same hope for my iMac2011 to use HandOff. Anyone tried this yet?

  3. no dongles enable handoff sorry, only option is to update the wifi/bluetooth card

  4. Jared Wilson says:

    The host controller selector will not allow me to activate the broadcom device. I should note that I am using Yosemite. Is there any way around this?

  5. ColinATL says:

    Works great, but how can I make this controller selection permanent? I just want my 2010 Mac Mini to always use the 4.0 dongle…

  6. Lucian Bogos says:

    Thank’s a million, now my Apple Wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad don’t disconnect from mac mini 2011 anymore. I’m using USB Bluetooth TRUST 18187, 3Mbps, v4.0.

  7. Jesus Pérez says:

    Thank you!
    I bought a USB dongle with chip “Cambridge Silicon Radio”. And it works perfect with my Bluetooth headphones with microphone.

    But my MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011) say “Compatible with Handoff: No”

  8. P. Saunders says:

    Thanks for a helpful post. I was able to use this procedure to get a iogear Bluetooth 4.0 USB Micro Adapter (Model GBU521) to work on my 2008 Imac.

    My Bluetooth mouse worked immediately.

    I had to go to the devices menu, select “Low Energy Devices”, and then hit “Start Scanning” to get the adapter to see my Korg microKEY 2 AIR keyboard. Once selected, it worked great!

  9. arpieb says:

    Just picked up an SMK-Link BT 4.0 “Nano Dongle” (LE + EDR) Model VP6495 from Fry’s + a USB extender cable, used the re-assignment tip above, running like a charm. I’ve got a Varidesk, and the steel frame (albeit awesome construction!) was interfering with the BT signal to my MacPro sitting on the back corner of my desk for both my Kanex keyboard and Magic Mouse.

  10. elftronix says:

    Thank you for this – it helped me a lot. I got a dongle with the BCM20702 Chipset and it was a super easy install. Works like a charm. Cheers.

    http://www.elftronix.com/installing-macos-compatible-bluetooth-usb-dongle/

  11. Jan Smite says:

    Looks like there’s a permanent solution (BLE not disable on restart):

    http://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/mac-software/get-continuity-handoff-airdrop-on-old-mac-3582632/

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