openPicus has launched two new development kits for the Internet of Things with either Wi-Fi or GPRS connectivity, based on their FlyportPRO modules featuring a 16-bit Microchip PIC24 MCU, and sharing the same baseboard. These kits can be used as a Web server with firmware update over the air (FOTA) (Wi-Fi version only) among other things, and support TCP, UDP, FTP, & HTTP protocols, as well as MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport), a light weight messaging protocol running on top of the TCP/IP protocol, used when a small code footprint is required and/or network bandwidth is limited.
openPicus FlyportPRO Wi-Fi and GPRS modules share mostly the same specifications:
- MCU – Microchip PIC24FJ256GB206 16-bit MCU @ 32 MHz with 256KB Flash, 96KB RAM
- External Storage – 16Mbit Flash memory (for FOTA), 64Kbit EEPROM
- GPRS Module – SAGEM HILONC GPRS Transceiver (quad band: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) with uFL connector for external GPRS antenna
- Wi-Fi Module – Wi-Fi 802.11g Microchip MRF24WG0MB transceiver (Infrastructure, softAP and Ad hoc mode supported) with PCB antenna or uFL connector (2 versions)
- Module Connectors – 2x 30-pin with Up to 32x GPIO, up to 10x Analog inputs (10-bit ADC onboard + 2.048V precise voltage reference onboard), up to 9x PWM, up to 4x or 3x UART, 2x I2C, 1x SPI, USB OTG
- Misc – 32.768 Khz RTC.
- Power Supply – 3.3V
- Power Modes & Consumption:
- GPRS – 42 mA with some peaks up to 1.5A during GRPS startup and communication
- Wi-Fi – Connected: 150mA; not connected: 35 mA
- Low power (micro ON, GPRS connected, but in Sleep) – 24 mA (GPRS only)
- Hibernation (micro ON, Radio OFF)
- GPRS – 21 mA. Not recommended more than once a day.
- Wi-Fi – 20 mA
- Sleep (micro OFF, Radio OFF)
- GPRS – 162 uA. Not recommended more than once a day.
- Wi-Fi – 180 uA
- Dimensions – 34 x 34 x 9 mm
- Weight – 10 grams
- Temperature range – -20°C to +85°C
Depending on the kit version, either one of these two modules is connected to an IoT carrier board with the following key features:
- USB – a micro USB for programming,
- Storage – micro SD card slot
- 5 Grove ports for add-on modules: 2x Digital (DIG1, DIG2), 2x Analog (AN1, AN2), and 1x I2C
- SIM card slot
- Misc – 2x status LEDs (battery and power)
- Power – Micro USB or Li-Po battery
The Grove ports and modules appear to very very similar to Seeed Studio Grove modules, so they might be compatible. Groves devices include buttons and knobs, LEDs and displays, various sensors, other communication modules (GPS, RS232…), and relays.
IoT kit Wi-Fi is composed of a FlyportPRO Wi-Fi module, a IoT carrier board, and a power supply, where the IoT kit GPRS comes with a FlyportPRO GPRS module, a GPRS antenna, a IoT carrier board, and a power supply. The GPRS module requires a 2G SIM card, as 3G-only SIM cards are not compatible. There’s also a plastic enclosure sold separately called miniNEST Box.
Development is done with openPicus IDEPro using Microchip C30 compiler, which can only be used under Windows (.NET framework is another requirement). The company has setup a pretty good Wiki for their modules and development kits, including the IoT Kit Wiki giving an overview of the kit and explaining how to get started. The modules and boards are not open source hardware, but the schematics (PDF) have been released, as well as various datasheet, and the firmware for the modules.
IoT Kit WIFI is available for 59 Euros, IoT Kit WIFI for 69 Euros, and can be purchased together via Groves devices on openPicus store. You can find out more about FlyportPRO WiFi, GPRS, and Ethernet modules on openPicus product page.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.