Posts Tagged ‘2g’

Review of Wio Tracker with GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and GSM Connectivity

June 11th, 2017 No comments

Wio GPS – also called Wio Tracker – is an Arduino compatible board based on Microchip Atmel SAMD21 MCU with GPS, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS connectivity, as well as several Grove connectors to connect sensors and modules for your IoT project. SeeedStudio sent me a sample for evaluation, so I’ve tested it, and reported my experience below by testing some of the Arduino sketches.

Wio Tracker Unboxing

All I got in the package was Wio GPS tracker v1.1 board. The top includes the Atmel MCU, an RGB LED, a microphone and 3.5mm AUX jack to make phone calls, a user and power button, a micro USB port for power and programming, a small 2-pin connector for a battery, and 6 Grove connectors for digital, serial, I2C and analog modules.

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The other side of the board comes with Quectel MC20 module that handles Bluetooth, GPS and GSM, a dual use micro SD card and nano SIM slot, and the GPS, 2G, and Bluetooth antennas. We can also see -/+ footprints close to connect speakers close to the OSHW logo.

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Getting Started with Wio GPS Tracker with Arduino IDE

I’ve been following Wio GPS Board Wiki for this part of the review, and as we’ll soon discovered I’ve had a rather mixed experience.

First, you’ll need a micro USB to USB cable to connect the board to Windows/Linux/Mac computer. This is the kernel output I got from Ubuntu 16.04:

After installing Arduino IDE for your operating system, we can add Seeduino boards to the IDE, by going to File->Preferences and pasting the link into Additional Boards Manager URL field, and clicking OK.Now go to Tools->Boards->Boards Manager search for wio, and install Seeduino SAMD by Seeed Studio.

You can also install Adafruit Neopixel by going to to Sketch->Manage Libraries->Include Library, or importing the zip file. After that point, I decided to check whether I could find “Wio Tracker” in the list of boards as indicated in the Wiki, but there was no such board so I selected Wio GPS Board, and selected port /dev/ttyACM0 (Wio GPS Board) port.

Then I went to check for sample sketches, and found some in Examples->Seeed_Wio_GPS_Board for the all key features of the board. So I tried a bunch of them including RGB_LED, Bluetooth, GNSS (GPS), and GSM (Send SMS), and only the Bluetooth sample would work.

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By I went back to the Wiki, and found out I add to import Wio Tracker library too, which I did, and I had another very similar sets of samples for MC20_GPS_Traker-master.

I’m not exactly sure we have two separate sets of nearly identical samples, but let’s see if I have more like with samples in MC20_GPS_Tracker-master folder.

Blink.ino is supposed to blink the RGB using blue color:

I could upload the program to the board with the following warning messages:

The RGB LED did not work. So I tried to remove Adafruit Neopixel library, same results. Finally I checked schematics to confirm the RGB LED is indeed connected to D10, and inserted some println debug code to make sure the program is running properly. Everything seems right, but the RGB LED would not blink. I’ve contacted the company, but unsurprinsgly they don’t work during the week-end.

Let’s move on with BT_CLientHandle.ino sketch that should allow us to pair the board with your phone. The code is relatively simple for this task:

I could see QUECTEL-BT with my Android phone, and had no problem to pair the board.

The serial output with pairing, and disconnecting events shows some of the AT commands used:

I also tried to connect a speaker to the AUX port of the board to see if I could use it as Bluetooth speaker, but it did not work, so some more code and a different Bluetooth audio profile (not HF_PROFILE) are likely required. All I could hear was dial-up modem sounds from the speakers. But still, we can tick this Bluetooth test as success.

Time for a GPS test. GNSS_Show_Coordinate.ino sketch is supposed to  output latitude and longitude to the serial console, and again the code to achieve this is still fairly simple:

But all I got in the serial output was the following:

With +CREG: 0,0 shown over and over. We can find the different AT Command sets (and EAGLE schematics) in the resources directory in Github. One of the document reports that AT+CREG? is a read command to retrieve network registration status, and the two numbers referred as <n> and <stat> are set to 0,0 meaning that:

  1. Disable network registration unsolicited result code
  2. Not registered, ME is not currently searching a new network to register on

I firstly did the test indoors, and although previously I could get a signal indoors with NavSpark mini board, I still went outside in case it was a signal problem, but the result was just the same. So maybe the program is stuck somewhere because I had not inserted a SIM card yet. Since I was not sure whether my operator still supported 2G, I forced my Android phone to use 2G, and the phone did get a signal using “E” instead of the usual 3G, and I could send an SMS and make a phone call over 2G network (I think).

