I updated the CSMA_MAC PR [1]. Some concepts have slightly changed; e.g. the CCA is now assumed to be suppored in HW, before TX. I tested this version with the Phytec board, by enabling TESTING_FUNCTIONS in the file ng_csma_mac.c. This function simply sets LEDs to observe the TX time of the nodes. I observed for the occurance of overlapping TX time of two nodes, which wasn´t the case when I used the CSMA/CA mechanism. However, this again is only a WIP PR for further discussion.

There popped up some questions about the interaction with a radio driver:

1. Both, the upper layer and the current implementations of the ng_netdev radio drivers use task messages to signalize an event (Packet to be sent or Packet to receive waiting). Both message mechanisms send their messages to the mac_pid and therefore use the same message queue. If the mac-layer and the transceiver is busy with sending a message out or waiting for an ACK it might wait for a signal from the driver (RX-ready, ACK-received...). In the same time there might also be messages from the upper layers that can not be handled until the previous packet is sent out.

- I handled this problem in using the drivers call-back function in combination with different task lock mechanisms for upper layer (msg_receive) and for driver events 2x(mutex_lock), which causes in TASK_BLOCKED state. That method worked very well, even if I fired the mac-layer continously with upper layer messages.

2. The drivers send function builds the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC header on its own. The alternative would be to let the MAC layer do this job. This would avoid code duplication and make it easier to implement new radio drivers. Is there any reason to do this in the driver implementation?

3. Introduction of PHY dependant constants: The constants (e.g. SYMBOL_LENGTH used in backoff intervall, MAX_BE, MIN_BE, TURNAROUND_TIME, MAC_ACK_WAIT_DURATION, MAX_RETRIES..). As these constants are different for each type of PHY (2,5 Ghz, subGhz and also Modulation specific) we could put them in a struct that would be linked to the device descriptor.

4. Generally, a successfull TX of a packet is not signalized to upper layers. But how do we handle a packet that could not be sent to the channel (e.g. channel busy)? Should upper layer be informed about the failure?

A WIP state of the ng_kw2xrf-driver that I used for testing can be found in my repo [2].

a nice Weekend,

[1] - https://github.com/RIOT-OS/RIOT/pull/2467
[2] - https://github.com/jremmert-phytec-iot/RIOT/tree/wip%40kw2xrf_ng

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