Development boards with 4G LTE are still quite expensive, at least compared to 2G or 3G solutions, with for example Wio LTE GPS Tracker board selling for around $100. So when I saw Sixfab introducing a 3G/4G shield for Raspberry Pi 3 for just $31.20 (pre-orders), I first thought it was an incredible deal.
But I soon realized I missed the “base” word in the name, as the shield just includes the SIM card slot, and mPCIe connector where you can connect Quectel’s UC20-G Mini PCle 3G module or EC25 Mini PCle 4G/LTE Module which adds respectively $59 or $89 to the price. That’s still an interesting HAT board, so let’s have a look.
Raspberry Pi 3G-4G/LTE Base Shield V2 specifications:
- Clip-in Mini PCIe socket for:
- 4G/LTE Module (Quectel EC25) up to 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink data rates, GPS/GLONASS
- 3G Module (Quectel UC20) up to 14.4Mbps downlink and 5.76Mbps uplink, GPS/GLONASS
- Micro SIM card socket
- USB – 1x micro USB port
- Compatible with 40-pin Raspberry Pi header
- Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or external 5V source
- Dimensions – 65 x 55 mm
The new version improves on the first model for the shield by reducing the area by 25%, removing the need for screws for the cellular module, using a micro SIM card socket on the top of the board, a more efficient power circuit, and removing the DC barrel jack.
While the board is mostly designed to be used with Raspberry Pi 3 board, it can also be used standalone with your computer, laptop, or another development board over the micro USB port. A blog post explains how to make a PPP Internet connection with the shield connected to RPi 3, and you can get supports in their forums.
Thanks to Nanik for the tip.