So I took out the SIM card from my phone, and …. I could not insert right away simply because my SIM card was cut out as a micro SIM, but the board requires a nano SIM. Luckily, I purchased nano/micro SIM card adapters a while ago as I knew sooner or later I would have this little first world problem. You can find those for less than $1 on eBay, so even if you don’t need them right now, it might be a good idea to get some.

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Once I cut out my SIM card so that it fits into the micro SIM to nano SIM adapter that I will need to use when I put back the SIM card into my smartphone, I inserted  the nano SIM and a micro SD card at the same time, as the picture below shows with the white band right above the 4GB micro SD card being the nano SIM card. I did not know they made those, as I’ve only seen shared slots in the past.

I reran the GPS sample program, and the serial output changes a bit, but still no longitude and latitude info:

+QGNSSC:1 means the GNSS module is powered on so that’s good news I guess.

+CREG: 0,2 means the SIM card is registered, and in home network, but then it will switch to +CREG:0,5 meaning the SIM card is registered and roaming. Not really re-assuring.

They also have a more complex sample called GNSS_Google_KML.ino, that will get coordinate display them in OLED display attached to the board, and save data into a gps.txt into the SD card with raw longitude and latitude data that can be inserted into a Google KML file. A GoogleMapDemo.ino sketch will upload your coordinates to website. That’s provided it works of course… and considering the simplest sample GNSS would not work. I gave up on GPS/GNSS tests.

Last try was with the GSM function with the send SMS sample (MC20_SMSSend.ino) that will send “Hello MC20!!” message to the phone number of your choice”. Again it’s very easy to program:

But sadly I could not send an SMS, as the function waitForNetworkRegister failed:

I had to end my testing there. I could not remove the nano SIM card with my hands, and I had to use a pair  tweezers to get it out by pushing those the small holes on top of the slot mechanism.

So overall my experience with the board was quite catastrophic with only Bluetooth working,  and GPS, 2G GSM, and even the RGB LED sample all failing. I also often had trouble uploading the code to the board with messages like:

or (even after having close to the serial terminal for a while):

So I often had to re-try and re-try to successfully upload the code to the board. I’m sure there must be an explanation for all the issues I had. I can see they tested it in Windows, but I’m using Ubuntu 16.04, so maybe that could be one reason?

Having said that, if the board actually worked, I really like what SeeedStudio has done, as it looks really easy to program the board with GPS, Bluetooth, or 2G data, SMS, calls, and you can add Grove Sensors to make pretty more advanced IoT projects. The company also provides a more practical sample with their “Wild Adventure Tracker” demo reporting sending GPS coordinates over SMS when a shock occurs. The source code on Github with a video showing the results below.

The company is also working on a 4G version, and I’ll probably have a chance to give it another try once it is released. If you are interested in Wio GPS Tracker board, you can pre-order it for $24.95 including all three antennas.

Nadhat is an Add-on Board for Raspberry Pi Boards with 2G GSM/GPRS Support

May 26th, 2017 9 comments

Making Raspberry Pi HATs for fun seems to have become a popular hobby, as after checking out Leon Anavi’s Infrared pHAT a little while ago, I’ve just come across Nadhat add-on board with GSM/GPRS and Bluetooth 3.0 made by Frederic Pierson in his spare time.

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Nad stands for “Network Access Device”, and the device comes with the following specifications:

  • SIM800C module with 2G GSM/GPRS support, and Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR (but Bluetooth is not mentioned by the developer, so it may not work right now)
  • SIM card slot + connector for GSM antenna
  • CR1225 cell battery slot for RTC
  • 40-pin header provided, but not soldered
  • Dimensions – 65 x30 mm, compatible with Raspberry Pi Zero

He explains that he made the board himself and the  PCBs “are leaded reflow processed and do not follow regulations in Europe”. You’ll also have to provide your own GSM antenna and CR1225 battery. He’s released some files on github, the datasheet for the components, the schematics – but in PDF only, why? – , and the software directory only contains a short script to power up SIM800C.

Raspberry Pi 3 with Nadhat board – Click to Enlarge

The cellular module is attached to the Pi via /dev/ttyAMA0 serial interface, and you’ll have to send AT commands to control it. He also checked out 3G and 4G support as some people asked possible due to 2G sunset, but the modules he found where both expensive, and much bigger than the 2G modules, making it impossible to fit into the RPi Zero form factor.

