SODAQ SARA is an Arduino Compatible Cellular IoT Board with LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GNSS (Crowdfunding)

Orange Pi Development Boards

There really seems to be a push for cellular IoT those days, with new hardware coming up every week.  Following up on their NB-IoT shield for Arduino last year, SODAQ has now launched two versions of SARA boards based on u-blox SARA LTE-IoT modules, and u-blox M8Q GPS/GNSS module.

Both boards are Arduino compatible thanks to a Microchip SAMD21 MCU, and while u-blox SARA board follows the Arduino form factor, u-box SARA SFF is much more compact (50×25.4 mm) and potentially easier to integrate into a project or product. Another pretty unique feature (AFAICT) is that you can power the board directly with a solar panel.

u-blox SARA board specifications:

  • Wireless module (three options) with external antenna:
    • SARA-N211 NB-IoT, band 8 and 20, for the European and African market
    • SARA-R410M Dual mode LTE-M and NB-IoT module for all global bands
    • SARA-R412M Triple mode module with LTE-M, NB-IoT and 2G for all global bands
  • Micro SIM card sholder
  • Location Module – u-blox SAM-M8Q with support for GPS, Galileo, GLONASS
  • MCU – Microchip SAMD21 Arm Cortex-M0+ CPU running at up to 48MHz
  • Sensor – STMicro LSM303AGR accelerometer and magnetometer
  • Expansion – 2x Grove connectors for external sensors, unpopulated Arduino headers
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via micro USB port
    • LiPo battery connector
    • Solar panel connector
  • Dimensions – Arduino form factor

Somehow the company managed to pack most of the features of SODAQ SARA in their Small Form Factor (SFF) version, except they replaced the GNSS module with a smaller one (unnamed) and used an u.FL connector for an external GNSS antenna. At 50×25.4mm the board is said to be small enough to fit into a matchbox.

With three different LTE IoT module and two form factors, there are 6 different versions of the board:

  • SARA-N211 NB-IoT (Band 8/20) for 90 Euros
  • SARA-R410M NB-IoT  + LTE Cat M for 100 Euros
  • SARA-R412M NB-IoT + LTE Cat M + 2G fallback for 110 Euros with 1,200 mAh battery
  • SFF N211 for 95 Euros
  • SFF R410M for 105 Euros
  • SFF R412M for 115 Euros with 800 mAh battery

To select the best board for your need, the map below showing NB-IoT / eMTC coverage may help.

The map above is good for reference only, as for example while NB-IoT has been deployed in Thailand (highlighted in blue), there are only a few base stations support NB-IoT at this stage, so the LTE-IoT network is not available countrywide. You may want to check GSMA website for more details info about eMTC/NB-IoT deployments including the name of providers in each country.

The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund mass production aiming to raise 25,000 Euros (about $30,700 US). Shipping adds 10 Euros to European countries, and 20 Euros to the rest of the world, and delivery is planned for March to June 2018 depending on reward.

3 Replies to “SODAQ SARA is an Arduino Compatible Cellular IoT Board with LTE-M, NB-IoT, and GNSS (Crowdfunding)”

  1. Where did your coverage map come from ? The link to GSMA site shows a global map with nothing in UK, Latin America or Africa

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