Since the board is just a hobby project, it will probably never be manufactured in large quantities, but Frederic made a few boards himself, which you can get for 49 Euros + delivery if you are interested, and boards are still available.

Wio GPS is a $40 Grove & Arduino Compatible Bluetooth 3.0 + GSM/GPRS + GPS Tracker Board

April 21st, 2017 No comments

After Wio Link and Wio Node boards, Seeed Studio has added a new board to their Wio (Wireless Input Output) family with Wio GPS board based on Microchip SAMD21 Cortex M0+ MCU for Arduino compatibility, and Mediatek MT2503 ARM7 processor for GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and 2G (GPRS) connectivity.

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Wio GPS board specifications:

  • MCU – Microchip ATSAMD21G18A-MU ARM Cortex M0+ MCU @ 48 MHz with 256KB flash, 32KB SRAM
  • Wireless SoC – Mediatek MT2503 ARM7EJ-S processor @ 260 MHz
  • Storage – micro SD slot (shared with nano SIM slot)
  • Connectivity (built-in MT2503 in Quectel MC20 module)
    • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3.0 with SPP Profile and HFP-AG Profile; u.FL connector for external antenna
    • Quad band 2G GSM/GPRS  with u.FL connector for external antenna and nano SIM card slot
    • GNSS – GPS + BeiDou + QZSS with u.FL connector for external antenna
  • Audio – Speaker footprint (+/-), 3.5mm AUX jack with mic and stereo audio
  • Expansion – 6x Grove Connectors (2x Digital, 2x Analog, 1x UART, 1x I2C)
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and firmware update
  • Misc – RGB LED, GSM power button, reset button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, 2-pin JST 1.0 header for battery
  • Dimensions – 54.7mm x 48.2mm
  • Weight – 45 grams; antennas add 9 grams

While you can already do much of the things achieved with Wio GPS using an Arduino board, and corresponding GPRS/GPS shields, Seeed Studio’s board offers a more compact solution, and access to over 180 modules via the grove connectors. The board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE, and in due time a Wiki will be setup showing how to get started with the board.

Wio GPS Board with tis three antennas (GPS, Bt, GSM) is available for pre-order for $39.90 on Seeed Studio, and shipping is scheduled for June 1st. The company also plans to released an 4G /LTE version in Q3 2017.

RDA Micro RDA8810 Android SDK with Linux & U-boot Source Code for Orange Pi 2G IoT Board Released

April 18th, 2017 31 comments

Orange Pi 2G IoT board was released a couple of weeks ago, shortly followed by Android and Ubuntu images, but since it was not based on Allwinner, but an RDA Micro  8810PL processor, we did not have any source code so far, which can be a real problem for a development board… Shenzhen Xunlong has now managed to upload a 6.7GB Android SDK to MEGA, with the link published via Orange Pi Resources page.

MEGA has a download limit which depends on how much traffic they get at the time, and after 5.3 GB download,  I was asked to register for a PRO account, or wait for four hours before resuming the download. If you want to avoid this limit for any large MEGA download, you can run megadl instead. That’s what I did in Ubuntu 16.04 (remember to escape any special characters with \):

Once the download is done, none of the files have extension, but the first file is a gzip compressed files, while others are just raw data, so I concatenated all 6 files into a gzip file before uncompressing it, at which point I realized it was a tar file too:

The company has made it unnecessary difficult for that part, but I was finally successful, and that’s what the content of the SDK looks like.

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The Android SDK  relies on Linux 3.10.62, and I’ve been told while the Android part is quite poor, the Linux part looks better, even though the version is not quite the latest. U-boot source code is also included, and part of the 2G modem code can be found in the modem directory.

I got the news through ParrotGeek1 who plans to rebase the code to Linux 3.10.105, and release a Debian image. He has setup a RDA8810 github account with the Linux kernel. So you’ll have to be patient, or join the fun to get a better Linux image. There’s no clear roadmap for Orange Pi 3G-IoT or 4G-IoT based on other RDA Micro processors, but that would certainly help motivating a few more people if such boards were planned.

Particle Asset Tracker Kit v2 2G/3G GPS Location Tracker Supports Grove Modules

April 13th, 2017 No comments

Particle, the maker of IoT boards such as Electron 2G/3G module, has launched it second Asset Tracker Kit – based on Electron – with a smaller case, improved GPS performance, satellite support for GPS, GLONASS, Galileo & BeiDou, and compatibility with Seeed Studio Grove modules.

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Asset Tracker Kit v2 hardware specifications:

  • MCU – STMciro STM32F205 ARM Cortex M3 micro-controller @ @ 120 MHz with  1MB Flash, 128K RAM
  • Cellular Connectivity – U-Blox SARA U-series (3G) or G-series (2G) modem + NanoSIM card slot + u.FL connector for Antenna
  • Location
    • 72-channel u-bloxM8 engine with support for GPS/QZSS L1 C/A, GLONASS L10F, BeiDou B1I, Galileo E1B/C, SBAS L1 C/A: WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS, GAGAN
    • Update rates: Single GNSS: up to 18 Hz, 2 Concurrent GNSS: up to 10 Hz
    • Position accuracy of 2.5 m, sensitivity of -167 dBm
    • Acquisition times: Cold starts: 26s, Aided starts: 2s, Reacquisition: 1s
    • On board ceramic GPS antenna with LNA and bandpass filter with ability to switch to external active antenna
  • Expansion
    • 2x 18-pin header with  28 GPIOs (D0-D13, A0-A13), TX/RX, 2 GNDs, VIN, VBAT, WKP, 3V3, RST
    • 2x quick connect grove sensor ports
  • Sensor – Built in 3 axis IMU
  • Battery – 2,000 mAh LiPo battery
  • Dimensions –  board: 10.3 cm x 3.6 cm x 0.76 cm (1.27 cm including headers)
  • Operating temperature of –40° C to 85° C

Particle Asset Tracker Kit v2 comes with Electron board with either 2G or 3G connectivity, the “Asset Tracker Shield” PCB with GPS, the battery, antennas for GPS and cellular, a weatherproof case, a USB cable, a breadboard, a pinout reference card, and a Particle SIM card with 3 months of Particle’s 1MB monthly data plan. After three months, the plan cost $2.99 per month for up to 1MB data (equivalent to thousands of message), and $0.99 for each extra MegaBytes. There’s no contract and the plan can be stopped anytime.  The company also provides an Arduino Library for the asset tracker with examples for GPS, accelerometer, and wakonmove, as well as access to Particle Cloud to store and analyze the data.

There are three models of the kit for sale, Asset Tracker 2G for $109, as well as Asset Tracker 3G (America/Australia) and Asset Tracker 3G (Europe/Asia/Africa) both going for $129. Particles kits will provide much more flexibility than the 3G + GPS tracker kits available on Aliexpress for $70 and up, and should be much easier to get started with then rolling your own with Orange Pi-2G IoT board, a cheap GPS modules such as NavSpark mini, plus battery and case.

Orange Pi 2G-IoT ARM Linux Development Board with 2G/GSM Support is Up for Sale for $9.90

March 30th, 2017 60 comments

Orange Pi 2G-IoT was unveiled at the start of the year as an ultra cheap ($10) Linux development board with 2G cellular connectivity. The board has just launched for $9.90 + shipping on Aliexpress.

Orange Pi 2G-IoT specifications have changed a little since the initial announced as WiFi is confirmed to be supported:

  • SoC – RDA Micro 8810PL ARM Cortex A5 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip LPDDR2 RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip SLC NAND flash , 256KB L2 cache, Vivante GC860 3D GPU, and GSM/GPRS/EDGE Modem (Download datasheet)
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Display I/F – LCD connector up to qHD resolution
  • Video – Decoding up to 1080p30, encoding up to 1080p30 H.264
  • Audio I/F – 3.5mm audio +FM jack, built-in microphone?
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 2.1/EDR module (RDA5991), and 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE module with SIM card slot
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 2MP
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, GPIOs, etc…
  • Debugging – 3x pin UART for serial console
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, power button, boot selection header
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; optional battery
  • Dimensions – 68 x 42 mm
  • Certifications – CE and FCC (if we can believe the markings on the PCB silkscreen)

Linaro showcased Ubuntu on the similar Orange Pi i96 board at Linaro Connect Budapest 2017 last month, but I have not been able to find an image, nor source code yet. Needless to say, beginners better wait before buying this board, as everything is new, and software support is unclear at this stage. You’ll also have to check 2G sunset status in your countries, as some have stopped supporting 2G already, while others plan on keeping 2G networks for many more years.

Thanks to OvCa77 for the tip.

$99 Ping is a Tiny GPS Tracker that Works with Bluetooth and Cellular Connectivity (Crowdfunding)

February 6th, 2017 6 comments

Ping GPS Tracker is really small, last several months on a charge, and works with GPS, Bluetooth, and Cellular (GSM/EDGE or HSPA/UMTS) connectivity. It helps you track kids, pets, bags, keys, bicycles, cars or anything that may be lost or stolen using your iOS or Android smartphone.

Ping GPS Tracker Potential Use Cases

Ping GPS tracker specifications:

  • Connectivity
    • HSPA/GSM module + embedded 3G module
    • Bluetooth Low Energy module
    • GPS + GLONASS module
  • Sensor – 3-axis accelerometer
  • Misc – Inset tactile button for check-in & SOS, LED activity indicator
  • Battery – 300 mAh custom lithium ion battery good for about 3 months
  • Dimensions – 34 x 34 x 12 mm (PMMA silicone & elastomer materials)
  • Weight – About 30 grams
  • Waterproof – Up to 10 meters

You’d use GPS + cellular connectivity when you are far from the tracked asset, and Bluetooth to locate it when it’s close. A button allows for your kid to send a signal (short press) when they’ve reached destination, or an SOS message (long press) in case of issue.

The app will list all your tracked assets with estimated remaining battery life, you can click on the one you want to check out, and it should show on the map a short time later. One feature that appears to be missing is geofencing, which can be useful if a kid or an older person, for example suffering of Alzheimer, go beyond the limit you  defined on the map. The project is popular so maybe they’ll add it if people request it.

Ping GPS tracker has recently been launched on Indiegogo, and the project has raised over $300,000 so far. A $99 pledge should get you the tracker with a clip attachment, a charging cable, and one year free service with Cellular connectivity included for the US, Canada, and Mexico. If you want coverage outside of North America, you’ll need to add $10 extra at activation time for coverage in 157 countries for one year. After the first year, you’ll need to spend $3 per month to pay for cellular connectivity. Shipping is free to the US, but adds $20 to $30 to the rest of the world, and delivery is scheduled for July 2017.

There are also such tiny GPS trackers with SIM card support on Aliexpress for $30 and up, such as TKSTAR LK106, but the ones I found don’t work with an app, lack Bluetooth, and battery life is limited to 5 to 10 days.

Categories: Android, Hardware, Video Tags: 2g, 3G, ble, cellular, gps, indiegogo

OpenCellular is Facebook’s (soon to be) Open Source Wireless Access Platform

July 7th, 2016 4 comments

A few months after Canonical and Lime Micro LimeSDR open source software defined radio aiming to be used as a development platform, but also as the base for low cost cellular or other wireless base stations, Facebook has announced their own open source wireless access platform with OpenCellular project whose goal is to lower the cost of Internet connectivity in remote areas where the infrastructure does not exist.

OpenCellularThis is how Marc Zuckerberg summarizes the project:

We designed OpenCellular as an open system so anyone — from telecom operators to researchers to entrepreneurs — can build and operate wireless networks in remote places. It’s about the size of a shoe box and can support up to 1,500 people from as far as 10 kilometers away.

Along with our solar-powered aircraft Aquila and high-bandwidth laser beams, OpenCellular is the next step on our journey to provide better, more affordable connectivity to bring the world closer together.

But we can get some more details via another post by Kashif Ali, Engineer at Facebook including the following key points:

  • OpenCellular will supporting everything from 2G to LTE.
  • The system is composed of two main subsystems: general-purpose and base-band computing (GBC) with integrated power and housekeeping system, and radio frequency (RF) with integrated analog front-end.
  • The project will become open source over time, with hardware design, firmware and control software source code released publicly.
  • Facebook will collaborate with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) members, whose aim is to “reimagine the traditional approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure”.

OpenCellular_GBC_Radio The current GBC system supports four power sources: PoE (power-over-ethernet), solar, DC, and external (lead acid) or internal (lithium ion) batteries, and also includes sensors to monitor temperature, voltage, current, etc.. Two versions of the radio system are available on based on either one SoC (fixed functionality), or one FPGA (software defined radio). The radio can be used a full network-in-a-box when connected to the GBC, or an access point in standalone mode.

The systems have also been designed to allow a single person to install and operate them, and the enclosures are rugged to withstand all kinds of weather. The company has been testing it using 2G connectivity within their office, and expect to release the first reference design this summer.

Thank you Nanik!

Categories: Hardware Tags: 2g, 3G, facebook, fpga, lte, sdr, sensor, solar